Archive for August, 2007

Are Torontonians Ready for a Disaster?


Some time ago I posted the news of a bomb threat at the RBC plaza, right close to the heart of Toronto’s financial district. To most readers it seemed like just another bomb threat, there’s no need to worry. But how worried should we be? I have asked the question before and I’ll ask it again, how prepared are we for an event like a bomb blast in Toronto?

The Gardiner is Falling Down


Remember to bring you umbrella the next time you decide to walk under the Gardiner Expressway. Chunks of concrete continue to fall onto Lakeshore Blvd. Umm, here’s a question. How long ago was the Gardiner refurbished? And how much did it cost? Or should I ask, how good were the band-aids and how much did we save buying the cheaper brand.

Ever Seen This Before?

Toronto Police are right now in a bomb convoy down the Don Valley Parkway on the way to the Leslie Street Spit to either dismantle or blow up three bombs they confiscated from the Toronto Letter Bomber this morning. All southbound traffic on the DVP has been stopped, and apparently overpasses cleared, though we did see the odd truck and car cross an overpass from CTV’s copter camera.

I would not want to be the driver of the Toronto Police SUV pulling the bomb trailer.

The police are saying that if you receive a suspicious package in the mail to call them, as they do not know if there are more bombs out there or not. The Lebanese immigrant targetted his victims, but not for political reasons, they said. What a strange day in Toronto.

Update: Global news showed the end-of-the-Gardiner eastbound traffic backed up as the police try to clear those cars off the exit ramp and Lakeshore that they didn’t catch when blocking the eastbound Gardiner traffic. I assume the now-stopped convoy, still on the DVP, will wait until the Gardiner traffic is cleared before moving again. They are clearing those overpasses as the convoy heads south.

Torontoist Survey: Some Observations

A few observations on summary results to date of the Torontoist TTC survey:

It’s mostly the 34 and under crowd taking the survey. Some may interpret it to mean the college crowd or those who can’t afford cars crowd are the only ones answering the questions. That’s not necessarily the case because many in that age group will be working full time, yet no one has ticked off driving their own car as an alternative to the TTC which seems to skew the results…or maybe the primary TTC user is one who doesn’t have a car and is forced to use the system… So tell your older friends and family and those with cars who also use the TTC to take this survey!

What lucky duck gets to their destination in less than 30 minutes, or even more amazing, less than 10?! There’s only one destination I can do that in, otherwise not a hope. Sigh.

Who can afford a 25¢ fare increase? I’d like their income, if you don’t mind! If these are assumed to be all college and high school students, how do they get that kind of increase in income/allowance/grant to cover that bigger fare? That’s a hefty percentage increase to swallow on top of the already high fares. That would be 50¢ more for just one return trip.

Interesting that the biggest choices for where to raise taxes have to do with cars. Some may interpret that as because the survey takers don’t have cars, so these tax increases would not affect them. One could also interpret it as having the TTC’s competition, for users and for road space, pay for it.

Not one Wheel-Trans user has taken the survey. Given that it has real issues, it’s a shame those users either don’t know about or cannot take this survey. If you know a Wheel-Trans user, encourage them to take this survey. It’s fast and is a chance to get their voice heard!

Torontoist Designs the Survey the TTC Should Have

As Alden blogged earlier, the TTC is conducting a survey of patrons to find out which poison we prefer.

Torontoist recognized just how bad the TTC’s survey is and designed their own, with input from notable TTC observers. They too have set the deadline date for September 10th, after which time they’ll send the complete data set to the TTC. Bet that venerable institution will be happy to receive better data on what TTC users really want, data they can analyse for themselves too.

Oh, and what is this “My TTC” stuff? Is the TTC trying to be hip, like MySpace or My5? Since when can I, one lone individual TTC patron, makeover the TTC into “My TTC”? I mean, they don’t even allow me to express my own opinions on their survey, but force me to choose one of their own foregone conclusions. If I don’t have a real say, how can I have a “My TTC”? This is one of the silliest marketing gimmicks I’ve ever seen. Give me a billion bucks and then maybe I’ll be able to have “My TTC”!

Anyway, go to Torontoist, check out the summary results — I’m tickled pink that survey takers so far consider provincial funding as the best way to fill the funding gap — and take the survey the TTC ought to have designed!

Human River Kick Off!

The third annual Human River kicks off in style August 30th. The Human River project celebrates Garrison Creek, Toronto’s largest buried river, which runs under the heart of the city, around Christie Pits down to Old Fort York.

The kick off will be held in a ravine carved by the waters of the Garrison Creek and will explore the histories and environment of our city, crafts, music and film. The film to be screened is Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. An truly amazing view of one of the world’s most interesting artists in his ENVIRONMENT.

The film will be start around dusk so there’s plenty of time to mingle learn about the creek, walk through the trees with LEAF, create sculptures with Art Attack or help make crafts for the Human River Walk, all to the beat of Drummers from Exile.

Best of all the event is Free/PWYC and is put on as a co-presentation between Human River and Streets to Screens, in collaboration with LEAF and the Toronto Tree Tours, RiverSides, filmswelike and Drummers from Exile.

The place to be is Trinity Bellwoods bowl on Thursday August 30!

Schedule of events:
6-8:30pm: Information, crafts, art attack…
7:30pm: Tree Tour
8:30-10:30pm: Film starts after dusk: Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time

Lunar Eclipse in Toronto

Observing the sky from Toronto is usually a mug’s game because of all the light pollution — made worse when the neighbours have bright spotlights in their back yards — but I have seen meteors successfully from a park, and I actually saw several stars early this morning when I got up to hunt for the moon. Last night, as it has been for three nights now, the full moon shone brighter than a giant searchlight in the sky, so I figured it would be easy for me to find early this morning. Nope. Toronto’s trees in August are massively leafed out and the eclipsing moon was low in the western sky and dropping fast.

Astronomers like a lunar eclipse to occur in the blackest part of the night, around 1 or 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock in the morning. Too early for me. I much preferred it as it was in Toronto time, just before the dawn. I got up around 5:15 am, staggered around a bit as I woke up, found the moon, set up the camera, and began shooting, moving the camera after almost every shot because the moon was plunging so fast down the sky and behind the trees I almost couldn’t keep up. I only hoped the street would remain empty of cars. Not once while I was shooting the moon did I long for my bed. Now if it had been 2:00 am….

I thought the lack of telephoto length would be my biggest impediment to a good shot, but it was actually the speed of the moon sinking in the Toronto sky — it was moving so fast, I could actually see the beginning and end of its 30-second trajectory in some of my shots. Next year, the eclipse will be at the perfect time for astronomers in Toronto on February 21, 2008. Make a date to bundle up for a night out with the stars and moon and to go without sleep!

It’s all in the details


The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is Canada’s first marble Hindu Temple. An absolute marvel! Built by 2000 volunteers using ancient Vedic techniques the structure spans some 95,000 square feet. The construction methods are astounding considering there was no use nails or steel. The 24,000 pieces of Italian marble and Turkish limestone were precision carved and assembled like a massive puzzle. Even the relief on certain ceilings and doors are hand carved. Best of all this structure is not only a place of Hindu worship, it also houses a museum open to the public. Though 2 years in the making and officially open just over a month the temple is getting a wealth of attention (rightly so!).

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
61 Claireville Drive, Toronto,
ON M9W 5Z7
Tel: 416 798 2277
Fax: 416 798 7798

Mandir and Museum open to visitors from 9am – 6pm daily throughout the year.

The TTC Needs Your Help


As the City’s transit crises continues the Toronto Transit Commission has put out a Public Consultation Survey to you the commuter, asking for feedback on what we want now and what we want for the future. The TTC will be accepting your feedback from August 27 to September 10. These surveys can be completed online or watch out for a hardcopy on buses, streetcars and on subways. It only takes a minute, even less. Let the TTC know what you think.

We haven’t abandoned our vision for better transit, but riders have to choose. Will we support our transit system so that it is properly-funded and able to meet riders’ needs, or will we accept a TTC with less and less service? It’s a choice we have to make together.

Photo by: lxdesign on Flickr

Toronto Underground: Drains and Sewers


There’s a pretty fantastic interview Michael Cook over on BLDG BLOG, who if don’t know is one of the more prolific urban sewer explorers out there. I’m totally a big city geek so I’ve spent way too many hours looking at his photos of drainage and spillover pipes from cities all over, but being that he’s from Toronto he’s got some really amazing images of what’s going on under the city. The interview is pretty fantastic and discusses the kind of people who are out documenting this stuff, what they are looking for, and why they are doing it. One part I found especially interesting was the connection to skaters. From the interview, Michael says:

“Some of the largest pipe in the world is used as spillways for hydroelectric projects – big dams and that sort of thing – and usually the first people who find out about this stuff are skateboarders. Usually they try to keep the locations pretty quiet – just as we do. But I’m sure that, at least once or twice, some tunnel explorer has found out about a system through the skateboarding community.”

Anyway, it’s an endlessly fascinating interview filled with some amazing photos. Thanks to Cory for the tip.

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