The Case for Free Public Transit

The TTC's goal should be to help Torontonians get around. So why do fares keep rising?

Increasing ridership should be the goal of public transit. Photo by Nick Kernick in the Torontoist Flickr pool

Metrolinx recently announced a program to discount TTC fare for those transferring from the GO Transit system. (Other TTC riders and those transferring from other systems get nothing.) It’s a little gift that will cost about $18 million, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s a pretty weak gesture.

I say, go big or go home: In 2009, the economist Irwin Kellner argued in a MarketWatch column that public transit should be free. The sociologist Eric Olin Wright has made the same case. Free. Now we’re talking.

Keep reading: The Case for Free Public Transit



Could you die in a Grenfell-esque inferno in Toronto?

Toronto Fire Services promises to tell you—soon

The fire at Grenfell Tower in London drew attention to the lack of transparency with Toronto’s fire safety inspection reports. (Photo courtesy of ChiralJon via Flickr.)

As an inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower that killed 80 people gets underway, the long-standing concerns of its residents are now coming to light. Residents of the London apartment had noticed the building was missing fire alarms, sprinklers, and a fire escape. There was only one means of egress, a single staircase. And then there was the flammable aluminum cladding (known as Reynobond PE) that has since come under particular scrutiny.

Most building codes in Toronto forbid structures taller than four to six storeys from using combustible cladding. But Toronto Fire Services still conducts annual evaluations on all high-rise buildings to test their adherence to the fire code. The public is notified about serious violations through online notices, once the file has been closed by fire services.

Keep reading: Could you die in a Grenfell-esque inferno in Toronto?



Don’t sell the Hearn

Losing the landmark would be an irreparable blow to waterfront redevelopment.

Turbine Hall inside the Hearn. (Photo rendering courtesy of Luminato.)

Back when the Hearn Generating Station was opened in 1951, it was the largest enclosed space in Canada: a cavernous, 400,000-square-foot hulk on the waterfront that powered the surrounding city, until it was decommissioned in 1995.

Under Mike Harris, the province deregulated its energy system, and the Hearn was rendered obsolete. Asbestos insulation and gigantic turbomachinery were removed, and in 2002, the site was leased to Studios of America, though it’s technically still owned by Crown corporation Ontario Power Generation. The original plan was to build a gigantic film production studio, but in 2006 the idea was scuttled, though the abandoned, industrial-chic space has featured in a few movies since then.

In the intervening years, all three levels of government have been collaborating on an ambitious revitalization of the waterfront, including the Port Lands where the Hearn is located. Projections suggest as many as 40,000 people will move to the area in the decades to come.

Keep reading: Don’t sell the Hearn