David Switzer shares further thoughts about the Ed Levy book about Toronto’s transit history

David Switzer wrote in a recent email:


I read your article about Edward Levy and opened his web book.

I attended his presentation at City Ecology which was full to capacity. You and I got our information in different ways… You electronically and I from live presentation. I made notes but I could have got them from the web book. However my first note was in the future to see if there is a blog or website so I don’t have to make notes.

One of the additional thing I got from the live presentation was Levy’s very negative opinion of our past and outlook for Toronto’s future. For example he compared Toronto to Montreal’s “wonderful” system. It was pointed out that that transit system was paid for by federal and provincial funding for the Worlds Fair and Olympics. When I was young experts came from around the world to see how the TTC could provide such good service with so little government funding. The gist of his presentation was the continual history of transit plans and his solution was to present yet another plan. My opinion it is not bad planning but post amalgamation governance that can’t find consensus.


I’ve shared with David Switzer a few comments including:

My brother Juri Pill was head of planning for TTC in the 1980s or thereabouts. I remember that as a time (for varied reasons) that the TTC had a great reputation for doing things right.

In response to a comment from me indicating I enjoy live presentations also, David Switzer added: “My reference to you getting information electronically was regarding this event only. I know you attend many meetings just as I get information from the Internet… In this case from you.”

Further comment:

Over the past year or two I’ve encountered research indicating that a person can get a lot of work done by working in 90-minute uninterrupted stretches.

I’ve recently adopted this strategy – I use a kitchen timer to keep track of my time. I set it to 60 minutes, that being the maximum time allotment on my kitchen timer. When an hour is up, I add a further 30 minutes.

I very much like this approach to getting work done. After the 90 minutes is done, I take a little break and then get back to work. Taking into account other work I do in the course of the day, if I can get two or three such 90-minute sessions accomplished in a day, I can get much more done than in the recent past.

Earlier comment from Sid Olvet

It was an email from Sid Olvet – concerning the Mississauga Waterfront Connection Environmental Assessment Project plans for the sand beach at Marie Curtis Park – that prompted me to locate Ed Levy’s book online.

Here’s what Sid Olvet wrote about the history of Toronto transit:


It is interesting to read the exchanges regarding projects and planners’ interactions with the lay public and its stakeholder segments, with a political backdrop. (That’s quite apart from my, in this case, non-resident’s, bias towards sand, whether in Estonia, Prince Edward County here, or Scarborough in Yorkshire or Ontario).

An ongoing such conversation, on a grand scale, was reviewed the other day in the Globe and Mail. That dealt with the 100-year quest for urban underground railways in Toronto. Since circa 1910, plans have been made, modified, defeated, shelved, revived, over and over, with modest physical accomplishment. It reminded me of today’s NATO, “No Action, Talk Only.” But talk is often better than action, notwithstanding the reported comment by a distraught woman at a recent consultation on public transit plans. “It’s enough to make one want to cry.” That’s a good take on democracy.

Carry on conversing!


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