sunset skyscrapers

Morning Brew: office towers killing birds, billboards on the Gardiner, elderly couple struck by truck, TTC executive fired, police board refuses to make cuts

Two highly-reflective, 17-storey office towers at highway 401 & McCowan are a death trap, killing hundreds of passing birds each year (including White-throated Sparrows, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Nashville Warblers, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eye Juncos, etc.). The problem has caught the attention of environmental groups Ontario Nature and Ecojustice, who are taking the building's managers to task under the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Turning off lights at night, and hanging decoys in the windows only partly solve the problem, and it's unlikely that replacing all of the glass on the building is going to a solution easily achieved.

Driver safety on the Gardiner Expressway is being pitted against the rights of businesses to erect billboards for advertising. In advance of new, stricter billboard laws, a flood of applications for new approvals is being observed, many requesting the rights to put up large, flashy, digital, illuminated signs between highway 427 and Royal York Road. I suppose it won't be a huge safety concern during rush hours (given that cars are barely moving in that area during those times), but being distracted by giant screens while traveling at high speeds is far from ideal.

An elderly couple were struck by a truck on Yonge Street near Maitland (south of Wellesley) yesterday, required extraction from under the vehicle, and are in critical condition. Every day in Toronto, several pedestrians are involved in collisions with motor vehicles, but this year continues to be far worse that usual in terms of the number of fatalities that have resulted. This particular incident has prompted those familiar with the area to question the relatively great distance between two controlled crossings.

The TTC has fired an executive and severed business ties with his girlfriend - an amateur photographer who he helped land a $50,000 contract to shoot photos of the TTC's public meetings and streetscapes. This conflict of interest appears to be being dealt with swiftly and strictly, but the scenario may force the commission to revisit its policy, which is "...only as good as the individual who is asked to adhere to it."

Also in TTC news (and in case you missed it yesterday), GPS tracking of additional TTC streetcar routes is now live. No more aimlessly waiting in transit shelters in blistering -40oC winds!

And the Toronto Police Board and the City of Toronto are on a collision course over spending and the 2010 operating budget. The City is looking for the police to cut $5.9 million from its $892.2 million operating budget, but as it stands, the police are showing a $37.4 million increase in operating costs over their 2009 budget. Something's gotta give here, and it may be that some of the 258 planned new recruits are among the cuts required.

Photo: "what a day" by E-Lite Photography, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.


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