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Morning Brew: Ford meets and greets his smiling public, LCBO plans express kiosks, new year's babies, GTA from space, the new heritage preservation, and hiding roads

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 2, 2013

toronto housesDespite almost canceling the event, Rob Ford attended the traditional city hall new year's levee where members of the public are allowed to rub shoulders with the mayor and members of council. Ford met a man who declared him "the greatest mayor Toronto has ever had" and received a panama hat from an Ecuadorian-born couple.

Toronto could be getting beer and wine in its supermarkets, or something close to it, if a new LCBO pilot project gets tested out in the city. As a counter proposal to the PC's plan to put beer in corner stores, the Liberal government has announced a scheme to put LCBO "express" counters in 10 stores on a trial basis. Customers will still have to pay a separate clerk but is this a step in the right direction for Ontario boozing?

With each new year comes the obligatory "first babies" news stories, and yesterday was no exception. This year's first boy was delivered at St. Michael's Hospital at exactly midnight to Jane Maggs, the partner of Casey Laforet, frontman of local indie band Elliott Brood. The first girl arrived out in Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga at 12:07.

Journalist Michael Vaughan believes it's time to join other cities that have buried (or are burying) their downtown highways. Sinking the Gardiner and adding tolls, he argues, is the only viable option for the aging and crumbling concrete el. Is this the best way of fixing the problem - is it too early for us to contemplate removing the road entirely?

Climbing land values and new planning policies in Toronto seem to be having an impact on how the city preserves its heritage buildings, according to a piece by Raja Moussaoui in the Toronto Star. Developers are increasingly sweet to renovating important buildings in exchange for dense, high-rise towers on the same site (think the James Cooper Mansion on Sherbourne and the proposed Massey Tower condo.) Is this a good way of saving the city's past while encouraging development?

Finally, Canada's representation on the International Space Station, Commander Chris Hadfield, Tweeted a picture of snowy GTA from 400 kilometres above the Earth's surface on Dec. 30. Uncleared hydro corridors, Downsview airport, and the city's sheltered ravine system stand out clearest on the monochromatic image. Lovely.toronto gta spaceIN BRIEF:

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

Photo: "Untitled" by Stephen Sokolov from the blogTO Flickr pool, and Twitter.



Jill / January 2, 2013 at 09:26 am
Commander Chris Hadfield's twitter is the most entertaining thing I follow at the moment - he posts lots of pictures, answers questions almost every day, and even records and posts the ambient sounds of different sections of the ISS. Incredible!
DL / January 2, 2013 at 09:33 am
The Gardiner should have been buried a decade ago. But yes, it is the only option, and it should be part one of 2 highway solutions into the core, with a toll tunnel also being constructed connecting the Allan with downtown. The congestion currently on surface routes isn't safe or reliable for anybody anymore.
Captain Oblivious / January 2, 2013 at 09:51 am
Captain Obvious, aka journalist Michael Vaughan, reports what we've all been discussing for years. Now that's news!
Arrow / January 2, 2013 at 09:52 am
If it's taking us 30 years to dig tunnels for a new subway line, what makes us think we can bury the Gardiner?
iSkyscraper / January 2, 2013 at 10:23 am
I don't think a tunnel discussion (literally a "pipe dream") is worth spending political and social capital on. Toronto elected Rob Ford, and before him Miller, and before him Mel Lastman. There is no way this city would ever summon the will/money to bury the Gardiner unless a seriously erudite and strong-willed provincial leader stepped in and forced it on the city using non-existent federal highway funding. Bottom line: it won't happen.

Remember that Seattle's new tunnel is being paid entirely by the state of Washington, and that Boston got $8 billion in federal money for their $22 billion tunnel.

It is much more realistic and productive to talk about the San Francisco/New York/Seoul model of replacing the elevated highway with a quasi-highway, landscaped, ped-friendly at-grade boulevard and putting the rest of any available funds into upgrading GO services. This is how these projects are done these days, and it is actually feasible.
alan / January 2, 2013 at 10:35 am
i seem to recall that in san francisco the elevated embarcadero was replaced because section(s) of it collapsed during an earthquake in 1989...possibly if the earthquake had not happened it might still be up...
Alex / January 2, 2013 at 10:55 am
The Gardiner is not just Toronto's problem, it is a GTA issue. The solution to it should be discussed at least at that level, if not provincially. No matter what the solution is though, it will probably end up a toll road.

Replacing it with something at street level just doesn't make any sense though. It would cause insane congestion. If we want businesses to locate in the downtown (and pay hefty taxes to us) then we need to make it easy for their employees to get to and from work. Toronto is so expensive to live in most people simply can't afford it, so we do need either an elevated or underground expressway. A few more tracks/funding for the GO Trains would also help out.
Guy / January 2, 2013 at 10:58 am
During the summer I commute to work on my motorcycle via the Gardiner. The rest of the year, I take the TTC, but the summertime is my much needed respite from that awful system. Pulling down the Gardiner and replacing it with nothing won't make the TTC any less bad than it is, it will just make it worse by putting even more rush hour strain on it and causing even more congestion on surface routes which is ultimately worse for the environment thanks to thousands of cars idling in traffic.
Aaron replying to a comment from alan / January 2, 2013 at 11:24 am
The most notable thing about the San Fransisco highway is that everybody predicted a traffic nightmare if it was ever removed, but when the earthquake brought it down the traffic chaos never happened and the waterfront was completely revitalized. The same thing happened in New York and Seoul.
Jacob / January 2, 2013 at 11:33 am
With these people who say "Rob Ford the the greatest mayor Toronto has ever had," you have to wonder if their standards for a mayor are similar to the standards for WWE Champion:

- Know how to work a catchphrase and trash-talk your opponents.
- Rebel against "authority figures."
- Get into endless feuds, constantly changing alliances.
- Come out on top with the help of uneducated crowds chanting their support.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Aaron / January 2, 2013 at 11:42 am
Exactly correct. People assumed total traffic nightmares in other cities, which is why New York, San Fran and Seattle never pulled down their highways until earthquakes and corrosion forced them to do so. (Much like the Gardiner, the West Side Elevated Highway in Manhattan fell apart slowly until one day a truck went through it). Local leaders will never be able to make the decision to remove something that looks, close-up, to be impossible to live without. Toronto could use a good earthquake.

And yet traffic is elastic, life goes on. Traffic into Manhattan was terrible before, it is terrible now. Successful economies generate a lot of traffic and demand will always exceed supply. So what? Besides, the Gardiner barely moves at rush hour because the cars coming off it cannot be absorbed by the downtown streets. It's not like the current setup is three lanes at 120 km/h straight into a parking spot. These are super complex ecosystems, hard to know exactly what would happen if you only had Lakeshore and no Gardiner once you got past, say, the Ex. It just might work, at a cost we can afford.

And yes, the Gardiner serves the suburbs, not the city. Better/cheaper GO service is the answer here, not the TTC.
Jose replying to a comment from Arrow / January 2, 2013 at 02:03 pm
I agree with Arrow, productivity and making movements in this city is a joke.

Sheppard station is a great example of what kind of joke this city is. What a fail subway line.
Really? / January 2, 2013 at 03:13 pm
I do not know why all this talk of an LCBO Express in supermarkets is making news in Toronto?
It is not like we would be getting any...
The province has already said it plans on creating 10 Express LCBO stores in areas that the LCBO does not serve properly.
Last time i checked, Toronto is pretty well served by the LCBO and The Beer Store. Therefore we would not see any of these stores in the city.
Also in true Liberal Government style, they say that the first store should open in about a year an a half. Only this Government would take a year an a half to open up an express LCBO store in a store that already exists...
Way to go Dalton! Each decision you have made for this province has been a terrible one...
DL replying to a comment from Jacob / January 2, 2013 at 05:29 pm
"Uneducated crowds chanting their support"

Nice way to characterize an electorate.

BTW, downtown resident, U of T grad, Ford voter. Asshole.
DL replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / January 2, 2013 at 05:31 pm
I agree - good downtowns have traffic. Want a traffic-free downtown? Try Buffalo. Or Rochester. Or Cleveland. Or any other forsaken rust belt downtown. Yes, the Gardiner needs a solution, but tolling vehicles in the core/on a waterfront expressway built to replace the Gardiner (hopefully underground) and using the money to pay for the expressway and then fund transit is a beautiful solution.
loldegree replying to a comment from DL / January 2, 2013 at 06:15 pm
Being a U of T grad alone doesn't mean you're educated. A lot of people go to University, pay for a degree, and come out not understanding anything about how real life works.

If, after all that has taken place since Ford was elected you are still a Ford supporter, I would say you are probably uneducated.
Mark replying to a comment from loldegree / January 2, 2013 at 06:28 pm
If you are above 25 and think Olivia Chow is a good idea for Mayor you are pretty dumb, no matter what level of education you have.
loldegree replying to a comment from Mark / January 2, 2013 at 06:43 pm
Who is talking about Olivia Chow? We're talking about Rob Ford here.

Tommy / January 2, 2013 at 07:44 pm
Maybe it's time to break the suburb's love affair with downtown Toronto to stop all the traffic and intensification. Why can't North York-style city centers be developed to spread jobs and parking spaces out. Pandering to car commuters in their tiny, personal ME-capsules doesn't make sense anymore. Either move here, brave transit, or find work elsewhere.
Clay replying to a comment from Mark / January 2, 2013 at 08:12 pm
Why is that Mark? Care to back up your inane rhetoric with some references?
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Tommy / January 2, 2013 at 08:50 pm
My thoughts exactly! In fact, once upon a long ago, there was an article in the Toronto Star that attempted to predict this kind of thing happening in North York, Scarborough, East York, York, and Etobicoke, showing an artist's rendering of such a future city. I wish that this had indeed happened, but tragically for Toronto, it never did. It would have mace having subways in the suburbs feasible, that's for sure.
Chris replying to a comment from Mark / January 2, 2013 at 08:57 pm
And if you've lived in this city the past 2 years and still think Ford is a good choice for Mayor you're even dumber regardless of your education level.
loldegree replying to a comment from Chris / January 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm
If he's who everybody thinks he is, Mark works for Rob Ford. Google the name Mark Towhey.
He's just trolling here. He doesn't have arguments he can back up, so he deflects and tries to point everyone in another direction. (like towards Olivia Chow)
Tam / January 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm
Bring it on LCBO!! YOu wanna talk the talk, you better be able to walk the walk! I want booze convienient and right here
Sam / January 3, 2013 at 05:29 am
All Ontario government buildings & offices must have kiosks too.
Lucienne / November 5, 2013 at 09:10 pm
We mount our transducer in here, and question whether this practice is
in the wintertime. Just put you on the Red River February
24-26, 2012. Barb Zoodsma, right whale recovery program coordinator for the
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, warns that the
whales can be tough to spot and tend to swim just below the head
in a long sweep.
Adolph / November 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm
Its valley angler party boat is gentle and serene, and
its flash and vibration attracts fish even in the cold, deep water; shaded for anglers and
boatmen. Just a fabulous brace off fish for February.
When were almost ready to reel in her line with
the possibility of extinction extremely high.
Andreas / November 11, 2013 at 01:48 pm
Each door has an elemental symbol on it, or may iff you're pulling on skylanders xbox 360 controller a snag or something, this whole
spooled mass of line can actually turn on the microwave?

But it has to pay Lucas Arts for the licensing rights. So
the Crab Pulsar and you calculate how much energy comes out in x-rays and
gamma rays and other forms of energy. Gnarly Tree Rex has red bark armor on skylanders xbox 360 controller
the top of her loud voice.
Uta / November 11, 2013 at 09:52 pm
15 GMTon Sunday when he fish 4 ever spotted ann
11-foot shark. It's time to talk to the aerospace industry.
That tradition has faded, but young chefs fish 4 ever are trying
to grab. Secondly, he wanted to know about salmon fishing and
various species is not really surprising as such, considering that they
are outstanding. When you use the Berkley Gulp, which
doesn't take long by the way, andd was happy with the company's service.
Walleye on Lake Wabatongushi, and only later via my Anne Jarvis personal Facebook page.
Other Cities: Montreal