The Place: A two-bedroom, two-storey penthouse—one of four—in One Six Nine, a soft-loft complex at Queen and John. We featured another unit in the building last year.
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Almost a year to the day after the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, a long-awaited report on police encounters with mentally disturbed people is finally available for public consumption. The 400-page document was prepared at the request of police chief Bill Blair by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci in the aftermath of the tragedy. While it doesn’t deal specifically with Yatim, it does contain 84 recommendations intended to make the Toronto Police Service better at dealing with people like him, who seem to be suffering from some kind of extreme mental or emotional distress when they come into contact with cops. (Yatim, remember, is believed to have been intimidating fellow streetcar passengers with a knife before police got involved.)
There are a number of seemingly useful ideas among the recommendations, including a proposal to arm some front-line police officers with tasers on a trial basis, to give them a new alternative to lethal force. (It’s an idea that has been floated several times already.) The report also calls for the creation of a mental-health oversight committee that would consist of police officials and representatives from healthcare organizations and psychiatric facilities. Ultimately, though, the greatest idea to come out of the whole exercise is probably best summed up by Iacobucci’s statement at today’s press conference, quoted in the Star: “The premise of the report is the target should be zero deaths when police interact with a member of the public,” he said. “No fatalities” would be a fairly low bar to success for most organizations, but in the case of TPS, we’ll take it.
In this edition of The Weekender, a food festival, a frisbee championship and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.
Taste of Toronto
The international Taste Festival franchise pitches camp in Toronto this weekend for four days of high-class face-stuffing. Some of the best restaurants in the city are participating. Guests can look forward to crab-and-prawn rolls from THR & Co, Atlantic salmon from Splendido and spicy shrimp from Khao San Road, among plenty of other offerings. Until July 27. Admission $30–$100, food extra. Fort York, 250 Fort York Blvd. tasteoftoronto.com
Rob Ford’s mayoralty may soon be over, but an American cable channel has just ensured that he’ll always be in our discount DVD bins, selling at two-for-$5 with copies of Dinocroc vs. Supergator. SyFy, a U.S. sci-fi channel, has given Ford (or at any rate, an actor dressed sort of like him) a death scene in the upcoming “film” Sharknado 2, finally linking the mayor with a pop-cultural force that has overstayed its welcome at least as much as he has. The Post reports that the scene will be included only in the Canadian version of the film, airing on Space on July 30. But why watch the whole thing? The Ford clip is embedded above.
On May 27, the John Tory campaign summoned the media to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. After weeks of promising to build a “Yonge Street relief line,” Tory was set to announce his SmartTrack transit plan, a proposal to retrofit existing GO lines into subway-like commuter corridors. It’s since become the centrepiece of his campaign.
Tory’s address to reporters was preceded by a technical briefing, in which campaign officials laid out the logistics of the proposal. Before delving into specifics, though, the campaign official leading the briefing made an uncharacteristically frank—even embarrassing—admission about Tory’s commitment to another transit project: the controversial Scarborough subway, which Tory had promised, if elected, to “start digging” in 2015. This is what the official said: “We are, of course, duly chastened in regard to when that [project] can begin. It cannot have the shovels in the ground tomorrow morning, as we had previously advertised. And we’re very sorry; and we won’t make that mistake again.”
The 2015 prediction had always seemed far-fetched, but now this person was saying, definitively, that it was wrong. It was a newsworthy quote, but it wouldn’t make news. The reason the official was free to phrase the admission in such unflattering terms is that he expected that his words would never be printed, because he was speaking on background.
My wife and I were asked to a dinner party by some neighbours. The invite said 7 p.m., but it will be during Ramadan, when we can’t eat or have a drink until after sunset—so around 9 p.m. I mentioned this, and they said to just come along and they’ll serve dinner late. We don’t want to be the recipients of sideways glances from famished, clock-watching guests all evening. Should we decline, go over after 9 p.m., or what?
—Unfashionably Late, Upper Beach
For three years, Ian Borbely told everyone that his girlfriend, Samantha Collins, had abandoned him and their young son. Then a cottager found a mysterious crate hidden beneath his floorboards
Samantha Collins met Ian Borbely at a mutual friend’s party in 2003. They came from different worlds. She was 25 and striking, with long black hair and fair skin. She’d been raised by a single mom in Mississauga and never knew her father. She got pregnant in high school, dropped out and gave up custody of her baby. After that, she started selling drugs and working as a stripper at a club near Pearson to earn a living. Borbely was three years older, a bodybuilder from Bracebridge, the son of doting middle-class parents. His friends describe him as a gentle teddy bear—the nicest guy in the room. He’d moved to Toronto to work as a personal trainer, taking a fence-building gig on the side. He was attracted to Collins, and after that first hookup he invited her to move into his place.
With about three months to go until election day, a new poll by Forum Research suggests that the mayoral race no longer has a clear frontrunner. Because of some apparent erosion in voter support for Olivia Chow, she, John Tory and Rob Ford all pulled roughly equal numbers in the July 21 phone survey, which canvassed 1063 Toronto residents.
Like everything else associated with Rob Ford, Ford Fest, the mayor’s annual public barbecue, is now engulfed in scandal. The event, the first installment of which takes place this year on July 25, is a longstanding tradition for the Ford family. Prior to 2013 it was held in the garden area behind the home of Diane Ford, the mayor’s mother. Starting last year, though, the Fords began holding their fest in public parks, and that’s now the problem: the city’s own policy prohibits issuing event permits to political candidates looking to use city property to promote themselves during a campaign period. Doug Ford, Rob’s campaign manager, has claimed that Ford Fest is exempt from that restriction, because it isn’t a campaign event—a view evidently shared by city staff, who at last check were in the process of issuing the Fords a permit for the use of Thomson Memorial Park, in Scarborough. But on Tuesday night, a number of Twitter users reported receiving robocalls in which a recorded Rob Ford voice promotes the event. At least one version of the call directs listeners to an answering machine associated with Ford’s campaign office. (Also, it’s worth pointing out that the barbecue has always appeared to be aimed at ensuring voter loyalty. Last year Ford explicitly asked for votes and volunteers during at least one Ford Fest speech.) Friday’s event will also differ from those in previous years in that there won’t be any free beer—not because of the poor optics associated with giving away alcohol at an event meant to honour an admitted alcoholic, but because they couldn’t get a license.
Michael Ford, the 20-year-old nephew of Rob and Doug Ford (he’s their sister Kathy’s son) is officially running for city council in Ward 2, a seat occupied by one or another of his uncles for the past 14 years. The expectation, for most serious council contenders, is that they’ll speak to the media to promote and defend their candidacies, but apparently that won’t be the case for this special little guy. Speaking to reporters earlier today, Doug, who isn’t running for reelection in Ward 2, said that he’ll be discouraging Michael from speaking to the media during the campaign, because journalists are too biased. Presumably, the idea is that Mikey’s last name will be enough to bolster him at the polls.
Hyperbole is often a weapon of choice in disputes over neighbourhood development, and a group known the Coalition Against McNicoll Bus Garage may just have out-hyperbolized them all. The Star reports that the coalition, which formed to oppose the construction of a new TTC bus garage near McNicoll and Kennedy roads in Scarborough, is worried that the facility’s biodiesel tanks will cause a conflagration.
According to the Star, the group’s presentation, during a press conference on Monday, included slides with images of famous fuel-related disasters, like the Lac Megantic explosion—which, notably, was triggered by an improperly secured freight train, not a stationary holding tank in a garage. Neighbourhood concerns also include pollution and traffic congestion, and it’s all exacerbated by the fact that the TTC’s now-vacant plot of land is near a church and a long-term care home.
“Only in Toronto would a transit agency be allowed to put a bus garage on prime real estate to the detriment of vulnerable seniors while exposing the environment and neighbourhood to unconscionable risk,” said resident Patricia Sinclair, who told CBC that she is “pro-transit.” To review: riding buses is good, but building a place to store and service them is basically like beating up an elderly person. For what it’s worth, the TTC is saying noise and air pollution should be minimal.
This morning, the Toronto International Film Festival made its first in what will certainly be a long series of programming announcements leading up to the September 4 commencement of this year’s event. Today’s unveiling consisted of 13 “gala” films (meaning, big-deal premieres) and 46 “special presentations” (meaning, almost-as-big-deal premieres).
Despite having lost some major debuts to rival festivals in places like New York and Venice, TIFF’s initial offering comprises some legitimately exciting titles, including David Cronenberg’s latest, as well as a comedy with Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, and the world premiere of a new Jake Gyllenhaal movie. Here are trailers for those, and a few other movies included in today’s reveal.