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Morning Brew: Cllr. Raymond Cho goes provincial, Ikea monkey owner plans protest, Metrolinx eyes heritage building, fixing Wheel-Trans, and elephants pack trunks

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 19, 2012

toronto street signThere could be another by-election on the horizon in Toronto. Tim Hudak's PCs have named veteran city councillor Raymond Cho as their candidate for the Scarborough-Rouge River riding, meaning the long-time Ford critic will have to take a leave of absence to run. Cho said "Ontarians' democracy has been hijacked" and pledged support for new subways under Hudak. If he's elected, Cho's Ward 42 seat will be up for grabs.

The owner of Ikea monkey says she's planning to picket Toronto Animal Services this afternoon in protest at an adjournment in her upcoming appeal hearing. Yasmin Nakhuda is concerned she won't be able to get her hands back on Darwin, her pet rhesus macaque that escaped in an Ikea car park just over a week ago. Is this going to far?

Metrolinx has eyes for the former Mt. Dennis Kodak building as the western terminus of the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT. The abandoned historic building could also become office space for the provincial transit agency, according to Inside Toronto. A consultant for the company thinks it will be possible to tunnel under the white, four-storey structure without resorting to demolition.

The TTC's Wheel-Trans service could be in for an overhaul. Toronto's auditor general says the cost of running the door-to-door service for people with mobility difficulties needs to be reduced. One idea is to offer users a free ride on regular transit to try and reduce the 2.7 million trips made using the service each year. The average cost of a Wheel-Trans trip is $31. Should Wheel-Trans be reigned in?

Ooh, déjà vu. Toronto Zoo's trio of African elephants will be PAWS bound in spring, ending a lengthy tug of war between city councillors and zoo staff who preferred the animals be sent to an under-construction facility in Florida. Surely this is a done deal now?

The Barnes Dances, an infinitely better name for the faintly-gory "pedestrian scramble," is an invention generally credited to Henry Barnes, an American that popularized the all-way crossings in several US cities. The Atlantic Cities has a history of the crossings that appear in Toronto at Yonge and Dundas and Bay and Bloor.

Hey, budding photos. Here's a video explaining how to put together a neat spinning video for the CN Tower or other tall buildings. By taking photographs at several strategic points around the perimeter of a tower and stitching them together you can make a cool twirling effect.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "Assortment" by Dominic Bugatto from the blogTO Flickr pool.



Mat / December 19, 2012 at 08:54 am
Wow Raymond cho is dizzy. Get this man his medication
Big Fuckin Mega Boat / December 19, 2012 at 09:37 am
"One idea is to offer users a free ride on regular transit to try and reduce the 2.7 million trips made using the service each year."

The entire idea behind Wheel-Trans is to provide transportation to those who cannot access regular TTC due to mobility reaons. If you can't get to the bus/streetcar/subway, a free ride is really of no use.
Sean Marshall / December 19, 2012 at 09:40 am

Raymond Cho doesn't have to step down unless he's elected in the provincial election. Previous councillors have not been bound by such a non-existant rule either; David Shiner (unsuccessful, for the Conservatives, Olivia Chow (twice unsuccessful, for the NDP, resigned from council prior to her third, successful election in Trinity-Spadina), and Bas Balkissoon (successful, for the Liberals).

The NP article states as such:
"Once an election is called, Mr. Cho plans to take a leave of absence from his job as a councillor to campaign, but said he will still attend important meetings at city hall. Asked if he would be supporting more of the mayor’s agenda going forward, he said it depends on the issue. 'I’m not basically against Mayor Rob Ford,' he said."
julo / December 19, 2012 at 09:41 am
Who gives a rats ass about heritage buildings anymore? The developers have destroyed almost all of them already. Why hold on to those precious last few? Complete the destruction and start owning what Anthony Bourdain recently called "An ugly city"
Chris Bateman replying to a comment from Sean Marshall / December 19, 2012 at 09:47 am
Thanks Sean – I've just clarified that.
Al / December 19, 2012 at 09:53 am
The TTC is installing elevators at stations to make them wheelchair accessible. Subway cars, buses and streetcars have spaces for wheelchairs. The buses lower at each stop to allow wheelchairs to get on. The new streetcars are all low to the ground to accommodate wheelchairs. Is the plan to do away with Wheel-Trans once all stations and vehicles are 100% accessible?
cathy replying to a comment from Al / December 19, 2012 at 11:33 am
I don't have experience with Toronto's Wheel-Trans, but my mom uses the same service in the city she lives in. She can have difficulty walking to the bus stop if the weather is bad (she has a walker and oxygen) and the couple of times I've been on the bus with her they made stops at a nursing home to pick up a severely handicapped woman with a caretaker. Even if transit is accessible it doesn't help people with extreme mobility issues. She also had to stop taking the bus while she was having chemo due to infection control issues.

She had to have a recommendation from her doctor to apply though. I don't think I'd take people's word for it for a service that expensive.
Big Fuckin Mega Boat replying to a comment from cathy / December 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm
That's a very similar situation I have with my mother. She's fine to actually ride the vehicles, but getting to/from a TTC stop can be extremely difficult for her. As such, offering a free ride really isn't ideal.

Perhaps a better solution would be to focus on weeding out those that abuse the system or perhaps limiting the number of rides a user can take in a month (they may already do this, I'm not really sure on that one)? Of course this will inevitably lead to a debate as to who truly "needs" it and who does not, which I imagine would get very messy. Tough situation.
Al replying to a comment from cathy / December 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm
I don't think it will cost her $31. I think that's the total cost to the TTC.
Charles / December 19, 2012 at 01:00 pm
So Yasmin Nakhuda apparently has a love for monkeys and decides she can show this love by suing an organization dedicated to caring for simians, many of them abused or neglected. I'm sure Storybook has a huge cache of funds on hand earmarked for handling legal disputes with people who dress apes in a shearling coats and go shopping with them at IKEA. I guess when you're holding a hammer, everything else looks like a nail. Maybe Yasmin should get on with her life and leave organizations like Storybook alone. I'm sure they have countless sad stories of well-meaning owners.
cathy replying to a comment from Al / December 19, 2012 at 01:15 pm
The $31 is the reported cost to the TTC. My mom pays regular bus fare for her parabus rides (which is what they call it in the Soo) and the odd time a bus can't pick her up they send a cab and she gives them her bus fare. If my mom called a cab herself to go to one of her appointments it would be at least $35 one way. We definitely appreciate the service.

Believe or not, just after she got home from the hospital with her new walker they switched out the buses on her route with the older 3-stair vehicles which she absolutely couldn't manage. She was generally trapped at home unless I was visiting because she couldn't get on the bus by herself and the paperwork for the parabus got mixed up.

I think until someone is put into that kind of situation themselves it's hard to really grasp how necessary this service is. There are people on the Star commenting on how "to be fair" Wheel-Trans riders should be paying most of the fare for these trips. They've obviously never been in a situation where they were unable to go anywhere for weeks at a time.

Alex / December 19, 2012 at 01:55 pm
I don't see how $31 is that bad, considering they offer door to door service. There is no way anyone is abusing the system either, since it is so inconvenient. The province or city just needs to decide whether or not they are willing to pay for it. I don't think there really is an alternative, I'd imagine that accessible cabs are really expensive. Our population is aging and so we're going to have to put more money into taking care of seniors, it's just a fact of our demographics.
Pat / December 19, 2012 at 02:40 pm
Restoring the Kodak building will be a hell of an undertaking, has Metrolinx actually been there?

This is a tour of the building:
Phil / December 19, 2012 at 03:45 pm
Re. the Kodak building, somebody better tell these guys:
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