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Stat

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How much did all the sand on Sugar Beach cost?

$337,500

—The cost of buying, shipping and installing all the sand—1,500 cubic metres’ worth—on Sugar Beach, according to a new posting on Waterfront Toronto’s website. (This sand, incidentally, is no ordinary stuff: it’s a special type selected specifically because it allows drainage and resists blowing away.) Waterfront Toronto has come under criticism lately for expenses related to other parts of Sugar Beach, like its umbrellas and its imported rock outcropping.

The Informer

Politics

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Doug Ford gets caught in another apparent lie

tl_ford_now-whatDespite Doug Ford’s previous denials, the Globe reports that RR Donnelley and Sons, a U.S. printing company for which the Fords tried to win a city work contract, is actually an active client of Deco Labels and Tags, the Ford family business. This means that when Rob and Doug Ford arranged meetings between Donnelley executives and senior city officials, the two city politicians may have had a direct financial interest in the outcome of those talks. Doug, in particular, may have stood to make a hefty commission if Donnelley, flush with new work for the city, later increased its business with Deco as a result. We may never know for sure, though. No city contracts were awarded to Donnelley.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $852,000 Roncesvalles home that shows the sales power of a hot block

toronto-sale-of-the-week-308-garden-avenue-intro

Address: 308 Garden Avenue
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles
Agent: Loic Danis, Sutton Group Old Mill Realty Inc., Brokerage

The Property: This recently renovated Roncesvalles semi takes up the entire width of its exceptionally large 20.25-foot frontage. The rare, one-car parking pad up front was a particular draw for many visitors, as was the home’s proximity to High Park and the waterfront.

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The Informer

Quoted

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A Hamilton guy’s obituary mocks the Maple Leafs

“It was Terry’s last wish that his pallbearers be the Toronto Maple Leafs so they could let him down one last time.”

—It’s not a totally original joke, but good on Terry Siebert, who died at 58 in Hamilton on Monday, for getting in the final word with a sports franchise that peaked when he was 11 years old. This was the last line in his obituary.

The Informer

Culture

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The Toronto International Film Festival announces its opening-night film for 2014

The lucky flick is The Judge, a David Dobkin movie about a big-city lawyer with daddy issues who returns to his hometown to find said daddy, a judge, accused of murder and in need of legal defence. Convenient! If the trailer (embedded above) is anything to go by, lots of heartwarming family drama ensues. In past years, TIFF’s opening-night selections have been hit-or-miss (2013’s selection was The Fifth Estate, a critical flop), but often they have big names attached, and this one is no exception. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga and Billy Bob Thornton.

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Sports

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Jon Bon Jovi’s investment group is still trying to bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto

We know this because an anonymous person with knowledge of the doings of the ’80s rock guy and his friends tells the Associated Press that the group is getting increasingly serious about its bid. Apparently, the group’s latest move has been to conduct a feasibility study of potential NFL stadium sites in the GTA, including one on the waterfront. (Probably in the Port Lands, which seem to be the conceptual dumping ground for everyone’s pet megaprojects.) The terms of the Bills’ lease prevent its owners from selling to anyone who plans to move the team prior to 2022.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $1.2 million for a penthouse in the middle of the entertainment district

Address: 169 John Street, Penthouse 4
Neighbourhood: Kensington-Chinatown
Agent: Paul Maranger, Christian Vermast and Fran Bennett, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Brokerage
Price: $1,195,000

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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The Informer

Politics

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Almost a year after Sammy Yatim, Toronto Police get a report on how to deal with people in crisis

(Image: William Mewes)

(Image: William Mewes)

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.

The Informer

Events

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of July 25–27

Bosk's coconut-tapioca pearls with passion fruit, lime and pineapple is one of dozens of dishes on offer at this weekend's Taste of Toronto. (Image: Renée Suen)

Bosk’s coconut-tapioca pearls with passion fruit, lime and pineapple is one of dozens of dishes on offer at this weekend’s Taste of Toronto. (Image: Renée Suen)

In this edition of The Weekender, a food festival, a frisbee championship and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.

FOOD

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

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The Informer

Culture

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Sharknado 2 includes a Rob Ford death scene

whos-noticing-us-nowRob 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.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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How John Tory unmade his promise to “start digging” the Scarborough subway next year

(Image: Danielle Scott/Flickr)

(Image: Danielle Scott/Flickr)

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.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Ex-mayor John Sewell on why mediocre development projects get city hall’s approval:

“Councillors don’t debate the rezonings happening in someone else’s ward. They simply defer to whatever the local councillor wants. There’s an unspoken rule that you don’t stick your nose into someone else’s ward and they won’t stick their noses into yours.” In other words, Sewell (writing for Post City) believes one reason Toronto has so many tiny condos with crappy layouts is that local politicians have some kind of code of honour that prevents them from meddling in often-lucrative development deals beyond the borders of their own districts. City councillors themselves, meanwhile, remain content to blame the OMB.

The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: what’s the proper dinner-guest etiquette for Ramadan?

Dear Urban Diplomat: what's the proper dinner-guest etiquette for Ramadan?

(Image: Rebecca Winzenried/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
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

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The Informer

Features

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Murder in Muskoka

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

Murder in Muskoka

Murder in MuskokaSamantha 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.

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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New poll puts Chow, Tory and Ford in a virtual tie

(Image: Chow: Olivia Chow/Facebook; Tory: Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Ford: Christopher Drost)

(Image: Chow: Olivia Chow/Facebook; Tory: Ontario Chamber of Commerce; Ford: Christopher Drost)

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.

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