Newmarket’s transit plans go in the right direction, says prof

Douglas Young, coordinator of York University’s Urban Studies Program, says Newmarket is definitely moving in the right direction when it comes to planning its future development and transit infrastructure, reported the Newmarket Era-Banner July 22. In fact, the things being proposed, he added, are actually overdue. 

He was referring to proposals to widen two major arteries – Yonge Street and Davis Drive – to accommodate bus-only rapidways, line the streets with trees and rezone them for mixed-use buildings.  

Putting up more houses and driving everywhere has not been sustainable for a long time,  said Young, a social science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts. The development now being discussed will definitely help improve the quality of life in town and the rapidways – aside from helping people get around more quickly – will also send a message transit is taken seriously. 

"I think transit has to be reliable, affordable and comfortable," Young said. "I think in a place like Newmarket, the challenge is getting people who have a choice of whether to drive or not to get out of the car and onto a transit vehicle."  

The powers that be, however, are probably correct in assuming their plans will be met with some opposition, Young said. People are often skeptical of major changes and new ideas, so proper communication will be of critical importance. "They should definitely hold public meetings so people can get information and ask questions," Young said. "This shouldn’t just be an order handed down from city hall or the planning department. I think we really need to ask, ‘How would you like Newmarket to change and what kind of place would you like it to be?’"  

York prof hosts university presidents’ visit to Israel

The presidents of six Canadian universities visited Israel on a one-week tour last month co-hosted by York University historian Irving Abella, reported the Canadian Jewish News July 31. 

Participating on the trip were David Johnston, Sheldon Levy, Luc Vinet, Peter MacKinnon, Allan Rock and William Barker, the respective presidents of the University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, Université de Montréal, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Ottawa and University of King’s College in Halifax. 

Abella, who is a former Canadian Jewish Congress national president, said the objective was three-fold: to introduce the Canadians to their Israeli counterparts, to allow them to see first hand the quality of education and research at Israeli universities, and to encourage the creation of joint research and exchange programs. 

The visitors met the presidents and senior administrators of Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, Haifa University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the Weizmann Institute, the Technion and the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. In addition, they conferred with officials of Al-Quds, a Palestinian university in eastern Jerusalem.  

Abella, a history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, hoped that the presidents would be able to visit Palestinian universities in the West Bank, but the idea was scotched when the Canadian Embassy expressed concerns about their safety.

The trip yielded immediate results, Abella disclosed. Tel Aviv University and the Université de Montréal signed a student exchange accord in the sciences, while Haifa University and the University of Ottawa agreed to launch an exchange program in law. In the past, Canadian and Israeli universities have signed agreements establishing joint research programs. 

The trip was partially financed by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy and private donors, but participants contributed toward their own travel expenses.