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article imageToronto's Harbourfront community meets to discuss issues Special

By KJ Mullins     Jun 7, 2010 in World
Toronto - The Harbourfront Community Centre was the site of a town meeting with Rosario Marchese of the Ontario New Democratic Party(MPP) and Adam Vaughan (City Counciller) in attendance.
MP Olivia Chow was held in Ottawa but joined the meeting via Internet conferencing. Several issues are facing the residents of the ward 20 community in Toronto but air pollution and increased traffic from motorists, diesel GO trains, increased taxi presence and the Toronto Island airport's Porter Airline was a key concern. Other issues dealt with the coming G20 Summit and revitalization of the waterfront.
The meeting started with a PowerPoint presentation of how far the area has come in the past 200 years. At the end of the presentation came a slide of a current problem--an excess of taxi traffic in an area that has two schools, one daycare centre, two community parks and a community centre. Another problem that was highlighted was taxis going into the streetcar areas instead of the proper roadway.
Pollution was then highlighted. The pollution that is hitting the area hard comes from the increased GO train traffic, the cars that crowd the area and the increased air traffic from Porter Airlines.
Rosario Marchese spoke about the fact that there is less money coming into Toronto because of the decrease of income taxes.
"How do we reduce the number of cars on the road into the area affecting the air that we breath. I think that we can all rally around that, the air that we breath."
This issue affects all that live in the area Marchese stressed. He told those in attendance that they need to push their government officials to get things done. Political pressure is how to get the needs happening, one of those major needs is Transit City and electric GO trains.
The G20 Summit will indirectly affect those living in the area at lower Bathurst and Queens Quay. While the fences will be blocks away many of those who may protest could gather along the neighbourhood community making for a traffic nightmare. There are also safety issues that concern citizens. Adam Vaughan announced that there would be a meeting on these issues Thursday evening at St. Andrew's Church.
Vaughan spoke about the problems that the area has with the Port Authority.
"The Port Authority continues their strange ways. Porter is losing millions of dollars every quarter."
Traffic is a huge problem. Vaughan said that new speed bumps will be coming to the neighbourhood very shortly.
"We are going to return the waterfront to the citizens of Toronto."
He spoke about the new plans of Dan Leckie Way, joining the community to the downtown core with a walkway to Portland that will go through neighbourhoods.
Olivia Chow spoke from Ottawa about the Port Authority. The conversation had some technical difficulties with Chow not being able to hear those at the meeting clearly.
The audience brought up concerns about the airport with flights taking off past legal hours and the tower not always being monitored. One of the concerns is that the airport would be in operation during the G20. Vaughn said that if this would be the case then it adds a risk to the residents to the area because of lax security.
The area is being hammered by increased pollution that is affecting the health of the residents. The population is growing and needing increased support from public transit and controls on the traffic that clogs the roads. Access to the waterfront, one of the wonderful benefits of living in the area, is being compromised by new plans that at times make no sense to those that live in the area is a concern that will take time to get a clear commitment that satisfies the residents and the city.
There are encouraging signs, a new library has broken ground at Front Street and Bathurst that will add to the community. Plans are closer to having a community pool become a reality. The area parks will be worked on and improved within a year.
Still much is needed to improve the residents needs. Analysis of the air quality needs to be a priority. Electric GO trains have to replace older diesel trains as more routes are added unless the government wants the residents to face even greater air pollution resulting in health challenges.
More about Harbourfront community centre, Adam vaughan, Olivia chow
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