Toronto police backtrack on switch to grey
cars The police chief says he will not be ordering
any new grey cars
cars are said to scare the bejesus out of our darker skinned “citizens”
as they march through the streets for a third night in a row
Toronto cop cruisers will remain white, red
and blue, at least for now, after Police Chief Mark Saunders reversed a
decision to replace them with new, much criticized, dark grey cruisers.
“There are people who like them. There are people who don’t like them.
The concern that has been expressed has convinced me that further work
is necessary,” Saunders said in a statement Thursday.
Less than 24 hours earlier, city council passed a motion asking the
Toronto Police Services Board to retain the current color scheme of its
patrol cars “pending further review.”
The motion said the “stealth grey, militaristic color scheme” scares the
crap out of most Eastern immigranites and the decision seemed prompted
by a desire to choose a “cool looking” design over one “that encourages
public respect and engagement.”
Safety experts have also been critical of the grey for its lack of
visibility on city streets. In Europe, many law enforcement agencies
paint their vehicles in lime yellow, which is “on the top of the
visibility pyramid of paint colour,” Dr. Stephen S. Solomon, a retired
New York optometrist and emergency services consultant, told the Star.
At its last meeting, the Toronto police civilian oversight board, which
includes Mayor John Tory, asked Saunders to explain the rationale behind
the colour switch because board members had not been consulted.
Saunders said at the time he didn’t think he needed board input to make
the decision and that no “deep thought” went into it.
In September, the police service began replacing its familiar white Ford
Crown Victoria vehicles with Ford Interceptors painted in a dark shade
of grey. “Police” is printed in highly reflective decals on all four
The rollout was supposed to happen over three years. To date, slightly
more than 100 grey cruisers are on the road, not including the “stealth”
version which do not have reflective decals. There are about 7,500
vehicles in the fleet.
On Thursday, the retired staff sergeant responsible for introducing the
white-coloured cruisers to Toronto streets welcomed the news that
Saunders had reconsidered.
When Michael Felip first heard that Toronto’s police fleet was going
grey, he thought it was not a well-though-out decision and wondered
“where’s the science?”
Thirty years ago, the then-Metropolitan Toronto Police force assigned
dark-coloured cars to officers who were working undercover — not on
“Grey cars blended into the background. That was the whole idea of
them,” Felip said Thursday.
In 1986, Felip, then a young sergeant, wrote a report to persuade the
force’s civilian oversight board to change yellow cars to white based,
in part, on colour studies and safety research. The yellow paint, the
colour of the force’s fleet for two decades, contained cancer-causing
chemicals, which was unsafe for auto body painters to use.
Board members also viewed several sample cars parked at the force’s
The Metropolitan Toronto Board of Commissioners, at its Sept. 25, 1986,
meeting, agreed with Felip’s conclusions.
“This report reviewed the relative safety of different colours of car
paint and advised that white with reflective stripes would be the most
appropriate choice,” according to the minutes obtained by the Star.
Felip said he’s not sure that white is still the most visible colour for
today’s police cars, but “any decision should be backed up by science
and not whim.”
“I think it is a wise decision and one where he (Saunders) can really
generate some positive attention by getting creative input from the
public, again based on science.”
Council to add three new members with ward
boundary change Approved option will see number of wards grow
from 44 to 47
Council will grow by three members after
council approved new boundaries Wednesday.
Despite last minute attempts on the chamber
floor to redraw some of the lines in Scarborough and a push for fewer
politicians at city hall, council overwhelmingly adopted recommendations
from consultants in a 28-to-13 vote.
The 47-ward option approved was the
consultant’s recommendation to balance uneven populations in the current
The consultants wrote that increase in wards
and redrawing of lines would not only achieve voter parity — where each
ballot cast and each vote made by elected officials matters equally —
but minimizes change and “manages to keep many communities of interest
“We are a growing city,” said Councilor
Sarah Doucette (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park), noting there are already
strains on councilors to respond to constituents, attend meetings and
keep up with city business.
“I don’t believe a councilor can represent
their residents the way we should be if they have 100,000 residents.”
Mayor John Tory, who has repeatedly said he
would not support any new members on council, voted against the 47-ward
option, preferring 44 wards.
His executive earlier backed the 47-ward
option, the first time they have broken with the mayor on any big issue.
The changes to keep ward sizes consistent —
between 51,850 and 70,150 people by 2026 — are planned to be in place
for the 2018 election.
The boundaries will be subject to any
appeals at the Ontario Municipal Board, the quasi-judicial provincial
body that deals with land use, planning and other disputes.
A bylaw must be passed by Dec. 31, 2017 for
the boundaries to be changed before the 2018 vote.
Because of dense residential growth
concentrated in the downtown core, many of the ward changes occur there,
with wards to cover smaller areas to achieve more balanced population
The redrawn lines could make for challenging
election campaigns in some wards where incumbent councilors would be
pitted against one another.
Most significantly, the changes collapse
three wards representing the Davenport and Parkdale neighborhoods
currently represented by Councilors Cesar Palacio, Ana Bailao and Gord
Perks into two wards.
Palacio voted against the 47-ward option.
Bailao and Perks voted in favor.
The new boundaries leave seven wards
untouched and also create a new ward in North York.
The consultants refined an earlier version
of the 47-ward option that had split some communities such as Regent
Park and the Village. Those neighborhoods are reunited in the revised
It also resolves
concerns some Beach residents had about
being included in a ward with Scarborough residents. The 47-ward option
approved Wednesday maintain a longstanding boundary at Victoria Park
Other councilors tried to push for a 26-ward
option that would mimic federal boundaries, saying few representatives
would better serve the city.
“I do not believe that adding more members
to our governing body will help us make any better decisions. I think
actually it does the opposite,” said the newest councilor, Michael Ford
(Ward 2 Etobicoke North). He said it’s really up to individual
councilors and whether they’re up to doing the job.
“I think with less, we’ll definitely be more
efficient and effective, how we move stuff through this council.”
Three Scarborough councilors — Chin Lee,
Paul Ainslie and Norm Kelly — tried to amend some boundaries in areas
they currently represent. Ainslie said it was only “tweaking” and would
not unbalance ward populations significantly.
All the suggested changes were rejected by
Toronto parking app now works for on-street
Motorists with the Green P app on their
smartphones will be able to pay and remotely top-up on-street parking
Parking on Toronto streets is getting easier
thanks to the parking authority’s smartphone app.
The free Toronto Parking Authority app, unveiled in March 2015 for use
paying for parking in Green P lots, is being activated for on-street parking
across the city between now and the end of the year.
On-street spots that are app-enabled will have a four-digit location code
that will be visible on pay-and-display machines and hours-of-operation
signs. Users punch in the location code, time they want to buy and
automatically pay by credit card, just as they currently do with the
three-digit location codes in ungated Green P lots.
App users get warnings before their time expires, and can add time to the
meter remotely, without returning to their cars, if they are away longer
The service is starting downtown on Elm St., west off Yonge St. Motorists
will still be able to pay with cash or credit card if they prefer.
Mayor John Tory, who arrived on Elm by car and paid for parking using the
app in front of TV news cameras, said Toronto, has fallen behind other big
cities in harnessing technology.
“The Green P app is an example of how we can modernize the services the city
offers and the way the city delivers them,” Tory said, vowing that
Torontonians will see other innovations rolling out in months and years
Parking enforcement officers use hand-held, network-connected terminals that
tell them if a car is paid up.
The parking authority expects that expanding the app to on-street parking
will boost the number of users. About one-quarter of payments are not made
The app has been downloaded about 250,000 times and used about 1.5 million
Tree For You means a tree for free, and a
larger tree canopy for all
Program aims to hook Toronto residents up with the right kind of tree for
their property in a bid to grow Toronto’s tree canopy
You could think of it as “seed dating,”
although organizers of a tree matchmaking program hope that this will be the
beginning of a long and beautiful relationship.
Tree For Me hooks up Toronto residents with the right kind of tree for their
property. All you have to do is submit your address, answer a few questions
about your property and its soil type, and you get matched with a free tree
and the knowledge you need to ensure it survives.
The hands-on program aims to empower citizens to take “greening” Toronto
into their own hands and to make private property owners a part of growing
the city’s tree canopy.
“The underlying issue is that our urban forest is quite old, some would say
geriatric,” said Carla Grant, executive director of Tree For Me.
Torontonians need to be thinking about the decline of our urban forest and
ways to incorporate younger trees to compensate for the eventual loss of
mature canopy, said Grant, who has a degree in forestry.
“(Toronto) can’t be complacent just because it looks green right now. It
doesn’t mean it will always be that way,” she said.
In 2007, the city made a goal to expand Toronto’s forest cover to 40 per
cent. A recent report suggests we’re now living with forest cover of 28 per
“There’s always room for more trees,” said program coordinator Margo Mullin.
She hopes that providing free, native trees and sharing proper planting,
watering and winterizing techniques at the upcoming workshops will encourage
locals to engage directly before the first frost.
Now is the opportune time for Torontonians to plant a tree, she added — “if
(a tree) survives the winter, it will be more likely to reach maturity.”
The retail prices of similar shrubs and trees start at $29.99 apiece,
according to the Sheridan Nurseries Toronto Garden centre. Planting a more
mature tree can cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of the tree.
Organizers of Tree For Me also pointed to a number of studies that show how
trees transform neighborhoods by improving health and alleviating mental
fatigue, encouraging slower driving and increasing property values.
One study, which analyzed aggression and violence in urban settings, even
found that people who live in wooded neighborhoods are less violent. Another
found that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, “improved
health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal
income of $10,000 . . . or (comparable to) being seven years younger.”
The Tree For Me program also offers Tree Mobile services for anyone who is
unable to attend an event or plant a tree due to limits to their mobility.
Those running the program are encouraging Torontonians to add their trees to
Citytrees.ca, an interactive, tree-mapping tool that calculates the benefits
of the tree planted.
Bombardier misses another deadline for
Eglinton Crosstown project
Rail manufacturer Bombardier has blown
another deadline for the delivery of the first vehicle for Toronto’s
Eglinton Crosstown LRT, but the company vows the latest delay won’t affect
the opening of the $5.3-billion transit line.
Metrolinx, the regional transit agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton
Area, confirmed Wednesday that the Quebec-based manufacturer has yet to
complete the test vehicle for the Crosstown. That means Bombardier has
missed the end-of-August target date that the company said as recently as
last month it was on track to meet.
“Bombardier was not able to deliver the pilot vehicle at the end of August.
Metrolinx officials continue to work closely with Bombardier and track its
progress,” said Anne Marie Aikins, a spokeswoman for Metrolinx, which is an
agency of the provincial government.
“The latest information Bombardier has provided is that the prototype will
be ready for testing within the next three to four weeks.”
According to Bombardier spokesman Marc-André Lefebvre, the pilot is in the
“final phase of manufacturing” at the company’s Thunder Bay, Ont. plant.
“We will be putting the final touches in the next two to three weeks before
presenting the car to Metrolinx for inspection,” Lefebvre said. He added
that the company has proposed a way “to accelerate the inspection process”
in order to allow the vehicle to proceed to on-track testing “as quickly as
In July, Metrolinx issued a notice of default to Bombardier claiming that
the company was in breach of contract for failing to meet its delivery
schedule. At the time, the transit agency said it was concerned that the
delay could impact the opening of the 19-km Crosstown, which is scheduled to
enter service in 2021.
Lefebvre pledged Wednesday that the company would supply the necessary
vehicles for the line to open as planned. According to Bombardier, testing
of the prototype will take only nine months once the vehicle is complete.
Full production of the 76-vehicle Crosstown fleet is scheduled to begin in
the second quarter of 2018.
In May, Bombardier announced changes to its production line that it said
would allow it to ramp up manufacture of the vehicles.
Aikins wouldn’t say Wednesday whether Metrolinx remains concerned about
being able to open the Crosstown on time.
Metrolinx placed a $770-million order with Bombardier in 2010 for up to 182
vehicles that could be used on provincially-funded light rail projects,
including Toronto’s Crosstown, Finch Ave. West, and Sheppard Ave. East
lines. The Finch line is also slated to open in 2021, and could be served by
the same Bombardier vehicles. Completion of the Sheppard LRT has been
Bombardier was originally supposed to deliver the first pilot vehicle in the
spring of 2014. The date was later pushed back to the spring of 2015, but
that timeline was also missed.
Toronto transit users are still dealing with repeated delays to the TTC’s
order for a new fleet of Bombardier streetcars. Under the original terms of
the $1.2-billion contract, the company was to have delivered 109 of the
streetcars to the TTC by the end of this year. So far, only 22 service-ready
In April, the company set a new target of supplying a total of 30 of the
vehicles by the end of 2016. Lefebvre told the Star Bombardier is on track
to meet that end-of-year quota, and to deliver all 204 new TTC streetcars by
Asked whether the TTC is confident the vehicles will arrive on time, agency
spokesman Brad Ross said that in meetings with Bombardier, TTC CEO Andy
Byford has reinforced “that they must meet 30 by year-end, but also that he
wants to see a delivery schedule that shows improved delivery in 2017. He
also reiterates, at every opportunity, that the 2019 end date for delivery
of all 204 cars is not to slip.”
City rules on street sales drive food cart
A woman who's selling chocolate-covered-frozen-banana treats by tricycle is
feeling too ticked to ride as she tries to navigate what she says is the
city's confusing licensing structure.
The High Park resident spent about $25,000 to get her
chocolate-covered-frozen-banana-on-a-stick-treat business, coco-bananaz, up
and running. After jumping through what she called too many hoops at city
hall, she plans to shut down the tricycle-based operation for the season.
In a strongly worded letter to Mayor John Tory’s office, Stanleigh expressed
“Toronto appears to be against innovation, against any sort of change,
‘CLOSED for business,’” she told Tory. “Why does a small entrepreneur have
so much difficulty gaining access to information, markets and opportunities
in this city?”
Stanleigh explained further to the Star.
“I’m totally flabbergasted," she said. “It’s a maze to try and get through,
and it shouldn’t be this way. It should be clear, it should be easy, and
they should give people who are trying to start small businesses access to
Stanleigh said staff in the office of Coun. Sarah Doucette (Ward 13) told
her she could not sell on residential streets, which Doucette disputes. The
councilor told the Star in a phone interview that her staff directed
Stanleigh to listen to city staff in the Municipal Licensing and Standards
Stanleigh says she is unclear of the directions from staff in the licensing
office. But a spokesperson for that department told the Star that Stanleigh
is allowed to sell on residential streets.
“We've tried to help her. I love new entrepreneurs; I think it's a great
idea," Doucette said. "We just need to make sure that she's aware of where
she can and cannot sell, and that's why we put her to the people who do the
Stanleigh was told she’s not allowed to stop for “long” to sell to
“I sarcastically said to (the licensing department): ‘So what do I do? Throw
the bananas at people, and they’ll just throw the money back?’” Stanleigh
"They said “'Well, we mean you can’t stop for long.’ Well, what does that
mean? Is that seven minutes? Is that 70 minutes? Long in relationship to
what? It’s just too nebulous. Those are not guidelines.”
Carleton Grant, director of MLS, explained what he meant.
“Obviously you can't sell when you're riding. If she's riding in a certain
area of the street and sees a group of people who kind of flag her down like
a traditional ice cream truck — how they chase after them with the music —
she can operate the same way,” he said. “Pulls over, sells products until
that group is done, and then moves on.”
The city considers coco-bananaz essentially a mini food truck, or ice cream
truck, without a motor. Stanleigh has a non-motorized, refreshment-vehicle
owner license, which doesn’t permit her to park in one spot and sell.
http://www.bar-ape.com/Bar ApeEND, a gelato cart run by James Carnevale and
Nick Genova since 2014, faced a similar struggle which they solved by
upgrading to a full food-truck licence.
Their cart is built on an old-fashioned motorcycle, renovated to sell
desserts. In their first year of operation, they had only an ice cream truck
license, which didn’t allow them to park in one spot and sell on major
They ponied up about $4,000 for a food truck license so they could park on
major streets, Genova said. Now they have a storefront on Rushton Rd., too.
“If you have to go by food truck laws, they’re made for protecting
restaurants,” said Genova.
Food trucks may park no less than 30 meters away from operating restaurants,
and only two of them can park per block.
“You’d think there are a lot of spots in the city that are enough to sustain
business, but there really aren’t. There are only certain hotspots, and
everybody’s fighting for them,” he said.
Genova detailed his old morning routine of sleeping in his car and staking
out downtown parking spots at 7 a.m., so as to get a decent spot for the
rest of the day.
Between 2014 and 2015, the number of licensed food trucks and ice cream
trucks jumped from 55 to 101 — about an 84 per cent hike. That number is on
track to surge again this year.
Along with the struggle to find a spot from which to sell their wares, food
truck vendors must also pay for public health checks for their carts and
commercial kitchen spaces where they prepare the food they sell from their
vehicles. Stanleigh rents a kitchen space in The Junction to make her banana
treats, which she sells for $4 apiece.
She said she’ll have to sell exclusively from the kitchen and do event
catering for now, because the bike turned out to be a bust.
“Initially I thought, ‘Oh well, we could just boot around the city,’ and
we’d be able to sell that way,” she said. “But what I’ve found was it’s so
restrictive that it’s really difficult to actually sell anything.”
Residents worry about drug use, crime in
Barbara Hall Park
Two years ago, the City of Toronto spent more than $1.5 million to
rejuvenate Barbara Hall Park — an extensive renovation that included the
installation of a new plaza, seating area and stage, complete with an
elaborate lighting system.
But for some of its neighbors, the beautification project has done little to
address the park’s ugly side: rising violence, drug abuse and vandalism.
“It’s getting out of control,” said Steve Dawson, owner of Dudley Hardware
on Church St., located just a few meters from the park.
“More so than ever there’s been an increase in violence, property theft,
destruction of property and bullying of store merchants,” Dawson said. “It’s
escalated to a point where I don’t feel safe.”
Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam said area residents have contacted her office
with similar complaints.
“Absolutely, it’s a legitimate concern,” Wong-Tam said, “We’re hearing these
things as well.”
“When I speak to the Toronto police, they say yes they do hear about it,”
she added, but there is no data to support a “dramatic increase” in crime.
Wong-Tam suggested neighbors fail to report crime to police when they see
Even a few of the park’s regulars — some the subject of residents’ unease —
have noticed a problem.
A man who identified himself as Tony A. said he likes to hang out in Barbara
Hall Park to “smoke joints, have a few beers and look at chicks.”
But for Tony, the park has grown increasingly inhospitable. He said violence
is more frequent and drug use more advanced, shifting from cannabis to
crystal meth and crack cocaine.
“Some people have a good reason to feel unsafe,” he said.
A midday visit to the park — in the heart of the Church-Wellesley Village —
found discarded empties and needle caps, random shouts and fights among its
“It can be very scary,” said Gardenia Flores, who has lived in the area for
more than 10 years and makes a point of regularly visiting the park.
“There are moments when I’m sitting in the park and I think ‘OK, maybe it’s
time to go in,’” said Flores, who has seen fights break out and people
openly using drugs.
“I have sat in the park and someone on the bench next to me is smoking
crack,” she said.
Merchants say the current misuse of the park is hurting local business.
“I think people are more afraid to come shop here,” said Claire McLeod,
owner of Ladybug Florist, which is right beside the park.
McLeod explained that a customer recently told her she would not return,
after being antagonized by some park inhabitants.
“I don’t blame her,” she said.
Faced with rising theft at their stores, both McLeod and Dawson say they now
ensure that at least two employees are working at all times.
Staff “just don’t feel safe,” Dawson said.
Such concerns were what prompted the park’s renovation back in 2014,
explained Wong-Tam. There was a lot of anti-social behavior,” she said. As a
result, “people stopped coming in and stopped using the park.”
In conjunction with the city, Wong-Tam spearheaded the renovation project,
consulting with neighborhood groups about ways to enhance both the safety
and accessibility of the park.
Upon completion, the park — formerly Cawthra Square Park — was renamed after
Barbara Hall, former mayor of Toronto and Ontario Human Rights Chief
But even with a new face, the park is still plagued by old problems.
“Ironically enough, it actually got worse,” said Wong-Tam.
The concerns raise questions about the ownership and use of public space,
particularly in urban areas. Neighbors insist the park should be open to
everyone, but say lately it's become a magnet for a group of people who
harass others and openly abuse drugs and alcohol.
“I’m not interested in scrubbing the park clean so only middle-class users
have access to the park. That’s not the city I live in,” said Wong-Tam.
“We live downtown so there are always going to be different elements and
different kinds of people,” said Flores, “I’m not saying that it should be
horribly gentrified or anything. There just needs to be a better sort of
The park should welcome the whole community, McLeod added, but “the
community is not just the needy; the community is everybody.”
Some of the residents say problems have been aggravated by clients of The
519, a community centre in the middle of the park, which provides a variety
of programs, predominantly for members of the LGBTQ community.
The centre has “a complacency with the activities that happen in the
building and around the building,” Dawson said. “It seems to be a magnet for
That view is disputed by staff of The 519, which has provided community
services in the area since 1975.
“I don’t think our presence is causing the problem,” said Maura Lawless,
executive director of The 519.
“The reality is that people are homeless in the City of Toronto,” said
Lawless. “Parks are, at times, the place where that is animated.”
At Barbara Hall Park, “the sense of community safety is not different than a
number of downtown parks,” she said. Still, Lawless said The 519 is actively
seeking to better integrate communities into these spaces, including Barbara
Hall Park and the nearby Moss Park.
“We think it’s important to animate community parks and public parks,” said
Lawless. “From our experience, it is about diversifying use.”
Despite contention as to the problem’s cause and scope, there seems to be
general agreement with respect to a solution.
“We need people to come out and use these spaces,” said Wong-Tam. “It needs
to be community-led responses.”
Whether it’s movie nights, yoga or group activity classes, Wong-Tam said
residents must foster an active presence the park.
“If you give up that space, then you’re going to have more of one type of
user than another,” she said. Residents must “champion their own park.”
Toronto police did not return repeated requests for comment on residents’
concerns regarding safety in and around the park.
“We’re working on different strategies so that more of a positive presence
is felt in the park,” said Kelly Kyle, chairperson of the Church-Wellesley
Business Improvement Area.
The community has to “use it or lose it,” added Flores.
Indeed, in the two areas of the space with a regular community presence — a
children’s play area and a dog park — park users are not particularly
“We’ve never had issues,” said Ali Kazmi, who comes to the children’s area
daily with his son. “When you live downtown,” this is what you expect, he
“I’ve never felt unsafe,” said Eliza Gamble, who also visits the children’s
area regularly with her two kids, although, she admits, “I’ve had Adaline
pick up a crack pipe once,” referring to her 2-year-old daughter.
Recently, relevant stakeholders seem to have taken note of residents’
concerns, launching initiatives to reclaim Barbara Hall Park. Just this past
week, the Church Wellesley Neighborhood Association, BIA, and The 519 met
with Wong-Tam and her staff to address safety issues.
Led by the BIA, a free lunchtime music series has begun in the park, which
Dawson calls a positive effort “to take back our public spaces.”
Ultimately, residents hope the park can become an open, welcoming space,
reflective of the Church-Wellesley Village.
“This is such a great neighborhood. I’ve just had enough,” said Dawson.
“We’re all members of the community,” Flores added. “The only real solution
Riverside to be 'Manhattanized' - with
In what could be characterized as a “David vs. Goliath” fight, a group of
concerned Riverside residents will take on an ambitious development — which
could bring up to 4,000 extra cars daily into an already congested
neighborhood — at the OMB this week.
The Queen St. E. development is called Riverside Square and is being sold by
the developer behind the project — Streetcar — as a “master-planned
community that offers everything” one wants “close at hand” in a “unique
neighborhood that marches to its own beat.”
The sales pitch for the five largely two-bedroom condo and rental buildings
in Riverside Square includes people strolling along a freshly
“Manhattanized” Queen St. E. (20 metres east of the Don Valley Parkway) with
lattes in hand and new chic bistros nearby.
There’s just one thing missing: The giant autoplex to be interconnected to
two of the five condos.
Billed as a “unique concept in automotive retail,” and possibly the largest
such auto emporium in North America, it will contain five retail outlets
with seven different dealerships and 80 service bays. The service bays and
parking will be below grade and the car retailers at grade.
According to the Riverside Ratepayers Association (RRA), which formed
earlier this year to fight the project’s density at the Ontario Municipal
Board (OMB), traffic planning research has shown that the project will
result in up to 631 extra cars in the neighborhood during peak hours. That
takes into account the new residents with cars, the number of cars that will
use the 80 service bays each day, and all the test drives that will occur
out of the autoplex.
“The real estate agents are pumping all this glamour,” says Karen Hogg,
co-founder of the RRA. “The Manhattanization of (this area) is very untrue
if one is living above 80 service bays.
“The autoplex will be like a big box retailer ... What’s the difference
between that and Walmart,” she adds.
As the Sun revealed in March, the development was rammed through Toronto
East York community council last November with the blessing of Ward 30
Councilor Paula Fletcher.
It was quickly endorsed at the Dec. 10 Toronto council meeting by 36
councilors and Mayor John Tory.
Irony of all ironies, Fletcher, who has refused to chat with the Sun about
the project, bragged in 2008 about the “epic battle” she waged to keep
big-box retail — that is Walmart — out of her ward.
She has made no secret, either, of her love of bike lanes and her disdain
Hogg said residents are also very upset that the foundation of the Queen St.
E./East Don Roadway site has already been dug and prepared before their
group even gets to the OMB.
She says they’ve repeatedly asked the city’s building department whether a
permit has been issued for such work and received no response.
Efforts to reach Streetcar president Les Mallins were unsuccessful. However,
in March, he denied that there was any attempt to hide the plan to build the
autoplex as part of Riverside Square.
He insisted then that the plans for auto dealerships were included in the
disclosure package for those who bought condos from the blueprints and that
the neighborhood knew exactly what was in store for them — that the autoplex
was brought up at “every community meeting” during an 18-month period.
Hogg said opposing residents are fine with the idea of beautifying the
neighborhood — they just want the developer to build within the current
She also insists residences should not be built on top of an automotive
facility that has service bays.
“We think our chances are really good,” she said of their OMB hearing this
week. “We have a strong case.”
Mayor Tory ‘horrified’ over removal of trees
The clear-cutting of two thickly treed Bayview Ave. lots has “horrified”
Mayor John Tory, who says he hopes any resulting prosecution results in
fines of at least a million dollars to send a message to Toronto developers.
Tory visited the site south of York Mills Rd. on Thursday after the Star and
other news outlets chronicled the fury of neighbors and local Councilor Jaye
Robinson over the removal of trees at the north and south corners of Bayview
and Bayview Ridge, including a Linden tree thought to be 150 years old.
Neighbors estimated 30 trees were torn down. In fact, Tory said, “several
dozen” were removed to make way for townhouses — “the biggest (alleged)
single infraction of its kind that we’ve ever seen in the city” — without
any application to the city.
City forestry has a tree inventory that developer Format Group submitted to
the Ontario Municipal Board which authorized the developer, over the city’s
objections, to replace single-family homes with multiple townhouses. OMB
building approval doesn’t exempt developers from Toronto’s tree bylaw aimed
at preserving a healthy city canopy.
“We can’t be serious about trees to the point where we have debates about a
single tree at the entire city council and then just let somebody come here,
under not-quite cover of darkness, and take down dozens of trees, some of
them a 100-plus years — it’s not acceptable . . . ” the mayor said, standing
beside the mud fields strewn with logs.
“If people see you can just do that, everybody will start to do it.”
Format Group, which describes itself as a partnership of Terracomm Group and
Pegah Construction, with more than 40 years combined experience, released a
statement after Tory’s afternoon visit.
The developer noted it has OMB site plan and construction approval in
principle. Its arborist submitted a “complete report,” including the number
and location of trees to be removed, that has been “accepted and approved by
the city’s urban forestry department,” the company said.
Format said it was told arrival of a city building permit was “imminent,”
and assumed it could begin excavation, but then was told the city wants
another inspection. “We assumed we were allowed to follow the report and
prepare the site in anticipation of the building permit,” Format said,
adding that is now co-operating with the city investigation.
City parks staff said in a statement that “during the development review,
Urban Forestry has been clear that applications to injure or destroy trees
would be required.”
Tory earlier called the notion that a developer smart and experienced enough
to hire a lawyer to win at the OMB wouldn’t understand explicit requirements
of the tree-removal bylaw “not really believable.”
The bylaw states anyone removing any tree with a trunk larger than 30 cm,
about the size of a telephone pole, requires city approval. The bylaw has a
maximum fine of $100,000 per tree and allows for a separate extra $100,000
penalty which has not been levied.
City staff say convictions in provincial offences court usually yield fines
of about $5,000 per tree. That’s not enough in this case if a prosecution
proceeds, said Tory.
He would like to see the maximum penalty plus the extra fine totaling a
And if developers don’t get the message, or see such fines as a cost of
building in Toronto’s hot real estate market, the maximum fines should rise,
the mayor said, noting many neighborhoods are feeling development pressures.
City staff say 94 per cent of tree removal requests are approved. However,
developers often initially ask to remove a large number of trees and
officially ask for a smaller number after city staff inspect the site and
show how they can build while maintaining as much of the canopy as possible.
GO train service wilts in summer heat
GO Transit is apologizing for a mess of service problems that have afflicted
its trains over the past month. But while the agency is promising some
relief is on the way, officials are also advising customers to brace for
Late last month, GO changed the schedules for its Lakeshore West and East
lines in preparation for the next phase of construction at Union Station.
Since then, many of GO’s 215,000 daily passengers have been complaining of
delays, crowding and overheated cars.
“It’s just been ridiculous. Every day without fail there’s a delay,” said
Joseph Trauzzi, who commutes from Burlington to his finance job in Liberty
The tipping point for him came last Thursday morning, when he drove to
Appleby GO station to catch an express train only to find it was delayed,
which meant he was going to miss his transfer at Oakville.
So he got back in his car and drove to Oakville. Although he managed to get
a spot on the train, he said it was already so “jam-packed” that when it
stopped at subsequent stations there was no room for anyone else. To make
matters worse, at Mimico someone on the overcrowded vehicle triggered the
passenger assistance alarm, and the train had to wait, with doors open in
the sweltering heat, until an ambulance arrived.
“You’re expecting delays every now and then. Things are going to happen. But
for the delays to be as consistent as they have been recently, it’s not
appropriate,” said Trauzzi, who spends $350 a month to ride GO. “To pay that
kind of money for a service, you expect it to be on time, most of the time.”
In a statement released Thursday, the chief operating officer for Metrolinx,
which oversees GO Transit, acknowledged that service has not been up to
Greg Percy said he’s a regular Lakeshore West rider and has seen the
problems firsthand. “I agree (the service) has not met our standard or the
reasonable expectations of our customers,” he said, adding that everyone at
Metrolinx is “committed to do everything we can to rebuild confidence in the
Nudists try to enforce no clothing at
Hanlan’s Point Beach
Nudists who frequent Hanlan’s Point Beach tried to create their own rules at
the clothing-optional beach saying that everyone had to undress for “the
comfort of the nudists.”
Signs were posted across the beach area on Toronto Island saying that
visitors should be naked to show respect for the nudists.
City staff were made aware of the signage this weekend and said the signs
have been removed.
“Staff are investigating these reports to ensure that visitors to the beach
are not confused by illegal or inaccurate signs,” Matthew Cutler,
Spokesperson for Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation said.
CityNews was able to find a sign still at the beach on Monday evening.
Cutler said that visitors have the option of being nude if they choose and
they are legally allowed to be nude in the designated are but nudity is
never a requirement.
One person shared their story on Reddit saying they were approached by two
men who allegedly said they had to be nude as it was a nude beach.
The beach area has been clothing-optional since city staff approved the
proposal in May 1999.
Historic PoW site in Ontario to get new lease on
The municipality of Clarington passed a
motion this month which gives it ownership of the historic, and the
country's last PoW site, Camp 30. The plan is now to revamp the site to make
a tourist site for all.
Toronto Star - Noor Javed
The derelict buildings of historic Camp 30,
believed to be Canada’s only remaining prisoner of war camp from the Second
World War, which were once feared unsalvageable, have emerged victorious
against the test of time.
Earlier this month, the Town of Clarington announced it has approved a deal
with developer Kaitlin Developments and Fandor Homes to acquire five
hectares of the Camp 30 lands and some of the “historically significant”
buildings on the property.
“This is a slice of history right in our backyard,” said Clarington Mayor
Adrian Foster, in a press release. “Council would like to restore and
rehabilitate the buildings which are historical landmarks in our community.”
Camp 30 was the only site used by the Allies to house captured, high-ranking
Nazi officers. It is the only known intact camp for German prisoners of war
left in the world.
Saving the property has long been a labor of love for local advocates and
history buffs, who feared that after years of vandalism and neglect, the
buildings were destined for the wrecking ball. Over time, windows have
shattered, graffiti has covered the walls and the buildings, once considered
architecturally unique, have started to crumble. Despite the site’s
remarkable history, its future was always uncertain, said Corinna Traill,
Clarington Ward 3 councilor.
“I grew up with Camp 30, knowing that we had this great historical site and
basically seeing it go to ruin,” said Traill. “This is really a case that if
the town hadn’t stepped in, this site would have been reduced to rubble.”
In the 1920s, 18 buildings were built on 40 hectares of rural land about 45
minutes east of Toronto, initially serving as a training school for
“troubled” boys. But during the Second World War, the site was converted
into a PoW camp to house high-ranking members of the Third Reich.
Among its most famous inhabitants were Otto Kretschmer, a skilled German
U-boat commander, who was involved in a daring but ultimately unsuccessful
escape attempt that was supposed to see him and three others tunnel their
way to the east coast. The operation was foiled by guards and the carefully
built tunnels were collapsed.
But the site’s layered history has been lost on many outside of Bowmanville.
Once the previous owners moved out in 2008, local residents and politicians
started “to advocate for the site at every opportunity,” said Marilyn
Morawetz, chair of the Jury Lands Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation
dedicated to the conservation of historic lands and the creation of a
long-term plan to preserve this property.
It was only in 2013, when the federal government designated Camp 30 a
National Historic Site and it made it onto Heritage Canada’s Top 10 list of
endangered sites, that it was nationally recognized. But until the property
was in private hands, there was little the town or the foundation could do
in terms of drumming up funds, said Devon Daniell, director of business
development for developer Kaitlin Corporation.
When Katilin Corp. bought the land, they didn’t know its significance, he
said. But over the last few years, they have been working with the town and
foundation to find a way to preserve the buildings and the history, he said.
That included talking to the developers of Toronto’s Distillery District in
Toronto for inspiration and ideas.
The transfer of land is expected later this year. Before then, the developer
will demolish the buildings that have not been identified for historic
preservation. The town will be responsible for five of the original
buildings, while the developer plans to convert one into a clubhouse to
serve a future community.
The developer will also clean up the area, including removing the graffiti
which is proving to be a difficult task, said Daniell.
“Despite our best efforts to preserve the site, you can’t stop these people
who are motivated to damage it,” he said, adding that vandals have been
relentless, spray painting over security cameras, knocking down fences and
masonry walls with ATVs, he said.
Once the clean up takes place, the developer is to make a $500,000 donation
to the town to assist with maintenance, he said.
The developer has plans for a housing development on some portions of the
land. The five-hectare parcel is part of the developer’s mandatory parkland
contribution to the town.
Town officials say while this deal is the first and most important step in
securing this piece of Canadian history, the entire country should take
ownership of the project.
“Redevelopment of these historical buildings cannot be on the backs of local
taxpayers,” said Faye Langmaid, manager of special projects with the town.
“This is a national project, with a national scope.”
Famed Glad Day bookstore moving from Yonge St.
to Gay Village
Toronto Star - Jackie Hong
The world’s oldest gay and lesbian bookstore
is crowdfunding its way to a new Church St. location.
Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop, tucked away on the second floor of 598 Yonge
St. (just north of Wellesley St.) since 1981, is moving east into the Gay
Village in August due to plummeting revenue and soaring rent prices on
Yonge. Along with books, the new, larger location will also feature a coffee
shop/bar combo to bring in additional revenue.
Co-owner Michael Erickson launched an Indiegogo campaign in June to help
cover the estimated $200,000 in expenses.
“Not everyone’s able to come buy a book on a regular basis, so this is a way
for folks to give some financial support to keep the business going,”
campaign organizer Michael Erickson said in an interview.
As of Thursday afternoon, the campaign had raised $29,331 of its flexible
$50,000 goal; at least four contributors had donated $500 each, while
another 17 chipped in $250 apiece. It was originally scheduled to end
Wednesday, but the deadline was pushed to July 24 “based on popular demand,”
according to a campaign update.
Erickson couldn’t disclose the new address for the shop citing a contract
agreement with the landlord, but said it’s a ground-floor, wheelchair
accessible space in “the heart of the Village.” It will also have a
performance space, space for local art and an outdoor patio, all features
that, in an online survey earlier this year, people said would make them
more likely to come into the store.
“It’s perfect for us,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Glad Day has shifted spaces.
Founder Jearld Moldenhauer, who started the business in 1970 after noticing
a lack of gay literature available in Toronto, originally sold books out of
his knapsack that he carried to gay meetings around the city, later running
it out of his Annex apartment and then his backyard shed in Kensington
Market, before moving it to the Yonge St. location in 1981.
He sold the shop to John Scythes in 1991, who put it up for sale 20 years
later. It was set to close before Erickson organized a group of 23 community
members to pool their money together and purchase it in 2012.
Manager Scott Dagostino has worked at the shop since the ’90s and was part
of the 2012 group. The move will be “bittersweet,” he told the Star.
“A lot of people have said . . . they kind of like that it’s this beautiful
little Mecca that’s just hidden away. It’s one of the best secrets in
Toronto, which is nice,” Dagostino said.
“But we need sales. We need to be accessible and open to the public.”
The community has been very supportive, Dagostino said — a longtime customer
came in Wednesday and handed him $300 in cash to put toward the move.
And although he’s not looking forward to the move itself, Dagostino said
he’s excited about the results.
“Moving books is hellish, so moving an entire bookstore, I have no illusion
that this is going to be terrifying,” he said. “But we have lots of people
willing to chip in.”
“The new space is going to be so lovely. We’re so thrilled.”
Toronto coping with extreme heat; power back for
City News - News Staff
Power has returned to most pockets of Toronto
after an early-morning thunderstorm brought down trees, wires, and even
prevented planes from landing at Pearson International Airport.
The area around Jane Street and Sheppard Avenue is back on the grid since
going dark around 1 a.m.
The Highway 427 and Eglinton Avenue area was the worst hit and power still
remains out in the area. Click here to see a map of the current outages.
At one point, 6,000 customers were without power with the outage now
affecting about 700 customers.
In the Toronto Hydro Twitter feed, the acronym ‘ETOR’ stands for estimated
time of restoration. There’s no word yet on when the rest of the power will
On Wednesday, a brief power outage struck the city’s downtown core,
affecting 2,300 customers.
Toronto Hydro is asking residents to keep an eye on their electricity use,
especially given the sweltering heat. The soaring temperatures have forced
customers to turn up the air conditioning and that demand could be having an
effect on the power supply.
Toronto is likely in for another day of record-breaking heat. A heat warning
issued by Environment Canada on Monday continues for Toronto and southern
Ontario, while the City of Toronto’s medical officer of health upgraded its
heat warning to an extended (or extreme) heat warning on Thursday.
During an extended heat warning, the city opens its cooling centres. Click
here for a list.
There’s a high of 32 C in the forecast, and with the humidex it will feel
near 41, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said.
Toronto and the GTA will see a cloudy morning with some showers and a chance
of thunderstorms, with much of the storm activity north of Toronto. The
afternoon is all sunshine, Taylor said, while the night will be clear with a
low near 19 C.
Wednesday’s high of 36 C broke three weather records: It was the hottest
July 13 on record, topping the 34.9 C set in 2005; it was the hottest day in
Toronto so far this year, beating 34.6 C from June 20; and Pearson
International Airport was the hottest spot in the entire country.
Toronto got some relief from the heat overnight but it came at a cost.
Thunderstorms caused delays at Pearson and damage around the city. Around 1
a.m. on Thursday, lightning forced all ground crew personnel off the tarmac
as a precaution.
Flight delays are also possible on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, the storm knocked over temporary fencing, garbage bins, and tree
branches across the city.
CNE cancels free admission for people with
Toronto Star - Ebyan
Advocates are blasting a CNE decision to
eliminate free admission for people with disabilities.
The CNE is ending the long-standing policy of providing free admission,
saying the change will respect “the dignity and independence of all of our
guests, including those with disabilities.”
Attendants of people with disabilities will still get free admission.
Mobility advocate Luke Anderson described the new policy as “unfortunate,”
and worries that the Ex will not allow disabled people a fair opportunity to
“There is a high percentage of people with disabilities that are unemployed
with very few resources. Whatever systems or support we can provide is a
good thing,” said Anderson, founder of StopGap, which provides ramps for
buildings and stores which otherwise wouldn’t be accessible.
“There’s also a lot of issues with our society in general that stops people
with disabilities from being fully engaged in their communities.”
The CNE handed out flyers to fair-goers last year, warning them that the
admission policy would be changing in time for this year’s fair, which runs
from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5.
CNE GM Virginia Ludy defended the policy, saying the fair is only doing what
other major attractions in the Greater Toronto Area have already done.
“The CNE’s change in policy is one of conforming with the policies in place
at other major entertainment venues. It is also about respect, treating
persons with disabilities with dignity, independence, equality of access and
inclusion,” said Ludy, adding that the decision was made two years ago by
the Canadian National Exhibition Association board of directors.
The Toronto Zoo provides a 50 per cent discount for people with
At the ROM, people with disabilities have to pay full admission, but their
attendant gets in free.
Ludy also said fair visitors received plenty of notice of the policy change.
The change was “rolled out last year during the 2015 CNE with flyers and on
our website, and more recently with sponsored content… to ensure our
visitors stay well informed,” Ludy said.
Whatever led to the decision, however, it could still be a black eye for the
CNE’s image, according to Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York
University’s Schulich School of Business.
The CNE’s new policy may be acceptable from an economic and policy
standpoint, he said, many will view the company’s back-step in a negative
“In the public eye, it is a negative,” Middleton said.
Gay cop worries first Pride could be his last
after BLMl calls for ban
Toronto Star - Wendy
Const. Chuck Krangle objected in an open
letter to a float ban at Pride, as other police express desire to return to
It was a day of extreme emotions for Const.
Chuck Krangle, a Toronto police officer and a former member of the Canadian
Despite working in the city for eight years, Krangle, who is openly gay, had
never been to Toronto’s Pride parade. But this year brought his chance to
attend when he was assigned to work Sunday’s parade.
Krangle was blown away — by the spectacle, by the fun, and by the number of
fellow officers taking part.
“I was like ‘woah, what a coming together,’ ” Krangle, 30, said in an
interview. “I had no idea that there were that many cops that march in this,
from all different agencies,” he said, adding that one of the highlights was
speaking with Toronto police chief and parade-goer Mark Saunders.
But by the time Krangle, who is a community response officer, finished his
shift, there had been a change in tone: following a mid-parade protest by
members of Black Lives Matter Toronto, Pride organizers seemed to agree to
make a number of changes to improve the event — including banning police
floats and booths. (Pride executive director Mathieu Chantelois said Monday
that his signing of the demands was not binding on Pride.)
Having just participated in his first Pride, Krangle worried it might be his
last. The move prompted the officer to pen an open letter to Pride Toronto,
expressing his concerns about keeping officers like him from visibly
“I do not speak for the police, and I do not speak for the LGBTQ community.
I speak as an individual, one who saw his first PRIDE, only to be excluded
from the next,” Krangle wrote in his letter. “Exclusion does not promote
Krangle’s message highlights the complexity of excluding officers from
participating in Pride events.
Janaya Khan, who speaks for Black Lives
Matter, said the ban was demanded because the presence of police can make
some — including members of the black and trans community — feel unsafe.
Involvement in Pride events does not erase decades of police brutality
visited upon many of those who attend Pride, Khan said, citing as an example
the over-policing of female sex workers and members of the black community.
“The question is, do police floats matter more than black lives? And we
really need to start teasing out what it means when increased police
presence means that many of the LGBTQ-identified community members feel less
and less safe,” she said Monday.
Khan added Black Lives Matter does not want to “police the police” in terms
of their overall presence, but is against the institutions that they
“That means the elimination of floats and removal of uniforms within the
actual march itself,” she said.
But that visibility is exactly what’s powerful, says Krangle and members of
police services who participated this year.
“When I saw all those floats and officers marching (hundreds), I realized
that my employer fully supports this part of me, and so many others like
me,” Krangle wrote in his letter. “The support that I have from my peers and
supervisors has been unwavering.”
It’s crucial for Pride Toronto to give officers who identify as LGBTQ an
opportunity to participate as police officers, said Jean Turner, a civilian
member of the RCMP and a director of Serving With Pride, a provincial
network that supports LGBTQ police officers and other members of Ontario’s
criminal justice system.
“When you are a police officer, you’re a proud police officer, and when you
are LGBTQ, you are also a proud LGBTQ person,” Turner said. “It’s not just a
show, it really is affecting our daily lives.”
If police are not allowed to participate in LGBTQ events such as Pride, “it
will feel like we are taking a step backwards,” Turner said.
Durham Regional Police Service deputy chief Chris Fernandes said in an
interview Monday that it sends a strong message both to the public and
employees when officers participate in the celebrations in uniform. Durham
officers made their biggest showing ever at Sunday’s parade.
“We are proud to support Pride, and we do it every year,” Fernandes said,
adding that not being able to participate “would be a loss for us.”
Saunders told reporters Monday he could not comment on the involvement of
Toronto police in future Pride events until he could speak with Pride
organizers. But he said the service is committed to showing its support for
those within the Pride community however it can.
“It’s not a one day a year thing, it’s a yearly thing. And we continuously
have many things that we attend over the year with all of our LGBTQS
communities. And we’ll continue to do that. So nothing’s going to stop us
from doing that.”
Full text of Const. Krangle’s letter:
Dear Pride Toronto,
I am writing today to address concerns I have with your recent agreement
with Black Lives Matter TO. I am particularly concerned with your
willingness to remove all police floats and booths in future parades and
community spaces. I should give you my background first.
I am a Toronto Police Service Constable, and a homosexual. I have been on
the job 8yrs. Prior to becoming a Police Officer, I served in the Canadian
Armed Forces and completed a tour in Kandahar Afghanistan in 2006-2007.
I never "came out" while serving in the military. Though not for fear of
persecution, I only told a select few about my orientation. I was still
quite young and was simply not ready.
It wasn't until 2012 that I decided to come out. I began to tell a few peers
at work, and soon word spread. I can say with absolute pride, that my peers,
and my employers/senior management have never made an inappropriate comment
to me. I have never been made to feel discriminated against.
This year, 2016, marked a first for me. My first PRIDE parade. I would be
working, nonetheless it would be my first one in any capacity. WOW what an
event. What a spectacle, a joining of everyone.
The 2016 pride events really opened my eyes to something. The support that I
have from my peers and supervisors has been unwavering. When I saw all those
floats and officers marching (100's), I realized that my employer fully
supports this part of me, and so many others like me. As I stood post at
Yonge and College, ensuring a safe atmosphere, Chief Mark Saunders came up
to me. I had the opportunity to salute him, and I knew that I had a leader
who was invested in this celebration of PRIDE.
LGBTQ cops have struggled for decades. I am fortunate, because it is their
struggles in the past, that have made my orientation an irrelevant factor in
my workplace interactions. Members of police services, and their employers
(like RBC, Telus, Porter, etc) have just as much right to participate as any
other group. Police Officers are significantly represented in the LGBTQ
community and it would be unacceptable to alienate and discriminate against
them and those who support them. They to struggled to gain a place and
workplace free from discrimination and bias.
I do not speak for the Police, and I do not speak for the LGBTQ community. I
speak as an individual, one who saw his first PRIDE, only to be excluded
from the next.
Exclusion does not promote inclusion.
Justin Trudeau centre of attention at Pride,
Trudeau’s march in parade — the first
by a Canadian PM — draws roars and more from crowd on Sunday.
Strolling down the yellow centre line of Yonge St., Prime Minster Justin
Trudeau waved to the relentlessly cheering spectators, then looked up and
saw the four men in an open window of a second-storey apartment.
On the far right of the group, standing above the storefront of Green Panda
Cannabis Apothecary, was Olympic gold medalist and gay-rights advocate Mark
Trudeau started chanting, “Tewksbury! Tewksbury!” but the roaring crowd
drowned him out.
For all the spectacle and pageantry of Pride, it seemed Trudeau was the
focus for many standing along the parade route and perched on roofs of Yonge
The first sitting prime minster to walk in the Pride parade, Trudeau was
hemmed inside the barricaded route for nearly two hours of walking, broken
up with a little dancing and two direct hits from toy water guns.
When the procession halted due to a sit-in protest further up the street, he
shook hands with spectators and leaned into their selfie shots.
The protest was staged at College and Yonge Sts. by members of the Black
Lives Matter parade group. Flares were lit, and the smoke could be seen a
couple blocks north where police and Trudeau’s security detail waited more
than 30 minutes for the route to clear.
Two hours earlier, as the parade was about to begin, a parade dedicated to
the 49 victims gunned down last month at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, it
was clear that the focus was also on the dignitaries about to arrive.
the first black, tinted-window sedans and SUVs approached the staging area,
Mathieu Chantelois, executive director of Pride, was visibly excited.
“In a few minutes we’ll have the prime minister. We are making history. I’m
beyond excited,” he said.
For parade-goers like Patrick Rooth, 64, of Kitchener, who shook Trudeau’s
hand across the metal barricade, the prime minister’s visit was significant
because “it shows that we’ve got unity and solidarity amongst all
Though Gordon O’Brien, with his face and head striped in multicolored face
paint, was there mainly to support his daughter Micayla, 18, and her
girlfriend Shawnee, 16, both of Barrie. Micayla spent two hours early Sunday
morning applying the paint with a sponge.
Shawnee Lebel-Ford said she was marching in honor of her family.
“Usually it’s one gay person within a straight family but we literally have
a gay family with one straight person,” she said, and grinned. “I have a
grandma Linda, she has a partner grandma Jan. I have a mother Karen, she has
a partner Cathy. I am Shawnee and I have my partner Micayla.”
As the parade began, marchers displayed the names and ages of those killed
in the Orlando tragedy.
Shortly after, Trudeau started along the route, initially with Premier
Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory by his side, Tory wearing rainbow-swirled
Nikes one of his staffers found for him. The mayor said he was glad to have
“something that sort of took this normally bland person and made him a
little bit colorful for Pride because you got to get in the spirit for
Along the parade route, spectators leaned in on tiptoes to get a look at
“Is that the prime minister? There he is!” said a surprised Mike Jacobs, a
24-year-old in marketing.
On the roof above a payday-loan store and a dry cleaners at Yonge and
Maitland Sts., spectators held a sign that read: “You can elbow us Justin.”
Across Yonge St. and on street level, another sign read, “Trudeau, kiss me,
it’ll make my Twitter explode,” and the prime minister blew a kiss.
The first sitting prime minster to
walk in the Pride parade, Trudeau was hemmed inside the barricaded route for
two hours of walking, broken up with a little dancing and two direct hits
from toy water guns.
Toronto Pride parade brings fun tinged with
sorrow over Orlando
Globe and Mail - Eric
“Pride is political,” shouted a protester
atop the Black Lives Matter float at Sunday’s Pride parade in Toronto, and
this year it would have been hard to disagree.
The annual celebration of the LGBTQ community took over a portion of
downtown Toronto on Sunday in a rainbow-clad display of defiance just weeks
after a homophobic shooting rampage claimed dozens of lives in a gay Orlando
Justin Trudeau’s raucously received
appearance marked the first time a Canadian prime minister has marched in
the parade, a milestone that prompted some to reflect on the progress North
American society has made on gay rights in recent years.
Mr. Trudeau said the Florida tragedy is a reminder that “we can’t let hate
go by … We have to speak up any time there is intolerance or
This year, the parade’s fun-filled atmosphere
vied with moments of poignancy, sorrow and anger, as the historic tension at
Pride between politics and partying tilted in favour of the politically
Standing along the parade route, Lance Rawlings said that he felt the Prime
Minister’s attendance was a blow against homophobia.
“I have my political differences with Justin
Trudeau, but it’s great to have the Prime Minister marching,” Mr. Rawlings
said. “It just shows us how far society has come. Over the course of my life
– I’m 30 – things have changed significantly. And that’s a good feeling.”
Mr. Trudeau has become something of a gay icon, with his warm embrace of
Before the parade, he attended an outdoor church service in the heart of the
city’s gay village where he sang along to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
Along the parade route, he stopped to shake
hands and take selfies. Anticipation of seeing Mr. Trudeau was thick along
Toronto’s Yonge Street and cheers at the sight of him were among the day’s
One group carried placards bearing the names
and ages of Omar Mateen’s victims in his attack on the Pulse nightclub on
June 12. Mr. Mateen killed 49 and wounded another 53, most of them LGBTQ, in
the worst-ever mass shooting in the United States.
Leah Fearman said this Pride parade was
especially meaningful to her in light of the Orlando attack.
She went to a vigil in Peterborough, Ont., after the shooting but said:
“This kind of event brings together a more positive solidarity.”
It indicated, she added, that “things will get better.”
At 3 p.m., a moment of silence was announced to commemorate the shooting.
But not all marchers remained silent, perhaps as the result of
miscommunication, and festive music continued to blare even as many stood
As always, marchers in the parade ranged from
the militant to the playful: AIDS research activists alternated with
leather-bedecked bikers sporting purple hair.
Others wore their politics lightly. The “Queer Arab and Proud” float
featured plastic palm trees and Middle Eastern-inflected techno music.
As has become common in recent years, corporate sponsorship also featured
heavily, with business giants like Fido, TD Bank and, of course,
condom-maker Trojan fielding energetic contingents.
Catholic school board’s bus cuts leave families
Toronto Star -
Toronto Catholic District School Board
cuts bus service for some families, leaving many with few options in the
For the past few years, Suzanne Beldycki has
relied on a school bus to take her three young children to class each
morning at precisely 7:57 a.m. and bring them home at 3:30 p.m.
But as the school year turned to summer vacation, she had no idea her kids
would be without a lift come September.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board has eliminated bus service in the
coming school year for students who live within 1.5 kilometres of their
school, leaving parents such as Beldycki high and dry.
“It is an essential service to a lot of parents, especially working
parents,” said the Etobicoke mom, whose children will range from
kindergarten to Grade 4 in the fall.
The cuts affect more than 7,000 elementary students who do not qualify for
school bus service.
On Monday, the TCDSB will hold a special board meeting at 7 p.m. at the
Catholic Education Centre to review the changes and hear concerns.
“Now working parents are left in a situation where they have to scramble to
understand what they’re going to be doing for the 2016-17 school year,”
Beldycki said. “Someone like me, it’s not like I can tell my employer
‘listen I’ve got to drop my kids off at school so I’m going to be in at 9:30
every day.’ I’ll be fired.”
The move comes as a result of the school board’s $9.1 million transportation
budget shortfall, according to TCDSB spokesperson John Yan.
As required by law, the school board approved
a balanced budget at its June 2 meeting. This included savings of $2.45
million in reduced busing service for the upcoming school year, among other
cuts. Of this figure, the TCDSB is saving about $1 million by cutting bus
services for those closer than 1.5 kilometres to their school.
Yan said the school board’s busing policy already required students to live
at least 1.5 kilometres from the school prior to this budget, however buses
with spare seats picked up those who lived on the way to the school as well.
“So all we’re doing is we’re actually adhering to a policy,” he said, adding
that parents had a chance to weigh in on the potential change during budget
consultations earlier this year.
But many parents say the decision came as a shock, and that they only found
out about it through a letter sent home with their kids just before school
let out for the summer.
“My son came home and told me ‘Mommy, no more bus,’” said Patricia Giovanni,
whose seven and 10-year-old sons attend St. Norbert Catholic School in North
The school board clarified in its letter to parents that Ontario’s Education
Act does not mandate it to provide students transportation.
Giovanni said she feels her area is too dangerous for her children to walk
alone, as the route to school includes crossing a major intersection at
Wilson Avenue and Ancaster Road.
“There’s no sidewalk on my street. There’s a construction zone,” she said.
“The fact that they have to go through a parking lot to get to Wilson is
dangerous. Cars are ramming up that ramp to park. They go around the kids,
they don’t care. It’s not a long walk, it’s a challenging walk.”
At some schools, the TCDSB offers “walking school buses,” according to Yan,
which would help some students who live in the same areas get home safely in
groups, guided by an adult.
Nicole Simunac, who has one child just finishing kindergarten and another
entering, said a walk is still inconvenient for many people’s children, even
if safety issues are limited.
“For someone like me with two little kids, to ask them to walk over a
kilometer to school and home after a full day of school, it doesn’t make
sense,” she said. “I can understand maybe a 13-year-old being able to walk,
but to ask a six-year-old and a four-year-old, I think is ridiculous.”
A Facebook group created by Giovanni to unite parents opposing the change,
as well as a similar online petition may convince trustees to reverse their
Toronto councilor Maria Augimeri, a former school trustee, plans to speak at
the meeting in support of parents upset by the busing cuts.
“Once you take a sober second thought and a second look at this, you’ll see
that people are hurting,” said Augimeri, who said she plans to argue in
favor of a partial reversal of the decision in situations that “present that
In order to reopen the budget, it would require the support of two-thirds of
Those such as Giovanni say they may be out of options if the school board
doesn’t change its mind.
“It’s going to be drastic for me, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she
said. “I guess I’d have to quit my job. They’re my kids.”
City rejects Toronto family's bid to keep
elaborate tree house
Toronto Sun -
by Monika Warzecha
A Toronto father says he is in "shock and
disbelief" after losing a zoning battle to keep his family's elaborate,
ship-shaped tree house.
A committee of adjustment decided Thursday that the structure John Alpeza
built for his children violated city bylaws.
Alpeza, who lives in Toronto's Swansea neighbourhood, said he spent two
years and $30,000 building the playhouse for his boys, Kristian, 10, and
Matheas, 8. Shaped like a pirate ship, the cedar-planked structure features
ropes and ladders, and a cabin complete with windows and a doors. Alpeza
said he had submitted drawings and a request for permits to the city last
fall — well after he started building the structure — but he didn’t hear
anything back until received a voice mail in April.
The city told the family to remove the play house in a week or face a court
A spokesperson for the city said any structure more than 10 square meters
requires a permit. Following a complaint from a neighbour about the tree
house in 2014, a follow-up investigation found the structure violated zoning
bylaws for height and set-back.
After a media frenzy and even public comments from Mayor John Tory, the city
allowed Alepeza to submit an application to the York committee of adjustment
to keep the treehouse in its current state.
Looking into #treehouse issue. Impressive play space & built with great
intentions but safety & neighborhood impacts have to be considered.
On Thursday afternoon, the committee heard from John and his wife Diana
Alpeza, who presented letters of support from 15 neighbors.
The committee also heard from the Swansea Ratepayers Association, who were
against the current scope of the playhouse.
Diana Alpeza, John's wife, said she wished their sons had been allowed to
address the committee, and that they were prepared to do so.
The committee unanimously decided the tree house must be torn down.
"(The backyard) is a living, breathing space for us. It's an extension or
our home," Alpeza said. "It feels like our home is under siege."
Alpeza says he will appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Toronto police apologize for 1981 bathhouse
Toronto Star -
Patty Winsa and Betsy Powell
When police stormed four gay bathhouses in
Toronto on Feb. 5, 1981, patrons were mocked, humiliated — and arrested by
The raids outed men who considered the private clubs a sanctuary, free from
the hostility of a populace who disapproved of, or didn’t understand,
intimacy between men.
On Wednesday, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders made a historic
apology for the raids at his annual Pride reception at police headquarters.
He also apologized for a 2000 raid by six male officers on Club Toronto
during a women’s bathhouse event known as the “Pussy Palace.” Police claimed
to be searching for liquor violations.
The Toronto Police Service worked with prominent gay activist Rev. Brent
Hawkes to craft the apology, a source said. The chief’s event is an
acknowledgment of the past and a commitment to efforts going forward, with
new initiatives that speak directly to the LGBTQ community, the source said.
Saunders plans to march in the Pride Parade on July 3, following in the
footsteps of Bill Blair who became the first Toronto police chief to do so
Dennis Findlay, who was part of a legal defense committee formed after the
1981 raids, said the apology is a long-time coming.
The arrests of Feb. 5, 1981, led to many men being outed. Critics said the
raids criminalized men for being gay and persecuted a group with no human
rights protections, leading to many losing their jobs and being shunned by
their families. (Frank Lennon/Toronto Star file photo)
“They did wrong,” said Findlay, president of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay
Archives. “This was their attempt to slap us into the closet, big time . . .
but it didn’t work.”
Ninety per cent of the charges were dismissed by judges.
Critics said the raids criminalized men for
being gay and persecuted a group with no human rights protections, who could
be fired from their jobs and shunned by their families.
No public figure — police officer or politician — has ever accepted
Anger over the raids spread quickly and politicized gays and lesbians alike,
who had previously clashed in debates over sexism and feminism. The cohesion
gave rise to the gay rights movement in Toronto.
The night after the raids, 3,000 demonstrators, mostly gay men who typically
feared visibility, marched down Yonge St. and confronted police, yelling
“resign, resign, resign.”
The raids were “probably the best thing that happened to our community
ever,” said Findlay, adding they also brought together the public at large.
“Even if you were not supportive of the gay community, you realized that
this was an attack on civil liberties.”
The Feb. 5 raids took place after a six-month investigation by the Metro
force, whose officers infiltrated the clubs. At 11 p.m., more than 100
police armed with crowbars and sledgehammers broke down bathhouse doors,
dragging men, draped only in towels, into lobbies and charged them. About
300 people were arrested with being owners or “found-ins” of a common bawdy
house — a house of prostitution — and given a public court date to face
The typical Toronto resident wouldn’t have known what a bathhouse was, said
Sen. Art Eggleton, who was then mayor of Toronto but said he had no
foreknowledge of the raids.
McCaskell said he was numb as he watched men, many of them frightened, being
dragged out of the Mutual St. bathhouse. “But I started getting furious as
well because, really, these places had been open as long as anybody could
The demonstration the next night came together within 12 hours — an
astonishing feat, said McCaskell, in the days before email, when handing out
flyers in the straight-owned gay bars on Yonge St. was discouraged.
As the anger boiled over, many gay activists stepped up and began working
tirelessly for their rights. A legal defense committee was formed and raised
more than $200,000 to pay for lawyers to represent the accused, although
more than 30 stepped up to do the work pro bono. Findlay represented 12 men
himself and got the charges dropped, either because officers weren’t able to
identify the accused or because the defendant had a reason for using the
bathhouse’s gym or pool.
McCaskell said theories persist about who orchestrated the raids. Some
thought it was the responsibility of mid-level sergeants who wanted to
humiliate George Hislop, who had been the first openly gay man to run for
city council. (Hislop lost.) The businessman owned a stake in the Barracks —
also raided that night.
So why do so few of Toronto’s schools have air
National Post -
Bianca Barros just can’t get used to the
blistering heat on the third floor of Dante Alighieri Academy in Toronto.
Two weeks ago, the temperature inside the school spoiled a ham and cheese
sandwich she had for lunch. She didn’t know until she took a nauseating bite
and was forced to go home sick. She had spent the whole day on the school’s
“stuffy” third floor.
This is the last warm summer Barros, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student, will
have to spend at the Lawrence West and Dufferin-area school, where nearly
all the classrooms in the main building have no air conditioning. Thousands
of Toronto-area students and teachers face the same struggle.
“It is affecting my health,” Barros said. “I don’t want to sign out every
time I feel bad (in the heat).”
Of its 553 elementary and high school buildings, the Toronto District School
Board (TDSB) said a full 160 do not have any air conditioning whatsoever.
Another 219 TDSB schools have less than 50 per cent of their campus covered
by air conditioning — which for many means as few as one room with a window
Of the 202 Toronto Catholic District School Board schools, only 36 offer
students and staff central air conditioning.
Without cooling, students and teachers are left to cope with the
uncomfortable heat and what they say are declining performances and
potential health risks. And climate change means an increased risk of
When you’re in that sort of environment, there’s no will to learn.
The TDSB says it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to refurbish the
more than 430 schools without full air conditioning — something that isn’t
possible considering a $3.5-billion backlog in infrastructure repairs.
“It’s an exorbitant amount of money,” TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said. “(Air
conditioning) is nowhere in the cards right now.”
The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) is currently dealing with
a $770-million infrastructure backlog, spokesman John Yan said.
“Just to overcome our current backlog would take our board 30 years,” Yan
As a result, air conditioning isn’t a high priority for either the public or
separate school boards. The money they do have to spend on infrastructure
maintenance has to go toward fixing leaky roofs and windows.
Currently, schools are equipped with a mix of central air conditioning,
window box units, split systems that cool one or two rooms, and large
Even if parents and students wanted to
fundraise to install air conditioning in schools, they wouldn’t be able to
because all infrastructure funds must come from the government of Ontario.
A strong majority of TDSB schools were built between 50 and 100 years ago,
when ventilation was not taken into consideration in the structural design,
Bird said. At least 12 schools that have no air conditioning were built in
Malvern Collegiate Institute was founded in 1903. The school, located at
Gerrard Street East and Victoria Park Avenue, has a swimming pool, tennis
court and a rather large auditorium, but none of its classrooms are cooled.
TDSB lists the school as having less than 50 per cent of the campus covered
by air conditioning. The only cooled rooms in the entire school are the main
office, the guidance office, and the library.
Vicky Tsorlinis, the treasurer and co-chair of the Home and School Council
at Malvern, has been around the school for seven years. Her son Isaac is in
Grade 12 and is graduating this year in November. Parents have asked the
school to change the commencement date to June, but one of the reasons it
won’t, Tsorlinis said, is because there are worries about what would happen
when more than 600 people cram into the school’s auditorium. She said she
was in a “glistening sweat in November” during the two past commencement
ceremonies she attended.
Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute, located near Lawrence Avenue East and
Markham Road, was founded nearly 60 years after Malvern. The TDSB lists it
as having less than 50 per cent of its campus covered by air conditioning,
but Reza Yousaf, a Grade 10 student, said that’s only the case for a select
few rooms such as the computer labs, library and administration office.
“Last year was a disaster,” Yousaf said. “I felt bad for a lot of the Muslim
students, including myself, during the month of Ramadan, because we’re
already fasting and low on energy, so the heat makes everything feel a
Unlike the TDSB, Yan said, there isn’t one TCDSB school that doesn’t at
least have one cooled room on campus. Some even have centralized systems to
automatically adjust the temperature in classrooms.
Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, located near Islington Avenue and Dixon
Road, is one of the 36 schools TCDSB said is equipped with central air
conditioning. The problem, a former staff member, who spoke anonymously for
privacy concerns, told the Post, is that it’s always broken.
“When you’re in that sort of environment, there’s no will to learn,” the
former staff member said.
None of the classrooms on the third floor has windows to open. Without
natural light, turning off the classroom lights to stay cool results in
complete darkness. Teachers were “heroes” if they bought fans for their
classes and turned a blind eye to students wearing tank tops. The lack of
air conditioning has become so much of a running joke that valedictorians
mention it in their graduation speeches.
Toronto Public Health issues extreme heat alerts if the forecast calls for a
high of at least 31 C and a low of 20 C over a period of two days, but the
TDSB has no policy for sending students home due to extreme heat. The TCDSB
would only consider a school closure in the heat if a school’s mechanical
ventilation malfunctioned and the building did not have working windows.
Yan said students should be able to adapt. “Most of our students … their
houses and apartments wouldn’t be air conditioned either,” he said.
According to a 2015 City of Toronto report on climate-change strategy, the
city currently experiences 20 days per year where the temperature spikes to
above 30 C. By 2049, Toronto will see an extra 46 days per year of 30 C
temperatures, the report said, putting citizens — students included — at a
higher risk of suffering from heat-related illness.
Worldwide, the outlook isn’t much better. According to the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Association, global temperatures were 1.57 Fahrenheit higher
than the 20th-century average, making May 2016 the hottest May in recorded
Dante Alighieri Academy is another school listed by TCDSB as having central
air conditioning, but two students and two teachers say only the portables
and a handful of rooms — including the administration office — are cooled in
the main building.
The top-performing students will continue to perform well, even in the heat,
a teacher, who spoke anonymously for privacy concerns, said. Those who are
less keen will struggle even more. Heads go down on desks and signs of
apathy increase at the same rate the temperature does. Some students
purposely disrupt class so they can be sent away. Others won’t show up at
“At Dante, we joke that every floor is a few degrees hotter,” said a teacher
who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The first floor is warm, the second
floor is hot, the third floor is unbearable because you’re going up about
four degrees from the first floor to the third.”
Staff members have offered to use their own money and buy air-conditioning
units for their classes, but administration swiftly turned it down because
it would sap too much electricity, the teacher said.
“I’ll buy a stand-up air conditioner for $400, I don’t care,” the teacher
said. “I’m miserable and (the students) are miserable.”
For Dante Alighieri students and teachers though, there’s hope.
As part of a $60-million project with Villa Charities, a new and modern
Dante Alighieri Academy is slated to be built by 2018. The teachers are
expecting for the new project to include air conditioning.
“If you ask the majority of staff, do you believe there will be new air
conditioning, the answer would be resounding,” the Dante Alighieri teacher
said. “I think it’s expected that air conditioning is a basic of life in
The Scarborough Bluffs are rarely seen — a plan
to change that
Globe and Mail
A few days after arriving in Toronto,
Elizabeth Simcoe went for a ride. The wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first
lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, was an avid artist and diarist. Eager
to explore her new surroundings, she rode her horse eastward over the sandy
peninsula that is now Toronto Island then along the shore of today’s Beaches
“From there, despite the restrictions of a proper 18th-century lady’s dress,
[she] climbed into a small boat and had herself rowed farther still, until
she saw a line of immense and imposing cliffs stretching far into the
distance,” records M. Jane Fairburn in her 2013 book Along the Shore, a
history of Toronto’s waterfront.
“The shore is extremely bold, and has the appearance of chalk cliffs,” Mrs.
Simcoe wrote in her diary, “but I believe they are only white sand. They
appeared so well that we talked of building a summer residence there and
calling it Scarborough.”
The Scarborough Bluffs, now as then, are Toronto’s most striking physical
feature, dramatic in a way no other part of our understated landscape can
As high as 90 metres, they rise from the water like cliffs in some places;
in others they show deep ridges like the folds in a blanket; in others they
soar to spires and pinnacles; in still others they are broken by wooded
ravines and gullies.
Yet, most Torontonians never see them. It is hard to get a full view of the
bluffs unless, as with Mrs. Simcoe, you go out into the lake by boat. The
shore beneath them can be tricky to reach and the lands at the top hard to
They can be dangerous, too. Emergency services come out many times every
year to rescue people who have been trapped on the slopes or at the base.
Conservation officials hope to change all that, making the Bluffs safer and
easier to visit. They want to shore up dangerous bits, put in more trails
and create habitat for wild animals and fish. A study is already under way,
with a first set of options to be presented to the public next month.
It is an exciting project, a once-in-a-century chance to open up the whole
of the Scarborough shore to a broader public. It is also a delicate one.
Officials face the challenge of giving safe access to the Bluffs without
destroying the wild quality that lend them their magic. Some people want
them left alone altogether. Others want to see a continuous shoreline trail
as you might have in an urban waterfront.
“We keep hearing: ‘Where is the Ferris wheel going to go?’” says Nancy
Gaffney, who is helping guide the project for the Toronto and Region
Conservation Authority. “It’s not that way at all.” The objective, she
insists, is to keep the shore as close to its natural state as possible.
Restoring the Bluffs to what Mrs. Simcoe saw in 1793 is not an option.
Generations of human settlement have changed them. First farmers moved into
the lands above the Bluffs. Then came cottages and resorts. Then, after the
Second World War, suburban housing.
For thousands of years, wave action at the foot of the Bluffs had steadily
eroded them, pushing them gradually inland. The sand from the erosion was
swept along to the mouth of the Don River, where it helped form the
peninsula that became Toronto Island and give Toronto its protected harbour.
Human activity accelerated the erosion at first. Farmers cleared the woods
at the top of the Bluffs. The bottom was left exposed by decades of
stonehooking – pulling countless tons of gravel and stone from the waters
along the shore for use in construction.
Conservation authorities moved in to slow the erosion, which was sending
some houses toppling over the edge and threatening many more. They put in
breakwaters and built small rock headlands, called groynes, to create
beaches that would absorb the energy of the waves.
Erosion has slowed, but the Bluffs are changing as a result. As Ms. Fairburn
observes in her book, most of the narrow, natural beaches have disappeared
while the slopes above have become more gradual and more treed. The Bluffs
are less bluff-like.
“The irony is that bringing people down to the water also brings
destruction,” she writes. “In conservation there is loss, and in development
there is always change.”
The Bluffs are still a wonder, for all that. Just gaze on the sheer white
wall called the Cathedral Bluffs. Or wander through one of the lovely parks
on the bluff edge. Or swim at Bluffer’s Park. Or hike one of the shoreline
trails that the conservation authority wants to improve. Look up and marvel,
as Elizabeth Simcoe did two centuries ago.
If the conservation authority’s plan can bring more people down to see the
Bluffs, Toronto should seize the chance.
All-door boarding begins on TTC streetcars
of the older
Monday marks the
boarding on all
in Toronto, an
will speed up
The new system
transit users to
any door on a
have a Metropass
For a closer
look on how the
the rules around
watch the video
Toronto East General renamed Michael Garron
Hospital, with a $50M boost
Myron Garron had been putting on a brave face. Standing in
the same hospital where his son Michael was born 53 years
earlier, he started thanking family and friends. Then he
stopped. Tears had broken through, and his voice had given
“I’ll get over it, don’t worry,” he said after a long pause.
Diagnosed with a rare cancer of the soft tissues, Michael
died at age 13, in 1975. His dying wish was that he wouldn’t
To honor that wish, Garron and his wife, Berna, on
Wednesday donated an unprecedented $50 million to Toronto
East General Hospital. And its main campus was renamed the
Michael Garron Hospital.
Berna burst into tears as she watched Michael’s name
unveiled on the hospital in three-metre-high letters. Later,
she confessed to those around her that she hadn’t believed
the moment would ever happen until she saw it with her own
When he knew his time was limited, Michael confessed his
biggest fear to Berna: “He thought for sure people would
She said she told her son there was no chance of that
“As long as we were alive, he would never be forgotten,” she
The Garrons then dedicated their lives to fulfilling
Michael’s wish. On Wednesday morning, it came true.
The Garrons’ gift is one of the biggest private donations
ever to a hospital in Canada. Hospital president and CEO
Sarah Downey said it will have an enormous impact.
“Oh my god, it’s huge,” she said, adding the money will help
in three main areas: bringing in new equipment, creating
research chair positions, and applying for funds in clinical
“The community will have much faster access to health
technology, health care providers (will be) better equipped
for their jobs, and (the hospital will have) access, in
time, to additional experts,” she said.
But importantly, the donation also means Michael’s wish has
been fulfilled, she said.
For the Garrons, that’s what matters.
Two years and nine months after Myron and Berna married,
Michael was born. Myron wasn’t allowed to attend the birth,
as he had to fill out paperwork, he recalled Wednesday. By
the time he was done, he was led to a room on the second
floor, where his doctor was waiting.
“He had a little bundle in his arms, and it so happens that
was the first appearance of Michael,” he said.
Berna Garron has tried to keep Michael’s memory alive by
making sure his story is known by as many people as
possible. She remembers him as a young man who never gave
up, despite constant setbacks.
When Michael was 3 years old, a lump appeared on his hand.
At first doctors thought it was just a cyst, but eventually
they figured out it was synovial sarcoma. The tumor was
removed, along with his hand, but another was discovered
behind his heart, and he died shortly after.
He was right-handed, and when his cancer meant amputating
his right middle finger, then his hand up to his elbow,
Berna Garron said, he just learned how to do everything with
his left hand.
“His (code) was to always be positive, and never give up,”
This is not the first major donation the Garrons, who owned
a successful automotive parts manufacturing business, have
made to a Toronto hospital on Michael’s behalf. In 2010 they
donated $30 million to the Hospital for Sick Children, and
with the money established the Garron Family Cancer Centre
at the hospital.
Now, Michael’s name will be remembered through the hospital
that carries his legacy. Though Berna Garron always knew she
would do everything in her power to fulfill Michael’s wish,
she said, there was no way she could have predicted this.
“We had no idea that it would be like this, 40 years on.”
TTC phasing out tickets, tokens in favor of Presto cards
The Toronto Transit Committee is hoping to phase out paper tickets
and tokens by 2017 as part of its modernization plan.
The transit agency released its timeline on Monday at the TTC board
Deputy TTC CEO Chris Upfold said an implementation plan for the
phasing out of tickets and tokens still needs to be worked out, but
they are aiming to have it done by mid-2017.
Upfold said the plan may include machines that will allow riders to
deposit old tokens in exchange for Presto credits. He added
commuters will eventually be able to pay for a ride using standard
payment cards, including debit and credit cards.
"In 2017, we start to move into the world where you use your credit
card, your debit card or your open-payment phone to get on and off
our system," Upfold said.
As of November, Presto card readers have been installed at 15 subway
stations across the city so far. The TTC plans to have 26 stations
with card readers by July, and city-wide rollout is expected to be
complete by the end of 2016.
"By the end of next year, every streetcar, every bus, every
Wheel-Trans vehicle, every subway station will be entirely
Presto-enabled," Upfold said.
Earlier this year, TTC CEO Andy Byford said the transit agency plans
to go "all out" to speed up the installation of Presto card readers
so that process will be completed in 2016 instead of 2017.
The head of TTC union, however, has expressed doubts about the
"I think it's unrealistic that they're going to eliminate our
existing fare media within a year-and-half from now," TTC union
president Bob Kinnear told reporters on Monday.
Toronto’s 416 phone numbers selling for hundreds, even thousands of dollars
Business people in Toronto are spending big on
416 numbers to capitalize on the air of establishment that is synonymous
with the coveted area code.
Opportunity’s calling, 416ers: Those three digits at the beginning of your
phone number could make for a lucrative pay day.
Toronto’s most coveted area code is becoming a business in the city, with
10-digit 416 numbers selling for hundreds — even thousands — of dollars.
“All my advertisements are in the Yonge and Finch area, and in the North
York papers, so 416 targets my clientele,” says Reza Esmaeili, a local
residential and commercial real estate broker with Homelife/Victory Realty,
who purchased his current phone number, 416-888-SOLD, for $500.
The 416 tells his customers he’s established, Esmaeili adds.
Launched in 1947, 416 is Toronto’s oldest area code. The Canadian
Radio-television Telecommunications Commission has since introduced area
codes 647 and 437, but born-and-bred Torontonians argue the city remains
synonymous with 416.
Esmaeili dreamed up multiple real estate-themed phone numbers, called his
desired lines and told the strangers on the other end that if they wanted to
sell, he was ready to buy.
The person who once held Esmaeili’s current number was happy to make some
money, the broker said. He had no trouble transferring ownership of the
number to his name through his carrier, Fido.
“It was not a real estate agent, fortunately — it was just a regular person.
They were more than happy. They said, ‘OK, I sell it for $500, I get another
one for free.’ ”
Toronto is not the first city where residents yearn for a traditional area
code. When New York swelled and the 212 area code designated for Manhattan
dried up, the introduction of the new 646 area code caused such a stir that
a spring 1998 episode of Seinfeld chronicled a New Yorker’s dismay when
Elaine was designated a new code.
Being perceived as established is a common desire among customers looking to
buy 416 numbers, said Georgios Pappas, a phone number vendor behind websites
like vip416numbers.com and 416numbers.com.
“They feel that a 647 number makes them feel like they’re not established.
Let’s say you need a lawyer. If you call a 647 number, how credible is that
lawyer, how many years has he been in business for?”
Pappas searches for creative 416 numbers through various carriers in the
city. Once he is assigned a number, he makes the minimum payments on the
account each month until someone buys the number from him. He then transfers
responsibility of the account to the new owner.
Pappas charges a minimum of $99, but has previously sold the 10 digits for
as much as $2,000.
Danyal Javaid is a managing partner with IMARK Development group, a local
real estate developer, who has bought seven or eight 416 numbers through
Pappas. All the numbers he has purchased end with the four digits 1000, an
attempt to streamline his employees’ phone and fax numbers.
Javaid has never had any issues with the numbers from Pappas, and is looking
to buy up to eight more from the local vendor.
Glen Brown, project manager with the Canadian Numbering Association, deals
with assigning phone numbers to carriers. He said the association no longer
hands out 416 numbers to Toronto carriers. There are, however, 2,010,000 647
numbers left to be assigned to the 13-year-old area code; 437 has only been
assigned to 260,000 people since its inception in March 2013.
“It’s conceivable you could get a 416 number; it’s probably difficult,” he
says. “It would be almost like old currency; it’s theoretically possible to
pick up an old nickel or dime or quarter in your change, but the likelihood
is greatly diminished.”
A carrier new to Toronto today could not offer 416 numbers to customers,
Brown said. The last large batch of 416 numbers was assigned to Toronto
carriers in 2006.
Telus spokesperson Chris Gerritsen said 416 numbers only become available to
customers today if they are being reassigned.
“People don’t give up their numbers as often as they used to because of
Customers do call and request a 416 number but short of paying hundreds or
thousands of dollars for the elusive area code, Gerritsen said landing a 416
number is now luck of the draw.
“It’s what we have that comes available. If somebody calls in and asks for a
416 number, we’ll do our best to accommodate but can make no guarantees.”
Transit Safety Tips
You're on the TTC and you run into a problem - someone is either threatening
you or presenting a danger to others. You can sit there reading and hope
they go away. Or you can take action that doesn't put your own life in
Here's a primer on what the TTC suggests you do if it happens to you:
Here's where you're the most vulnerable, because there's no way to get off
until the next stop and the nearest TTC employee may not be in the car. You
can get out when the train stops and try to evade your harasser but if
that's not possible, reach up and hit the yellow strip located at every
section of every car. They can be used to report crime or illness, and while
the TTC doesn't want you to use it frivolously, they do say it's OK if
you're feeling uncomfortable, sick or in danger.
What happens when it's pressed? The train goes on to the next station and
stops there with the doors open, allowing you to get out if necessary. Crews
come immediately and check out the nature of the problem and take steps to
There are also 96 special constables who patrol the underground. Some wear
uniforms, while others are undercover. The TTC won't say much about them
except that they keep records about when the most problems occur and that's
when the bulk of them are riding the rails with you. They can detain
troublemakers and get police involved if necessary.
This is a lot simpler. If you have any problems, report them immediately to
the driver. They have two different kinds of emergency devices to contact
transit control, and they can dispatch police, fire trucks, an ambulance or
whatever is needed to the scene right away. Despite privacy concerns,
cameras are coming to buses, although it may be a while before they're all
deployed and they obviously won't stop an attack.
You're waiting at a bus terminal or a TTC stop and you see someone
suspicious hanging around or acting odd. Move to the Designated Waiting
Area, where you'll be in camera range of the collector. A push of a button
puts you in contact with the man or woman in the booth and they can not only
see what's wrong but immediately summon help. And it's a good place to sit
even if you just want to read while waiting for that bus or train because
the areas feature brighter lights than other spots on the platform. There's
almost always a pay phone in these places so if your cell doesn't work
underground, remember that 911 is a free call from any of them.
On The Street
The TTC can't take responsibility for what happens on a city street - that's
a police matter. But if you're a woman and you're traveling on a bus between
the hours of 9pm and 5pm, you can ask the driver to let you off between
stops, so you can exit close to your home without walking. The policy only
applies to women and the TTC won't let a man get off in the same mid-point
stop to ensure safety. But being male doesn't mean you're not entitled to
use the program. Drivers are given wide latitude about the issue and will
let you off if they feel it's in your best interest.