New subway in sight at last

Officials say the groundbreaking ceremony for the TTC’s $2-billion Spadina subway extension through York University’s Keele campus is expected as early as September – more than two years after the plan was unveiled, wrote The Toronto Star July 25.

“We’re closer to the finish line than we were before,” federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said of his government’s long-awaited $697 million contribution to the project. The funding framework should be finalized “relatively quickly,” Cannon said.

The groundbreaking would be followed by completion of preparatory work, which has already begun, and shovels could go into the ground late next year. The 8.6-kilometre expansion would boast six stops, including a high-traffic hub at York University, and wind from Downsview station to Vaughan Centre.

Toronto Transit Commission chair Adam Giambrone said the subway project’s formal launch, signalling that all partners are on board, is expected in the next two to three months. “This money is coming right on time when we’re ready to break ground on construction,” said Giambrone.

Shovels could go in the ground late next year with the line running by 2015. That’s about a year later than TTC officials had hoped when the plan was announced.

Sewer relocations around York’s Keele campus have already begun and the TTC is in the throes of design and planning work, said the transit authority’s Brad Ross. “People will start to see some real big holes in the ground in about 18 months. We have a project team that has begun work. We’re starting to do a lot of the designing and engineering work that has to happen before you can begin digging,” he said.

Federal, provincial and municipal officials will be at York University today to publicize a previously announced $30 million “busway”, wrote the Star. The six-kilometre route between the University and Downsview station along the Finch hydro corridor and Keele Street is expected to be completed in time for the 2009-10 school year, sources said.

  • A major infusion of $6-billion for infrastructure from the federal and Ontario governments will pave the way for the long-awaited Spadina subway extension to York University, Toronto Mayor David Miller said yesterday, wrote the National Post July 25.

“I do understand that it is intended that this money be used to fund the Spadina Subway extension and I understand that because the Prime Minister and the Premier have both said it and I take them at their words,” a “pleased” Miller told reporters yesterday.

Today, the Mayor and Toronto Transit Commission Chair Adam Giambrone will attend a second but reportedly separate major announcement on transit near York University with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon and Ontario Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman.

“We will have a subway extension to York University and beyond. The agreement opens the possibility for the remaining funding for our Transit City network,” Miller said yesterday. “You will see announcements with shovels in the ground on transit infrastructure in Toronto I hope in the not too distant future.”

Miller said the lack of a deal was the last obstacle for the Spadina subway extension. “The only hold-up for the Spadina extension money was getting the Building Canada fund signed because that’s the framework,” he said. “So I would expect the agreement itself would be signed very quickly. I am not personally aware of any obstacles past the Building Canada fund.

Federal funding welcome, if late

Ottawa’s cheque is still in the mail, but the letter carrier is now just a few doors away, wrote the Toronto Star in an editorial July 25. That’s the upshot of a long-awaited, $6.2 billion infrastructure agreement signed yesterday by Ottawa and Queen’s Park. It is a welcome development, to be sure.

Among projects set to receive funding is the extension of the Spadina subway line to York Universityand York Region. A spokesperson for federal Infrastructure Minister Lawrence Cannon said that projects should move quickly now, with an agreement on the Spadina subway expansion to be signed in early fall at the latest. “It’s probably going to be before that,” the spokesperson said. “It’s just a matter of finding a date and sitting down and signing it and doing the groundbreaking.”

  • NDP finance critic Michael Prue said yesterday’s $9.3-billion joint infrastructure announcement by the federal and provincial governments doesn’t give him confidence that a significant transit project such as the Spadina subway extension to York University will be built any time soon, wrote The Toronto Sun July 25. “This is the joke,” Prue said. “This is five announcements in a row. They haven’t put a shovel in the ground.”
  • DON’T: Build the subway to York University and Vaughan, wrote columnist Christina Blizzard in The Toronto Sun July 25. You couldn’t pry those well-heeled folk out of their cars with a can opener – no matter how high the price of gas.

Announcement includes bus rapid transit line to York

Toronto’s public transit system will get a much-needed boost today when the Harper government delivers on a long-awaited promise to build a new dedicated bus lane from the northern terminus of the Spadina subway line in Downsview to York University, wrote The Globe and Mail July 25.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project, initially announced by the previous Liberal government in 2004, will take place today. The bus rapid transit service will be a first step toward a full-fledged subway link to the university and will provide interim relief from gridlock until a proposed subway extension is completed, said sources familiar with the project.

Adam Giambrone, the city councillor who chairs the Toronto Transit Commission, said the subway extension and the new bus lane are complementary projects. “We’re excited to have the York bus project under way,” he said. “Even after the subway line is complete, we will still be running buses up and down Keele [Street], so the infrastructure put in will still be of incredible use.”

Retired York prof argues in favour of sign language

School boards across Alberta say they need more teachers who are deaf to help the province’s students with hearing impairments but the community is divided over what they should be learning, wrote CBC News online July 25.

Dave Mason, a retired professor of deaf studies in York University’s Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Education, said too many young people don’t get the chance to excel in sign language because they’re pushed into speaking.

“It’s so unnecessary. It’s beyond words. I just think if people would just have the common sense, they can see the benefits of sign language,” he said through an interpreter. “Why would you put so much pressure by not providing that? Why not give people the freedom to sign?”

Phillion case was referred to courts by Osgoode’s Innocence Project

It was the velvet glove versus the boxing glove yesterday as a lawyer and psychiatrist traded blows over Romeo Phillion’s controversial 1972 murder confession in the Ontario Court of Appeal’s hearing of the case, wrote the Toronto Star July 25.

Phillion’s case was referred to the province’s highest court in 2006 by the federal justice minister on the basis of two new pieces of evidence brought forward by the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted and the Innocence Project at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

On air

  • Michael Jenkin, professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about his participation in a project to build and test an aquatic robot, on Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” July 24.
  • Marc Lesage, sociologist in York’s Faculty of Arts, Glendon campus, spoke about the rituals of night clubbing on TFO-TV’s “Panorama” July 24.