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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.

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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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The Informer

People

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Did Justin Bieber bribe a Canada Border Services chief?
(Image: Justin Bieber/Facebook)

(Image: Justin Bieber/Facebook)

Now Magazine is reporting that Justin Bieber, Canada’s exasperating stepchild, has figured out an innovative way of getting his American friends with criminal histories over the border. According to Now’s sources, Bieber was able to trade “up to $10,000 worth” of backstage passes for temporary resident permits for at least two allegedly sketchy members of his entourage. A chief at the Niagara Falls border crossing where Now says all of this took place was apparently fired after higher-ups learned of the indiscretion. It remains unclear when, exactly, the incident occurred.

The Informer

Sports

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Tim Leiweke is on the way out at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
(Image: Norman Wong)

(Image: Norman Wong)

Continuing in today’s vein of people quitting things that they’ve been persistently rumoured to be on the verge of quitting, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke has announced that he will be leaving his post. The CBC reports that MLSE expects to have a new chief executive by June 30, 2015, or whenever a successor is found (whatever that means). Leiweke hasn’t even been in the job for two years, but his tenure has been marked by some significant highlights: under his leadership MLSE hired the Raptors a seemingly excellent new GM, acquired some major talent for Toronto FC and openly picked fights with Rob Ford. He will be missed. Here’s our Q&A with him from when he first took the job.

The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford’s family company did business with Porter Airlines

now-what-newThe Globe has just added a few more conflict of interest allegations to Rob Ford’s growing heap of them. The paper’s investigation into the Ford family business, Deco Labels and Tags, reveals that the mayor’s clan has occasionally made money—albeit usually relatively small amounts of money—from some of the same corporations Ford has supported politically during his time at city hall. This raises the possibility that the mayor violated Ontario’s Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which is designed to prevent politicians from even appearing to engage in quid pro quo. Among the many examples of this type of behaviour uncovered by the Globe, the most troubling involves Porter Airlines, whose island-airport expansion plans Ford has championed. According to information obtained by the Globe, the mayor is the salesman of record for Deco’s Porter account. The airline says it has paid Deco about $8,500 for things like decals and tray labels. The last of Porter’s orders was placed two weeks after Ford was elected mayor.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Karen Stintz drops out of the mayoral race
(Image: Karen Stintz/Facebook)

(Image: Karen Stintz/Facebook)

From day one of the race it was a strong possibility; then it was a rumour, and now it’s a reality: Karen Stintz has become the first major candidate to drop out of the 2014 mayoral election. At a press conference held at city hall this morning, the veteran councillor and former TTC chair told reporters pretty much what they were expecting to hear. “I am disappointed that my vision and ideas did not gain the traction that I hoped,” she said. “This has impacted my financial ability to continue.” Stintz added that she won’t be using her new abundance of free time to run for reelection to her seat on city council.

The Informer

Real Estate

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The Chase: They did the near-impossible—landing a house in Toronto, without a bidding war

The Chase: September 2014The buyers: Peter Loewen, a 35-year-old political science professor at U of T, and Yvette Lam, a 35-year-old business development officer at Harbourfront Centre.

The story: After meeting at a David Myles concert and ­dating for two years, Lam and Loewen took a series of quick leaps forward. First, she rented out her Esplanade one-­bedroom and moved into his Distillery condo. Four months later, he proposed while they were on vacation in France. Post-proposal, they started talking about having kids in the next year or two and, in preparation, they decided to trade up. The plan was to hold on to Lam’s condo for the rental income, sell Loewen’s place and search for a house. They set out with a firm $900,000 ceiling and a list of must-haves: an office where Loewen could write, a clean look to match their mid-century modern furniture, and a location within walking distance of good public schools and a subway.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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The mayoral campaign turns into a literal pissing contest as candidates dare one another to take drug tests

It all began when Sarah Thomson, who has been struggling to win credibility for her mayoral campaign, released the results of a drug test nobody asked her to take, then challenged the other candidates to do likewise. Later in the day, according to the Post, Rob Ford responded with the amount of bluster we’ve come to expect from him on all matters substance-related: “I’ll be the first to do it if everyone else does it,” he said. John Tory is also on board, in principle. “If [Ford is] first,” the Post quotes him as saying, “then I’ll be second.”

The Informer

Features

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Battleground Caledon

The rich and powerful want to keep their pretty rural getaway for themselves. The suburban developer Benny Marotta had other plans. A bizarre tale of smear campaigns, hired thugs and small-town vengeance

Battleground Caledon

From left: Caledon mayor Marolyn Morrison blocked Marotta’s planned suburb (Image: Derek Shapton); Developer Benny Marotta threatened to sue Caledon for $500 million (Image: CP Images)

Marolyn Morrison’s first meeting with Benny Marotta, the man who would become her nemesis, didn’t get off to a good start. It was spring 2004, shortly after Morrison was elected mayor of the leafy, sprawling town of Caledon. “Town,” in this case, is a bit of a misnomer, since Caledon encompasses many towns and hamlets scattered across its 700 square kilometres of mostly rural land. That morning, Morrison arrived at her office at the town hall with a sense of unease. She asked her chief planner to accompany her to the meeting so she wouldn’t be on her own.

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The Informer

Transit

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Watch Andy Byford talk about the lesser-known features of Toronto’s new streetcars

With only a little more than a week to go before the first of the TTC’s next-generation streetcars goes into service on Spadina Avenue, it’s natural to be a little curious about what’s in store. There are many important questions: How do the doors work, and what if you’re in a wheelchair or have difficulty climbing stairs? What’s the deal with air conditioning? How many different kinds of flashing lights will there be? What new buttons do we get to push? As the latest in its series of surprisingly enjoyable propaganda videos, the TTC has put together a brief explainer of all that and more. Let the soothing sound of TTC CEO Andy Byford’s British accent carry you away to a land where riding surface rail is more reliably enjoyable.

The Informer

Politics

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More conflict of interest allegations for Rob Ford

now-what-newThe mayor undoubtedly still has vivid memories of the time a court almost booted him from office on conflict of interest charges, and yet here we are again. The Star reports that both Rob Ford and his brother, councillor Doug Ford, voted on a matter related to a program that allows companies to pay the city to treat their wastewater for them. The problem is that the Ford family business, Deco Labels and Tags, participates in the program. This means that the Fords’ votes, which were against making changes that would have shifted more of the financial burden of water treatment onto businesses, could therefore have benefitted them financially. With a few exceptions, when a member of council votes on something that affects his or her own bottom line, it’s a legal violation, punishable by removal from office. For that to happen, though, someone would have to sue the Fords—and win the case before the election cycle sweeps one or both of them from office organically.

The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $2.6 million for a newly renovated home with a classic look in the Annex

Address: 121 Madison Avenue
Neighbourhood: Annex
Agent: Domenic Scolieri and Cassandra Scolieri, Re/Max West Realty Inc., Brokerage
Price: $2,649,000

The Place: A four-plus-one bedroom, five-washroom manse in the heart of the Annex.

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