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The Informer

Politics

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Could Toronto have free public Wi-Fi by the end of next year?

Future Wi-Fi hotspot? (Image: Derek van Vliet from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

Something Milan and Taipei—and even Fredericton and Moose Jaw—have in common: free Internet hotspots in parks, squares and other public spaces. Now councillor Josh Matlow wants to add Toronto to the list and he’s pushing to launch a pilot Wi-Fi program in Nathan Phillips Square by the end of next year. Free Internet, he says, will boost tourism, bolster Toronto’s reputation and bring more tech businesses into the city (in addition to being a nice perk for residents). We’re hopeful that Matlow can make his proposal happen, but Toronto’s previous efforts to bring free Wi-Fi to the masses aren’t exactly inspiring: nearly a decade ago, an experiment with free Wi-Fi quickly morphed into a paid service , and more recent efforts to set up wireless networks in TTC stations have yet to materialize. In other words, we’ll believe it when we’re streaming episodes of House of Cards in front of city hall. [National Post]

The Informer

Events

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Five things to do in Toronto on the weekend of May 24-26

Rolling Stone Logo

In this edition of The Weekender, Doors Open Toronto, the Rolling Stones play the ACC and three more things to do in Toronto.

ARCHITECTURE
Doors Open Toronto (FREE!)

Architectural voyeurs get a once-a-year chance to peek inside more than 150 of the city’s most storied, striking and sacred buildings. This year’s lineup includes perennial favourites like Commerce Court North and the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, plus a special focus on renos, revivals and retrofits, like the former Maple Leaf Gardens conversion and the Don Jail-Bridgepoint Health mash-up. May 25-26. Various locations, toronto.ca/doorsopen/2013

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The Informer

Columns

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Jesse Brown: How to get a university education without paying tuition—or changing out of your PJs

The proliferation of online courses means anyone can get a world-class education for free. It’s all about upending the fusty old lecture hall model, and it’s about time

Jesse Brown: Technology

I’m studying sociology at Prince­ton in my spare time. I’m also taking game theory at Stanford, computer programming at the University of Toronto and equine nutrition at the University of Edinburgh. I attend class in my underwear, watch cartoons during lectures and cheat on tests with help from some of my hundreds of thousands of classmates. The classes I’m enrolled in are called MOOCs—Massive Open Online Courses, available for free to knowledge-hungry students of life like myself through the educational website Coursera.

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The Informer

Columns

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Dear Urban Diplomat: Should I be embarrassed that my husband stockpiles free food from the airport lounge?

Urban Diplomat: Hunger Pains

(Image: Joel Franusic)

Dear Urban Diplomat,
My husband and I recently bought a chalet at Mont-Tremblant and have been flying Porter back and forth. He is famously frugal and always loads up on free cookies and nuts from the lounge before boarding, which draws nasty looks. What’s the rule when it comes to free snacks?
—Hunger Pains, Leslieville

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The Dish

Food Events

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Emergency Lunch Pick: free celebratory fish and chips on King West

Don’t feel like grabbing delightful dim sum for one today? How about free fish and chips instead? To celebrate two years in business, King West’s The One That Got Away, which we featured as a Weekly Lunch Pick last year, will be giving out free haddock and chips all day long. Plan on making this a lengthy lunch break: we’d be shocked if there wasn’t a lineup.

The One That Got Away, 581 King St. W., 647-351-6153totga.ca, @theonefish

The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford does some dodgy math and cuts up his CNE tickets on camera

Over the weekend, the Toronto Sun posted a video of Rob Ford railing against the organizers of the CNE, who had the nerve to send the mayor free passes to this year’s fair. In a bit of grandstanding for the camera, Ford grabbed a pair of scissors and chopped up his free family admission ($48), ride passes ($36 each) and parking passes ($25 a day), calling them “gravy,” and asking, “how does someone like myself who makes $170,000 a year, I get $10,000 worth of perks?” Actually, we worked it out, and, even if the mayor’s whole family went to the CNE every single day from August 17 to September 3, they’d still only rack up $3,906 worth of freebies. And does Ford really plan to go see SuperDogs 18 days in a row? [Toronto Sun]

(Images: CNE, 松林L; Rob Ford, Christopher Drost)

The Informer

Politics

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Rob Ford casts the sole vote to reject free (!) federal money for gang prevention

Rob Ford can’t seem to shake his roots as a contrarian councillor. At last week’s council meeting, he was the sole person to vote against accepting $350,000 from the federal government for a yearlong gang intervention project (the funding will go to a pilot project to help 300 young people “at high risk of gang attachment” transition into employment). Ford said no thanks to the cash (not the first time he has done something like this) on the grounds that it’ll cost some taxpayers somewhere…at some point. That rock-solid logic puzzled even staunch conservatives like Doug Holyday and Denzil Minnan-Wong—who both, incidentally, scored A+ marks on the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition’s report cards for city council in 2011. Echoing the thoughts of pretty much everyone, everywhere, Minnan-Wong said, “It’s free money….Why would you turn down $350,000?” [Toronto Star]

(Images: Rob Ford, Christopher Drost; Bills, Brian nairB and Lauren Siegert)

The Dish

Coffee and Tea

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Sam James to celebrate his coffee bar’s second anniversary this Sunday with free lattes for all 

Toronto espresso hero Sam James is celebrating his tiny Harbord Street coffee bar’s second anniversary this Sunday, when he’ll be dispensing free lattes and other drinks to all comers (if it’s anything like last year’s celebration, expect a line). Over at Post City, Jon Sufrin has written a coffee geek’s guide to what makes the place special. Some of it is standard issue bean-nerdery: James is picky about his portafilters and he treats his tap water before using it in his espresso machines. But some of it is definitely next-level: apparently he’s been taking sommelier training courses to help “realize my potential for tasting coffee.” That’s dedication. Read the whole story [Post City] »

The Informer

Random Stuff

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Is Sun News worthless? Bell Canada thinks so

Bell and Sun News TV are probably not part of Michael Geist's posse (Image: Dana Oshiro)

Earlier this month, we noted that Bell and Quebecor are in the midst of a small squabble over how much Bell should have to pay for the privilege of broadcasting QMI’s Sun News Network. Given the parties involved and the nature of the dispute, we were hoping that when the dust settled, somehow both sides would end up losers. But Bell recently made an argument that—believe it or not—makes us want to side with Sun News.

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The Goods

Shopping

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Once again, Vaughan Mills Centre provides free transit to and from shopping trips

It seems no one wants to be at the Vaughan Mills Centre at night (above), but by day it is a tourist hotbed (Image: Vaughan Mills)

For those who live in downtown Toronto, the Vaughan Mills Centre may seem like a world away (it’s near Highway 400 and Rutherford Road, which isn’t exactly BIXI-accessible), but from May 1 through Sept. 30, the shopping mall will be shipping tourists and car-less Torontonians to Vaughan Mills via a relaunched gratis shuttle service from Union Station.

Bracelets for the service can be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis at the City Tours and Attractions desk inside Union Station. The shuttle departs at 10 a.m. and returns at 3 p.m. or departs at 1 p.m. and returns at 6 p.m. (we’ve done the math and that’s four hours of shopping, which is pretty much hitting the limit). We suggest checking out Holt Renfrew Last Call and the newly opened Betsey Johnson, or waiting for the standalone Joe Fresh location scheduled to open in mid- to late May.