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Politics

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John Tory re-announces a transit line that was supposed to have been built by now

yawn-toryAt a joint press conference this morning with Ontario transportation minister Steven Del Duca, competent person and Toronto mayor John Tory made what was billed as a major transit announcement: Finch Street West will be getting its own light-rail line in 2021, with construction to begin in 2016. “Today we are here to talk about moving forward, finally,” Tory told reporters. “What this transit line will do is provide an additional 11 kilometres of badly needed transit.” It’s a bit of progress, but it’s also déjà vu for anyone with a long memory for Toronto’s many thwarted transit schemes. The Finch LRT was originally endorsed by the TTC in 2007, and was scheduled for completion in 2015, before an onslaught of political problems (including the rise of Rob Ford) caused the project to be shelved indefinitely.

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Culture

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Boys Don’t Cry: Craig Davidson’s testosterone-jacked horror novels examine what it means to be a man

the-argument-boys-dont-cryCraig Davidson’s fiction is a kind of literary man cave: in every book, he cracks open a space to examine the guyest of guy stuff. His prose is hefty, kinetically charged and, on occasion, absolutely disgusting. And while he writes with the chest-beating vigour of Hemingway and Bukowski, the literary landscape has transformed since the days of those particular he-men.

We live in an era when rape culture and mansplaining are at the centre of the social commentary; male-dominated fields like manufacturing and construction have shrivelled into oblivion; and, for the first time in history, expectant parents around the globe might be more likely to yearn for a daughter than a son. In response, so-called Manly Men are at pains to assert their continued relevance. They form men’s rights organizations and fight for the freedom to manspread on the subway. They advertise their outsized masculinity, donning lumbersexual costumes and holding axe-throwing competitions.

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Transit

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Will Toronto really adopt 30-kilometre-per-hour speed limits on residential streets?

THE IDEA

Toronto has long flirted with the prospect of reducing the speed limits on its residential streets to 30 kilometres per hour. Lately, Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow has championed the old idea with new vigour. “I have spoken to countless parents who want to see the city do everything it can to protect kids, along with all pedestrians,” he told the Toronto Star earlier this month as council considered new policies that would make it easier for residential streets to adopt lower speed limits. According to data from the World Health Organization, a pedestrian has a 90 per cent survival rate if hit by a car travelling at 30 kilometres per hour, while the rate at 45 kilometres per hour is less than 50 per cent.

WOULD IT WORK?idea-evaluator-green-small

New York City, San Francisco and London, England, are among the cities worldwide that have already reduced limits to comparable speeds. When Toronto’s public works committee met to discuss the idea, however, it couldn’t agree on whether it wanted to follow suit; the new proposals, which would let an individual street adopt a 30-kilometre-per-hour limit if it met certain criteria, seemed like they might create a grid in which speed limits would fluctuate from block to block.

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The Informer

Politics

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John Tory celebrates the fact that Queen’s Park has noticed SmartTrack

yawn-toryNormal guy and Toronto mayor John Tory spent some of Thursday celebrating what he said was a milestone for his mayoralty: a mention, deep within the newly released 2015 Ontario budget, of his SmartTrack transit plan. “I’m very much viewing this as very significant progress,” Tory told reporters. “If it’s not happening, why is it in their budget?” The answer to Tory’s rhetorical question is that Queen’s Park had been planning to make improvements to Toronto’s regional rail corridors long before SmartTrack existed as a concept. So, although the budget mentions funding for express rail, it’s all money that would probably have been spent regardless of who happened to be mayor. Tory still has a multi-billion-dollar budget hole to fill before the project stands a chance of being built, meaning what he’s actually celebrating, right now, is the status quo.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $740,000 to live in a boutique condo in the Junction

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Address: 588 Annette Street, Unit 503
Neighbourhood: Junction Area
Agent: Gelareh Jin, Re/Max Performance Realty Inc., Brokerage
Price: $738,888

The Place: A penthouse in a new, five-storey building a few blocks northwest of High Park.

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The Informer

Politics

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Watch Desmond Cole talk racism in Toronto on CBC’s Metro Morning

This month’s Toronto Life cover story is a searing memoir by Desmond Cole about his experiences with racial profiling in Toronto and other Ontario cities. On Tuesday, he appeared on CBC’s Metro Morning to talk about his story with host Matt Galloway. At one point, Galloway asks Cole what it’s like to be black in Toronto. “I say in the piece that I’m a prisoner in my own city,” Cole replies. “And I know that that feels pretty strong for a lot of people. But just imagine that you actually cannot go anywhere in your city without somebody who protects the public and upholds the law thinking, ‘That person’s about to do something wrong.’ That makes you paranoid. It makes you scared. It makes you start second-guessing yourself even when you’re not doing anything wrong. So, it is a sort of prison.” Click the play button above to watch a video of the full interview.

The Informer

Real Estate

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A look inside Integral House, Rosedale’s $28-million modern mansion

(Image: Kayla Rocca)

(Image: Kayla Rocca)

Integral House is probably the most spectacular private residence in Toronto, but it’s also going to be one of the hardest to sell. Its original owner, math textbook magnate James Stewart, had the 17,000-square-foot Rosedale home built to his exact specifications, without a thought for resale. Now that the house is officially up for grabs, it’s completely unlike anything else on the market. Strange curves create rooms within rooms, and floor-to-ceiling windows allow for panoramic ravine views interrupted only by graceful white-oak slats.

It’s not a home for just anyone: the place was designed by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects for Stewart’s lifestyle, evidently a peculiar one involving a lot of work from home and quiet study, punctuated by occasional gatherings in the voluminous living room, a two-storey atrium designed to accommodate 150 to 200 guests for drinks, dinner and performances. Absolutely everything—from the French limestone flooring to the doorknobs—was custom-made to reflect his two great loves: calculus and music. The rooms are so large and oddly shaped that even some of the furniture had to be made to order, and the interior’s extreme austerity means the smallest amount of clutter would stand out like pet hair on a $5,000 pant leg. In all of this there are only four smallish bedrooms. Stewart built a home for a super-wealthy person with toweringly high standards but simple appetites, a rare and paradoxical personality type.

The search for such a buyer is, blessedly, not Stewart’s problem—he lived in Integral House until his death in 2014. The people who do have to worry about finding someone willing to pay the $28-million asking price—the realtors of Trilogy Agents—held a preview event at the property on Wednesday night. Here, some pictures we took while we were there:

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Features

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The Charming Mr. Elder

Michael Elder used his family’s establishment connections to convince a who’s who of Bay Street to pour $12 million into his miraculous new device. Thirteen years later, the OSC is circling and a throng of angry investors are wondering whether they got played by a master manipulator

(Image: Elder and Bush by PMcImage)

October 2012: Michael Elder with Sharon Bush, ex-wife of George W.’s little brother Neil, at an event hosted by Anne Hearst McInerney and her husband, Jay (Image: Elder and Bush by PMcImage)

On any given morning, you might find Michael Elder at one of his favourite hangouts, Caffe Doria or Starbucks in Rosedale. Look for a short, broad-shouldered, middle-aged man with a fringe of grey hair and a generous paunch. In the evenings, you can often spot him at Quanto Basta in Summerhill, or in the city’s old-money salons—the Hunt Club or the National Club. In Manhattan, you’ll see him pressing the flesh at the exclusive Union League Club or Explorers Club. He’s also a fixture on the international party circuit, cavorting at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards event in New York or a polo match soirée under the Florida palms. Often decked out in a tattered velvet smoking jacket and silken ascot, he moves with the swagger of entitlement, as if he owns the place, or should.

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The Informer

Columns

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We should admire the Gardiner Expressway, not tear it down

(Image: The City of Toronto/Flickr)

(Image: The City of Toronto/Flickr)

First, a confession: I love the Gardiner Expressway, not for its utility but for its aesthetic beauty. I kid you not. I am enamoured of the Gardiner not in the way a driver loves a road, but in a broader sense, in the manner that an infrastructure geek becomes enthralled with the man-made structures and physical experience of the city. The Gardiner is awesome.

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People

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Six Degrees of John H. Tory: a peek at the high-powered Rolodex of our new Mayor McSchmooze


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The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $2.2 million for a modern Summerhill home that looks like a Victorian

toronto-house-of-the-week-154-cottingham-street-intro

Address: 154 Cottingham Street
Neighbourhood: Summerhill
Agent: Andrea Stark, Royal LePage/J & D Division, Brokerage
Price: $2,195,000

The Place: A Summerhill new-build, hidden behind a Victorian-style facade.

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An injunction against Toronto Life’s May issue has failed

Yesterday in Ontario Superior Court, Michael Elder lost his motion for an emergency injunction to prevent Toronto Life’s May issue from being published. Elder is the subject of a feature article that recounts how the ambitious businessman raised $12 million for the Quillmate—a tablet computer that he obtained the U.S. patent rights to long before the iPad existed—and the angry investors and business partners that it has left in its wake. The story is written by veteran journalist Michael Posner. You can read more detail in our press release here. In the meantime, our May issue will be on newsstands on April 23, in subscribers’ mailboxes soon—and “The Charming Mr. Elder” will be published online, in full, later this week.

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Features

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The Skin I’m In: I’ve been interrogated by police more than 50 times—all because I’m black

the-skin-i'm-in-01

The summer I was nine, my teenage cousin Sana came from England to visit my family in Oshawa. He was tall, handsome and obnoxious, the kind of guy who could palm a basketball like Michael Jordan. I was his shadow during his visit, totally in awe of his confidence—he was always saying something clever to knock me off balance.

One day, we took Sana and his parents on a road trip to Niagara Falls. Just past St. Catharines, Sana tossed a dirty tissue out the window. Within seconds, we heard a siren: a cop had been driving behind us, and he immediately pulled us onto the shoulder. A hush came over the car as the stocky officer strode up to the window and asked my dad if he knew why we’d been stopped. “Yes,” my father answered, his voice shaky, like a child in the principal’s office. My dad isn’t a big man, but he always cut an imposing figure in our household. This was the first time I realized he could be afraid of something. “He’s going to pick it up right now,” he assured the officer nervously, as Sana exited the car to retrieve the garbage. The cop seemed casually uninterested, but everyone in the car thrummed with tension, as if they were bracing for something catastrophic. After Sana returned, the officer let us go. We drove off, overcome with silence until my father finally exploded. “You realize everyone in this car is black, right?” he thundered at Sana. “Yes, Uncle,” Sana whispered, his head down and shoulders slumped. That afternoon, my imposing father and cocky cousin had trembled in fear over a discarded Kleenex.

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The Informer

Columns

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Editor’s Letter: the cost of police carding is just too high

toronto-life-may-2015-cover-sliderSince the Toronto Police Service introduced the practice of carding about 10 years ago, they have collected data on over a million Torontonians—and that’s a conservative estimate. On the face of it, the process sounds benign. The police stop you, take out a form and ask you a series of questions: your name, your car’s make and model, your home address, phone number and other details. They note where you are and who you’re with. That information goes back to their division, where a clerk enters it into a massive database.

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People

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“Going to a coffee shop is my indulgence”: how Valentina Leucona, a student and recent immigrant, lives on $1,200 a month

(Image: Gabby Frank)

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Who: Valentina Leucona, 26, who moved to Toronto from Venezuela in August.

What she does: Advertising account management student at Centennial College, and also a waitress at a private club downtown.

What she makes: $1,200 to $1,300 a month. (“I work about three or four nights a week, and I have another part-time job which is on-call. I’m a server there too, but only for functions, parties, weddings. I work anywhere from 25 to 30 hours a week.”)

Some of how she spends it: Rent on a basement studio apartment near Danforth and Woodbine: $900 a month. (“It’s very comfortable. It has everything. I don’t even have to pay for TV, internet, nothing. Everything’s included.”) Cell service: $45 per month. Monthly Metropass, with student discount: $112. $100 in monthly student-debt payments, starting in September. (“I’m nervous about paying those loans. Especially because I don’t have a permanent job right now, and it all depends on me getting an internship.”)

What she bought in one week: Zucchinis, eggplants and lightbulbs from Valu-mart: $8. (“I didn’t spend a lot on groceries because my fridge was fully stocked. I buy milk and meat in bulk. I spend about $150 on groceries per month.”) Tax return: $31. Resumé copies: $5. (“I’m applying for internships.”) Coffee: $0. (“I have my coffee pot here at the house. Actually going to the coffee shop is, like, my indulgence.”)

Want to tell us how you make and spend money in Toronto? Email costofliving@torontolife.com.