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The Informer

World-Class Watch

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Toronto is the tenth best city to visit in 2015, according to Lonely Planet

were-number-blank-tallLonely Planet has just released its list of the top-ten best cities to visit in 2015, and humble Toronto has managed to secure itself the bottom spot. As justification for our tenth-place ranking, the travellers’ guide mentions the upcoming 2015 Pan Am Games and all the associated infrastructure projects. (Come to Toronto! See our overpriced airport train!) Also mentioned: the CN Tower’s Edgewalk, the Toronto Islands, the Eaton Centre and our city’s “drool-worthy” restaurant scene. The write-up adds a note of caution about our “ubiquitous condo towers, ageing megahighways and lack of a unifying architectural theme.” Fair enough.

Who’d we beat? Nobody. We’re dead last.

Who beat us? Plovdiv (6), “Bulgaria’s second city,” which apparently has “smouldering nightlife” and “remarkable ruins.” Other honourees include Valletta, Malta (5) and Milan, Italy (3). The number-one city is Washington D.C.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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With advance voting over, John Tory is still ahead in the polls

This new Forum Research poll, conducted on October 20, gives John Tory his biggest lead over Doug Ford to date. What’s more, the automated phone survey of 847 Torontonians included responses only from likely voters, or from people who had already voted at one of the city’s advance polling stations. That, plus the fact that the election is only five days away (!!!), makes these results marginally more trustworthy than those of previous polls. No pre-election poll should ever be taken at face value, but Tory’s camp has to be feeling confident, regardless.

The Informer

World-Class Watch

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Pittsburgh’s biggest newspaper is jealous of our diversity

pittsburgh-diversity

A lengthy feature in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette lauds Toronto for being welcoming to immigrants—at least, compared to Pittsburgh, where foreign-born residents apparently account for just four per cent of the population. (In Toronto, as we know, it’s a much different story.) As evidence of Toronto’s multiculturalism, the article furnishes Pittsburghers with interviews with experts like councillor Joe Mihevc. Also cited: the Eaton Centre’s Urban Eatery, where the writer interprets the wide array of ethnic cuisine as an indicator of our tolerance. Maybe better mall food is the key to getting U.S. legislators to loosen up their country’s immigration policies. Alert the White House.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Four things we learned from Monday’s Toronto Star mayoral debate

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost; Tory: John Tory/Facebook; Chow: Olivia Chow/Facebook)

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost; Tory: John Tory/Facebook; Chow: Olivia Chow/Facebook)

After dozens of mayoral debates, the gruelling campaign season is finally coming to a close as Monday’s election approaches. (CityNews’s October 23 debate is being billed as “the final showdown.”) Yesterday night, the candidates gathered at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management for one of their last major head-to-head clashes, in an event co-sponsored by the Martin Prosperity Institute and the Toronto Star. Things were generally high-minded (it was a Star debate, after all), but there was some shouting and crosstalk, and by closing statements the whole discussion had come a little unhinged. Here, four things we learned from all the heated banter.

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The Informer

Stat

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Brampton mayor Susan Fennell’s support craters in a new poll

11%

—The percentage of respondents to a poll by political consultancy Mainstreet Technologies who said that they would be voting for Brampton mayor Susan Fennell, whose habit of spending her taxpayer-funded office budget on things like car service and expensive plane tickets has made her a focal point of controversy. Fennell’s competitor Linda Jeffrey appears poised to win Monday’s election. Mainstreet puts her support at 34 per cent.

The Informer

Culture

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Mingle with high rollers at Toronto’s burgeoning art festival

Primer: Fair Play

(Images: courtesy of their galleries)

Over the past decade, the art world’s biggest business has shifted from auction houses and galleries to the glamorous fair circuit, with the jet set traipsing from London to Hong Kong to Miami to Madrid for a parade of glittering parties and high-roller deals. Art Toronto, the city’s own buzzy festival, is quickly rising in the ranks. Last year, it attracted big-name gallerists and collectors from New York, Brussels and Tokyo, moved blue-chip pieces by artists like Jack Bush and Tom Thomson, and brought in $17 million worth of sales. As the fair gears up for its 15th year, here’s a look at the hottest artists, savviest collectors and biggest deals.

Fri. Oct. 24. General admission $18 advance, $20 door. Metro Toronto Convention Centre North, 255 Front St. W., 604-730-2065, arttoronto.ca.

The Informer

Events

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Take your tyke to see Yo Gabba Gabba!—a kids’ show you’ll love too

(Image: courtesy of Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!)

(Image: courtesy of Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!)

Barney, Kermit the Frog and Big Bird were once gods to children, but it’s hard to say whether the parents of yesteryear shared the excitement. Yo Gabba Gabba!, meanwhile, definitely appeals to oldsters at least as much as it appeals to the young. Created by Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs—the former a producer and the latter a member of California rock band The Aquabats—the music-centric show is like the Austin City Limits of children’s programming: In its four seasons, it’s seen The Shins sing about trying again, The Roots host a fam-jam and Weezer perform as insects. (Other notable cameos: Fred Armisen, Jack Black and Elijah Wood.) When Music is Awesome, the show’s touring production, hits the Sony Centre this Thursday, the majestically sideburned DJ Lance Rock, rapper-entertainer Leslie Hall, hip-hop OG Biz Markie and a flock of fluorescent puppets will recreate the magic with live performances, an onstage dance party and a beat-boxing lesson. Hey, the kids might even like it, too.

Thurs. Oct. 23. $33.15–$55.40. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., 416-368-6161, yogabbagabbalive.com.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $1.96-million home that proves Lawrence Manor is a hotbed for new-builds

toronto-sale-of-the-week-474-woburn-avenue-intro

Address: 474 Woburn Avenue
Neighbourhood: Lawrence Manor
Agent: Adam Weiner, Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

The Property: This new-build in Lawrence Manor has four bedrooms, each with an en suite washroom. Luxury conveniences include a $30,000 Miele kitchen-appliance package and radiant floor heating in the finished basement.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: my barista’s first name offends me—what can I do about her?

Dear Urban Diplomat: my barista's a real Nazi—what can I do about her?

(Image: Mr. TinDC/Flickr)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
A barista at my local Starbucks, near Yonge and Bloor, is a Persian woman named Nazi, and she wears a name tag. My parents died in the Holocaust, and I don’t need to revisit the memory every morning. Would it be reasonable to complain?

—Latte With Two Sugars and Some Emotional Trauma, Yorkville

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The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Rob Ford just can’t stop campaigning at voting locations

now-what-newReports of Rob Ford being kicked out of an advance polling station began making the rounds on Friday, and now we know that the incident wasn’t an isolated one. The Star says that Ford has been asked to leave at least two other advance voting locations. On Saturday, the city clerk sent him a stern letter reminding him that attempting to influence voters at polling stations is illegal. Later that same day, he made one of his visits, at which point, the Star says, he “ignored an election official’s requests for him to leave.” All of these incidents took place outside Ward 2, where Ford is running for city council. It’s not clear why he keeps making these appearances, but the Sun’s article on the subject suggests an explanation: he has apparently been driving voters to the polls in his own car.

The Informer

Stat

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Toronto’s no longer number one in North America in high-rise construction

122

—The number of high-rise buildings under construction in Toronto as of September, according to Emporis data cited in the city’s monthly economic dashboard report. The only city with more high-rise construction, by Emporis’ reckoning, is New York, at 154. That wasn’t always the case: Toronto’s high-rise count was consistently the highest in North America until this summer. (If these somewhat-imperfect stats are anything to go by, at any rate.)

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Could Olivia Chow really force city contractors to hire young people?

THE IDEA

Back in May, Olivia Chow made a proposal that she continues to tout at debates and other publicity stops. Her idea is to use community benefit agreements (or CBAs) to require companies that take on major city infrastructure contracts to hire local youth—a measure Chow says will help create 5,000 new jobs and apprenticeships for young Torontonians over four years. “One out of five young people can’t find a job,” Chow said at a press conference. “It’s demoralizing. They don’t have their first job, they can’t get experience, and then they can’t land a new job. It’s a vicious cycle.”

election-idea-evaluator-light-green-smallWOULD IT WORK?

Community benefit agreements, in a general sense, already do. They’ve been used in the U.K., Los Angeles, Vancouver (for the Olympic Village) and even Toronto. As part of the Regent Park revitalization, the city partnered with Toronto Community Housing and the area’s developer, Daniels Corporation, to design a hiring program that created nearly 500 jobs for local residents. “It’s a useful and successful model,” says Steve Shallhorn, executive director of the Labour Education Centre, a nonprofit training organization that advocates for CBAs. “There are lessons learned from Regent Park that could be applied to future community benefit agreements in Toronto.”

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Captain John’s restaurant boat is back on the market

(Image: booledozer)

(Image: booledozer)

Do you have a few thousand dollars that you can afford to throw directly into the depths of Lake Ontario? Get your wallet out. The Star reports that the Toronto Port Authority has called off its deal with local entrepreneur James Sbrolla, who in August bought Captain John’s restaurant boat for $33,501 in a court-ordered auction. Although the price was cheap by giant-boat standards, it quickly became apparent that Sbrolla had overpaid. His purchase came with an obligation to remove the boat from its slip at the base of Jarvis Street by August 22—a deadline that came and went as Sbrolla struggled with the logistics of dismantling the aging watercraft. (It has to be carefully disconnected from the city’s electrical grid, and is believed to be full of hazardous building materials.) It’s unclear what will happen to the boat now. The only other qualified bidder in August’s auction wanted the port authority to pay him $300,000 to remove the thing. The Star says officials expect Captain John’s rusting, debt-ridden hulk to remain in place at least until spring.

The Informer

Municipal Election 2014

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Rob Ford breaks another election rule

now-what-newRob Ford, who is no fan of the many rules that govern politicians’ behaviour during election periods, was, according to the Globe, asked to leave one of the city’s advance polling stations on Thursday for speaking to voters there and taking pictures with them. The reason election officials took the ailing mayor’s visit so seriously is that the Municipal Elections Act forbids politicians from campaigning in any voting location. (Specifically, the act says that “no person shall attempt, directly or indirectly, to influence how [an] elector votes” while they’re in or near a voting place.) Jeff Silverstein, spokesperson for Doug Ford’s campaign, told the Globe that Rob was “not doing anything inappropriate.”

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $690,000 for two storeys and a rooftop terrace near Queen Street West

toronto-condo-of-the-week-25-soho-street-intro

Address: 25 Soho Street, P310
Neighbourhood: Kensington Chinatown
Agent: Michael Rapkoski, Re/Max Hallmark Realty Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $689,000

The Place: 1,000 square feet spread over the two upper floors of a four-storey building. There’s an open-concept kitchen, living room and dining area on the main floor of the unit. The second floor has two bedrooms.

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