Christopher Hume

The Informer

Politics

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QUOTED: Doug Ford loudly defends the mayor’s right to drive an Escalade

(Image: Preston Smalley)

The Toronto Star can go to hell and you can quote me on that.

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The Informer

People

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Steve Nash’s snub means Toronto is floundering, according to the Star’s Christopher Hume

Listen, Toronto. It’s not you, it’s me (Image: Keith Allison)

We have a fondness for the musings and grumblings of Toronto Star architecture critic Christopher Hume, but his latest column makes some NBA-sized jumps in logic. Riffing on the fact that Canadian basketball superstar Steve Nash turned down an offer to play for the Toronto Raptors, Hume launches into the usual “our teams don’t win” lament—and then uses the incident as an example of how Toronto has lost its charm. The city has poor planning, lame transit and a brain drain at city hall, Hume writes, and it’s all because Toronto won’t pay for nicer things (or better athletes) and has settled for mediocrity. We’d say Hume’s going a bit far—the Raptors’ ability to attract superstar players shouldn’t be the canary in the mine for the status of the city. [Toronto Star]

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Real Estate

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Condomonium: $750,000 for a penthouse in the first condo tower built in the Distillery District

ADDRESS: 33 Mill Street, Unit 3203

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Waterfront Communities—The Island

AGENTS: Cameron Weir and Scott Hanton, Keller Williams Advantage Realty

PRICE: $749,000

THE PLACE: A two-bedroom penthouse on the 32nd floor of Pure Spirit Lofts and Condos. Completed in 2009, Pure Spirit was the first condo tower built in the Distillery District. 

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The Informer

Politics

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TTC honcho Gary Webster will probably be fired today, in yet another special meeting

Some time after 2 p.m. today, TTC chief general manager Gary Webster, who’s been in the transit business for about three decades, will probably be sacked in a special meeting of the city’s transit commissioners. The mayor’s office has been gunning for Webster since at least last summer, when news broke that the seasoned transit chief wasn’t sufficiently receptive to Rob Ford’s plans for the Sheppard subway. Now it looks like Webster’s recent defence of “numbers” and “facts” at Karen Stintz’s special council showdown meeting two weeks back was the final straw.

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The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford’s beloved Sheppard subway wastes more of experts’ time

For all the debate around public transportation of late, the city has little more to show for it than a pile of feasibility studies and an overload of recommendations from expert panels. Case in point: University of Toronto academic Eric Miller, who sits on the panel tasked with examining Rob Ford’s failed Sheppard subway strategy, tells the Star’s Christopher Hume that Toronto transit planning is a “mess,” and he’s doubtful the city can justify earmarking funds for the Sheppard extension. The panel is supposed to deliver its report on March 21, but we’re guessing the result will produce little more than the same tired song and dance: the Sheppard subway as proposed is deemed unrealistic; Ford cries foul, stalls and asks for further examination; the proposal is examined further; further examination reveals that the Sheppard subway is—surprise, surprise—still not realistic. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

(Images: Rob Ford, Christopher Drost; Yonge-Sheppard subway, gloom)

The Dish

Random Stuff

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Reaction Roundup: what Toronto is saying about its new, hockey-themed grocery paradise (i.e., Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens)

(Maple Leaf Gardens image: Kevin Naulls)

In the seven years since news broke that the Maple Leaf Gardens would be turning into a grocery store, it’s become something of a bad joke, a symbol of modernity callously stomping on the past. But after Wednesday’s grand opening of the Loblaws flagship store, Torontonians have suddenly opened up to the idea with surprising vigour. And there’s a lot to love, what with walls of cheese, cupcakes, tea and aging meat, as well as plenty of relics from the days of yore, like a giant leaf sculpture made out of the stadium’s original plastic chairs and a red dot in aisle 25 marking the former location of centre ice. Here’s some of what other Torontonians had to say:

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The Informer

Politics

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Christopher Hume spreads rumours about a waterfront casino at Ontario Place 

The Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume says the rumour mill is churning out reports of a potential waterfront casino, most likely at Ontario Place. Of course, the casino idea is nothing new. As Hume reminds readers, Giorgio “Boatloads of Sex Workers” Mammoliti most recently suggested it (that’s the same man who recommended turning industrial wastelands into a red light district, if you’ll recall). But there is reason to believe a casino might actually be in the cards. For one, it would appeal to Rob Ford’s desire for fast cash. (The potential to build a monorail to the site wouldn’t hurt, either.) Then again, Hume writes, a casino would be a far cry from the family destination Ontario Place is supposed to be. Read the entire story [Toronto Star] »

The Informer

Politics

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Sue-Ann Levy calls Hurricane Hazel McCallion a dictator, yogurt

Christopher Hume and Sue-Ann Levy aren’t usually on the same side of municipal issues—but they are united in their criticism of Hazel McCallion. Both columnists do a number on the long-serving Mississauga mayor in their respective spaces, taking McCallion to task in the wake of a judge’s 386-page report on her misconduct, released earlier this week. Hume says McCallion “squelched a generation of leadership,” while Levy suggest McCallion ruled like a dictator and compares her to, um, yogurt (both politicians and dairy products have an expiration date, you see). At the core of their respective criticisms isn’t just the way she’s run Mississauga—although that’s certainly a large part of it—but how she reacted to Monday’s news: with a rhetorical shrug and a non-apology. Of course, that kind of arrogance might be a prerequisite to serving as mayor for three decades.

Hazel the dictator should step down [Toronto Sun]
Hume: Until McCallion goes, Mississauga won’t grow up [Toronto Star]

(Images: Hazel McCallion, Rocco Rossi; fist, Danny PiG; yogurt, theimpulsivebuy)

The Informer

Real Estate

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Condomonium: $2.3 million for a four-bedroom penthouse in the Spire

33 Lombard Street, Suite 4501

ADDRESS: 33 Lombard St., Suite 4501

NEIGHBOURHOOD: Church-Yonge Corridor

AGENT: Todd Sloan, Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc.

PRICE: $2,399,000

THE PLACE: Located in a historic quarter of downtown, sitting across the street from St. James Cathedral and steps away from St. Lawrence Market, this four-bedroom penthouse in the Spire is wrapped in terraces and windows providing a 360-degree bird’s eye view of Toronto.

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The Informer

Features

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Exodus to the burbs: why diehard downtowners are giving up on the city

The reasons to abandon the overcrowded, overpriced, not-so-livable city are beginning to outnumber the reasons to stay. More and more of us are tempted by the 905 and beyond. Screw Jane Jacobs. We’re outta here

The New Suburbanites

Brian Porter and Carrie Low thought they’d hatched the perfect plan to avoid the eight-lane gridlock they faced every week on their drive to the family cottage in the Kawarthas. Porter, a soft-spoken 41-year-old Toronto firefighter, would arrange his work schedule to be home on Friday. He’d pack the car at noon and pick up his daughters, Lily and Amelia, from daycare shortly after lunch. Then, rather than head from their home in the Beach to pick up Low downtown, he’d drive to a strategic pit stop in Oshawa. Low, a slim 41-year-old redhead, works as a lawyer with RBC in the financial district, her days and nights packed, respectively, with meetings and paperwork. Her role in the escape plan was to get off work early and catch the GO train to Oshawa Station. Often, she’d end up working a pressure-packed day until 5 p.m. anyway, leaving Porter and the girls waiting at the station for hours. In the end they never gained that much time—it could still be a challenge to get to the cottage before nightfall. But at least they’d avoided the worst hours on the DVP and the 401.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Urban guru Richard Florida joins the chorus of voices warning that the London riots could happen in Toronto

(Image: Ed Schipul)

We were somewhat skeptical when the Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume made the argument two weeks ago that Toronto could see London-style riots in the near future. But with other city sages also putting forward similar arguments—including Richard Florida, the head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and senior editor at The Atlantic, in this weekend’s Globe and Mail—the idea that the city’s class divisions could someday prove catastrophic is starting to seem a little more serious.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Could the London riots happen in Toronto? The Star’s Christopher Hume says yes

The aftermath of the London riots (Image: George Rex)

Aside from the obvious, it’s difficult to know what, exactly, to say about the riots in London. But it’s on the top of people’s minds around the world, and inevitably everybody will ask if a similar outbreak of spontaneous violence could happen in their own city. In the pages of the Toronto Star today, noted urbanophile and outspoken Rob Ford critic Christopher Hume asks just that, and he also returns an answer: that while Toronto isn’t on the brink of breaking out in street violence anytime soon, it’s afflicted by some of the same conditions that gave rise to the kind of disorder that erupted across the pond on Sunday.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Fusty columnist meets the listicle: the Star presents Toronto’s most beautiful buildings

At first glance, Toronto Star architecture columnist Christopher Hume isn’t who we’d expect to jump ship to the wild world of online media—and put forward a solid showing. But damned if he hasn’t done exactly that. His web videos have covered everything from Rob Ford killing Transit City to Toronto Hydro’s hidden pockets of infrastructure, and a now he’s presenting his picks for the city’s five most beautiful buildings. The first instalment is up today: the Pure Spirit condo buildings at Parliament Street and Mill Street.

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The Informer

Politics

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Reaction roundup: Ford’s private subway financing faces its first critics

Mayor Rob Ford’s plan to finance an extension of the Sheppard subway line with private money and higher taxes along the Sheppard corridor is a big change from the way the city has done things in the past, so it’s no surprise that the idea is meeting some skepticism. Here’s a short roundup of what people are saying about the still-vague Ford plan.

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The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: Winterlicious, Barrymore and six other can’t-miss events

1. CONNECTING: TORONTO IS AN AWFUL CITY
As part of the ROM’s regular Connecting series, Toronto Star urban affairs columnist Christopher Hume expounds on gridlock, pollution and—shudder—transit. Counterintuitively, Hume also explains how the much-yearned-for “better future” is happening right now. Jan. 28. $50. Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000, rom.on.ca.

2. WINTERLICIOUS
The most delicious part of winter is here! In addition to the prix fixe menus at some of the city’s best restaurants, there are 14 extra foodie events, including a maharaja-themed evening at the AGO, a Chinese New Year celebration at Spice Route and an Iron Chef–style competition at Fort York between C5′s Ted Corrado and Beast’s Scott Vivian. Jan. 28 to Feb. 10. toronto.ca/special_events/winterlicious.

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