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Toronto’s no longer number one in North America in high-rise construction

122

—The number of high-rise buildings under construction in Toronto as of September, according to Emporis data cited in the city’s monthly economic dashboard report. The only city with more high-rise construction, by Emporis’ reckoning, is New York, at 154. That wasn’t always the case: Toronto’s high-rise count was consistently the highest in North America until this summer. (If these somewhat-imperfect stats are anything to go by, at any rate.)

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

3 Comments

Could Olivia Chow really force city contractors to hire young people?

THE IDEA

Back in May, Olivia Chow made a proposal that she continues to tout at debates and other publicity stops. Her idea is to use community benefit agreements (or CBAs) to require companies that take on major city infrastructure contracts to hire local youth—a measure Chow says will help create 5,000 new jobs and apprenticeships for young Torontonians over four years. “One out of five young people can’t find a job,” Chow said at a press conference. “It’s demoralizing. They don’t have their first job, they can’t get experience, and then they can’t land a new job. It’s a vicious cycle.”

election-idea-evaluator-light-green-smallWOULD IT WORK?

Community benefit agreements, in a general sense, already do. They’ve been used in the U.K., Los Angeles, Vancouver (for the Olympic Village) and even Toronto. As part of the Regent Park revitalization, the city partnered with Toronto Community Housing and the area’s developer, Daniels Corporation, to design a hiring program that created nearly 500 jobs for local residents. “It’s a useful and successful model,” says Steve Shallhorn, executive director of the Labour Education Centre, a nonprofit training organization that advocates for CBAs. “There are lessons learned from Regent Park that could be applied to future community benefit agreements in Toronto.”

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Captain John’s restaurant boat is back on the market

(Image: booledozer)

(Image: booledozer)

Do you have a few thousand dollars that you can afford to throw directly into the depths of Lake Ontario? Get your wallet out. The Star reports that the Toronto Port Authority has called off its deal with local entrepreneur James Sbrolla, who in August bought Captain John’s restaurant boat for $33,501 in a court-ordered auction. Although the price was cheap by giant-boat standards, it quickly became apparent that Sbrolla had overpaid. His purchase came with an obligation to remove the boat from its slip at the base of Jarvis Street by August 22—a deadline that came and went as Sbrolla struggled with the logistics of dismantling the aging watercraft. (It has to be carefully disconnected from the city’s electrical grid, and is believed to be full of hazardous building materials.) It’s unclear what will happen to the boat now. The only other qualified bidder in August’s auction wanted the port authority to pay him $300,000 to remove the thing. The Star says officials expect Captain John’s rusting, debt-ridden hulk to remain in place at least until spring.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

12 Comments

Rob Ford breaks another election rule

now-what-newRob Ford, who is no fan of the many rules that govern politicians’ behaviour during election periods, was, according to the Globe, asked to leave one of the city’s advance polling stations on Thursday for speaking to voters there and taking pictures with them. The reason election officials took the ailing mayor’s visit so seriously is that the Municipal Elections Act forbids politicians from campaigning in any voting location. (Specifically, the act says that “no person shall attempt, directly or indirectly, to influence how [an] elector votes” while they’re in or near a voting place.) Jeff Silverstein, spokesperson for Doug Ford’s campaign, told the Globe that Rob was “not doing anything inappropriate.”

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $690,000 for two storeys and a rooftop terrace near Queen Street West

toronto-condo-of-the-week-25-soho-street-intro

Address: 25 Soho Street, P310
Neighbourhood: Kensington Chinatown
Agent: Michael Rapkoski, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $689,000

The Place: 1,000 square feet spread over the two upper floors of a four-storey building. There’s an open-concept kitchen, living room and dining area on the main floor of the unit. The second floor has two bedrooms.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

5 Comments

Another poll gives John Tory a comfortable lead over Doug Ford

No surprises here: like a dozen other polls before it, this survey of 2,265 Torontonians by political consultancy Mainstreet Technologies puts John Tory in the lead. Like the most recent Forum Research poll, this one gives Tory a healthy margin of victory, meaning we can now be at least somewhat certain that the one poll that showed Doug Ford pulling ahead was a statistical blip. With only a little more than a week to go before election day, we’re at the point where these things should (emphasis on should) be getting a little more predictive of the actual outcome. That’s bad news for Olivia Chow, who’s still bringing up the rear.

The Informer

Stat

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Olivia Chow’s campaign says John Tory’s transit-funding proposal falls short

$929,000,000

—The maximum amount of revenue that could be generated through tax increment financing (also known as TIF) for John Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan, according to an analysis prepared on behalf of the Olivia Chow campaign by economist and electricity-sector consultant Mitchell Rothman. While that number sounds high, it’s significantly lower than the $2.5 billion that Tory’s campaign has claimed the financing scheme—which is essentially a way of borrowing against future tax revenues—could be used to raise. The feasibility of Tory’s whole funding model hangs on the difference between those two numbers.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

8 Comments

In a last-minute attempt to soften his image, Doug Ford reveals that he loves chocolate milk

doug-ford-now-whatDoug Ford is warming up his final pre-election charm offensive. The mayoral candidate gave a sit-down interview to CityNews yesterday and another to CP24 today. This wouldn’t be so remarkable were it not for the fact that his wife, Karla, who has never been interviewed formally before, was sitting next to him both times. Ford clearly chose his interviewers well. Topics ranged from his art collection (“It’s beautiful, some of the pictures,” Ford said), to what a great father he is, to his love of chocolate milk. The toughest moment for the Fords came during the CityNews interview, when reporter Avery Haines asked Karla about Doug’s claim that she is Jewish. Karla insisted that her heritage is Jewish, but that she personally is not observant. “I don’t practice Judism,” she said, misprounouncing the word “Judaism.”

The Informer

Events

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Welcome The Wooden Sky home at Lee’s Palace

(Image: Sarah Creskey)

(Image: Sarah Creskey)

There’s a lot on Let’s Be Ready, the fourth album from Toronto folk-rock outfit The Wooden Sky, that could convince a listener that the band looks forward to coming home. On the brilliant record, which was released in early September, frontman Gavin Gardiner sings about the nomadic lifestyle of a touring band, long bus rides and separated lovers—the sorts of things he and his bandmates have been grappling with since departing on a cross-Canada tour last month. In other words, the group is likely to be in high spirits when it hits Lee’s Palace for a pair of proper hometown gigs. Expect some high-voltage indie rock mixed with the atmospheric folk the band built its name on. Add opening performances from local experimental art rockers Absolutely Free, who released their debut album mere days ago, and the shows promise to be two massive, memorable homecoming parties.

Fri. Oct. 17–18. $17.50. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1598, chelsea-records.com.

The Informer

Features

27 Comments

The Man Who Would Be King: inside the ruthless battle for control of the $34-billion Rogers empire

Edward Rogers expected to run the family empire after the death of his father, Ted. But the board squeezed him out

The Man Who Would Be King

Suzanne and Edward Rogers in their Forest Hill house. (Image: Getty Images)

O

n a grey December day in 2008, a thousand people gathered at St. James Cathedral on Church Street to remember Ted Rogers, the legendary founder of Rogers Communications. The business icon had died of congestive heart failure at his Forest Hill home a week earlier, after months of declining health. Rogers’ funeral was a rare event in the city—a ­coming-together of high society, business titans and politicians that was the lay equivalent of a state funeral. Stephen Harper shook hands with his on-again, off-again friend Brian Mulroney, former premiers David Peterson and Mike Harris were in attendance, along with then-mayor David Miller, and members of such big-business clans as the Westons, Jackmans, Shaws and Péladeaus walked solemnly side by side in and out of the church.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

5 Comments

Five things we learned from Newstalk 1010’s mayoral debate

(Image: Newstalk 1010/Screenshot)

(Image: Newstalk 1010/Screenshot)

With less than two weeks remaining before election day, Toronto’s frantic debate schedule shows no signs of slowing down. The majority of these events are hosted by various associations and community groups, but, on Wednesday, Newstalk 1010 held one of the season’s few media-hosted debates. Radio personality Ryan Doyle gave the candidates a better-than-average grilling, and—somewhat amazingly—police officers didn’t have to maintain order, and nobody offended any religious groups. Here, five things we learned from the proceedings.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

1 Comment

A new Forum poll gives John Tory his lead back

This latest Forum Research poll, conducted with input from 1241 Toronto residents on October 15, shows results consistent with those of other polls released since August. John Tory has a comfortable lead over Doug Ford, and Olivia Chow still trails with less than a quarter of the vote. Although none of this is particularly surprising, it’s nevertheless a huge departure from last week’s Forum poll, which put Ford and Tory in a virtual tie. Pollsters usually qualify their results by saying that they’re “considered accurate 19 times out of 20.” That previous poll may just have been number 20.

The Informer

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A huge number of Torontonians have already voted

28,046

—The number of people who voted on Tuesday, the first of six days of advance polling for the 2014 municipal election. The city is touting this as the highest first-day advance-polling turnout ever—which it is, by far. (The entire weekday turnout during 2010’s advance polling was about 16,000.) This year’s number may be a little inflated, though, because the city is running many times more weekday polling stations than it did during the last election.

The Informer

Politics

10 Comments

Brampton mayor Susan Fennell on phone bills, nice cars and “smear campaigns”

Susan Fennell’s poll numbers have plummeted over allegations of reckless spending. The Brampton mayor, running for her fifth term, is crying foul

Brampton mayor Susan Fennell on phone bills, plane tickets, and "smear campaigns"In Toronto, you’re known as Brampton’s spend-happy, ultra-entitled mayor. Care to challenge that characterization?
Yes, I would. I’m the victim of a smear campaign by a collection of councillors and by the Toronto Star, which has a clear vendetta against me.

According to a Deloitte audit of your expenses, you have an on-call limo service that costs taxpayers $45,000 a year. Isn’t that a tad lavish for a public servant?
Well, it’s a sedan, not a limousine—it’s just rented through a limo agency. It’s an important service that allows me to get where I need to be safely and, if necessary, to continue working in the back seat while we drive.

Why do you also lease a Lincoln ­Navigator, which costs taxpayers an additional $1,400 a month?
Because I drive myself to many events. I need both options, depending on the circumstances.

Over seven years, your office has spent $134,847 on non-economy flights, sometimes for passes that are upgradable to business class, in violation of the city’s travel policy, which permits only economy fares.
Those passes allow me to change or cancel tickets with no fee or penalty.

They were on average twice as expensive as a normal economy fare bought on an as-needed basis.
I buy passes so I can have better control of my day and time, should I need to stay later or what have you. It’s akin to taking the 407 instead of the 401.

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The Informer

Events

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See The Book of Mormon, no Broadway pilgrimmage required

(Image: Joan Marcus)

(Image: Joan Marcus)

The Book of Mormon has had its fair share of hype: it has collected a whack of Tonys and won accolades from countless critics. All we’ll say is that there’s more than enough reason to grab a ticket for the show’s new Toronto run. The musical tells the satirical story of two teenage Mormon missionaries (played by Gavin Creel and Christopher John O’Neill) who, after being posted in a small, disease-plagued Ugandan village, begin to question their faith. The show was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the minds behind South Park, and scored by Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez—so it’s not quite as heavy as it may sound in summary. Regular tickets are still available, though the discounted pre-show ticket lottery might be worth the wait (details here).

Until Nov. 30. $49–$200. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.

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