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This is what Deadmau5’s new car looks like

(Image: @GteeEhh/Twitter)

(Image: @GteeEhh/Twitter)

Toronto-based EDM superstar Deadmau5 has been tweeting photos of this adorable monstrosity for two months [UPDATE: and he has owned the underlying car since at least July], but it’s only in the past few days that smartphone-wielding pedestrians have spotted it tooling around on downtown streets. Behold: “the Purrari.”

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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A mesmerizing GIF that sums up one all-important way that the TTC trumps cars

Transit versus Cars

Everyone knows that taking public transit helps reduce congestion, but knowing and seeing are two different things. This incredible GIF shows the amount of road space saved when a few dozen people leave their cars at home and ride the TTC instead. The Better Way, indeed. [Peter From Texas via The Atlantic]

The Informer

Random Stuff

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PHOTO: A woman drives her car into wet cement on Queen’s Quay

(Image: John Michael McGrath)

Empirical proof that someone is having a worse day than you. [@jm_mcgrath]

The Informer

Real Estate

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Developer Brad Lamb calls out the “greedy parking hogs” in The Beach, High Park and the Annex

”Get with it, this is the future.” (Image: Facebook)

Downtown residents, developers and the city have long bickered over the appropriate amount of parking for new condo buildings. Now, as condos move steadily outward, that same debate is flaring up in other parts of the city. Take The Beach, an area known for its anti-development fervour. Residents say a 70-unit project at Queen and Woodbine needs more than the 65 parking spots currently slated because street parking is already scarce. (Yet that ratio is still more generous than many buildings downtown, where developer Brad Lamb says he aims for roughly half as many parking spots as units.) But developers argue putting in more than the bare minimum of parking is bad business: with the popularity of car-shares rising and parking space prices eclipsing $50,000, many spaces go unsold. The always outspoken Lamb offered a solution: “Everybody, including the greedy parking hogs in the Beach and in High Park and in the Annex and all the other places . . . they need to understand. Get with it, this is the future.” Somehow, we doubt condo naysayers in The Beach are going to take his advice. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Uber’s new weapon in the taxi-app battles: free cab rides 

Of the several car-hailing apps that have launched in Toronto in the past year, Uber, an app that summons limos, town cars and now taxis, is the most visible—which has made it the logical target of opposition. The Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, a trade group based out of Maryland, recently sent out a press release to Toronto media saying it “considers certain smartphone apps such as Uber to be ‘rogue’ services operating outside of the public’s best interests,” and argues that those apps violate passenger safety, access, non-discrimination and fare standards. (At least one of those allegations has some weight: Toronto’s director of licensing has said that city staff may soon rule that Uber is operating illegally because it hasn’t yet applied for a limousine service licence.) In the face of that negative press, Uber has found an easy way to maintain goodwill with the public: offer them free rides. For the next three days, anyone using an Uber smartphone app can order a taxi and ride for free, to a limit of $20 per ride. There’s no cap on the number of trips, so order away until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Google Street View cars return to Toronto roadways

(Image: Craig Baerwaldt)

As promised, Google Street View’s hard-to-miss camera-on-tripod-on-car contraptions are back in the city for some much-needed updates to Google databases. The last time they captured images of city roadways was back in 2009, when the skyline was dotted with significantly fewer condos, Christie Pits Park was (a literal) dump, and the current site of Doug Gilmour’s mansion housed a wee bungalow. The indiscriminate lens of Google’s 360-degree camera captures all, so look sharp, Toronto; despite face-blurring technology, it’s very easy to reveal too much. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Uber, the luxury car-hailing app, may be breaking city bylaws

When Uber, a smartphone app that allows users to hail black sedans and SUVs, arrived in Toronto, many locals, used to dysfunctional taxi regulations, wondered how it could be legal. It turns out it may not be. Toronto’s director of licensing Bruce Robertson told OpenFile that city staff are “leaning towards” ruling that the company is operating illegally because it has yet to apply for a limousine service licence. Uber, however, doesn’t see itself as a limo service; Andrew MacDonald, the company’s head man in Toronto, told us it partners with licensed companies and drivers and does not itself own cars or employ drivers. “We are a technology company that helps limousine companies connect with their customers through our app,” he said, comparing the distinction to that between Expedia.ca and Air Canada. Unfortunately for MacDonald, Toronto’s bylaw defines a limousine company as “any person or entity which accepts calls in any manner for booking, arranging or providing limousine transportation.” Tough to wiggle out of that. [OpenFile]

(Images: Commerce Court, Daniel Sahlberg; town car, Alden Jewell)

The Informer

Politics

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Toronto has another new car app—and this one summons regular-fare taxis

(Image: screenshot from the iTunes store)

Toronto has yet another new smart phone app to help stranded urbanites find a ride. Tap’n Ride, the brainchild of Rosedale Livery’s current president, Craig McCutcheon, allows users to order either a limo or a regular-fare city taxi from their phone or web browser. (Since apps like Winston and Uber already allow those with significant expendable funds to order up luxury vehicles, we’re betting that Tap’n Ride’s taxi function will get the most play.) The app is free, and unlike Beck Taxi’s iPhone app, it’s peer-to-peer, meaning it eliminates the need for a call centre and dispatch. Users confirm their pick-up address directly with the driver by text and keep tabs on where the car is while they’re waiting (approximately 10 minutes). At the end of the ride, it’s charged to the on-file credit card registered during the initial sign-up. [Tap’n Ride]

The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: One of my fellow condo-dwellers is putting on a peep show

Dear Urban Diplomat

(Image: George Socka)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live on the 10th floor of a condo tower that overlooks the Gardiner. I drive out past the building on my way to work and have noticed that my neighbour, a rather uninhibited brunette, changes in front of the window, creating a peep show for commuters. It’s only a matter of time before she causes an accident. I should bring it up at the next condo board meeting, right?
—Nude Awakening, New Toronto

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The Informer

Politics

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Car2Go—a popular Zipcar and Autoshare competitor—is coming to Toronto

(Image: Elvert Barnes)

Car2Go, a well-liked car-sharing service in Europe, the U.S. and Vancouver, wants in on Toronto’s booming short-term rental market. Starting June 30, the Daimler-owned company will debut 250 cars at 200 city-owned lots in the area south of Eglinton and between Jane and Victoria Park. The company differentiates itself from Zipcar and AutoShare by only dealing in fuel-efficient two-seater smart fortwo cars (with rooftop solar panels) and renting them out by the minute, unlike the other local competitors, which charge by the hour. Plus, you don’t have to return the car whence it came: the wee things can parked in any Green P parkade or designated Car2Go parking spot within the home area (which makes it more like a do-it-yourself taxi than a rental service). We’ve heard good things from friends in other cities, though apparently availability can be a problem at peak times like weekend evenings. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Torontonians love Zipcar and Autoshare (and IKEA, too)

(Image: jm3)

Toronto’s short-term car rental market is blowing up, to the delight of companies like Zipcar, which is predicting 20 per cent growth in sales through to 2013. Meanwhile, Car2Go is lobbying the city for parking permits for its one-way hourly rental fleet, and even legacy rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise are experimenting with short-term, self-serve hourly rentals. Kevin McLaughlin, president and founder of Toronto-based AutoShare, says condo construction, traffic and the price of gas are all turning Torontonians off of car ownership (we’d add that owning property in the city probably makes it harder to afford a vehicle too). Further proving that young, urban condo dwellers are a big part of the market, the top reasons for short-term car rentals are trips to see Mom and forays to IKEA. [Moneyville]

The Informer

Politics

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The city decides to start maintenance after a third chunk falls from the Gardiner

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Now that another concrete nugget has dropped from the Gardiner Expressway—the third in the last month—the city has made fixing the old highway an urgent priority. Road crews were supposed to start “controlled chipping” (bashing the concrete to remove loose bits) next week, but will instead start the process today, and may even get help from an outside crew to speed it along. For those curious about what causes the crumbling, the Toronto Star ran a scary graphic showing the anatomy of a fracture (hint: blame salt-laced water). [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Business

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A Toronto electrician won $50 million (and he’s giving part to a stranger) 

A Torontonian (well, okay, he was born in Alberta but he lives here now) named Timothy Schell won the $50-million Lotto Max draw this week, and he has the kind of story that inspires cheesy lottery commercials. The 34-year-old construction worker was goaded into buying the jackpot ticket by a gas station attendant, who now has a cash bonus from Schell heading his way. Schell also plans to buy his girlfriend a hefty engagement ring, pick up some fancy cars and motorcycles and open his own garage. He seems pretty grounded, so we hope there won’t be one of those sad follow-up stories in the Toronto Star about how winning the lottery turned into a burden… er, we’re not jealous. Honest. [Toronto Star]

The Informer

Politics

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Kristyn Wong-Tam and Denzil Minnan-Wong argue over how to turn Yonge into New York

(Images: Christopher Drost)

Yonge Street retailers are complaining that the area has too much foot traffic—which sounds a little nuts, but their reasoning is that any would-be leisurely shoppers get caught in the stampeding crowd and are whisked right by. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam thinks reducing the number of car lanes on Yonge and widening the pedestrian area using business-sponsored planters would liven up the street (and make it more like New York), and she has applied to try out the scheme from mid-August to mid-September for the Celebrate Yonge festival. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the city’s public works committee, has a totally different vision: convert Yonge and Bay to one-way streets south of Bloor to improve traffic flow and create space for cyclists—which would also, oddly enough, make Yonge more like New York. Since this is the third time Minnan-Wong has looked into fixing up Wong-Tam’s ’hood (he asked the city to look into the Yonge-Dundas pedestrian scramble without consulting her and led the fight to remove the Jarvis bike lanes, also in her ward), we’re bracing for a turf war between two three-named councillors. [Globe and Mail]

The Goods

Shopping

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The List: 10 things former CIBC insider and doomsday author Jeff Rubin can’t live without

Jeff Rubin1| My ride
It’s a 12-year-old Audi A6 Turbo. I like driving, and I’ve always had a thing for European sport sedans. When they put a stick shift in a hybrid or a Chevy Volt, I’ll buy one.

Jeff Rubin2| My hockey cards
I have thousands of vintage hockey cards. My most prized are a set of ’61–’62 Maple Leafs, which I remember from when I was a kid. They’re as close as I’m going to get to seeing the Leafs win the Cup again.

3| My anti-cottage
I love going to the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve south of Algonquin Park. A German guy bought it from a paper mill in the ’60s, and now his son leases plots for $3,000 a year. I’ve rented one on Lazure Lake for eight years. There are no motor boats, no power—just an empty campsite.

Jeff Rubin4| My water guide
A friend gave me HTO, a book about water in Toronto, in 2009, and I refer to it all the time. People don’t realize how many waterways there are in the city because most are hidden under infrastructure.

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