Archive for July, 2013

Fighting to the death for seats in Ford’s transit future

Posted on July 19th, 2013 1 Comment

I get the feeling that even the Toronto Sun kinda gets that the latest vote on transit funding isn’t exactly the shining moment that Ford is making it out to be.

Rather than celebrate Ford’s victory, the Sun took the opportunity to attack Karen Stintz, claiming that Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray called her a “roadblock” in the process of getting shit done. She says that it won’t be possible to move forward on any less than $1.8 billion, Murray says $1.4 billion is all that’s coming.

This comes after Ford revived the whole subways debate on a wing and a prayer with none of the funding “guarantees” he’s so fond of. It’s critical to note the $8.2 billion in transit funding under the Transit City project that Ford summarily, and probably illegally, dismissed as his very first act of destruction at City Hall (but only after voting in favour of it first, of course).

If Stintz is a “roadblock” simply for saying that the city will need more funding, what does that make Rob Ford?

Not that it’ll matter much in the long run, because the results of the various votes on the issue leave even more room for the whole thing to fail. Essentially, Council voted to keep any new taxes out of the equation; even Ford’s latest in a series of attempts at raising taxes was rebuffed. They also voted to make the whole thing hang on the $1.8 billion number that Stintz put forward (I guess that makes them all, including the Fords, “roadblocks”).

So those goals are a bit lofty for starters. But then Council voted on having a funding commitment by September 30th, so far with no business case or any real proposals beyond this (which I tiefed from the National Post):

proposed subways

As you can see, the proposed subway has less than half the stops of the LRT plan with a not-so-small distance between stops on the underground route which would be subject to the same problems that the system has thus far experienced and will continue to be a victim to.

It’s not realistic to believe that the sections of the city where subways will be built won’t be shut down for safety reasons, so in terms of inconvenience, they wouldn’t be any better for pedestrians or commuters. And that will be the situation for about 5 years with the LRT, compared to an optimistic 10 years for subways.

Once built, the LRT will be within walking distance of roughly twice as many people as the nearest subway stop. Yes, there are some perks, such as a larger overall passenger capacity of the subway over light rail, but that won’t become an issue for some time; both systems are expected to be running, at peak times, half to less-than-half empty by 2031.

So no, subways are not the best option given what we know (and have known for some time).

Not that it really matters —  neither the LRT or subways may ever see the light of day. There was, at one time, a viable and ready-to-go plan called Transit City, but before anyone had a chance to stick a shovel in the ground, Rob Ford summarily cancelled it and started in on this insane death spiral that the TTC is now in.

The numbers aren’t adding up, the only plan thus far has consisted of publicly blubbering rhetoric about partnerships, and now we have these extra conditions that imperil even the tenuous and ephemeral concept of subways. And all this just for Scarborough … no discussions about upgrading or maintaining the rest of the system which by 2031, is believed will require passengers to fight to the death for a seat on severely overcrowded and, thanks to Ford, extra pricey trains.

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay, Pictures

Honest Ed’s for sale

Posted on July 16th, 2013 1 Comment

The iconic Honest Ed’s store has been put up for sale.

For many people, the thought of this Bathurst Street mainstay going up for sale is unthinkable, right up there with Sam the Record Man on Yonge Street going out of business. Yet this is the fate that befell the stalwart music dealer, so it’s not impossible that Ed’s 65 years of tradition may also fall to the axe of profit-driven progress.

Judging by the impassioned pace at which the Mirvish family is decimating their father’s legacy, this couldn’t happen any sooner.

Were it most other stores in Toronto, this wouldn’t be quite so tragic, but Ed’s has become a tradition and a bit of a tourist destination, just another one of those things that makes the city unique and worth visiting.

Is it time for Honest Ed's to go?

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Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay

Stay your whitest with Placenta

Posted on July 14th, 2013 Be the first to comment



Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

F*&#$%@ numbers

Posted on July 10th, 2013 1 Comment

The tradition of the so-called “right” to be offended by nothing in particular is being continued by the unqualified air-heads of the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition who decided they just couldn’t stand the commentary coming from Councillors Adam Vaughan and Mike Layton.

The TTC were so infuriated, in fact, that they filed official complaints with the office of the Integrity Commissioner which subsequently requested that the two members of Council apologize. Which they did.

So what foul sentiments did these two ne’er-do-wells express?

[City manager] Pennachetti had estimated that the city would get an annual “hosting fee” payment of $111 million to $148 million per year, tens of millions more than others anticipated, in exchange for hosting for a casino downtown. He also said the casino should be far smaller than the province wanted.

Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) said Pennachetti’s figures were “fictitious.” Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) said they were “fantasy numbers” and “ridiculous.”

“The casino is cut in half and the hosting fee is higher. There is nothing real in this report,” Vaughan told CBC.

Leiper said Vaughan was entitled to express his views. But she wrote that “the repeated use of the phrase ‘nothing real’ when applied to the report is an unfair portrayal of the report. So was the use of the word ‘fantasy.’

Wow … can you believe that shit?!

“Fantasy”! “Ridiculous”!! “Nothing real”!!!

Surely if the death penalty were still around, these two would be deserving of it. In comparison to the angelic, loving statements of the Fords, it’s hard to imagine anything more evil:

“I’ll whoop both your asses” : Doug Ford to councillors Adam Vaughan and Gord Perks.

“bunch of maggots … no matter what you say… you’re never going to make them happy”: Rob Ford about Toronto media on his weekly radio show.

“You … bitches! Don’t you fucking know? I’m Rob fucking Ford, the mayor of this city!”: In a call to 911 dispatch after being “attacked” by a CBC comedy crew outside his house.

“…it’s unfortunate this misunderstanding occurred”: In response to press questions about giving the middle finger to a fellow motorist and her children.

There are numerous other examples of the Fords’ benevolence and high regard for fellow human beings, which makes the awful, treacherous, evil words that the Councillors chose so much worse. Next they’ll just flaunt breaking the law like it’s going out of style while mockingly claiming that they know nothing about any rules or regulations (or anything about their jobs, for that matter) — can you imagine?!

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay

Toronto deeper in the doo

Posted on July 10th, 2013 1 Comment

The trusty Star reports today that Toronto has sunk deeper into debt under Ford:

Over the past two years, the city borrowed $1.5 billion to pay for capital costs — including transit equipment ordered by Ford’s predecessor — and repaid $700 million, thus increasing the debt burden by $800 million.

This doesn’t come as a shock, but it’s important to point out that the brunt of the burden comes from a couple of administrations ago, so it’s entirely fair to say that Ford inherited the problem.

But then he made it worse:

Ford has championed cutting the cost of government, scrapping the $60 vehicle tax shortly after taking office, and holding down increases in property taxes which are traditionally put toward capital costs, along with borrowed funds.

In 2011, on Ford’s insistence, the city froze property taxes. The next year he limited the increase to 2.5 per cent, in line with inflation.

About half of the borrowing was to pay for transit infrastructure, such as replacing worn-out vehicles. Other big-ticket infrastructure spending went to areas such as roads, parks and housing.

It’s also important to note that borrowed money costs more in the long run than a one-time tax hike. Borrowed money is simply deferred taxation and comes with the additional burden of interest and who-knows-what penalties. In other words, it means higher taxes down the road (unless Ford’s magical public-private partnership ever appears).
None of this is news to people who follow Ford’s meanderings through politics, but it doesn’t doesn’t take into account examples of other money that Robbie and his brother have squandered since they took office. When all is said and done, the damage will be palpable.
Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay

On the hunt for Toronto’s elites

Posted on July 9th, 2013 1 Comment

Have you ever wondered where you can find Toronto’s latte-sipping urban elites? Do you want to know where you can observe the “pinko left-wing kook” in its native habitat?

Well wonder no more!

The Star has graciously mapped it out for you in glorious hipstervision:

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures


Posted on July 9th, 2013 Be the first to comment

I usually walk to and from the office, but yesterday’s touch of rain made me alter my regular plans.


The longest part of the trip was getting out of the subway station, but that might’ve been more tolerable had it not been for the special TTC constables who were not only not attempting to direct the flow of ever-growing foot traffic, but were actually misdirecting people and spreading false stories.

“Union Station is completely shut down, people! Nothing’s running! Nothing! The entire city is shut down, no one has any power, so no one’s going anywhere! Everything’s flooded!”

Luckily the incredulous crowd had their own plans to get to wherever they were going and only wanted facts, which they soon realized they would not get from the “authorities”, each of which had their own version of events.

Even Ford couldn’t help but fan the flames of panic:

“Toronto has persevered; we have weathered the storm,” Ford said, before stressing the need to reduce electricity consumption over the next 24 hours.

“This is crucial that we all reduce our electricity for today to help relieve the strain on our hydro system. We’re hanging on by a thread right now,” he said.

Holy shit! Toronto’s about to go under!


Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay

Quinn’s Steakhouse & Irish Bar: don’t bother

Posted on July 9th, 2013 Be the first to comment

I’m going to have to start taking my camera with me more often because some things, like the inside of Quinn’s Steakhouse &  Irish Bar, are worth snapping.

The decor is proper and pubby (dim and mostly indoors), and the establishment is clean, so they’ve got that going for them. The wait staff were pretty good, and the food wasn’t bad. Not great, mind you, but not bad.

Okay, to be fair, I did enjoy the bacon wrapped-Tenderloin that came with my prix fixe Summerlicious dinner, and the brocolli rabe was a nice addition. And everything was cooked well, so I can’t fault them for that either.

But nothing jumped off the plate and demanded that I pay attention.

Sarah ‘s Atlantic salmon underwhelmed us both with its blandness. There was a slight fishiness to the meat which I can deal with in some cooked fish if the flavour is enhanced somehow — in this case it wasn’t.

Again, I want to emphasize that technically, the food was well done. But for a restaurant that I would consider a “special occasion” place, the prices on the regular menu insist that I spend my money on better and cheaper options. And the drinks you can get at any Irish pub around town.

Filed under: Patrick Bay, The Occasional Food Review

GO “Quiet Zone” is futility coupled with excuses

Posted on July 8th, 2013 1 Comment

The reactions to today’s news that GO Transit is instituting “quiet zones” on their trains received the typical didn’t-think-too-hard-about-it applause and accolades, no doubt from the same suburban readers responsible for the Ford plague loosed on the city:

“Thank you, Jesus! (and GO Transit). Now.. if only they can install headrests designed for people taller than 4’5″…”

“About time! Nobody wants to hear phone conversations about “Dude Iwas so wasted last night” or “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!” or “Tell Mom to take the steaks out of the freezer”. Thumbs up GO!”

“Thank Goodness!  I can’t wait to see this on the Georgetown (Kitchener) line.  There are some seriously unmannered women on my ride home who think the train car is their personal Starbucks – passing around drinks and food and yelling amongst themselves.  Everyone hates them…we can’t wait for the Quiet Zone!!”

Yes, thumbs up, GO! Now passengers can be assured that no one will be bothered by loud conversations or screaming children. The teeth that come with the new guidelines practically guarantee this:

What if there are no seats available on the lower level, but I don’t want to be quiet?

Passengers in the Quiet Zone are encouraged to abide by the Quiet Zone guidelines.

Who will ensure that passengers abide by the Quiet Zone guidelines?

The Quiet Zone is for the comfort of all our passengers, and we ask that all riders respect the desire for reduced noise and distractions in this area.

What should passengers do if someone is making noise in the Quiet Zone?

If the Quiet Zone is noisy, move to another coach or ask the person(s) making noise to reduce the volume.

Passengers should not press the alarm if someone is making noise in the Quiet Zone. The passenger assistance alarm is for emergencies only.

Will there be times when Quiet Zone is cancelled or suspended during a trip?

From time to time, Customer Service Ambassadors may cancel Quiet Zone if he or she feels it is in the best interest of the customers. This may happen during:

  • Special events (such as, sporting events, concerts and the CNE)
  • Train delays of more than 15 minutes
  • Trips that have many families and/or children onboard
  • Excursion trips (such as, Niagara Falls train trips)

So it’s up to passengers to enforce these guidelines (a euphemism for suggestions), and if someone is making noise in the quiet zone, you can ask the person to hush up or just move to another car. And if you want to be loud but can’t move downstairs? Well, by gosh, you’re encouraged to not be loud. There may, of course, be no Quiet Zone for the particular trip you’re on, so none of this may apply anyways.

Yup, this pretty much guarantees (a la Rob Ford), that loudness and rudeness will stop. After all, unruly passengers are among the most likely to respond to polite suggestions and finger wagging.


One could almost excuse such silliness as the useless hot air that it is, if it wasn’t for this little nugget found at the bottom of the Toronto Star article on the topic:

“Trains delayed because crews are investigating a noise complaint in the Quiet Zone won’t qualify for the 15-minute GO guarantee.”

The 15-minute guarantee here is what GO instituted about half a year ago to try to improve the system’s poor image. I can personally attest to the numerous failures GO has in its services, from unexplained delays to things like trains simply not showing up at all (presumably they were cancelled, but no one bothered to tell the people waiting).

The time guarantee was promised as a way of making GO pay for its service failures, but it doesn’t take long to see that it’s an attempt by GO to ensure that people stay in its system, not to make anything more reliable. Just look at what the guarantee actually says:

Customers will be credited the fare paid for the eligible delayed trip. PRESTO card holders in their 35+ trip discount periods will receive the reduced fare paid as credit.

Customers using single ride tickets will receive a credit voucher redeemable for the trip on which a delay was experienced.

Day and group pass customers will receive credit vouchers for one half of the pass price for a delayed trip, up to a maximum of two trips.

Your money won’t actually be refunded, you’ll get a credit so that you can once again experience the thrill of another GO cancellation. That is, if you meet the criteria to make you eligible:

To be eligible for credit under the GO Train Service Guarantee, PRESTO card holders must tap on no sooner than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the delayed train in question. For customers travelling using a single-ride ticket, that ticket must be purchased within one hour of the scheduled departure time.

Practically, this means that GO will refund exactly 0% and lose exactly $0. I’m sure they would make the argument that they’re losing money because they didn’t get it in the first place, kind of like a fare jumper riding for free, but that’s essentially the same as saying you lost $1 million in the lottery last night because you didn’t play and win.

That all being said, assuming you’re in the narrow window required to qualify for a “refund” GO nonetheless reserves the unequivocal right to refuse it when they claim that a delay or cancellation wasn’t their fault (and good luck in proving otherwise). Now they also include when someone is being too loud on one of the trains. Tomorrow it’ll probably be dependent on a certain shade of blue in the sky that day.

I wonder how many people now singing GO’s praises will think so highly of them when it comes time to actually take them up on their “guarantee”.

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Why I'm Right

Subways! Subways! Subways! Guaranteed!

Posted on July 8th, 2013 Be the first to comment


I honestly thought that the naked rhetoric of Rob Ford’s “guarantees” had finally come to and end, that people had finally seen through the lies and blatant bullshit that keeps spilling out of his mouth. But then I remember that this is Ford Nation we’re talking about here, the types of people who would welcome the Fords to literally rape their family so long as he kept their child-like suspicions at bay through years of shallow, empty, meaningless, and broken promises.

And it was indeed Ford Nation, flying it’s ignorance high and proud at the recent picnic to celebrate Rob Ford’s many crowning achievements, taking the opportunity to shut down a public park to sing glory to their beloved weighty overlord. So it’s no surprise that no one in the crowd bothered to question the fact that Ford was once again making the same “guarantee” that he’s been failing miserably to implement and, in fact, has shown time and again that he has absolutely no idea how to bring about (unless someone had a couple of billion they were planning on “investing” at the event).

“There’s one thing I promise and I’m going to get, are those subways. Mark my words. The subways are coming. I have to be politically correct. I can tell you where we want to send those LRTs, but like I said, I’ve got to behave. So, LRTs can go somewhere, but subways are coming to Scarborough. Guaranteed.”

Obviously Robbie showed an insane amount of self-restraint in not swearing on an open, public mic during an all-ages event, but clearly he wanted to.

The crowd must’ve thought that Ford not telling them to go fuck themselves, or any other number of ignorance and hatred-laced Fordisms, was next to Jesus on the righteousness scale, and they hooted and hollered as their man openly lied to their faces again – open, simple, idiotic lies (and yes, at this point lies is all they can be), that anyone with half a brain would be able to see through. And therein, clearly, lies the problem.

It’s not tough to imagine that Ford’s mayoralty will come and go with more money wasted than saved, higher taxes, higher costs and reduced or eliminated services, and basically the exact opposite of everything that Ford claims. Ford will blame and point fingers, of course, and then demand to have another four years of lies and dismal failures which he will “guarantee!” will definitely, for sure — just trust him! — happen this time.

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay