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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Would Olivia Chow’s affordable-housing plan actually work as advertised?

THE IDEA

Toronto is mired in an affordable-housing crisis. As of June, almost 170,000 people were waiting for a place in some form of subsidized housing. If that weren’t enough, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s repair backlog was estimated at $862 million in 2012, and there are fears it could top $2.6 billion within a decade. In July, mayoral candidate Olivia Chow offered a solution she says will help bridge the widening housing gap: as mayor, she would ask developers to voluntarily set aside 20 percent of new residential tower developments for low-income renters, creating around 15,000 new, affordable units over four years. Chow says she would defer development charges on the affordable units for 10 years, or longer if the properties stay accessible to low-income renters (lest developers snap up the promised benefits and hike the rent), saving builders almost $12,000 per one-bedroom unit. Developers that improve existing tower sites would get different kinds of incentives too.

WOULD IT WORK?election-evaluator-meter-orange-small

In cities like Washington D.C. and San Francisco, there are what are known as “inclusionary zoning” rules—bylaws, often mandatory ones, that try to engineer roughly what Chow is proposing. In essence, inclusionary zoning tells developers to allocate a certain percentage of new residential units to moderate- or low-income people. In New York City, newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to implement mandatory inclusionary zoning.

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The Informer

Business

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Made-in-Canada Netflix may be the only thing worse than Canadian Netflix

shomi-logo-smallIn a move already being hailed by media commentators as “intended to bolster…business,” cable giants Rogers and Shaw have jointly announced yet another subscription movie platform that isn’t as good as American Netflix. (Even the Canadian version of Netflix is notoriously sparse in comparison to its U.S. counterpart.) Shomi, as the new product is known, will be priced to match Netflix, at $8.99 per month. It’s expected to launch in November with a roster of 1,200 movies and 340 TV series. Netflix is secretive about the exact numbers of titles it offers at any given time, so it’s difficult to gauge how well Shomi stacks up, but the upstart’s introductory press release brags about the fact that a third of its offerings are Canadian content, “curated by people who love popcorn and magic”—and that doesn’t bode well. Also not great: at least initially, Shomi will only be available to Rogers and Shaw customers.

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Events

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See Arcade Fire and Constantines on the same stage

(Image: ღ ℂℏ℟ḯʂ ღ/Flickr)

(Image: ღ ℂℏ℟ḯʂ ღ/Flickr)

It’s been a good few years for Arcade Fire. When The Suburbs snagged Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2011, hardly anyone outside select indie-rock circles had even heard of the Montreal outfit (remember the “Who Is Arcade Fire!?” Tumblr?). The band has since provided the soundtrack for a Spike Jonze movie, topped the Billboard charts and even insisted upon fancy dress at arena concerts in support of its latest album, Reflektor. This weekend, head to the Amphitheatre for the tour’s penultimate show and second stop in Toronto. It’s sure to feature papier-mâché imposters and plenty of disco-fied dance rock. The recently reunited Constantines, local indie legends for whom Arcade Fire regularly opened once upon a time, will be playing first, so don’t be that person who shows up two hours late. Tickets are currently sold out, but are available on the resale market.

Friday, Aug. 29. $45–$90. Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, 909 Lakeshore Blvd. W., 416-260-5600, canadianamphitheatre.net.

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Stat

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Distracted driving fines are about to go up

$1,000
—The new maximum fine for distracted driving, under a proposed law expected to be introduced at Queen’s Park sometime after October 20, according to the Star. (Offenders would also get demerit points.) This is the provincial government’s second attempt at introducing these changes, after a first try stalled in the legislature earlier this year. Current fines for texting at the wheel go as high as $500.

The Informer

Politics

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Rob and Doug Ford vote against a Raptors training facility, for some reason

now-what-newDuring a city council meeting on Monday, Rob and Doug Ford were the lone votes against a proposal to allow Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to invest $30 million in a new Raptors practice facility at Exhibition Place. The brothers’ “no” votes, the Globe reports, were in protest of council’s refusal to back the mayor’s idea for a last-minute change to the deal. Under Ford’s new terms, the city would have asked MLSE to allot a certain amount of time at the facility for the exclusive use of TCHC residents. Other councillors interviewed by the Globe pointed out that the deal already calls for a certain amount of community access, and that the Fords may have had a better shot at changing the arrangement had they raised their objection at an earlier point in the months-long negotiations with MLSE leading up to Monday’s vote. “They’ve just insulted every single kid in Toronto Community Housing,” Rob Ford told reporters after his predictable loss.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Cottage of the Week: $3 million for a Lake of Bays getaway with an architectural pedigree

http://www.torontolife.com/galleries/cottage-of-the-week-1045-hemlock-ridge-road/288038-288040-288041-288042-288043-288044-288045-288046-288047-288048-288049-288050-288051-288052-288053/#cottage-of-the-week-dwight-ontario-01

Address: 1045 Hemlock Ridge Road
Neighbourhood: Dwight, Ontario
Agent: Jay Richardson and Stephen Leonard, Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka Realty
Price: $3,000,000

The Place: A modern, spectacularly designed steel, wood and glass structure on Lake of Bays.

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The Informer

Politics

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Oakwood and Vaughan’s homeless-shelter fight just got real
(Image: Google Street View)

(Image: Google Street View)

A few weeks ago, we noticed battle lines beginning to form in the neighbourhood surrounding the intersection of Vaughan Road and Oakwood Avenue. Residents were upset over Cornerstone Baptist Tabernacle’s plan to relocate its men’s homeless shelter to a vacant former pub in the area. The whole thing was very typically NIMBYish, insofar as none of the opposition seemed to be about homeless shelters in general; residents just wanted this particular one a lot farther away from their homes. Today, the Star reports that things have gotten a bit more serious: a lawyer representing Cornerstone has released a legal opinion saying that if city council refuses to approve the shelter (which it could do at its meeting this week) it will have violated the Charter rights of the shelter’s users. The opinion carries no real legal weight—it’s not coming from a judge, after all—but it may succeed in clouding the issue for councillors who are inclined to vote “no.” At least some of the pro-shelter organizing is being led by Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, of Rob-Ford-conflict-of-interest fame, who happens to live nearby.

The Informer

Politics

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Jets at the island airport are starting to look inevitable-ish
(Image: Danielle Scott/Flickr)

(Image: Danielle Scott/Flickr)

While the rest of us were busy focusing on dead-serious, election-related matters like raccoons and drug tests, the Toronto Port Authority has quietly been making sure that the next mayor, whoever he or she turns out to be, will have an incredibly difficult time preventing the island airport from following through on its controversial expansion plans. The Globe reports that the TPA is already pushing ahead with an environmental assessment of the project, which aims to upgrade the airport’s facilities to allow carriers (mainly Porter Airlines) to fly long-haul jets out of the harbour. The scandalous detail is that city staff are participating in the EA, despite a council decision that was initially understood to discourage city cooperation unless the TPA agreed to place hard caps on passenger volumes, which it hasn’t. Meanwhile, a pedestrian tunnel to the airport is nearing completion. All of this seems to point in the direction of increased air traffic, but opponents can take heart: in Toronto, no transit planning is ever too far along to cancel.

The Informer

Culture

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Love, Actually

The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe in his post–Harry Potter prime, is a lo-fi love story for the digital age—and the most authentic romantic comedy in years

Love, Actually

(Image: courtesy of eOne Entertainment)

The new movie The F Word begins with a vintage rom-com meet-cute. At a house party, Wallace, a witty med-school dropout played by Daniel Radcliffe, spells out “Love is stupid monkeys” with word magnets on a fridge. His poetry draws the attention of a pretty animator, Chantry (portrayed by Zoe Kazan), sparking an instant romantic connection—but Chantry has a boyfriend, so she and Wallace embark on a fraught friendship. The F Word—renamed What If in the States—examines whether a man and woman can have a platonic relationship despite their mutual attraction. It’s a sweet, smart millennial spin on When Hary Met Sally.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $1.3-million Leaside home that shows the power of a well-timed bully offer

toronto-sale-of-the-week-81-bessborough-drive-intro

Address: 81 Bessborough Drive
Neighbourhood: Leaside
Agent: James LaPointe, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., Brokerage

The Property: The same-day sale of this two-storey, three-bedroom home was helped along by the property’s top-tier school district, which includes Rolph Road Elementary, Bessborough Elementary and Middle School, and Leaside High School (Margaret Atwood went there in the fifties). Another major draw was its location on Bessborough Drive, a Leaside street with cachet.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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The guy who bought Captain John’s restaurant boat has finally paid up

(Image: " target="_blank">booledozer/Flickr)

(Image: booledozer/Flickr)

The epic saga of Captain John’s floating restaurant is at last coming to a close, it appears. James Sbrolla, the entrepreneur who won a court-ordered auction for the crusty Toronto landmark last month only to blow several payment deadlines, has transferred the last of the outstanding funds, about $35,000, to the Toronto Port Authority. This increases the likelihood the ship will finally be removed from the foot of Yonge Street next week.

Sbrolla said he had hoped to preserve the former Yugoslavian passenger ship, which has been permanently moored at its downtown location since the 1980s, but that it wasn’t feasible to do so. “We turned over every rock, we tried every alternative,” he told us.

The ship will be stripped of its useful parts—dials, gauges, valves, engine parts, and lifeboats—and any dangerous material at a location in the Toronto harbour, and the remaining hull scrapped elsewhere. “To me it seemed pretty obvious scrapping it while taking off the savable things was the best thing to do,” Sbrolla said.

The payment, which the Toronto Port Authority confirmed it received today, still needs to be approved by a local court. Sbrolla hopes that will happen next week, clearing the way the ship to—just maybe—be moved next Friday.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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A somewhat exciting recap of the least exciting debate of the mayoral campaign so far

(Image: Mark Rodas)

(Image: Mark Rodas)

Comedian and writer Jeremy Woodcock doesn’t normally cover municipal politics. Even so, we sent him to Thursday night’s “Heritage Matters” debate, which somewhat inconveniently turned out to be the least comedic debate of the mayoral campaign to this point. Jeremy sent us his notes. Here they are:

Here I am at the “Heritage Matters” debate, being put on by Heritage Toronto. Rob Ford pulled out at the last minute to host a $300-a-plate fundraiser; I estimate that will make this debate at least 75 per cent less combative and dramatic. Karen Stintz pulled out when she withdrew from the race the morning of the debate; I estimate that will make this debate much the same as it would have been otherwise. Olivia Chow, David Soknacki, and John Tory remain. And so we begin.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford gets a reprieve

now-what-newRob and Doug Ford have lucked out. The Star reports that an integrity probe into their seemingly inappropriate lobbying on behalf of clients of their family business didn’t make it onto the last city council agenda of the 2010-2014 term. The mayor and his brother’s problems stem from a series of Globe investigations into times they apparently used their political influence to win special meetings with senior city staffers for certain corporations. The newspaper stories led to some formal complaints from Toronto residents. The integrity commissioner doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, but the Star’s sources say her probe into the Fords’ behaviour isn’t finished, meaning any findings wouldn’t be made public until council resumes its meetings in December, too late to influence the election.

The Informer

Quoted

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Karen Stintz: “My dream was to be commissioner of the CFL”

“To be honest, my dream was to be commissioner of the CFL, not to run for mayor, originally.”
Karen Stintz, speaking to the Post shortly after her exit from the mayoral race on Thursday. If Stintz’s campaign for the soon-to-be-available commissioner job is successful, she’ll have something in common with her mayoral rival, John Tory: he was the head of the CFL for a few years in the nineties.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $2.6 million for a massive, two-penthouse spread in the financial core

Condo of the Week: 33  University Avenue

Address: 33 University Avenue, Penthouses 2801 and 2802
Neighbourhood: Bay Street Corridor
Agents: Christopher Invidiata and Shae Invidiata, The Invidiata Team Re/Max Aboutowne Realty Corp., Brokerage
Price: $2,588,000

The Place: A massive 28th-floor penthouse in Empire Plaza, a mixed-use building in the downtown core. Amenities include a concierge and a rooftop terrace.

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