A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

[PHOTO] Barbara Frum Atrium, ready for filming

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Barbara Frum Atrium, ready for filming

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Canada, Photo, Popular Culture, Toronto

Tagged with , ,

[URBAN NOTE] “TTC votes to find out how much money it’s lost from faulty Presto card readers”

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CBC News reports on the latest issue with Presto card readers in Toronto. This is ridiculous.

The TTC wants to recover money lost to faulty Presto machines — it just doesn’t know how much it’s missing.

The transit agency voted Tuesday to launch a new study to find out how much the lost fares have cost them; when the results come back, the bill may just end up with Metrolinx.

“Presto’s a lemon that we were forced to buy from the province,” Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong said after Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s been a horrible experience. It doesn’t work, it’s broken down.”

Coun. Joe Mihevc called for the study into Presto’s failure rate and how much Metrolinx, which runs the Presto system, should pay to make up for that lost revenue.

At any given time, the TTC figures that eight to 10 per cent of its Presto readers aren’t working.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 22, 2017 at 4:00 pm

[LINK] “Canada won’t abandon Mexico in NAFTA talks, Freeland says”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Robert Fife reports on the problems facing North American integration, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland promising not to desert Mexico, at least not on multilateral issues whatever these might be.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland assured Mexico on Tuesday that Canada will not strike a bilateral deal with Washington in negotiations to revamp the 1994 North American free-trade agreement. During a panel discussion with Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray, Ms. Freeland sought to dampen concerns that the Trump administration would seek bilateral talks with each of its NAFTA partners.

Ms. Freeland stressed that it is too early to even talk about what might be up for renegotiation since the Senate has not yet confirmed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross, who will head the trade negotiations, and Robert Lighthizer, the nominee for U.S. trade representative.

“There is no negotiating process yet initiated. In fact, the United States does not even have a team in place to begin those negotiations. So let’s not put the cart before the horse,” she said when asked if Canada was prepared to throw Mexico under the bus to protect this country’s interest from President Donald Trump’s America-first trade policy.

“But we very much recognize that NAFTA is a three-country agreement, and if there were to be any negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”At the same time, Ms. Freeland said there will be bilateral issues that Canada and the United States will want to discuss separately – something Mr. Videgaray conceded would happen when it comes to Mr. Trump’s plans to build a wall to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling from Mexico.

“We understand that there are some issues that, by nature, are strictly bilateral to the U.S.-Canadian relationship … just as Canada acknowledges we have a bilateral relationship with the U.S. and I am sure [Ms. Freeland] would prefer to stay away from some of those aspects of that.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 10:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Nobody’s cheering, except real estate agents: The ‘trapped wealth’ of Toronto’s unrelenting housing boom”

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The National Post hosts Theophilos Argitis’ Bloomberg News article looking at the causes of the housing price boom and speculating about ways to end it without wrecking the wider economy.

Prices in Canada’s largest city surged more than 20 per cent over the past year, the fastest pace in three decades, data released last week show. Some of the city’s neighbouring towns are posting even bigger gains.

It’s become a matter of considerable alarm. Stability is one concern: if the market tumbles, so will Canada’s economy. Pricier real estate also drives away less-affluent, younger people and boosts the cost of doing business, eroding competitiveness.

“I don’t think anybody is cheering,” said Doug Porter, the Toronto-based chief economist of Bank of Montreal, who used the dreaded “bubble” word last week to describe the market. “I don’t see who benefits other than real estate agents. It’s trapped wealth.”

So, what’s driving the boom? The housing industry — builders and brokers — claim lack of supply is the main culprit. Others, Porter included, see demand as the problem. Lately, evidence is mounting that speculation is behind the jump.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Ontario’s lack of foreign-buyer data sparks concern about a Toronto housing crisis”

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The Globe and Mail‘s Mike Hager notes how the lack of official statistics on foreign buyers of real estate in Toronto means, among other things, that less reliable data metrics like search engine hits need to be used. This just proves how modern societies need good data to address real problems.

‘Up! Up! Up!”

That’s where Toronto’s real estate market is heading, according to a Chinese-language promotional article posted last month on Fang.com, a Beijing-based web portal that lists thousands of homes for sale in countries around the world.

“You will really cry if you still don’t buy,” the same posting blares.

Toronto has become the “dark horse” of the Canadian real estate market, asserts Haifangbest.com, another site jammed with Canadian home listings. It contrasts Vancouver’s continuing drop in prices with a prediction that Toronto-area homes will rise 8 per cent in value this year.

In the months since British Columbia began taxing international buyers 15-per-cent extra on homes in and around Vancouver, those marketing Canadian real estate overseas have shifted their focus to Toronto. Last year, Toronto overtook Vancouver to become the most sought-after Canadian city for Chinese home buyers searching the property listing service Juwai.com, peaking in August just after British Columbia announced the tax aimed at curbing the public outrage over skyrocketing prices. Searches for properties in Toronto proper now surpass the total inquiries for Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa combined.

Richard Silver, a Sotheby’s realtor and past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, estimates close to 20 per cent of his clients are international buyers – from China, India and the Middle East – interested in the luxury condos and houses he sells in and around the downtown core.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Honouring Hurricane Hazel as a work of art”

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The Toronto Star carries May Warren’s article for Metro noting an upcoming gallery showing in Mississauga celebrating the life of that city’s long-time mayor Hazel McCallion. I may well go to Mississauga for this!

She has inspired paintings, crayon drawings, even a Mississauga version of the Mona Lisa.

Now former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion is getting her very own art exhibit to show off these tributes.

Stuart Keeler, curator and manager of museums for Mississauga, said the city is looking for submissions from the public and doesn’t think they will be hard to find.

“Sometimes monthly, we get phone calls of, ‘I have a painting of Hazel,’ ” he said. “This is a common occurrence.”

They’ve already received 25 works of art for the spring show and there’s no cap on how many they’ll take.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 9:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “The fascinating history of Toronto’s oldest bookstore”

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blogTO’s Phil Villeneuve shares the story of Toronto’s Glad Day Bookshop, the oldest GLBT library in the world still operating.

Very few book stores in the world have been fought off widespread hate, battled censorship at the Supreme Court, and acted as home base for an entire community of people. Toronto’s Glad Day bookshop has, which is why it’s even more special that it’s not only Toronto’s oldest bookstore, but the world’s oldest LGBT bookstore.

Glad Day took the title after New York’s Oscar Wilde bookstore closed in 2009 because of low sales and high rent. That shop opened in 1967.

Glad Day was opened in 1970 by Jearld Moldenhauer out of his home in the Annex. The residential space also doubled as the office for The Body Politic, a gay and lesbian political paper, which eventually morphed into Xtra and then to the now online-only DailyXtra.com.

After folks moved in and out of the home, Moldenhauer and a group men bought a place in Cabbagetown at 138 Seaton Street and operated the shop out of there.

It was a time when a gay and lesbian bookstore could exist out of someone’s living room and word spread wide enough for the city’s queer population to know exactly where to go — all very much on the down low and in fear of violence.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 21, 2017 at 8:00 pm