Archive for the ‘Jane Public’ Category

Darcy Sheppard… The Wrong Kind of Hero???

It has been hard to digest the ruling that saw charges against Michael Bryant dropped after an incident that left Darcy Sheppard dead. I do give credit to the Ontario government for seeking an outside prosecutor for the case (even though the final outcome is disappointing).

I’m not exactly looking for vengence, political and public character assassination or revenge. In my opinion the tragic incident that left a cyclist dead was the result of two individuals. A cyclist over-reacting and a driver over-reacting.

Today’s Globe and Mail article misses the point. Yes, Darcy Sheppard repeatedly responded to drivers when he felt they threatened his safety on the road. He did so in some colourful and not so flowery ways (spitting or yelling back). Such a response could be understandable given that number of life threatening incidents that occur, not to just bike couriers, but everyday citizens. The pedestrian death toll this Spring was a testament not only to oblivious people crossing the road, but to dangerous drivers. It is far too easy to glaze over the indifference of drivers who would rather run others off the road than to delay their journey. I can say I’ve witnessed both sides of close calls but in the end road users make it bad for everyone.

From the surface, Darcy seemed to engage those who “crossed” his path. In my opinion that is not always wrong, criminal or unjustified. He chose to stand up for his personal safety in an often aggressive way but there are many non-violent ways to report or police a situation without taking it on one on one.

Darcy may have faced issues with addiction or mental health but the behaviour of at least two individuals led to this tragic end. The same ill advised escalation can often be witnessed at a bar fight. Two men enter, one leaves but often both are equally to blame. The saddest thing is that the major media and the court failed to recognize that. It seems that the prosecution feared the demonization of Darcy. Perhaps after much time and consultation they moved away from any conviction or charges against Bryant that would be hard fought to apply.

One can only hope that improvements to our streets, TTC and bike lanes come soon and that people travel with more respect for each other. Yet another dark chapter closes, hopefully some lessons were learned. Can’t we all just get to our destination?

Jane’s Walk Day – A Great Way To Meet Your Neighbours

Toronto owes so much to Jane Jacobs. This weekend she’s celebrated with over 120 walks across the city. She is also being honoured around the world with Jane’s Walks in 68 cities worldwide (29 in Canada, 32 in the U.S, 7 internationally). That’s over 400 walking tours around the world! What a wonderful way to rediscover one’s neighbourhood (and neighbours).

Jane’s Walk Day
May 1st and 2nd
see http://janeswalk.net/cities/category/toronto/ for details on Toronto events

The Only Thing That’s Soft Is The Pillow

Toronto's PFL stopped in at the Casbah in Hamilton Thursday.  Oh, the carnage!

Toronto's PFL stopped in at the Casbah in Hamilton Thursday. Oh, the carnage!

The Pillow Fight League only gets better. I missed #36 at the Mod Club and decided to make the trek to Hamilton to catch Fight #37.

This was the first match ever to be hosted in Hamilton and the PFL didn’t dissapoint. The Casbah turned out to be a perfect venue. Judging by screams and enthusiasm from the crowd some new fans were converted.

Don’t worry Hamilton has hijacked the PFL. The next Toronto match promises to be an exciting new chapter. (One that involves SATURDAY NIGHTS instead of weeknights!).

PFL 39 – NEW DAY RISING!

The Garrison
1197 Dundas St. West (at Ossington)
TORONTO

Saturday Feb. 27, 2010
$12 in advance, $15 at door
Doors 9 pm, fights 10 pm

And The Axe Falls At CityTV…

CityTV once a jewel on Queen Street West has been hit with yet another blow. Now a plaything for larger media corporations CityTV is now owned by Rogers Media.

“Today’s changes, although difficult, are necessary to align our operations with the economic and regulatory realities of our industry,” says Leslie Sole, CEO, Rogers Media Television. Today’s press release adds fuel to the fire that the consolidation of media outlets has not only reduced real “choice” but has resulted in fewer jobs. (Some would argue consolidation has meant less quality too!) It seems the bulk of job losses are related to markets outside of Toronto. It is likely that some CityTV Toronto on-air personalities, writers, producers, editors and camera people are affected by this announcement.

Love it or hate it CityTV’s new home is Yonge and Dundas Square. Hoping that this “rationalization” doesn’t further erode what was once one of Toronto’s best stations. My condolences to those that have lost their jobs in these uncertain times.

The Right To Accommodate Is Well Established But…

It’s maddening to think that people continue to be oblivious to mobility issues. I’m sure that the latest fight won by a man in the GTA may be a good reminder that the fight is far from over.

With an aging demographic and well established rights for elderly persons and those with mobility problems it’s hard to believe such a fight was so difficult. Paul DiSalvo had to wait a year and a half to have his condo to equipped with an accessibility ramp.

Why the condo was built without some form of accessibility in the first place? An entirely valid question. Too often simple design features like a wheelchair ramp are omitted or simply excluded from the plans. This often means expensive retrofitting for relatively inexpensive enhancements that add value. Unfortunately the dwellers of the condo will get tapped for the Halton Condominium Corporation’s damages/fees. Sad since the condo corporation’s board were not doing them any favours by fighting such an easy accommodation and for so long. Wouldn’t take a genius to come up with the cost benefit of accommodation (of a legal requirement) versus a year and a half of legal fees, damages and a ramp! Whoa!!!

At the end of the day whether or not one or many residents need a wheelchair ramp everyone benefits. Who knows whether a resident will eventually need one due to health or have a relative or visitor that would require it? Such a feature only enhances the value of the property and improves the quality of life of the people who use it. The more that employers, businesses, transit authorities and the general public are mindful of these issues the more we stand to gain.

Human River – This Sunday

HumanRiver09

This Sunday is the 5th Annual Human River. A free event explores the natural history of our city incorporating art and education. Human River is a project of the Toronto Public Spacing Committee in partnership with Coach House Books, LEAF, Lost Rivers of the Toronto Green Community, RiverSides, vanishingpoint.ca and wade.

Put on some blue clothing and join the volunteers as they explore the history of the Garrison Creek, a creek that still flows beneath our homes and roads. The walk begins on Sunday at 1:00 pm, leaving from the Pavilion at Christie Pits Park and finishes at Historic Fort York Blue Barracks with a closing reception at 5:30 pm.

One need not walk the whole downhill route, but those who do will be rewarded with different perspectives of Toronto. You will learn how the city continues to be shaped by Garrison Creek even today. Organizers can let you know points along the route to catch up with the “blue parade” if you can’t make it to Christie Pits for 1pm. Just email them at contact@humanriver.ca. You can also go to Fort York at 5:30pm. All are welcome at the closing reception.

This a great family event put on by some excellent volunteers (donations are welcome). This year blue Human River T-shirts will be available for a $15 donation, 2 Human River buttons will be available with a $5 donation.

Human River – Sunday October 25th
Free
Donations are welcome ($5 will buy 2 commemorative buttons, $15 at T-Shirt)
Starts at Christie Pits Pavillion at 1pm
Closing Reception at Fort York, Blue Barricks at 5:30pm

The Garbage Blame Game

The stalemate has yet to lift and we are nearly 2 weeks into the garbage strike. Many Canada Day celebrations were cancelled. We were lucky after 1 million people enjoyed the Pride Parade that it had its own private clean up crew to help clean up. We are still on the hook for the garbage we create during the strike that’s for sure.

I find it amazing that there has been little talk of conservation or limiting of our garbage. People want to continue business as usual and expect different results despite the lack of garbage service. In this “economic environment” it shouldn’t be difficult to cut out on take out or drive thru restaurants. Waste less and you’ll have more money in your pocket and less garbage to throw out.

Toronto’s efforts to reduce garbage going to landfill by 70% are valiant. Many municipalities have bragged of diversion rates of 60% over the last 5 years so this is not an unattainable goal. Mayor Miller has been reluctant to implement incineration and has focused more on reduction and recycling in an effort to limit garbage going to Michigan.

In this aim to reduce landfill Toronto has implemented a Green Bin program less strict than several Municipalities hoping for higher compliance rates. Toronto allows green waste to be placed in plastic bags, “disposable” diapers, and pet waste like kitty litter. This makes it harder to sort and turn our green waste into compost though. Shortcuts revealed by a Toronto Star shows that our service providers are skimping on their implementation of Toronto’s plan with much of the green waste still ending up in landfill or incinerated. As noted in today’s follow up article, city councillors are right to call for an audit of the services Toronto is paying for. If the city is paying a company to safely and efficiently deal with our garbage and green waste it should be accountable for it. The Ministry regulates these service providers and should wield a heavier hand.

At the end of the day it’s our tax dollars and our garbage. Reducing the amount of taxes need to clean up the mess and reducing the pile of waste starts at home not in Ottawa, Queen’s Park, or Mayor Miller’s office.

Walk The Walk

Jane’s Walk kicks off May 2nd and 3rd, rain or shine. Jane’s Walk is simply a series of free neighbourhood walking tours. A great way for people to connect (or reconnect) with their environment and with each other. Since its inception back in 2007 Jane’s Walk has been all over Canada and selected partner cities in the United States. The event is a wonderful way to celebrate Jane Jacobs and great way to spend an afternoon. Check the schedule for a walk near you, or better yet learn about another neighbourhood in our great city.

Jane’s Walk
May 2nd and May 3rd
(Various Locations)

http://janeswalk.net/participating_cities/toronto

Hard Times, Cold Stares and Frozen Zombies

A would be bike thief strolls casually Sunday afternoon along College & Beverly wielding a handsome hacksaw and a brown windbreaker and yellow shirt.

A would be bike thief strolls casually at about 6pm Sunday at College & Beverley wielding a handsome hacksaw and a brown windbreaker and yellow shirt.

Yes, the recession is hitting hard. Bad news is abounds but Spring has finally sprung. I’ve been trying to enjoy the extra hours of daylight and walking whenever possible. Cabin fever no more!

Still the winter chill and ominous market conditions have frozen hearts. I was in disbelief yesterday night on my stroll along College. I heard an odd sound and noticed a man wielding a huge hacksaw and making his way through a big U-lock. Umm, I’m I the only one noticing that someone is trying to liberate what looks to be a nice mountain bike from in front of U of T?

No… but no one cares. Not the people coming off the street car, the woman walking her dog. Weird. I didn’t have my SLR with me but I decided to “spook” the perpetrator by taking his picture (with my crappy cell phone). It worked the dude moved on an scurried up the street. Yeah, one less bike in Toronto stolen. The funny thing was that when I started heading South the local thief had doubled back. The guy was off to find his next bike and was again walking in front of me on the other side of the street. As before the dude paused and was about to try his luck on another bike. I lingered a bit and then took my own detour after he moved on from victim two. I didn’t want to be hacksaw victim three so I did some scurrying myself.

Not only amazed that people are “forced” to steal but how many people didn’t care to report or discourage the would be thief. These are hard times and now more than ever we need a cure for apathy. Well, if you parked your bike on the North side of College East of the Second Cup your U-Lock lasted long enough for one person to care that your bike wasn’t stolen.

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