Proposed York medical school to revolutionize doctor training

York University wants to build a medical school like no other, according to the new special adviser hired to spearhead the campaign for the facility, wrote April 24.

"We believe we’re breaking new ground," said Dr. Peter Walker, who was named to his new post April 15. "I think this is an extraordinary opportunity here for the population in this region that would materially benefit by having a medical school at York and York is in the ideal situation to meet that expectation.

"York is in the heart of the GTA…so York is now at the heart of a new medical challenge," said Walker.

Walker said York’s aim would be on training physicians in community settings such as doctors’ offices, smaller hospitals and clinics. "What we’re thinking of building is a medical school that is deeply embedded in the community," he said. "There is now a refreshing change in attitude that we have gone too far and that we have to knock down some of those bricks. York may well be in the vanguard of that change."

Although the University’s best-case scenario would see students admitted to the school in 2012, Walker admitted the facility is at the initial stages.

While the medical school will most likely include a building somewhere on York’s campus, Walker said many teaching sites will be in the community. Meanwhile, advanced technology, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world, reduces the need for bricks and mortar. He said wants to have a proposal into the provincial government for approval before the end of the year.

Cash in place, but still no subway

Nestled in the rafters of an old grey wooden farm building, peacefully in slumber yesterday at lunchtime, was a fat, contented raccoon, wrote columnist Peter Kuitenbrouwer in the National Post April 25. The raccoon may sleep for a long time. This spot, the future heart of Vaughan, will, politicians promise, be the end point for the 8.6-kilometre extension of the Toronto Transit Commission’s Spadina subway through York University. But squabbles are slowing the project, and the 2014 completion now appears unlikely.

The delays puzzle me because, for once, they do not appear to be about money. Environmental approval for the subway is complete, says Nicole Lippa-Gasparro, the spokesperson for Jim Bradley, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation. She said the TTC did let a contract recently, to ensure it didn’t lose the money.

"A contract to relocate a storm sewer on Steeles Avenue was awarded in February," she said. I asked her why the delay. "The federal government has not flowed the full share of its funds and we hope this will be in the near future, so the work can begin," she said.

To pay for six new subway stations from Downsview, through York University into Vaughan, the province and feds are each paying a third, with the City of Toronto kicking in $400-million and the Region of York $300-million. But no one is building the thing.

On Wednesday, Giambrone said the project can’t go ahead because the TTC wants to do the work in-house, whereas Ottawa wants it to tender to the private sector. Catherine Loubier, spokeswoman for Lawrence Cannon, the federal transport minister, said yesterday that this is not a holdup.

"Should Toronto wish to use in-house staff for design and project management, they are free to do it, and the federal government will redirect its contribution to other parts of the project," she said. She said the feds have their chequebooks open to reimburse any subway costs up to $697-milion when they receive an invoice for any work that’s properly tendered. "They haven’t sent any invoices because they haven’t started the project," she said.

Classical acts for the sax-starved

Daniel Rubinoff and Pope Pius X have a major beef between them, wrote the Edmonton Journal April 25. For Rubinoff, acclaimed saxophonist and teacher at York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts as well as Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, his instrument of choice is an underutilized and underappreciated part of the classical world.

To Pope Pius X, who reigned at the Vatican between 1903 and 1914, it was "the devil’s horn", a repository of all that is unholy in music, a seducer of innocents with no place in the masses where some deviously clever composers had inserted them.

Turns out that Pius was right. Jazz and rock musicians quickly picked up on the carnal sound of the saxophone, changing Adolphe Sax’s more highbrow hopes for his hybrid woodwind and brass invention. In classical music, however, the saxophone has been sent to the kids table – looking up hopefully while the oboe steals all the best lines.

The dead end has been tough for players. As Rubinoff notes, unlike in jazz or rock ‘n’ roll, there isn’t a canon of performers in classical saxophone to draw on for classical musicians. In many ways, he feels as though he’s become a disciple of sax, trying to bring the instrument back to square one so it can progress in a better manner.

Scoring the story

Former York student Alexander Doan doesn’t watch movies like most people, wrote the Niagara Falls Review April 25. In fact, what’s on the screen is rarely important to him. He’s more concerned with what he’s hearing. When you compose film scores for a living, the guy making the music is a bigger star than George Clooney.

"A lot of times I’ll go see a movie because I know who the composer is," says the former Niagara Falls resident. "It doesn’t matter how bad the film is or how bad the reviews are, if I know Howard Shore did the score, I will go and only focus on the music."

Meanwhile, his own cinema credentials keep growing. In the past five years, Doan has composed the music for 15 independent Canadian movies, including Vigilante and The Nastiworths.

While attending York University five years ago, Doan met with director Tim Moran, who was making a short film based on the Charles Dickens story, "The Tale of Gabriel Grub." "We clicked,” said Doan. "I went and looked at some of the rough footage of the film and it just took off from there." He recorded the soundtrack with an eager York Symphony Orchestra. Moran was thrilled with the finished music and Doan’s soundtrack days had begun.

Family recalls a man with a passion for Earth

Being a distinguished professor with a prestigious academic career in geography and historical cartography did not stop the late Richard Ruggles from pulling over to the side of the road occasionally to examine a pile of rocks, wrote Victoria’s Times Colonist April 25.

"I remember stopping on a lot of highways on long car trips," says his son, Myles Ruggles, a communications studies professor in York’s Faculty of Arts. "Dad would get out and examine the composition of rocks left over from highway construction or abandoned mine tailings." Myles credits his father for inspiring him and providing an environment that encouraged reading, drawing and architecture.

On air

  • Deborah Barndt, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, spoke about growing concerns about food supply, on CBC Radio April 24.