Bike lane back-pedal
What started as a simple plan for a bike lane on Cosburn has turned into a one-man search-and-destroy mission by Councillor Case Ootes. The Cosburn bike lane, which is to run from Broadview to Oak Park, had already been recommended for approval by city staff. That is, until Ootes used some of his political clout to pressure staff into changing their report at the last minute by adding a clause recommending approval of only a portion of the bike lane, removing the section that would run through his ward.
"I wanted to have a public consultation," Ootes explains, even though an open house had been held in July as well as a survey of residents showing that there is general support for the project. The fact that Ootes has a history of opposing bike lanes - including the one on Dundas East, whose approval he tried to have reversed - has prompted questions about his motives.
Says Councillor Janet Davis, whose ward the proposed bike lane will also run through, "Councillor Ootes's actions were unfair and short-sighted. The councillor knew the bike lane had been approved, he had the opportunity for consultation and was clearly able to form an opinion."
Although the staff report does acknowledge that a bike lane will mean increased congestion on Cosburn and a maximum 20-second delay for motor vehicles during the afternoon peak period, it views these as minor sacrifices in the context of improving conditions for cyclists and pedestrians and reducing motor vehicle speeds. In fact, the strongest evidence in favour of the Cosburn bike lane are the city's finding that the lanes on Dundas East, which has significantly higher traffic volume, have caused little or no infiltration onto local streets.
Councilor Ootes, however, doesn't buy it. He has claimed in discussions with constituents that drivers now use Queen instead of Dundas. He denies, too, that his actions amount to stalling tactics, insisting that the bike lane proposal "came under the radar" - unlike his manoeuvrings to get the staff report changed, of course.
Stink at Ontario Place
Ontario Place is finally awake to the fact that it will be required to comply with the Toronto anti-pesticide bylaw. Park patrons raised a stink about the chemical stench caused by the spraying of Tri-Kill (which includes 2,4-D) last Wednesday, July 28, near Soak City Water Park in contravention of the city's bylaw. Park officials are assuring them it was a one-time mishap. Jackie Chu, public relations officer at Ontario Place, says she "doesn't know why (a pesticide) that is restricted was used" and that parks officials "were not aware at the time that the pesticides were included in the bylaw."
Chu says the chemical was applied by a provincially contracted company, and Ontario Place was unaware that the pesticide had been sprayed. She insists only "small amounts were used. It's not like a whole lawn was sprayed. (The pesticide) was used only as a spot approach along the fences on about a dozen or so weeds."
However, one parent says he noticed the chemical stench again when he returned to the park to complain two days later. He says park officials only reluctantly admitted spraying had taken place.
The bylaw, in effect since April 1, restricts the outdoor use of pesticides on private and public property, although homeowners are not expected to comply fully with the law until 2007 and businesses by 2005.
For now, parents who complain to the city about businesses still using pesticides can expect them to get a slap on the wrist. Effective September 2005, tickets will be issued by health inspectors to companies that violate the bylaw.