Although it's been said, many times, many ways…you'd better get your Christmas shopping done soon or else you'll kick yourself. In the news: be prepared for some pretty nasty weather this weekend, city council approves measures to alleviate traffic congestion, the TTC has to answer to an angry mom, no one really knows whether or not Presto cards will be functional in time for the Pan Am Games, and a Toronto-area hospice for children.
Travelling around the GTA this weekend is probably going to suck because of a seemingly unending mix of rain, freezing rain, and snow heading this way—a recipe that will make one of the busiest travel weekends of the year super amazing, no doubt. Wherever you are planning on going this weekend—be it by car, plane, or public transit—leave extra time, and expect delays depending on conditions. If you’re staying put this weekend, count your blessings—but also heed the warning from Toronto Hydro that power lines are easily downed by ice accumulation, so power outages may also be on the menu.
Your commute this weekend might be terrible, but things look a little brighter in the long term, as city council approved the comprehensive $57-million Congestion Management Plan that aims to help alleviate traffic congestion through the city by the end of next year. Traffic camera installation and revisions to traffic signals are two of the main initiatives of the plan, which should not only benefit drivers, but also improve conditions for the 60 per cent of people who use public transit to travel on Toronto roads. Bonus!
Variations on a theme, as we continue along with transit-related news. A mother is angry after a Toronto Transit Commission streetcar driver allegedly refused to help her eight-year-old son, who got lost while on a field trip on Wednesday afternoon. After Josh Parker and a friend somehow got separated from their peers and adult chaperone during a streetcar ride, the young boy went to the driver to ask him to call 911. The driver allegedly refused and told the child to borrow someone else’s phone. The boy did, and was eventually picked up by his father. So far, the TTC has said it is conducting an investigation into the matter. No word on whether or not the streetcar was being driven by Ebenezer Scrooge at the time of the incident. Bah! Humbug!
In other TTC news, it seems about as clear as mud whether or not the Presto smart-card system of fee payment will be fully ready to roll out before the Pan Am Games. TTC chair Karen Stintz told the board on Thursday that the system will be substantially complete before the Games, with 50 new street cars and 23 subway stations Presto-ready beginning next fall. Once this initial round of implementation is complete, a second round will widen the availability of the card-based fare payment. Metrolinx, who is overseeing procurement, has indicated that Presto cards will be up and running to serve key venues for the Pan Am Games. The only thing clear about that statement is that it won’t be working everywhere, meaning that people will likely have to rely on a mix of old-school tokens and new-fangled Presto cards, which won’t be confusing for visitors to the city at all.
Finally, for families of terminally ill children, hospice care is a real and important need that goes largely ignored as people generally focus the larger palliative care discussion on the needs of an aging population. CBC News profiles Emily’s House, a Toronto hospice that provides around-the-clock care to terminally ill children, and support for their families. It is one of only six children’s hospices in Canada and has cared for more than 50 patients since it opened in July.
This post originally gave Josh Parker’s first name as “John.”