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Conrad Black is selling off part of his lawn

$7,200,000

Conrad Black’s asking price for a 2.8-acre parcel of property severed from his Bridle Path estate. (His actual house isn’t for sale; just a plot of land beside it.) This is the latest of many indignities for the former media magnate and convicted felon. Next up for Lord Black: possible sanctions from the Ontario Securities Commission.

The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I talk my daughter out of being a Sunshine Girl?

Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I talk my daughter out of being a Sunshine Girl?

(Image: Tom Magliery/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My daughter is 19 and desperate to pose as a Sunshine Girl. She keeps threatening to send in her picture, convinced it’s the path to stardom. How do I talk her out of it?

—Sunblock, Pickering

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Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $5.9-million home that proves mansions can be tough to sell

toronto-sale-of-the-week-98-old-colony-road-intro

Address: 98 Old Colony Road
Neighbourhood: St. Andrew-Windfields
Agent: Mark Aliassa, Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

The Property: This 14,000-square-foot home has its own gym and squash courts, home theatre, indoor pool and wine room. Its ornate design distinguishes it from neighbouring cookie-cutter mansions, and—Clue fans take note—it even has secret rooms and passageways that connect otherwise inaccessible parts of the house.

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The Informer

World-Class Watch

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Popular Science says Corktown Common is among this year’s “best of what’s new”

(Image: courtesy of Waterfront Toronto)

(Image: courtesy of Waterfront Toronto)

The revitalization of Toronto’s West Don Lands is tied to Toronto’s Pan Am Games, which don’t happen until 2015—but it seems as though the international press is already starting to take some notice. Corktown Common, a recently opened park located near the mouth of the Don, made Popular Science’s annual “Best of What’s New” list. The magazine was particularly taken with the common’s stormwater management system, a cleverly disguised array of UV lights, underground tanks, irrigation pipes and man-made marshlands designed to protect the city from flooding while giving area residents an attractive and fun place to hang out. Waterfront Toronto, the agency that oversaw the creation of the park using funding from the province and the feds, is understandably pleased.

The Informer

Events

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Find your winter soundtrack at Ryan Hemsworth’s Opera House show

(Image: Conrad McGee)

(Image: Conrad McGee)

Ryan Hemsworth seemingly came out of nowhere. Though the Halifax-bred producer has been incredibly busy for the past four years releasing a steady stream of singles, remixes and EPs, he only became a part of Canada’s collective musical consciousness after the release of his solo debut, 2013’s Guilt Trips, and its subsequent Juno win earlier this year. No more than 12 gig-packed months later, Hemsworth is releasing Alone for the First Time, a seven-track LP that proves that the DJ has a subtler, more intimate charm than his everything-all-the-time electro contemporaries. As its title implies, the new album is introspective, melancholic and lethargic. It draws on 8-bit inspirations and underground artists like Dawn Golden, who sings on the record’s lead single, “Snow In Newark.” Welcome in the cold weather—or momentarily escape it—when Hemsworth brings the rest of his wintry new tunes, along with his old hits, to the Opera House this week.

Nov. 15. $17.50. Opera House, 735 Queen St. E., 416-466-0313, ticketweb.ca.

The Informer

Features

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Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014

Toronto's 50 Most Influential

It’s been a big year in the corridors of power, with an infusion of ambitious new leaders in the city’s most influential institutions. Here, our annual ranking of political rainmakers, Bay Street moguls, real estate gurus, major league sports stars, celebrity chefs, culture czars, and everyone else who matters now. In a nutshell: the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing Toronto as we know it.

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Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $450,000 to live in a boutique building on Dundas West

(Image: Robert Holowka)

(Image: Robert Holowka)

Address: 1636 Dundas Street West, Unit 6
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
Agent: Alex Brott, Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty Inc.
Price: $449,000

The Place: A large one-bedroom condo on the second floor of a boutique building in the Brockton Village section of Little Portugal. There’s a den off the kitchen, a balcony for barbequing, an underground parking spot and a five-piece washroom.

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The Informer

Events

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Learn to distrust your eyes at an exhibition of Charles Bierk’s impeccably photorealistic paintings

Learn to distrust your eyes at an exhibition of Charles Bierk's impeccably photorealistic paintings

(Images: photo of Bierk: Evaan Kheraj; paintings: Charles Bierk)

The portraitist Charles Bierk is a professional trickster: what look like black-and-white photographic portraits are actually impeccably rendered paintings. In his Niagara Street studio, Bierk photographs his friends, blows up the images and uses them as references for large-scale oil paintings on canvas. He studied painting under his father, the landscape artist David Bierk, who taught him to divide his canvas into a grid and paint square by square, millimeter by millimeter. In his debut solo exhibition, which starts today at Metivier Gallery on King West, he shows a series of images that transform depending on where you’re standing. From 20 feet away, they’re stark, striking portraits, coated in an eerie gloss of perfection. The closer you get, the more fascinating and flawed they become, as the stubble, pores and freckles take on gritty, abstract texture. We asked Bierk for a preview of some of his most arresting shots—and to tell us the stories behind them. Click through the image gallery to read what he had to say.

Nov. 13–Dec. 13. FREE. Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 451 King St. W., 416-205-9000, metiviergallery.com.

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World-Class Watch

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Museum Station makes the Guardian’s list of the world’s most beautiful metro stations, somehow

(Image: Alex T./Flickr)

(Image: Alex T./Flickr)

Museum Station may not even be the most beautiful station on the Yonge-University-Spadina line (ever seen Dupont Station, guys?), let alone the planet, and yet it seems to have impressed someone at the Guardian. There, on a list of the most beautiful metro stations in the world, is our very own sculpture-bedecked subway stop. None of this is to say that Museum Station’s interior, completed in 2008, isn’t very nice. It is, and it would have been great if the Toronto Community Foundation, which helped fund the renovation, had been able to follow through with its plans to help remake other stations in similar style. Still, Museum is no Stockholm rainbow cave.

The Informer

Politics

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Doug Ford is still really serious about winning the Ontario PC leadership

doug-ford-now-whatFor a while, it seemed like Doug Ford’s suggestion that he might run for and win leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party was just post-mayoral-election-defeat braggadocio. His latest interview on Sun News, though, is a reminder that his bid for Tim Hudak’s old job is very real. Asked whether he’d be putting his name on the leadership ballot, Ford stopped just short of answering in the affirmative. “I’m confident,” he said. “We have a great team. We have the momentum.” (Was he referring to his “grassroots” backers, who may not actually exist?) Later, he made a pitch that seemed aimed at PC insiders. “Out of the 331,000 people that voted for me,” he said, referring to his vote share in the mayoral election, “80 per cent or 85 per cent have never voted PC, never would vote PC, but they would vote PC if I ran.”

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Brampton mayor Susan Fennell’s money problems just got worse

$144,150.25

—The amount of money Brampton’s city council voted on Wednesday to force soon-to-be-former mayor Susan Fennell to pay the city in compensation for her questionable use of taxpayer-funded car services. Fennell could avoid paying the penalty by coming up with proof that her car expenses were legitimate, or, possibly, by taking the city to court to have the decision overturned. She’s already threatening to sue a bunch of other people and organizations, so why not?

The Informer

Real Estate

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Grange Park’s impending makeover is shaping up nicely

Last winter, the AGO announced that it would be using an undisclosed sum of Weston-family money to upgrade Grange Park, a lovely but neglected patch of public space located in the gallery’s backyard. Vancouver’s PFS Studio (best known locally for Sherbourne Common) has been working on the landscape design ever since. The video above, released by the AGO two weeks ago, shows a 3D rendering of the latest version of the proposed revamp. Everything is looking pretty good (that is, aside from all the creepy, slo-mo, computer generated park people). Flowerbeds, new trees, attractively curvaceous concrete benches and a prominent water feature give the park a more distinctive look without ruining its relative peace and seclusion, and some new playground equipment offers something for the kids. The makeover is scheduled for completion in late 2015.

The Informer

Events

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Spend an afternoon with Margaret Atwood and William Gibson at Toronto’s new book fair

(Image: Atwood: George Whiteside; Gibson: Michael O'Shea)

(Images: Atwood: George Whiteside; Gibson: Michael O’Shea)

After a disastrous year for this city’s quickly vanishing bookstores, Toronto bibliophiles have at least one thing to be optimistic about: a new literary festival. Filling the void left by the defunct BookExpo Canada, the weekend-long Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair has a packed inaugural schedule. Apart from an array of writers’ workshops and events, the fest offers readings and appearances from 400 Canadian and international authors, including Diary of a Wimpy Kid creator Jeff Kinney, Saskatchewan Métis writer Lisa Bird-Wilson and local food writer David Sax. One of the main attractions, though, is a Saturday appearance by CanLit hero Margaret Atwood. She’ll be presenting her short story collection Stone Mattress for the first time in Canada. Appearing earlier in the day will be cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson, supporting The Peripheral. Also on the main stage on Saturday: romance writer Sylvia Day, with the New York Times bestseller Bared to You. For those who believe the author is dead, there will also be dozens of exhibitors selling actual books.

Sat. Nov. 15. $15. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, North Building. 255 Front Street W., 647-775-8181, torontobookfair.ca.

The Informer

Culture

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How do movie crews make Toronto look like New York? One fake police car at a time

(Images: Christopher Drost)

(Images: Christopher Drost)

Film is a billion-dollar business in Toronto. Lured by favourable exchange rates and tax credits, American companies come here to shoot TV shows and blockbuster features full of clones, serial killers, giant robots and smaller robots.

Unlike inwardly focused Hollywood, though, Toronto rarely plays itself on the big screen. Our standard North American streetscape and convenient cluster of downtown skyscrapers make the job of disguising the city relatively easy. Completing the illusion, though, requires work. As a result, filmmakers spend millions dressing our streets to look like other places. Much of that money goes to a network of local businesses that exist to serve whatever movie crews pass through town.

When film productions want to make Toronto look like New York—or any other city, for that matter—one of their first calls is to Peter Cullingford, who specializes in movie vehicles. His workshop, near Warden and St. Clair, is home to a fleet of about 180 vehicles, including imitation New York police cars (Cullingford makes them using decals and standard rooftop lights) and real New York City taxis purchased at auction. All of it is in demand, thanks to a recent boom in the local film industry. Each car can rent for hundreds of dollars a day.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $1.4 million for a Junction home with access to all kinds of public transit

toronto-house-of-the-week-53-dorval-road-intro

Address: 53 Dorval Road
Neighbourhood: Junction Area
Agent: Evelyn M. Roberts and David Anderson Oey, Harvey Kalles Real Estate
Price: $1,418,000

The Place: A sturdy red-brick home with a modern interior in Toronto’s west end.

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