Archive for June, 2007

Collision: Toronto Transportation Services, Toronto Police: Cyclist Killed

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Plus ca change department:

pink bike on bloor–star and car advertiser photo

This comes along a bit late in the chain of events. However.

We have held back from making comment on the latest fatality of a Toronto cyclist until now. Not that we haven’t thought about it a lot. We’ve paid careful attention to the news on this one, from the moment we first heard of it. But we’ve been holding our tongue, waiting for act five of the tragedy.

We’re tired of waiting.

Bring on the Deus Ex Machina!

Here’s how the city of Toronto described the crash that killed the cyclist in their own press release:

Cyclist killed in collision with City vehicle

TORONTO, June 8 /CNW/ – A City of Toronto Transportation Services vehicle was involved in a fatal collision with a cyclist this morning on Bayview Ave. at approximately 8:15 a.m.

The Transportation vehicle, a small dump truck pulling a trailer, was traveling southbound on Bayview Ave., south of Highway 401, when a collision occurred between a cyclist and the vehicle at the intersection of Bayview Ave. and Fifeshire Rd./Truman Rd.

“We are cooperating fully with the police in their investigation of this very serious and tragic matter,” said Gary Welsh, General Manager, Transportation Services.

For further information: Media contact: Steve Johnston, Sr.
Communications Coordinator, (416) 392-4391

Here’s how the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser described it:

Cyclist killed by garbage truck
June 08, 2007
Rachel De Lazzer
Staff Reporter

A cyclist was killed this morning when his bicycle collided with a garbage truck in the city’s north end.

The City of Toronto truck and the cyclist were both travelling southbound on Bayview Ave. just south of Highway 401 when they collided where the road narrows at Fife Rd., said Toronto police Staff Sgt. Keith Haines.

The truck was towing a trailer with a Bobcat industrial machine on it, he said.

The southbound lanes of Bayview were closed for the morning, but reopened at midday.

The victim was believed to be about 35, but police could not immediately identify him.

He was taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he died from his injuries.

Here’s the police press release:

Traffic fatality #21/2007
Broadcast time: 22:50
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Traffic Services
On Friday June 8, 2007, at about 8:09 a.m., a 48−year−old man was cycling in the southbound curb lane of Bayview Avenue, south of Fifeshire Road.

It is alleged that:
− a City of Toronto work truck, with trailer, was also travelling in the southbound curb lane,
− for unknown reasons, the truck and cyclist came into contact, knocking the cyclist to the roadway,
− the truck came to a sudden stop and was rear−ended by a 1993 SUV.

The cyclist was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416−808−1900, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), or online at

Constable George Schuurman, Public Information, for Sergeant Steve O’Donovan, Traffic Services.

You know the drill, by now: a dedicated and careful all-season cyclist, fit and trim (hey–at age 48 he was estimated by first responders to be only 35) on a busy road near Canada’s busiest highway is struck by a city of Toronto truck towing a trailer carrying a small excavator. It happens on a beautiful, warm spring day. He dies at the scene, or shortly thereafter. The incident happens on a street where the width shrinks by a lane, in broad daylight. Was he struck from the rear? Was he clipped by the trailer? Was it a case where truck sideguards would have protected the cyclist? All this is up for debate. Would it have helped if the city didn’t have those bus lay-bys, which effectively widen the road and then shrink it again in an unpredictable manner? It’s not clear.

What’s clear is the man is dead.

The family has requested his anonymity be protected, but what we know is he was a father of four, married to a Toronto Police Sargent.

Some friends of ours, and friends of the cyclist, held a memorial a week after the crash. About 22 people made the long haul up to Bayview and Fifeshire, just south of the 401, for the sad event.

When a cyclist is killed, sides are often drawn.
“The driver was inexperienced,” we hear. “The cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet,” we hear. As if there could be an excuse.

Often, there’s a feeling that some “authority” or other has hegemony.

In this case, where the Toronto Police Service is involved as a victim, we hope the City of Toronto can be called to task for its intransigence on the (nearly) 10-year-old Toronto Coroner’s investigation into cyclist fatalities, which recommended (number fifteen) sideguards on large trucks and (number twelve) respect for cyclists: “law of the sea” brought to land: not “Steam gives way to sail,” but “motor gives way to muscle.”

Or, in the dry language of the coroner’s report:

The concept of motorized vehicles yielding to non-motorized vehicles, who in turn must yield to pedestrians seems to be a common sense rule which should be accepted by all road users.

Meanwhile, ICES BUG, a city of Toronto-recognized “Bicycle Users Group” based at Sunnybrook Hospital’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, has been struggling to make cycling along Bayview Avenue (Sunnybrook iis on Bayview, just south of the collision site) safer for a while. They had a meeting with Ward 25 Councillor Cliff Jenkins scheduled for last week.

Their request? A bikelane on Bayview.

A bike lane on Bayview should be top on our priority list: Here is why:

1. Bayview represents the best available continuous north (up to the 401) to south (Eglinton) bike route in Ward 25. The alternatives are Yonge (more bike unfriendly) and Leslie (too far east)

2. Bayview is
a. a major artery to a University (York, Glendon Campus). Students travel by bicycle more often than non-students
b. a major artery to Sunnybrook Hospital, a major employer and destination point
c. a major artery to major park/recreation area – Sunnybrook and other connecting parks
d. a major artery to designated city bike routes/lanes (south east through park; south to downtown; west through cemeteries and beltline)

3. Bayview already has a bike lane present that connects the Granite Club to Lawrence (wow, like 1/2 KM!)
4. Cars travel dangerously fast between Sheppard and Lawrence because there are no businesses/parking
5. There is room for a bike lane (my perception) almost the entire way
6. Bayview and Sheppard is becoming a high density residential neighbourhood which may increase cycling volume
7. A cyclist died on it today

Now, a bikelane is a special thing. We at the ALLDERBLOB see bikelanes as a light-handed version of Baron Von Haussman‘s excavation and remodeling of Paris: an opportunity to create light where before was only shadow–but without destroying the fine-grained fabric, as Haussman did. Bikelanes make possible unexpected linkages, freedom of movement in places of car-clotted clutter, mysterious openings in the city.

The city of Toronto has a plan for bikelanes, and a department dedicated to installing them.
It’s financed by our taxes to the tune of several million dollars each year.

Does this mean bikelanes get built? Not necessarily. Does it mean they get built where cyclist need or want them? Only occasionally.

This year we’ve seen one councillor propose bikelanes on a street where no cyclist rides, and another councillor create one where a link is absolutely needed, and will benefit all cyclists in ways that are difficult to predict. That neither street is on the bikeway master plan has not escaped notice.

We’ve also seen the proposed gutting of the Toronto Cycling Committee by its new commissar, Ward 35 Councillor Adrian Heaps.

Again, folks have noticed.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

We’ve watched for some time as one group or another struggles with the Bloor/Danforth question. We’ve taken a side, ourselves. A bikelane on Bloor/Danforth, while not on the bike master plan (like Yonge, like Eastern), makes enormous sense. It links cyclists with destinations east and west across the entire city. It sits above a subway line capable of carrying hundreds of thousands of would-be car-drivers. It’s relatively flat for most of its distance. It’s a street that could stand to be “Thickened,” as we described it in a previous posting.

Most recently, the struggle for bikelanes on Bloor/Danforth took the form of guerrilla lane-painting. Apparently, as documented on the pages of the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser, there’s a bear-like group out there known as OURS, for the “Other Urban Repair Squad,” which with non-regulation pink spraypaint has decorated the curb lane of Bloor street with bike-like stencils and a continuous pink line: a hopeful gesture, but quickly obliterated by the city’s road-scraping machinery.

Now, in the past, the editors of the Star and Car Advertiser have been unfriendly to cyclists. We still recall our colleague Tim Gleason’s Opinion piece of about 10 years ago, proposing cyclist be treated differently than other road users: given the right to treat stop signs as “yields” (like they do in Idaho) and red lights as stop signs (if the way is clear, you can proceed–again, legal in Idaho). The letters page following Tim’s column was dedicated to folks trashing his position. One or two stopped just short of threatening physical violence upon his person.

On other occasions, we recall the Star fulminating in its editorial against bikelane projects that we saw as logical and necessary–such as the lane on Dundas. They claimed it would destroy the driver’s commute from the east end, if not his life [somehow the driver survives though. –ed.].

So it was with heavy heart that we opened the letters page today to see that the feature of the week was a collection of letters regarding the story about the pink lane painters.

Something is up at the Star and Car Advertiser however.
Maybe it has something to do with the online poll they ran last week, which saw overwhelming support (64.8% in favour) for the proposition that the city should “prioritize” the construction of bikelanes.

And, quel surprise!–five out of six letters selected by the Star applauded the OURS group. Is that 64.8%? More like 83.3%.

The collection included supportive letters from names familiar to us: Joe LaFortune and Michael Polanyi among them; the clincher was this one:

Does the Other Urban Repair Squad take requests? We sure could use a bike lane on Bayview Ave. No rush – any time this summer would be good. Many thanks.

Marjorie Nichol, Toronto

So here’s the question, and we come full circle: if a bikelane can be seen as a lighthanded version of Haussmann’s urban excavation, could a pretty painted pink bike be the lighthanded deus ex machina that’s needed on Bayview?

Tooker Gomberg at the ROM

Friday, June 15th, 2007

We found ourselves at Daniel Libeskind’s new addition to Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum the other day. We came prepared, of course, having followed the project from its birth as a napkin sketch, to its competition with two other finalists five years ago, to its reification and vilification (depending who you read) in the media, and its final aluminum-skinned overhang battles with the city of Toronto (if we encroach on our neighbour, it’s to be expected we pay for their loss of sky and sun, so why shouldn’t the city’s bean-counters treat “Respected business leader and editor” William Thorsell the same way?)

We’ll tell you why not.

Fact is, the ROM crystal’s a “gem” (albeit opaque, not transparent). It’s true, as some boastful drywall expert was explaining to his sons and anyone else in earshot as we passed, detailing issues with the gypsum wallboard abound. It’s true there are massive planes of wall that show streaks of dust (“WASH ME!” we saw written more than once) and it’s true that when you look where the sun don’t shine you may find some moments Libeskind (“By his works shall ye know him”) wouldn’t be proud of. If you go, peer into some of the voids hard by the existing building, for example. There you will see exposed drywall screws and lumps of unsanded, unpainted “mud.”

But the sequence of interior spaces, the remarkable surprises and mysteries, the nuances of refracted light, the sensitivity of the event-space where “new” meets “old” at the building’s edges: all are breathtaking.

This is a building that Toronto can be thankful for.

The ALLDERBLOB comes not to praise Libeskind, however. We come to bury the city of Toronto.

Get your act together, people.

Fact is, we have no use for Thorsell and his ilk. We do not bless the white-tie set. But with this museum, they have gotten something very right, and not just for them as can afford the $20 adult admission.

What this building really celebrates is the public realm. It celebrates it in the surprising vistas one glimpses from a distance or from between other buildings. It celebrates it most of all at street-level, where the new ROM entrance has been relocated, on Bloor Street. Here the ROM has given Toronto a great public space.

The city must reciprocate.

It’s on Bloor that the city has fallen down in its duties.

The day we visited the ROM, we arrived by subway and had to remind ourselves it’s not the “museum” stop we wanted but “St George,” where the new entrance is. We walked the short distance from the subway toward the gangly, jangling behemoth that is the new crystal, along Bloor Street.

Just as we arrived, a group of about two dozen cyclists, plus an escort of six bike cops, slowly pedaled past the museum and proceeded west.

None of them wore any clothing. Except for the cops that is. It was the World Naked Bike Ride, an event that this year saw a massive ride in London, England, and smaller rides in other cities around the globe.

You know, everyone loves a parade.

But this event reminded us, Bloor street is the spine of Toronto. it’s where everyone goes. It’s where the action is. It’s a crowded, shouder-to-shoulder parade of one thing after another, and it’s a place of celebration. It’s not, and should not be made into, a “traffic conduit” for motor vehicles.

Since the city of Toronto is conducting a “Bloor Street Visioning Study” as we speak, and since there are meetings scheduled for public input (see below) June 18 and 21st, we feel the need to remind people what the street could be like. It’s not rocket science.

And it sure isn’t Traffic Engineering.

Now, elsewhere we have written about how the lines painted on a street can affect the feeling of the street. Of course, the best example of this is on a street like Dundas East, or other streets in a city that have been made more bicycle friendly by the simple addition of a line of paint to indicate bikelanes.

But the road-striping affects much more than cyclists.

Danforth Avenue, in Toronto’s east end, is of uniform width for some 10 kilometers, from the Don Valley all the way to Warden Avenue and beyond. For most of its length, with the exception of the massive apartment buildings at Main Street far to the east, it has a uniform grain and appearance. By this we mean it has similar storefrontages, similar buiding heights, and similar traffic counts along its whole length.

What differs is the speed of motorized traffic, and the concordant dangers to cyclists and pedestrians.

Focus for a moment on the point where the Danforth crosses Pape Ave.

On both the east and west sides of Pape, Danforth allows curb parking during non-rush-hours. Bicyclists crossing the Don Valley make Danforth Avenue on of the busiest streets for cyclists in the city. Under the street runs the Bloor/Danforth subway line, carrying its portion of the more than one million passengers per day that Toronto’s subway serves.

But Danforth east of Pape may as well be twenty feet wider. And we don’t mean this as a good thing. East of Pape the traffic is thin and fast. It’s dangerous to be a pedestrian or a cyclist there. No one would want to go there to shop, to work, or to live if they had a choice. The stretch of Danforth east of Pape is known as the “miracle mile” by Toronto cabbies, so-named because it’s possible, at the right speed, to travel from Main to Greenwood without braking or hitting a single red light.

West of Pape, the Danforth is “thick” and slow. The fact is, Danforth Ave and Bloor Street could stand to be “thickened” like this along their entire length.

The concept of “thickened” streets, streets that have been deliberately “over-programmed” with activities more than those pseudo-scientist traffic engineers say they can support, derives from an observation of Danforth Avenue west of Pape, but there are examples of it all over the city.

What is a “thickened” street?

West of Pape the Danforth is painted with a central yellow median that periodically opens to allow for left turns. This wide median means there’s only room for one lane of through (motorized) traffic in each direction (except at rush hour, when parking on one side or the other is banned and allows two lanes of motorized traffic to move along the route at its maximum capacity), but leaves a wide channel for cyclists to travel past the parked cars, safely out of the “door zone. The median does more than allow for left turns. It Keeps Danforth Avenue “open” for emergency vehicle access. It provides a place of refuge for pedestrians to cross safely at midblock, and makes this stretch of the Danforth more like a “room” than a linear street–very much like a shopping mall. In addition, by reducing car traffic to just one lane, pedestrians don’t have to fear being struck by a second lane of moving cars when the lane they’re crossing is safe.

This means shops and businesses thrive, with a constant to-and-fro of walk-in visitors from one side of the street to another.

East of Pape, take a look at West of Pape and see for yourself what this restriping could do for you.

The effect on car traffic is to slow it to a steady uninterrupted crawl. No driver chooses this part of the Danforth if they’re in a hurry, but then is there any street in Toronto (except Eastern Avenue maybe) that is a sure bet for hurried motorists? Everyone knows if you want to get somewhere in a reliable, predictable amount of time, usually faster than by car, you better bicycle.

The effect on bicycle traffic is the creation of a virtual bikelane from Pape to the Don Valley. Is it as safe as a real bikelane? Possibly not. But it’s a damn fine compromise.

If the whole length of Bloor/Danforth were striped like the section between Pape and the Don Valley, if that were possible, the crowd calling for a “bicycle highway east to west across Toronto” might well be turning their sights elsewhere.

Because Bloor/Danforth, painted the way it is west of Pape, would work for cyclists just fine. It would work for merchants, giving them the parking spaces they crave. It would work for shoppers, allowing them a virtual car-free mall in which to saunter from store to store, back and forth across the public right-of-way as their consumerist whims beckon.

And most importantly, it would work for places like the ROM Crystal. It would allow the public realm a place to slow, to meander, to cruise, to gawk. It would encourage naked bicycle riding, bongo solos, flame juggling, and the unexpected.

Tooker Gomberg, who we remember as the kind of guy who understood the importance of this stuff, would be pleased to have this street dedicated as a memorial to him.


Community Workshop Notice

Come help us shape a vision for Bloor Street!

Bloor Corridor Visioning Study

Monday, June 18, 2007
6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
George Ignatieff Theatre
15 Devonshire Place


Thursday, June 21, 2007
6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
OISE Auditorium
252 Bloor Street West

The City of Toronto has launched an exciting study to develop a planning vision for the future development of Bloor Street West, between Avenue Road and Bathurst Street. We invite you to come to two evening sessions with City staff and its consultant team to listen to ideas and to provide input on design directions.

Day 1 (Monday, June 18)
Presentation: Great Streets, What We’ve Heard to Date
Draft Principles for a Vision of Bloor Street

On this first evening, an overview will be provided of input received to date, and the project planning principles – as developed by the Local Advisory Committee (LAC) – will be presented for discussion. The objective of this evening will be to set the direction for the consultant
team by providing them with ideas that will lead to design options. Following this evening, the consultant team will be working collaboratively with the LAC to create a series of draft design ideas (including built form proposals and public realm recommendations).

As a tool to inform the discussion, the consultant team will also present “Great Streets” – a presentation intended to inspire creative thinking about the possibilities for the Bloor Corridor.

Day 2 (Thursday, June 21)
Presentation: Preliminary Design Ideas
Breakout workshop sessions

On this second evening, the consultant team will present ideas generated in the previous days – and following the Monday night session – “hot off the press.” The objective will be to solicit input at a very early stage in the design process with respect to ideas that are liked, disliked, and those that can be improved! Workshops will be held to discuss the proposals in more detail, and to hear additional, specific ideas from the community.

This is one in a series of public forums and meetings scheduled over the next several months. For further background information, study progress and updates including future meeting notices, please check in often on our project website at:

If you would like further information about this study, please contact:

Barry Brooks, Senior Planner
Jennifer Keesmaat, Partner
City of Toronto
Office for Urbanism

Councillor Adam Vaughan’s office is also participating in the process and can be contacted at 416-392-4044.

Attendant Care Services can be made available with some advance notice.

Circle the wagons! Here come Case Ootes

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

a question of urban design
Cranston Thirwell III reporting:

Everyone by now knows about Councillor Case Ootes‘s [rhymes with “odious” –ed.] sad decline. From his role as the man behind Toronto city hall’s throne just two terms ago, when as Deputy Mayor he administered day-to-day operations for Mayor Mel Lastman, Ootes has been, shall we say, “distracted” from the role that should have been his: Mr. Behind-the-scenes Operator running Toronto.

Instead he’s become Mr Magoo.
letter to the \"ad\" itor?

To say any particular act “caused” his fall would be an overstatement, but in fact the distraction, early on, took a predictable turn. Much like the “Clown Army” role in distracting the police at the G8 events (to allow hard-core protesters to get closer to the criminals inside the fences), the issues surrounding bicycle infrastructure and its promotion in the City of Toronto have been used to distract Sr. Ootes from his more nefarious duties. The result of this distraction has been the creation of a vacuum at the right wing of city hall, and the elevation of a crowd of so-called “progressives” to the reigns of power.

Fact is, no one’s minding the proverbial shop. Not that it’s meant the “progressives” have accomplished much.

But Ootes exemplifies the “lame duck” role: a man who quacked to power with just 20 votes in the last election–the smallest majority in the history of Toronto politics–and who no one expects to stick around for another drubbing.

So it comes as no surprise that Ootes is carving a path for his retirement. Just what form that retirement will take is not hard to predict: Ootes will buy a Winnebago and use it to burn up some of the planet’s remaining fossil fuels as he tours the continent. But where will he park while in Toronto? Because for sure the tony cul-de-sac off Taylor Creek Ravine won’t permit his monster truck a parkplatz.

It’s no doubt in fantasizing about the RV home he hopes to use for his farewell cruise into the sunset that Ootes hit upon a problem. Here in Toronto, there isn’t really any respect for the RV classes. If fact, in all the city the archaic behemoths are welcome only at one “park:” the Glen Rouge campground, far to the east, in ward 44, home of councillor Ron Moeser. A friend of ours who bicycled to the Rouge park for a relaxing hike along the river found the route there a dangerous sewer of cars, and it’s hard to see even a confirmed carhead like Sr. Ootes happy with the commute (for his is likely to be one of those ridiculous get-ups you see where the RV is towing a small car for the local jaunts).

Now for Ootes, as for most of us, the personal is political: just as he helped his son the motorcyclist by arranging for motorcycles to park for free on city streets and sidewalks (and is currently striving for motorcycles to be permitted on HOV commuter lanes), he is also struggling with the city to arrange for the subsidised creation of an RV park on public lands closer to the downtown core.

This past week he experienced a minor setback in this quest; this time it was Toronto’s economic development corporation (TEDCO) that shot him down.

We know Ootes; he is a tenacious brute and not for long will this setback slow him down. We know this isn’t the last of his RV fantasy we will hear of. It’s true that no RV campsite is to be allowed at the Exhibition parking lot or at Parc Downsview Park, but there are other open spaces around town. Lots of them.

In fact the Governor’s Bridge Ratepayers Association, the bosses of them plywood mansions what gave Ootes his 20-vote boost to power in the last election, can expect a call from Sr. Odious in the near future.

Ootes to aide: “Get George V. Hughes or Mary McDonald Maude on the line, wouldya? It’s payback time. That Nesbitt Park thingie’s basicaly empty after all.”

RV park shot down by economic development committee:

RV owners will have to park elsewhere
RV owners will have to park elsewhere
Plan to create a local RV site shot down at committee
June 7, 2007 05:12 PM

Creating a resort for recreational vehicles in the absence of a development application isn’t a priority for the city, members of Toronto’s Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO) agreed Thursday.
“I don’t believe this is a core function of the city to provide an RV site,” committee chair and Ward 27 (Toronto Centre-Rosedale) Councillor Kyle Rae said, noting that no one has come forward and proposed such a project.

“The concept needs to have legs first,” said Rae, who told his colleague he’d be prepared to consider an application if someone was interested in developing a park here.

Ward 29 (Toronto-Danforth) Councillor Case Ootes, who raised the concept, argued that an RV park has great tourism potential for the city.

“There are millions of RV users in North American that simply don’t come to Toronto because there is no place for them to park their vehicles,” he said.

But Ootes failed to convince his colleagues to study potential sites for such a facility.

A staff report presented to the committee Thursday stated there are nine RV-friendly campgrounds and parks located within one hour of Toronto, including the Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough.

However, all of the current facilities operate near capacity during peak season.

And none of the facilities offer the kinds of amenities sought by high-end RV owners.

“There aren’t any facilities that we in good conscience can recommend to our viewers,” Rob Engman of RVTV, a TV show dedicated to the RV lifestyle, told the committee. He said a local resort would be well received by RV users who travel throughout North America.

“These people are no different than any other tourists other than the fact they take their hotel room with them,” he said, noting that users are happy to pay for premium services and are keen to visit local attractions.

Engman said the port lands or the CNE grounds would be an ideal location for a park. Downsview is another option, he said.

But even if a developer were to propose the idea, the waterfront isn’t a suitable location, said Ward 19 (Trinity-Spadina) Councillor Joe Pantalone.

“It does not make any sense whatsoever,” Pantalone said of the suggestion that an RV park could be established at the Exhibition or Ontario Place, two sites that are booked with events throughout much of the year.

“There simply is not the space. … I think people should simply forget about it. … It’s not an achievable desire unless you plan to do serious damage to all those jewels (that) are part of Toronto’s festival constellation,” he said in reference to events like the CNE and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, which are hosted on the grounds.

As for the port lands, Pantalone, who serves on the board of TEDCO, said that’s also a bad idea.

“We are trying to achieve the highest and best use for those areas,” he said, adding the best use “is not an RV campground.”

Previous report in East York Mirror and Car Advertiser, back when Ootes was still hopeful:

RV park still being considered for Toronto
May 31, 2007 03:39 PM

Toronto’s economic development committee will consider a report on options for recreational vehicle tourism next week.

And Ward 29 (Toronto-Danforth) Councillor Case Ootes is optimistic an RV park can be created in the city.

Ootes, who first raised the idea about a year ago, brought the matter forward again in January.

And although the staff report being presented next week doesn’t suggest a specific location, the idea hasn’t been ruled out.

“The report is not shutting it down,” Ootes said. “The question is, are there opportunities here to further pursue the whole idea? I think what they’re looking for is further direction.”

The report notes there are nine RV-friendly campgrounds and parks located within one hour of Toronto, including the Glen Rouge Campground in Scarborough.

However all of the current facilities operate at close to capacity during peak season.

And none of the facilities offer the kinds of amenities sought by high-end RV owners.

“The analysis of the upscale RV market and the facilities currently offered in the Toronto area and in other cities in North America and Europe suggests that there may be a potential to add to our current RV facilities,” the report states.

Ootes has said that there is a huge RV market in North America and he believes Toronto is losing out on a big opportunity for tourism.

He reported that roughly eight million U.S. households own RVs. There are also about 800,000 RVs in Canada, he said.

Economic development staff indicate that Downsview Park, the port lands and Woodbine are all sites with the potential to host RV facilities.

“The most obvious place would be the Exhibition grounds and I’m not ruling that out,” Ootes said, adding that Downsview is another good option.

“It’s been sitting vacant for years and nothing ever happens so maybe this is an opportunity to take a look at that,” Ootes said.

The economic development committee meets June 7.

Did Car Ad Kill? redux

Friday, June 1st, 2007

Wheels of Justice Dept.

Remember when we posed this question?:

Allderblob readers want answers: Does car pornography in the daily papers link to the daily abuse wrought by cars? If car ads were stopped, would people stop killing with cars?

It was January 2006, and our question was far from hypothetical. In fact, it was in a post entitled “Did Car Ad Kill,” and it was in response to the Toronto Sun and Car Advertiser’s front page story (note the car ad at the bottom of the front page: can you say “cognitive dissonance?”):

DID CAR AD KILL (Toronto Sun cover, Jan 26 06)

You may remember that day: a shocking story, as these stories go: it featured two high school students, Wing-Piao Dumani Ross and Alexander Ryazanov, kids whose parents happened to have made the lapse of judgement of handing over the keys to the family Merde-cedes Benzes that day. The two chums, driving their parents’ cars up Mt. Pleasant Rd. in Toronto, felt the need to “hurry home.” Milk and cookies anyone? Or no, perhaps not. Perhaps it was to play the car-racing video game, “Need for Speed,” that was later found in the front passenger seat of the one of the cars.

Lucky for them, Mt. Pleasant is one of those suburban-style arterials that 1950s planners carved through Toronto, and allowed plenty of room to reach speeds, they say, of 140 km/hour (that’s the equivalent of 7 million pounds per square foot, for our American readers).

Of course speed was not the issue, in itself [it never is –ed.]. The issue was the fact that some poor schlemiel driving a cab, guy by the name of Tahir Khan, happened to be on some mission of his own at the time–not least, en route to what would have been his Canadian citizenship ceremony the next day–and got in the way of the speeding teens.

Boys will be boys, of course. At least that’s how the judge saw it: Khan is dead, but why dwell on the past? Khan won’t be driving anymore, but does that mean no one should?

Ross and Ryazanov, both now 20, who pleaded guilty to “dangerous driving causing death,” were released to the care of their dear old mums. Now, “dangerous driving causing death” is a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. But as for Ross and Ryazanoff, well, they had pretty good lawyers. Perhaps being out of their tony prep school ($35 grand/year) for the trial freed up some cash. In any case, their punishment is they’re not to leave mom and dad’s for twelve months. Except to work and attend university, that is. Ouch! What a bore!

Oh, and after that there’s a year of curfew. “Garsh, Mary-Lou, I’d like to go to the hop with you, I really would. But there’s the small matter of how I killed this guy–it don’t mean nothin’, really, ceptin’ as how I gotta be home by ‘leven. But we’ll still have Facebook! Give me a dingle, promise?”

What they’ll still have is the “Need for Speed” (the video game that is). They’re prohibited from driving their parents’ real cars (or any others) for four years, but they say video graphics are getting better all the time–they say most folks imagine they’re in a video game as they drive anyway. Practice makes perfect!

In a just world, the two youngsters would have been sentenced to visit Pakistan, where they could have paid condolences to the family of Mr. Khan. The judge would have seen the connection between the driving and the death, and sentenced the youth to not four years of driving abstinence, but a lifetime of it [You say that like it’s a bad thing –ed.].

Of course, the media is all over this one. Not the Sun and Car Advertiser, bless them, they learned from their last mistake and haven’t covered the story at all. But the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser? Lordy.

Get a load of the editorial they wrote today: “Shocking leniency for street racers,” they cry. They go on:

Society has a strong interest in deterring drivers from recklessly endangering the lives of others on the road.

We would have liked to have read on, we really would, but you know, there was a car advertisement [isn’t there always? –ed.] that kept falling out of the paper and distracting us. At four full pages, it was awkward to keep pushing it back in place, and its capital letters shouted at us in a disturbing way: “ARE YOU READY TO MAKE WAY FOR A WHOLE NEW DRIVING EXPERIENCE TORONTO?”

Four pages, all saying the same thing: “Make way.”

Kind of bad timing, all things considered. And the irony was, it was an ad for Ford, not Merdecedes Benz! Hey, who’s gotta make way for whom around here?

Hmm, we found ourselves thinking. What a dilemma. More lipservice from the editorial board? Or more “anything goes to sell a car” from the inner reality of the newspaper?

Luckily, we found the comics page instead [Seems there’s always a third way, with you –ed.].