DAVE AGAR

Monday, April 28 Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 4/28/2014 12:00:00 AM

If we learned anything from the weekend closure of the Gardiner Expressway for spring maintenance it is this:  when one of the most important east-west highways is shutdown,  just about every other east-west run is crammed....Front, Richmond, Queen, Dundas, Bloor, the 401 and I'm sure many other cross-town runs were pooched.

This is what the geniuses at city hall have brought us to.  Politicians who can't think beyond the next election making decisions in their own best interests first.   Queen's Park politicos are no better.   Traffic and transit is a GTA-wide issue.  In other words from Burlington to Clarington and north to Newmarket, we are all in this mess together.

It is way past the time when we need one GTA or even a Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Transportation Authority responsible for traffic and transit.   Yes we have Metrolinx but that organization does not yet have the regulatory heft to get on with the massive overhaul that is needed.   
We can no longer sustain ourselves with a 1950's, 1960's road structure. They same for public transit.

I note with interest some of the ideas coming from the candidates for Mayor in Toronto but have you noticed that amongst the big candidates there are no big ideas.  No grandiose plans...no vision.   They all seem to tinker on the edges when what we are faced with is chaos anytime the smallest things occur.  A streetcar stalls, a bus breaks down.  Why in this day and age should something so relatively minor cause such a headache.

The highways are particularly brutal.   I have spent many years and many miles travelling this country and the U.S. and there is one significant difference.  In many parts of America, you always have options.  If an interstate shutsdown,  you can almost always find a way around it on a secondary highway.  The speed limit is a bit slower but you move at a pretty good clip.    Here, we have little or no backup.  Highway 2 is hardly a highway in this part of the province.   The same for Highway 5.  Highway 7 seems to have as many traffic lights as Yonge Street.   

Frustration? You bet.  Infuriating? YES.   And in the case of the Gardiner, the worst is yet to come for least the next 2-and-a-half, probably closer to 3 years.

SPECIAL NEEDS

The education activist group People For Education is out with a new survey about special needs kids in our public school system and, for me at least, it was an eye-opener.

49 percent of elementary school principals and 41 percent of high-school principals have admitted that they've recommended to parents with special needs children that they not attend a full day of school because the school doesn't have the necessary supports in place or because of safety concerns.

As taxpayers we dole out a lot of money for Ontario's special education grants.  2.72-billion dollars.  That's up from just over a billion dollars in 2-thousand-2.

The Education Act stipulates that kids attend school for a full day, unless they are sick and yet nearly half the principals are advising parents of special needs kids to not let their kids go for a full day.

Neither of my children is special needs but I can tell you this, if I were a parent in that situation, it would make my blood boil to know that my child is falling behind because they can't stay in school for full days because there is no one there to help them.

TORNADOES

Powerful storms tore through the central and southern U.S. yesterday and last night and more storms are on the way.

The huge system spawned several tornadoes including one that ripped through the little town of Quapaw Oklahoma on the border with Kansas.

17 bodies found so far including 16 in Arkansas and more tornadoes are likely later today.

RUSSIA

U.S. President Barack Obama said this morning that later today the U.S. will impose new sanctions on Russia because of the rebellious foment in eastern Ukraine.

The targets of the sanctions would include high-technology exports to Russia's defence industry. They are also expected to include wealthy individuals close President Vladimir Putin.

Canada typically acts in lock step with the U.S. on sanctions...the same with the European Union.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be here in town later today so we could get the announcement from him.

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