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The last place to get a nice-sized home on a quiet, leafy street for less than $150,000 in the GTA—Twin Pines trailer park

Going Mobile

On a bright morning in August, Judi Lloyd drove through Twin Pines with the air of a visiting dignitary. The preternaturally cheerful 57-year-old real estate broker was on her way to list a home. The Mississauga trailer park is located just off Dundas, one of the city’s main arteries. Like all of Lloyd’s visits to the park, the trip quickly turned into a mixture of socializing and networking as she waved to and chatted with residents from the driver’s seat of her black Ford Escape. She gestured at the mobiles we passed, noting the histories and special features of each. “You wouldn’t even know that’s a trailer,” she said, pointing at a 48-by-24-foot mobile on a spacious, pie-shaped lot. “If someone dropped you in there and you didn’t see the outside, I swear you’d think it was a little bungalow.”

Bob Barclay and Ena Barclay, paid $8,000 for their mobile home 45 years ago

1| Bob and Ena Barclay, paid $8,000 for their mobile home 45 years ago

Stephen Plume, paid $125,900 for his mobile home in 2007

2| Stephen Plume, paid $125,900 for his mobile home in 2007

Debi Little, paid $105,000 for her mobile home in 2011

3| Debi Little, paid $105,000 for her mobile home in 2011

Patrick Rostant, paid $140,000 for his mobile home in 2009

4| Patrick Rostant, paid $140,000 for his mobile home in 2009

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The Informer

Features

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How Israeli developer Gil Blutrich built his empire of vacation destinations for the yachting class in southern Ontario

Gil Blutrich

Gil Blutrich. (Image: Christopher Wahl)

Gil Blutrich believes in destiny. When he was a boy growing up in Ra’anana, a town north of Tel Aviv, he spent a lot of time fantasizing about what he wanted for his bar mitzvah. While most of the boys in his class opted for expensive stereo systems or family vacations in Europe, Blutrich chose to redecorate his room. It was the early ’70s, and photographic wallpaper murals were all the rage. Blutrich passed over the tropical beach scenes and snow-capped mountains for something different: a summer landscape with a lush green meadow and a reedy frog pond. It was, he now believes, a postcard of southern Ontario, cosmically mailed back in time by his future self. “I looked at that wallpaper every day until I was 18, and it’s only now I realize I was looking at Canada and thinking about Canada before I even knew it. If that’s not destiny, I don’t know what is.”

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The Informer

Politics

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Five things we learned about credit mills (not including what a credit mill actually is), thanks to the Toronto Star

The investigative reporters at the Toronto Star have changed the way we think about a lot of things. They’ve made us wary of retirement homes, skeptical of charities and, even though it really wasn’t necessary, they reminded us about the horrors of the dentist’s office—especially with those scare quotes around the word “dentist.” To this list, we can now also add private schools. But not to worry, Old Boys—the Star’s investigation focused on “credit mills,” the for-profit institutions students often attend to take a class or two outside their regular school (not prestigious old-school institutions like Upper Canada College). Now that we’ve cleared that up, here are a few things you should know about private schools/credit mills, after the jump.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Toronto is set to get a third area code, 416 holders set to get even smugger

The city is running out of phone numbers. Two decades ago, the GTA had to be split into the 416 and 905 area codes keep pace with an ever-increasing population—Ontario’s political language has never been the same—and then, when the 416 wasn’t big enough for Toronto proper (the decade-long shift from one phone per household to one phone per person certainly helped), the 647 code was born. Now, it looks like the city has outgrown that schema, too.

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Politics

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Board of Trade calls for road tolls; Doug Ford calls for a two-tier model for traffic congestion (uh, literally)

Traffic on the Gardiner at noon (Image: George Socka)

Another year, another group calling for provincial and municipal leaders to consider road tolls to cut down on congestion in the GTA. And like previous calls, this one is being dismissed out of hand by everyone that matters: the leaders of the provincial parties and the people running the City of Toronto. Doug Ford decided to chime on the issue, too, echoing his brother’s previous statements ruling out road tolls. But he also offered a few other ideas he thinks are worth pursuing (we, on the other hand, aren’t so sure).

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The Informer

Culture

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We take a quick look at some of the top Bollywood flicks up for hardware at the International Indian Film Academy Awards

There’s been no shortage of Bollywood-related events taking place around the GTA this week, but even amidst all the hype and hoopla we haven’t forgotten why the biggest stars in Bollywood have descended on Toronto: the IIFA Awards at the Rogers Centre on Centre (yup, it’s big). While we wouldn’t call ourselves Bollywood experts, we’ve been following the scene pretty closely ever since we heard the awards would be coming to Toronto. With that in mind, we offer a small preview of five of the biggest and best films in the running at tomorrow’s spectacle, after the jump.

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The Informer

Politics

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Dalton McGuinty is urging a refund if GO trains are delayed—provided commuters (read: voters) like the idea

(Image: Loozboy)

Apparently, Dalton McGuinty is proposing to run the government like a pizza delivery van (at least, so says the Toronto Star): 20 minutes or it’s on the house. In a painfully transparent pre-election ploy, the premier is suggesting that Go Transit offer commuters a “service guarantee” that would refund their fare in the event that trains are 20 minutes late or more. Now, besides the obvious point that most pizza places don’t come anywhere near hitting that mark, it’s kind of a pointless promise.

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Politics

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Cabinet shuffle: Toronto gets a seat in Harper’s new government—and it’s not even a token

Joe Oliver is almost as happy to be in the Harper cabinet as Rocco Rossi is to wear his flashy new shirt (Image: Rocco Rossi)

Good news, Toronto: Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his new cabinet this morning and, for the first time since 2006, the 416 proper will have an elected MP on the ruling government’s front benches (in fairness, it’s also the first time since 2006 that the city actually elected an MP who sat on the government side of the House). Joe Oliver, Member of Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence, is the new minister of natural resources, and while it’s a bit of an odd fit—Toronto isn’t exactly known for mining or forestry—we’re willing to concede that point, since one cabinet member is probably better than none.

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Random Stuff

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School librarians are an endangered species outside of Toronto—but should we care?

Is there a place for old-school librarians in today's world? (Image: Mr. T in DC)

The number of librarians across Ontario is on the decline. According to a new study by People for Education, 80 per cent of the province’s schools had at least one full- or part-time librarian in 2001, but today that number has dropped to a measly 56 per cent. Toronto has managed to buck the larger trend—a whopping 92 per cent of schools in the GTA have a librarian on staff—but we can’t help but wonder if that’s as big of a boon as it seems. In 2011, e-books are booming, tablets and cellphones are becoming cheaper, more powerful and more ubiquitous, and the Canadian ink-and-paper publishing industry isn’t exactly booming. Really, how relevant is a shelf full of encyclopedias in the back corner of a musty room?

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The Informer

Sports

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Toronto hoop prodigies seeking NBA glory

Cheerleaders at a Longhorns game (Image: Randall Chancellor)

Two basketball phenoms are ready to turn their hoop dreams into reality. A pair of former GTA high school stars—Brampton’s Tristan Thompson and Pickering’s Cory Joseph—announced Sunday that they’ll be leaving the University of Texas Longhorns, where they both played a single year of college ball, to enter the National Basketball Association draft on June 23.

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The Informer

Politics

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The Fortress falls: Liberal ridings taken by Tories and NDP

Five fallen Liberal incumbents

After the dissolution of Canada’s 40th Parliament, the GTA was a Liberal playing field, Fortress Toronto the most secure of all Liberal strongholds. With the Liberals holding 20 of Toronto’s 22 seats—and no credible expectation that the party would lose many, if any, of its MPs in the 4-1-6—the idea that they could do any worse than they had under Stéphane Dion (who, by the way, won his seat in Montreal) was inconceivable. Of course, everybody knows how that turned out. The stranglehold was broken in emphatic fashion as ridings that held long-standing Liberal incumbents dumped them like a bad college romance. We look at a number of key Liberal losses and explore how the GTA changed from solid red to a bluish-orange hue.

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The Informer

Politics

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Orange crush: Canada’s sudden NDP love-in leaves Toronto cold

Tangerine tide: Jack Layton at a Saskatoon rally (Image: Matt Jiggins)

Remember when the writ dropped and the national press spent 48 hours wondering if NDP leader Jack Layton could stand up to the punishing campaign schedule with his health troubles? Neither do we. The notion of a weak Layton seems downright quaint after a weekend where most polls point to a surge in NDP support. The one part of the country withstanding the orange tide so far is Ontario—and given the history of Liberal polling, it seems like the Grits’ last redoubt is the reliable Fortress Toronto and the suburbs around it. If the polls are right, the party of Wilfrid Laurier and Pierre Trudeau is now the party of the 416 and 905, and the NDP are the opposition to Stephen Harper in the rest of the country. Ouch.

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The Informer

Politics

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Grits trot out Chrétien and Trudeau to remind GTA that the Liberal Party used to be cool

In this election campaign, some things are a lot easier for the Conservatives than for the Liberals—not the least of which being that they don’t have to worry about surrounding Harper with previous Tory prime ministers for campaign help. Brian Mulroney is still thought to be radioactive, and Joe Clark was last seen urging people to vote Liberal. The Grits have no doubt been debating whether to let Michael Ignatieff stand on his own or be surrounded by former Liberal champions. This week’s news suggests they’ve decided on the latter. Hot on the heels of a Paul Martin appearance in B.C., the Liberals will be bringing out the p’tit gars de Shawinigan himself, Jean Chrétien.

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The Informer

Politics

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Toronto Star is last paper on earth to discover that anglophones aren’t keen on the BQ. Maybe there should there be a Bloc Torontois?

How can there still be reporters who are surprised to discover that English Canada hasn’t warmed to the Bloc Québécois being in parliament? This piece from the Toronto Star reports that “the current election campaign appears to be opening up a deep vein of anger in English Canada toward the Bloc Québécois,” but what struck us is how little evidence is given to support the theory. There’s a bit about negative reactions to Gilles Duceppe during the leaders debate, but for academic heft, the Star gives us this:

Setting up a fake identity as “Gord Tory” on Facebook, Johannes Wheeldon and some academic associates from Canada posted increasingly incendiary remarks about the BQ on the Facebook page to see how many friends “Gord” could attract.

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The Informer

Politics

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“Toronto is the centre of the universe. Let’s just admit it and move on”—the Star’s not afraid to go there

An opinion piece with an opening like that is destined to raise a few eyebrows—and some blood pressure outside of the 416—but the Toronto Star went there. The paper isn’t just being obnoxious, though. It presents an argument by a trio of University of Toronto academics, who say that all cities have been ignored during the election campaign so far. T.O.’s specialness is beside the point.

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