Who is John Ross Harvey?

It all began a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but really just in a hospital in Hamilton. A Hospital I would frequent regularly. Born in 1966, tonsilitis in 1968, sliced my heel on a windshield wiper in 1970, thanks big brother for that, mine, not the TV show. A phantom appendix in 1979 which turned out to be inflamed lymph nodes which essentially made me far too ticklish for my own good.

My first home in Hamilton was near a railroad track, and I’m pretty sure I was dumb enough to play near it at age two, but thankfully have lived to tell the tale. I barely remember being there, though have passed by it at many times during car rides through Hamilton. The home I remember best was and still is my mom’s residence in Ancaster. I stayed there until a college co-op work term sent me to Orillia. In looking for a place to stay, a college classmate showed us where he stayed, that I could rent the other room. Much to my dad’s discomfort, our car, a 1981 Buick Skylark X-car decided that the rail tracks in town were just too much for the suspension. We had to tow it and leave it at a dealer there and take a GO bus home. A later trip in my car, a Ford LTD 2-door, we drove home only to have oil pump blow on Hwy 400 south by Innisfil Beach Rd. A service station and another bus ride home. My high school in Ancaster was tasked with repairing it, once I found a Mercury Cougar wagon with the same engine to replace it with. In hindsight, I just should have used the wagon. A year later, after a new engine, paintjob, pinstripes, and tires, that engine blew again, this time on Hwy 27 near Rutherford, which is eerily near where I now live. I was pretty much without car ever since, relying on buses.

Working after Orillia, who hired me to cover off my former classmate while he finished college, as he was hired before doing so, I had to find work elsewhere, and sadly that meant Toronto. A city I had no desire to be anywhere near. I worked for a small architect firm, they shall remain nameless because I do not wish to be sued by them, if they still exist. The junior partner hired computer techs to use Autocad, instead of architecture technologists like me. I barely lasted a few months there, but had a basement apartment, and a bowling league I’d joined. I found an agency that got me a job at Famous Players, as a draftsman, as they expanded across the country. I met my next supervisor and landlord there, gave proper notice to my landlord at the time, and she insisted I had one day to move out.  Somehow we managed to do exactly that, and then she refused to give my last month’s rent back. She hired a lawyer, I took her to small claims and I won. I worked at Famous for about four years, had some strange experiences and made a few friends that have all lost touch. I was let go, had trouble finding work. took a government sponsored course in Facility Management, which later translated to my next two jobs, a few months at Cad Resource Centre, and almost two years at DeHavilland. I loved that job, but contracts end, and rarely get renewed.  Nearly a year later I got another job that lasted 17 years. I am still in contact and friends with many from there, but the environment got very bad, and we no longer worked out.  Over a year later I worked in a warehouse, (hated that)  and then for a landscaper, outdoor work, cutting lawns, for commercial properties, and a few high paying residences. They liked me, but the pay scale was very low. They kept me on for snowplow work, but that winter was dismal. I was hired by a millwork company during the time I plowed. he allowed me to do both. Things seemed to be going well, I got my benefits, and then he didn’t have enough work to keep me on. So we are back at it, looking for jobs I can do, that frankly no longer seem to exist.

Since my prospects to be a draftsman are slim to none, I have applied to do other things. The Canadian Space Agency wants astronauts, it’s not like you have that experience beforehand. TSN wants sports anchors, and I did a screen test for Sportsnet at Toronto Indy last year that was pretty good. I would love both of those jobs. I would prefer these jobs to the ones I am qualified for that are much harder to find. I’ve even bingewatched Sports Night’s two seasons to get the feel for being an anchor.

Things I have done in my life, are indeed varied and sometimes extreme. White Water Rafting on the Ottawa River, great fun, especially while nearly hypothermic in a rainstorm. Racing school in Quebec at Jim Russell school, F1600’s, F2000’s, then a grad run-off.  Best money I ever spent to enjoy a sport. Sadly not having money to race, means you won’t. Having done grad run-offs at age 25, I had two years to make it Winfield Schol in France where Alain Prost had graduated.  Their maximum age was 27. At age 26 Famous Players let me go, and Winfield dropped their maximum age to 25. I would never get there. I did join a race club that organized Toronto Indys, but they were highly political and unenjoyable when I left. A few charity go-kart events they organized I particpated and did very well in. Teammates included Russ Bond (seen on Motoring TV, former Formula Atlantic driver, and co-operator of a go-karting experience in Innisfil),Edwin (rock singer formerly of I Mother Earth). and Mike Goodyear (brother to ABC analyst and former Indy driver Scott, that runs go-karting experience with Russ). I have bought a karting suit and 2010 Snell helmet and neckbrace to do go-kart leagues but the lack of funds and a job have hurt my opportunities to do so. I still aim to do it.

Less challenging from a physical standpoint is having been a member of a ratepayer organization whose goal is to keep our neighbourhood beautiful and welcoming. Condos behind townhouses are unacceptable. We have fought many city hall meetings and even OMB meetings, winning and losing, but coming out with a win in the end. I also wrote an opinion article on pedestrian safety that the Vaughan Citizen ran. Those experiences together meant running for political office was a possible idea. Like Nenshi, my campaign was mostly twitter based, pre-organized meet and greets and two debates offered me more opportunity to showcase my ideas. Being one of thirteen candidates was tough, finishing tenth ahead of at least two that spent money when I didn’t, was greatly satisfying. As a regional candidate, I had more votes than many council seats that were elected. The difference is one ward to five.  Though encouraged to run again, I didn’t. I already proved my point. I can get votes without spending, and without being the common ethnic background of much of council. If Ilived in Richmond Hll instead of Woodbridge, I’d probably be a government councillor already.

Charity events are something I did often. More recently was walking CN Tower steps twice for United Way. 58 minutes 43 seconds first time, 36 minutes 36 seconds second time. That beat all four of my son’s times, but just by a little. I used to ride the Ride For Heart, which mostly involved going up the DVP and back down, my times went down there too. I once did a Danceathon, of which only two of us showed up. I did Movember once, and never wish to again. That was a replacement charity for the Palathon, a charity event for Sick Kids if I remember correctly, but winner took home a car.  Since Palladdini went bankrupt, I had to focus that raised money into another charity, so Movember was chosen. The go-kart event was a regular thing for me to raise money for Huntington’s Disease.

For leisure I now curl in Richmond Hill, great people, fun leagues, and the kids also curled as little rocks, then juniors. My son even worked as an ice-tech. I’d like to do more for the club, by joining more leagues or organizing one, but the money and job never seem to align properly. One of my friends there took me to NASCAR.

I have seen several Toronto Indy races, in good seats and bad ones, and as a volunteer. Just this past June I saw a NASCAR race for my birthday weekend. In 1989 a friend and I saw Prost and Senna in Montreal, neither of whom won. Thierry Boutsen did, in the rain. In 1996 my wife and I saw Jacques Villeneuve win in Silverstone. In 2012 I went to Austin Texas to see the first ever Grand Prix at Circuit Of The Americas where Lewis Hamilton won. I have a great desire to see other F1 tracks and races at them, but money is heavily required.

Things I would like to do in my lifetime. Write a successful book, or movie screenplay and win an award for them. You have to dream big. Play and win a show like Amazing Race Canada, a show my sister in law wants to do, but my timing has been lousy. Maybe next season, so far, looking more possible. Driving the Targa Newfoundland. Getting a sponsor for it would be nice. Hyundai? I do drive an Elantra. Having a racing career would be cool, but I am now 50. That boat sailed. Those other two things I applied for, being a Sports Anchor, or an Astronaut, would be beyond cool.

I have been married for close to 21 years now, my son just turned 19 and will enter his 2nd year of University to develop video games. My daughter will choose college or university next year likely to pursue animation.  Her drawing talent is incredible. Ever since her penguin at age two.

That as a radio guy named Larry Fedoruk used to say is “In a Nutshell” who I am and what I would like to be.

Oscar 2016 - The White Oscars

As you may have heard there is a boycott movement to protest the lack of representation of black entertainment professionals at the current Academy Awards. There is also pressure for the host Chris Rock to step down.

I will suggest that he does not do so. There is no better platform to complain about the Oscars, than to host the Oscars. Chris Rock may have already written his material, and I am sure it will be fantastic. He is a very talented comedian, and has hosted this very well in the past. For the sake of that obvious platform for him to use, do not make him step away. We will all regret what he could have accomplished if that happens.

In the remote liklihood that he does step down under pressure of peers. Who is the likely backup? Ricky Gervais? Tina Fey? It has to be somebody planning to attend that is also willing to be the sacraficial lamb to the slaughter. I doubt very highly that any well known comedian/actor will opt into that frypan, knowing the fire is next.

You will need an unknown. Somebody that the majority of the entertainment industry does not know, but perhaps some social media followers may. Youtube stars are too popular. Instagram same thing. Twitter has a mass of highly comedic people, including myself, that have followers anywhere from 100 to 100,000, (one of my accounts is close to 2,500) that would love to make that step into the limelight regardless of the cost and say yes I will host the Academy Awards.  I would not say no, but I doubt they would ask me. I have a passport, and do need the money.

Let’s bring up the issue at hand. Lack of representation of persons of colour. No actor nominations, and no film nominations. The obvious movie snubs are the highly critically acclaimed Straight Outta Compton, Creed, and Concussion. Clearly those films were considered contenders. The Academy Awards had changed the Best Picture category to up to 10 a few years ago, but it has rarely offered 10, this year it was 8. Clearly two of those three films had a shot to make that list if ten films were honoured. Were they next in line? Why is there a line at 8? It clearly suggests a snub.

The Academy Awards have often gotten it wrong. Not just in nominee selection, but movie winners as well. I doubt very many people will even know about Oliver from 1968. The most notable movie of 1968 was clearly 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick (RIP) based on the novel by my favourite author, Arthur C. Clarke (RIP). It wasn’t even nominated in the category. In 2008 it was great for Kathryn Bigelow to win against her former husband James Cameron who arguably to this day created the most stunning visual masterpiece ever put to film called Avatar. Avatar for many reasons will have a much higher remembrance factor than Hurt Locker. 1991 has several fantastic films including an animated one called Beauty and the Beast. When I first saw that film, I knew instantly it was destined to be a stage production, (which it did) because it was an aboslute masterpiece of film, regardless of being animated. Thelma & Louise was beautifully written, incredibly well acted, cinemetography of epic proportions, masterfully directed by the great Ridley Scott, has more well remembered movie quotes than you may even be aware of, and a soundtrack that was perfectly chosen. Little moments of people’s faces at certain pause points on the movie were so poignant, they were thought provoking. Instead of awarding either of those two brilliant films, the Academy picked Silence of the Lambs. No disrespect to Anthony Hopkins or Jodie Foster or Jonathan Demme, but that film was entirely picked on hype, regardless of how well acted, or directed, should not have held a candle against the other two films I mentioned. For both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis to lose to Jodie was in my opinion, criminal.  Thelma & Louise was also the last film I enjoyed Michael Madsen and Harvey Keitel performing in. A certain brutally graphic director did most of their next films. I only respect that director for his soundtrack selection skills, he knows music well, and I can never listen to Steeler’s Wheel again.

The recent Golden Globes couldn’t decide on a best picture drama so they put The Martian under Musical and Comedy, of which it is neither, unless a 70’s disco soundtrack counts as musical, or Matt Damon’s performance counts as a stand-up monologue, which in truth it wasn’t far from, but the film was a drama. All dramas have comedy, and all comedies have drama, they just do. The Martian, again brilliantly directed by the amazing Ridley Scott, is the only nominated film I have seen in those categories, so I am biased toward it. Scott was not nominated here, but won the Golden Globe in the entirely inappropriate category. A director who is nominated, is George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, another film Tom Hardy acted in, though his nomination is for The Revenant in the supporting role. By many people’s opinion and Rotten Tomatoes, this was also a brilliant film. I would be shocked if it swept the awards, as some people feel it could, but I do feel the Academy has made a decision to award Leonardo DiCaprio finally for his latest performance in The Revenant, despite many past performances of greatness like The Departed, and Who’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I think the past history of the awards, most of the winners are the most nominated, which The Revenant was this year, though this is not written in stone tablets on the mount.

If you go by People’s Choice, another film left off the nominations is Furious 7, which won at People’s Choice. The song by The Weekend was also left out of the song category, though The Weekend still made the cut with a song in the horribly overhyped  50 Shades of Grey. It mainly depends which award show you wish to celebrate. If you won a Golden Globe, that more often than not translates to an Oscar. Critics Choice and People’s Choice rarely represent what Will Smith mentioned was a 96% ratio of white anglo saxon men on the Academy voting panel. I know somebody who has claimed to be part of that panel, though I cannot confirm it, but pushed Happy Feet over CARS for Animated Feature award in 2006 and I will dislike that decision, if it indeed was his doing. If my years seem out of date I may be going by release date of the films, over the actual air date of the Oscars telecast.

If you want to add Oscar categories, I feel that an Animated Voice Actor and Actress should be added. Larry The Cable Guy deserved to win for CARS, had the category ever existed. There are several recent animated movies that could have been nominated as Best Picture as well as Animated Feature. Toy Story 3 and Big Hero 6 were incredibly brilliant films. Wreck It Ralph should also have beaten Brave in 2012 for Animated Feature it was a better story and brilliantly voiced.

I doubt very much that the Academy will read this post, nor anybody in particular, but I felt a need to put my opinions out there. We need to push past the black vs. white stereotypes, we need to recognize all races, creeds, religions, persuasions etc. to not offend anyone, but history suggests that it will continue to divide and conquer us, instead of bringing us together in peace and harmony. If Chris Rock can prove me wrong, I will be a bigger fan of him than I am now. He made a great animated Zebra. Another possible Oscar winner for the category that I want added. Don’t make the boycott and protest turn the event into a blame game. A public apology would perhaps satisfy the participants of the boycott, but I think they will instead reflect on what they were accused of, and work towards preventing those claims in the future. As Spike Lee says, it is up to the studios to fix the issue. I hope so. There are many great actors and actresses and other professionals of colour, as they may wish to be known, but I prefer they be known simply as actors, actresses, and other professionals, regardless of colour. There should not be a token representation to satsify the masses, but a mutual agreement that they deserve to be there. I agree that they do deserve to be there. All labelled minorities deserve to be there, on their own merits, so they are no longer labelled as minorities.


What is wrong with York Region?

As you may have noticed in the federal election, people want change. A massive Liberal sweep of most of GTA except for small pockets of York Region. The Liberals promised transit infrastructure spending to get the GTA where it needs to be. One would hope that York Region is part of that. I do not mean completion of Hwy 7 BRT lanes, which is a given with strange ceremonies for each stage of funding that was always coming. I mean fix our means of escape. Vaughan in particular is split both North and South, and East and West by rails. Very few streets pass those rails, and many simply stop at them. Of course I mean the main rail lines crossing from Brampton past Markham just north of Steeles where you may have noticed you have very few south escape options to bypass this line. The other major blockade is the CN rail yard that splits Langstaff at one of its many stoppages. That leaves only Rutherford and Hwy 7 to cross the yard lines at north and south ends forcing traffic to a construction zone of the BRT and a level GO crossing at Rutherford and Keele area. We all know how backed up traffic can be there, eastbound traffic can be at a standstill past Jane Street to the west, and well past Dufferin to the east. Combine untrained motorists that block every intersection in between which prevents northbound and southbound traffic from crossing or joining Rutherford, this is especially evident at Keele. Yes there has been a multi-year study and environmental assessment going for fixing that level rail crossing, likely to become an underpass, but that still means the fix is years away unless the governments fast-track it. We all know how Toronto complains when both the Gardiner and Lake Shore are closed or reduced for construction at the same time, so York Region will do well to avoid having our only continuous East-West corridors not be both under construction at the same time, but I do feel it is unavoidable. Since York Region has well over 1 million residents and climbing, about par with Toronto when subways were built in the 1960’s, I think you seriously need to consider the Bovaird/Castlemore/Rutherford/16th corridor as a prime location for a rapid transit line that can connect Peel, York, and Durham. With an expected new airport in Pickering area, and Hwy 407 expansion in that area, connecting York Region is a plan that needs to happen.

As for our south crossings they are so jammed and slow that traffic exiting 407 blends into live lanes causing a high probablity of collisions as most of the region is staring at phones in their lap instead of having eyes on the road. I’ve never agreed with highway engineers of the merits of a split lane exit that allows users a choice between continuing on highway or exiting via an off-ramp. This leads to what we see every morning at Keele and other crossings where motorists need to be alert to blending stopped traffic. When I ran for Regional Council in 2010, one of my opponents who also did not win, and finished out of running like myself, kept promoting what he called Smart Transit, which may have meant Presto cards, which if implemented better could be very useful, but I think he meant computer monitored and coordinated traffic lights that meet demand loads and prevent congestion. York would have almost as much expense to do this as Toronto, given that vastness of the region. That doesn’t mean forget the idea, it means work at it, in stages as you can manage to fund it.

The other major problem we have are motorists and pedestrians that do not obey any rules of the road. Observing as a driver, and as a passenger in a work vehicle, I see the following, every minute of the day.
Pedestrians crossing slowly as countdown timer is active. (By law, the countdown means stay put if you haven’t already begun to cross)

Motorists that turn in multiple lanes that do not possess a trailer or multiple axles. Left turns get left lanes, and right lanes get right lanes, a two year old could master that logic.

Failure to signal any turn or lane change, and often multiple times to be that one extra car in front. At no point in time ever in traffic will a vehicle never be in front of you on the road, relax, calm down, and stop endangering human lives to be that extra spot ahead.

Parking in fire lanes at any point in time is never legal, never safe, and never required to get groceries or coffee. You do not own an ambulance or fire truck, do not pretend you are more important than the entire country by claiming that lane as a parking space. Pedestrians are forced to walk around your vehicles which are preventing their ability to cross safely to their legally parked vehicles.

Parking in handicap designated spots when you do not own a permit, or taking multiple spots in a parking lot when your vehicle can fit in one alone is not only illegal, it is arrogant, ignorant, and most probably blind to reality.

Pedestrians that cross mid-block or cut corners avoiding a straight line at crosswalk is more dangerous than illegal. Motorists as you well know are rarely looking past their phone in their lap, and if they are turning, will never see a pedestrian outside of the crosswalk. Just today Oct.28 2015 in under an hour nine people were struck by vehicles in the GTA between 7:30am and 8:30am. Yes rain was a factor, so visibility was further reduced, but both parties need to be aware of each other by eye contact, and that cannot be done while crossing in a manner that clearly adds to your lack of visibility.

HEADLIGHTS! People that use headlights 24/7 are skilled drivers. There will always be a condition where lights will improve your visibility to others, if not for yourself. The common excuse of “I can see OK.” is ignorant. In direct sunlight an unlit vehicle is nothing more than a shadow. If lights were on, it would at least be visible. In rain, snow, fog and overcast conditions where visibility is low, and overall greyness of your surroundings is vast, lights should always be on. You are not visible in spray. Lights need to be on, especially today. Weather increases darkness where lights work better.

Winter safety. Every snowfall brings what I call the Three Forces Of Evil. Mobile Snowbanks, Defroster Dunces, and The Wipers Only Brigade. There are more factions of this utterly unsafe attitude to weather related impairment. Yes, I said impairment. Snow, Ice and Frost have never been transparent or see-through. A wiper arc or a defrost line or a handswipe is not an effective method to improve visibility. Snow-brushes and Ice-scrapers should be standard procedure every time you intend to operate your vehicle. Two to five minutes at most is all it takes to brush down your entire vehicle of snow, and scrape ice and frost off all windows and lights. Do not leave a snowhawk on the roof, do not leave a blanket on the roof. Your heater will melt the underside of that snow and send it directly over your windshield. I have witnessed this on multiple occasions, yes it does happen and people can potentially die if the timing is such that it happens when someone pulls in front of you as you lost your vision. Not brushing your lights is pure insanity. What possible good can come from a light unable to penetrate a mass of weather debris?
Clean out your wheel wells. Salt crusty sand and snow chunks accumulate and prevent steering if left unattended.
As temperatures plummet below 7 Celcius, invest in winter tires, there is a world of difference to all-seasons. Traction alone is worth the expense. You stop better, you have better grip in slippery conditions, which is what winter creates, and all-seasons are those poor folks on You-tube that spin around endlessly or barely move while smoke pours from their tires. Be alert, as most pedestrians are bundled up so much they can barely see anything. Eye contact is key at all times when pedestrians and motorists share an intersection or crossing area.

Put your phones away!!!!!!!! I have yet to see a passing motorist that does not have a phone in their lap they are staring at at every traffic stop and continues to stare at while moving. There is this device called BLUETOOTH, it allows you to talk and have hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road. Your facebook status, text, tweet, email or whatever you think is so bloody important to write down will never be more important than your life or your family’s need to have you in it. A vehicle is not a desk, and a stop sign/ stop light is not a safe alternative. Texting or Tweeting is not Driving. You are impaired!!

Can the new Liberal Trudeau administration fix all of these things? Unlikely. Did you read them? Probably not. I find most of my sound advice on human safety is falling on deaf ears. Don’t become a statistic. DRIVE safe.

Opinion Piece – Letter to the Editor


Back From The Hack

I don’t know how I was hacked or why, but after many exchanges with my host provider, the site is back. Not that there are many of you looking in the first place.

If only finding a new job was as quick.

Reduced Speed is Not the Answer

Yesterday on talk radio, some research body, suggested 30 km/h speed limits within the city. Standard limit is 50 km/h and 40 km/h at school zones normally. Some streets suggest 30km/h (often labelled with Turtles) to protect young children in the area.

One caller indicated that 30km/h is a high rev. level of first gear, before it gears up to 2nd. This means the engine is working harder than when it advances to 2nd at a lower rev. So going slower will increase engine wear and fuel consumption. Ah, but that’s not the argument, the argument is to save lives, which I cannot disagree with, because every life is worth saving, (perhaps not mass murderers, but you know what I mean) and being hit by a car doing 30km/h will hurt less than one doing 50km/h presumably.

Research also indicates that most collisions by car, with other cars, bikes, motorcyles, or pedestrians, is not through speeding, but by distraction. Distraction from two parties multiplies this probability. Pedestrians are more often than motorists staring at a smart(dumb)phone. This means they are not aware of their surroundings beyond a peripheral observance. They will very infrequently look up if they hear something or bump into a person or object. Bumping into a moving vehicle, of any size will do more than grab their attention, and too late. Yes, many motorists do the same, staring at their crotch more than their windshield or mirrors, and thus not seeing other vehicles or pedestrians as their eyes are pointed down.

Let’s call a spade a spade here, distraction is impairment. Alcohol, Fatigue, Phones, other devices, weather, and sunlight can all be impairment. We have MADD for inebriated motorists despite calling them drunk drivers, that term should never exist. A driver is never drunk, a motorist can be. Driver implies skill, and being impaired negates that skill, so they are not driving, and they are not drivers. There is a Fatigue impairment PSA on the radio from time to time. There are many anti-phone awareness ads and announcements on TV, radio, and print, but weather is never ever considered. I’ll ask the question, would you feel more comfortable with a clean car and a person staring at you from that car, than a rolling snowbank with a hand swipe  on the window for them to see out of? If I told you the second car was sober, and the first was drunk, would your answer change?

If you drive east in the morning and west in the evening, and the sun is shining directly at you, how many cars could you completely identify by colour, make, and plate? How many did you see before they applied the brakes? How many were actually intelligent enough to put lights on, so you wouldn’t hit them? Light does two things, it illuminates, and it obscures, and obscuring is a distraction because you cannot see well enough to know how close a person or vehicle is if all you see is light and shadows. Having your lights on increases the ability to see you, which has the benefit of being hit with a far lesser likelihood. Real drivers use lights 24/7/365.25. Motorists never locate the switch.

Back to speed. Most speeds are determined by the traffic around you, and the width of the lanes. Traveling south on Hwy 400 with wide lanes is often 120km/h or more in light traffic, whereas Hwy 401 with narrower lanes through Toronto is often just barely above 100 km/h. Regional roads with four lanes tend to average at 80 km/h and two lane roads are often 50-60 km/h despite the expected rule of 50km/h without signs posted. Obviously in heavier traffic the speeds will decrease. Most news reports of multi-car collisions never happen when traffic is flowing, but often when it was slowed, as a faster car, distracted, fails to see ahead in time. You know you witness it, and you know you’ve been narrowly missed by motorists that ignore the situation.  Every night heading home on Hwy400 those so called merge lanes, which are really termination lanes, that end immediately after the exit you went by, need to be abolished. Lanes should exit or continue, period. Allowing motorists the choice of an empty lane to nowhere, vs. staying in line in the lane that goes somewhere, and a motorist will always to the wrong thing by diving down that lane. This could gain them 2-10 spots in traffic if somebody lets them get away with it. As long as that person exists, they will continue to abuse that opportunity. You see it between Dufferin and Keele on the Hwy 401 west, and many other Hwys and Black Creek south at Jane Street. Those lanes are “designed” by planners and engineers, people you think should plan cities, and they create chaos. As an architectural professional and “driver” I would never plan anything that poorly. The best highways are two lane roads where everybody knows where they need to be. The more you build, the less they move.

We also need to stop putting blame on rubber-necking for reducing speed. Rubber-necking saves more lives than speeding by the incident, as it makes those involved less likely to be hit by cars at higher speed.

Knowing your lane matters, too often I see people speed up the left lane to cross four lanes right to exit. This can be cars, and even commercial trucks, but it is a regular occurrence.

Even in heavy traffic, many motorists weave, most do not signal, ever, and of those that don’t, many smoke left handed out the window. This is not a generalization, this is what I’ve observed in over twenty years of commuting through the GTA, that most people who refuse to signal, are smokers. Their left hand is too busy giving them cancer, to obey the rules of the road. As a driver you learn to trust nobody, and expect anything and everything, because it will probably happen. Signals save lives, they’d save more if they were used.

My opinion, and yes it is an opinion, I am not calling it fact, as much as I believe it to be one, speed doesn’t kill, bad motorists kill. Re-testing at all license renewals would go a long way to improve those motorists faults, and add revenue to the coffers to build better roads and transit to avoid them.

Toronto Mayor Debate #1 2014

It seemed pretty clear to me, my family, and anybody I talked to at work the morning after, that Rob Ford won the debate hands down.

He stuck to his lines, he saved $1 billion. He has a proven track record, everything they want to do, he has already done.

All of the other four “front-runner” candidates merely claimed he was lying, without any proof that he was. He said his numbers came from CFO and City Manager, so they are accusing them of lying.

Olivia Chow needs her facts straight on the TTC, and needs to wake up to Scarborough getting a subway. Tory, Stintz, and Ford all agreed her facts were wrong. Please explain what Women and Children First means. To many it means, you are against Men, as they would be Last in that analogy.

Stintz needs public speaking lessons, her constant pauses made her speech sound like an Obama performance, or Captain Kirk’s. She fumbled a few words and forgot her math on three things, throwing four or five in.

Tory needs to take the gloves off. He was far too laid back, and his message is being missed. Clearly Chow and Ford are ahead, but they shouldn’t be. He needs to reel them in and give the public what it needs to hear. Even for man on radio for four years, his speaking was less than stellar.

Soknacki needs to also get off the LRT going back bandwagon with Chow. Facts are that while the subway EXTENSION is under construction the SRT can run. This will not be possible with LRT, as first the SRT has to be removed, and shuttle buses used to compensate. Those buses will not be needed while building the subway, as the SRT will come down after it is complete, provided it has that many years left. He needs to distinguish himself from Miller, because that is killing his chances.

The fringe group, criminal lawyer Ari Goldkind, Sarah Thompson, Richard Underhill, Norm Gardner, are the lead group of the next 40 or so candidates. Both Goldkind and Thompson want road tolls on DVP, Thomspon wants them on Gardiner, but not for the people that live here, the commuters, people like me from Vaughan who already take 105 minutes to get to work using the DVP, that will easily climb to 120 to avoid it, and twice that in a snowstorm. I’m all for raising Toronto and region property tax, as that is INCOME BASED and fairer than gasoline tax and road tolls which are just going to make everything else cost more, the trucks delivering goods will be affected too. Property taxes will not add to your grocery bill.

I’ve emailed many of these people, the usual response is to help them support the campaign or donate to it, only Ari actually answered anything I asked (before I saw his toll idea).  I’m still waiting for responses to my DRL advice. Don Mills is the wrong location, it will easily cost as much as Scarborough extension for one bridge on it. There are more viable locations, but it will not serve anybody but Yonge street. The city needs GRIDS of N-S and E-W and plenty of them, if the have to be loops, stop making the loop have so many twists and turns that it takes years longer to build.

North South expandable options are as follows:

Islington from Lake Shore West to Steeles at least, possible expansion to Vaughan/Kleinburg

Dufferin from Kirby down to the Exhibition Place

Bathurst from Teston/Elgin Mills to Billy Bishop Airport

Victoria Park from Steeles to Queen or Warden from Stouffville to Kingston Road

Whites Road from North of Finch to Lawrence East

East West Options as follows:

Lake Shore East and Lake Shore West (avoiding Indy circuit)

Queensway and Queen to Kingston Road

St. Clair East with O’Connor


Dixon and Lawrence

Wilson-York Mills-Ellesmere

Finch all across

Castlemore-Rutherford-Carville-16th Ave. (Major MacKenzie alternate (will have 2 hospitals))

Teston-Elgin Mills

Downtown Relief Line despite multiple configurations  has normally been suggested as follows:

Sheppard down Don Mills to Overlea

Overlea to Millwood (major bridge rebuild or new build)

Pape down to Danforth line.

From Pape there are many other scenarios

Pape and Carlaw to Eastern and Front (Union)

Pape Gerard and Queen and King to St Andrew

Pape Gerard and Queen to Osgoode

From University side of Yonge/University Line:

Front to Go Rail Corridor  (at Bathurst) to Dundas West

King to Roncessvalles to Dundas West

Queen to Go Rail Corridor (at Dufferin) to Dundas West

Rarely concieved beyond Dundas West but could do as follows:

Up Go Rail Corridor and paralleling Weston

From Dundas West along Dundas to Scarlett to Dixon

It’s common sense that these proposed DRL locations would cost billions more than running under any of the E-W and N-S suggestions, which would serve more of Toronto than the core. They could all be LRTs if necessary but when another icestorm hits there will be no transit. 3rd rail underground or above is superior to overhead LRT, you get what you pay for.

Everybody is entitled to an opinion, and we will probably disagree, but these are my opinions, not lies, not fabrications, not untruths, opinion is not defined that way. As my city election means more to me than this one, this will probably be the last I mention of this Mayor race, which affects me as a worker and commuter but not as a resident. If workers were allowed to vote, my opinion would carry more weight. Sadly it will probably continue unnoticed.




Newstalk 1010 Loses John Tory

People in Toronto have listened to John Tory and his Live Drive radio show on 1010 for just over 4 years. Many guests of political nature have engaged discussion and answered questions willingly, and some less willingly. The whole side show aspect of Rob Ford has turned John Tory into the next best choice for Mayor. So he gave up the radio show and is now running for Mayor. He’s tried before, and lost to David Miller, though he was briefly leader of Provincial PC party, he lost a chance to be premier to Dalton McGuinty. So why is he running?

Clearly he has improved ratings on 1010, as it used to squander in 10th place. Source article here: http://www.pugetsoundradio.com/cgi-bin/forum/Blah.pl?m-1253631722/

This has helped engage him with the public, as many as he could get on the phones, about transit, jobs, efficiencies, and the like. This has made him more well known, than he was a business CEO. I wish him luck, though I disagree on his major campaign promise. He wants the downtown relief line, which I will not deny is needed, but the location needs to be rethought. Don Mills is not the right location, it has far too many hills, valleys and turns to work. Though it is further east (too far perhaps) Warden is the straightest road they could find in the north south direction. That is a more fiscally responsible location, as it will cost far less than Don Mills, and will the Millwood bridge be re-engineered to hold a subway? I don’t think so. The relief we need is north south routes to East and West of Yonge and Spadina. Islington and Warden, approaching both termini of the Bloor Danforth are the most logical locations to me.

I am not a fan of Metrolinx’s current lack of detailed information, if you want to know what they are planning you find it by Wikepedia and the defunct Transit City proposal that Miller claims had shovels in. LRTs may work in a less congested zone, I think it is a mistake for Eglinton, though most of it will be underground anyway. I don’t know why elevated trains (L-train) are not considered, certainly they work in New York City and Chicago, and they eliminate a need to tunnel and disrupt traffic. If we don’t want cars on the Gardiner, replace it with an L-train. My commute from Wonderland to Leslieville is because transit will not get me there faster. Lake Shore needs service, but do not wreck the west end at Exhibition as you will lose the Indy race. Any plans you find on Metrolinx website  account to no better than a napkin drawing, they are merely arrows and have no critical information.

If John wins as Mayor, he needs to set their agenda in a logical manner. Their priorities are not in line with what the city needs done first.

Good Luck to John Tory, and whoever his radio replacement may be, I may even find that worth a try. Is the right person reading this?

Formula 1 Racing 2014, return to Turbos, and a new era of Hybrid V6 engines

I’ve followed Formula for practically every race and many test event weeks since early 1983. Most drivers in the sport now were not yet born then. I’ve attended three races live: 1989 in Montreal for Boutsen spin and win in the rain, 1996 at Silverstone where Jacques Villeneuve took the win, and the inaugural 2012 Austin GP in Texas where Lewis Hamilton prevailed over Sebastian Vettel.

In the later 80’s Turbos were the new norm, most notably a McLaren Honda team having a success rate that remains unequaled winning 15 of 16 races. Honda is expected to reunite with McLaren for 2015. Currently though, they are running Mercedes power, and based on first week of winter testing, Mercedes is the engine to beat, with all Mercedes powered teams running more laps without issues, than any other engine. Renault which had powered Red Bull to 4 successive titles from 2010-2013, seems to have gotten the engine formula very wrong. Barely any Renault teams collected enough laps to figure anything out. Cooling is a major issue, and apparently some parts are too hard to fit precisely, often being installed the wrong way. Blame has been thrown at the teams and Renault, and they should probably share it.

The new ERS (Energy Recovery System) is a step up from the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) of the past few years. KERS generated a battery charge under braking which could be utilized for cornering speed or passing maneuvers. ERS also takes energy from Turbo exhaust, and that also powers up their Energy Store.

The cars are heavier, slightly slower, and thanks to odd rules on nose cone heights, extremely difficult to love aesthetically. All manner of different appendages have been attached to each team’s cars, some have even been compared to sex toys, due to shapes of those appendages. The noses have been lowered to prevent cars from launching over top another when they hit a back tire. The lower noses however have the potential to send the cars under the tire and body instead. That may not be as safe as going over. They could adapt the IRL solution with their DW2012 cars, where bodywork bumpers protect the rear wheels from nose cone impacts and thus also preventing launches of cars over or under the tires. The nose limitations are meant to reduce downforce as well, thus in order to gain maximum downforce, teams have opted for narrow noses of varying degrees of not very attractive. Mercedes works team and Ferrari works team have opted for a large wide elephant trunk looking nose, while Williams and Sauber have a more bird beak like appearance. Lotus have only hinted at their design of a double tusk, as they will not test until Bahrain. Marussia and Red Bull have chosen to disguise their odd nose shapes with black paint, while black paint cannot disguise the protruding appendage of the Force India.

I think between now and the Bahrain winter tests later this month and into March, Red Bull and the other Renault teams will be reworking how their cars fit the engines, while Mercedes and Ferrari powered teams will be happy to have the jump on them for reliability and speed.

Money, periods of unemployment, and timing prevented me from ever reaching Formula 1. This was not the case for Kamui Kobayashi who is driving for the Caterham team after a fundraising effort by his fans since he left F1 for 2013 season. Perhaps I should try that to drive in the Indy 500, as that is literally open to anybody who can get a team together.

It’s too hard to predict who will be the team to beat, Red Bull have not always been at the front, but often return to the front to win the season. McLaren has so far proved to be the fastest, but this is early testing, which may not be an accurate gauge.

The F1 world will be happy to note that Michael Schumacher is slowly being woken from a coma state, that he was induced into for a brain injury from a skiing accident in late December of 2013. It may be many days or weeks, but I understand from official sources that he appears to be responding well. Please don’t take my word, all official info comes from his manager Sabine Khem.

My Opinion on the BIG MOVE is varied

I have continued to work on what Metrolinx is actually planning, and that is difficult at best to locate.My latest confirmations of BIG MOVE and KWC’s transit expansion, and GO expansion in this latest Dropbox folder here:  THIS IS UPDATED OFTEN AS NEW INFO BECOMES AVAILABLE





It also contains suggestions by me, by some other organizations (Hamilton BLAST) (KWC), alternative websites regarding transit (www.feeling congested.ca among many), and a budget comparison between Metrolinx numbers for BRT,LRT, and Subway, and Government of Canada numbers for same. If LRTs can cross perpendicular, all tunnel costs I budgeted for crossing may be eliminated. I know Streetcars can cross perpendicular, you can see this at Bathurst and Spadina in Toronto.

As a commuter that has had to deal with the multiple areas of congestion of Toronto and York region, I know first-hand where transit is needed to fix the issues. As an architectural draftsman, I can create drawings and sketches faster than nearly any other designer/engineer can create them. Will this get me hired? Unlikely. Telling the Growth Secretariat Ministry what was wrong with Places to Grow and Provincial Policy, didn’t get me a job with them either. Honesty means something to the public, it is time employers, especially employers working for the government, listened to what we have to say. Metrolinx probably won’t grant me an interview, because they will be reading this post.

The post below was my earlier considerations of transit in the GTA, the Dropbox link above incorporates all of Metrolinx’s planned tasks (current and future), with better suggestions, including somebody’s GT Trains concept. Check that link instead of reading the post below.




You may have heard of Metrolinx (www.metrolinx.com) and THE BIG MOVE (www.thebigmove.ca).

You may also have heard them and Toronto Board of Trade suggestions for REVENUE TOOLS to allow us to spend $50 billion to fund this.

You can check their webpages for those lists, but suffice it to say, it will come from your pockets.

The TTC is known for starting projects and abandoning them, either due to city or provincial politics or just plain lack of interest.

There are tunnels under Queen Station, meant for streetcars but going nowhere, yet full of garbage nonetheless. There are tunnels under Eglinton West station, as there was originally going to be an Eglinton subway which combined with City amalgamation and Mike Harris government was cancelled to focus on Sheppard subway, more dear to Mel Lastman than Eglinton was. Bay station is actually stacked, original service used both stations at Bay for a bizarre loop system when service ran from Eglinton to St George via Union, and a bizarre track switch via Museum and Bay.

We currently have 4 boring machines creating the Spadina  extension from Downsview to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. I dare ask, where are they headed when this line is complete? They had better be boring more subways we need. Also the lack of forethought of Metrolinx, City of Vaughan and TTC in general to add a commuter parking lot at VMC which is directly beside a Future Shop and Home Sense and a skip and jump away from a Walmart, both with large parking lots, certain to be filled by commuters, even if they go the Yorkdale route by putting up barricades until 9am to prevent them. Your first Vaughan parking for commuters on the subway is at 407 and Jane. If anyone from Vaughan drives to 407 to park, they are more likely to stay on the highway.

I quickly drew up my own plan, not to any scale because I do not know the scaled dimensions of the subway stations, but a schematic representation of what I think we need, and what will ultimately get me out of my car for most of my trips. This image may be unclear because it is pdf version. As I live in Vaughan I added what I think Vaughan needs, as well as what I think Toronto needs. Some items are already started. Some are wishes of a sort. I’ll break down what I have added.

1. Continue Spadina loop to Yonge from VMC back to Finch as far north as Teston. This allows connection to Vaughan Mills mall, Wonderland, the future hospital, and more importantly for me, my Curling club in Richmond Hill. (www.richmondhillcurlingclub.ca)

2. Major Mackenzie line, I may have missed a few stop ideas, like adding Richmond Hill hospital, but City Hall Vaughan is necessary along this proposed line idea.

3. Hwy 7, though I have not seen dedicated bus plan in full, this is my idea for it. Much of it is under construction now.

4. Eglinton line, you need a higher cross town option, currently this is under construction as a dedicated Streetcar.

5. Downtown relief line, I keep hearing about it, without knowing where they want it, so this is where I want it, looping around Bloor from St. Clair to College, from Bathurst to Castle Frank. That keeps it west of the DVP.

6. Queen line. Yes there are streetcars now, yes an idea for underground was started and abandoned, I would prefer it go under and this is my suggested connection to Bloor Danforth line from High Park to Victoria Park.

7. Sheppard line extension and loop with Eglinton, because it should.

8. Lake Shore line, which could be streetcar or subway, likely being that close to water will prevent subway, but many have talked of burying Gardiner, which is another topic in the news today. Pay $500,000,000 to fix it and leave it and maintain it, or take some of it down, or take all of it down, and replace it with a tunnel. If you intend to tunnel the cars, tunnel a subway, and connect it to the Queen line, and Kipling on the Bloor Danforth line.

All station names on new lines are just suggestions, no doubt they would change if they ever built them. I do think Spadina should be renamed Annex on Bloor Line though.

This dream concept, would easily remove an hour off of my commute. Civic Action (http://your32.com/) insists that Metrolinx’s THE BIG MOVE will only gain you 32 minutes. It relies more on GO trains and streetcars than actual subway connections. I really doubt the GO trains will alter that much.

What will it cost? Honestly I do not have an answer, but if the BIG MOVE is $50,000,000,000, this could be double that, especially if it is all subways.

Would it make Toronto a world class transit oriented city? I think it would.

I may not have the planning credentials of my cousin who is in the board of directors of Metrolinx in THE BIG MOVE document, and part of Civic Action, and professor emeritus at both Ryerson and Uof T for Regional Planning. I am however a commuter from Vaughan near Wonderland to downtown Leslieville of Toronto, a less than 45km trip which should by rights take 45 minutes regardless of time of day. It is normally well over 1 1/2 hours daily, and far more in bad weather. I am also a draftsman for a contractor and have been in construction field for over 24 years, close to 16 with my current employer. I am a ratepayer executive for my community, and chair of our traffic calming committee, which saw several speed reduction elements implemented into our neighbourhood, and are expecting a few more.

I expect this subject to get some feedback, but wait, nobody visits my site so nobody will see it, unless they are willing to read what I have suggested.

I have a GREAT revenue tool. Remove over 40,000 of the $100,000 plus salaries the Ontario government pays for and BAM, $2 billion is available, realistically over $4 billion. I’m certain that Board of Trade and Metrolinx and Ontario Government never suggested that option. Jerry Agar did. ( www.newstalk1010.com) I’m with Jerry on that.

Now if only people will read this.MYBIGGERMOVETRANSIT




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