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  • Steve Munro reports on the many problems associated with implementing new express buses, in Toronto and elsewhere.

  • Global News was one of many sources reporting on the high rate of failure of the new Bombardier streetcars.

  • Ben Spurr notes the astounding failure of the City of Toronto to do basic things at Union Station, like collect rent.

  • Transit Toronto notes that GO Transit's seasonal routes to Niagara have started today and will go until 4 September.

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  • blogTO reported that York University plans on opening a satellite campus in York Region's Markham. This is a first.

  • Dangerous Minds notes a new, posthumous release from Suidide's Alan Vega.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the detectability of Niven ringworlds around pulsars. (Maybe.)

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers burnout among sociology students, and suggests that engagement with issues is key to overcoming it.

  • The Great Grey Bridge's Philip Turner photoblogs his recent Rhode Island vacation.

  • Joe. My. God. reports on the arrest of a Christian activist protesting outside of the Pulse memorial in Orlando.

  • The LRB Blog shares considerable concern that the Democratic Unionists of Northern Ireland are now national powermakers.

  • Spacing Toronto shares the ambitious plan of Buenos Aires to make the city better for cyclists, pedestrians, and mass transit
  • Transit Toronto notes that starting Friday, Metrolinx will co-sponsor $C25 return tickets to Niagara from Toronto.

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NOW Toronto's Shantal Otchere reports on how the Shaw Festival is overseeing a $25 bus shuttle connecting downtown Toronto to Niagara-on-the-Lake, for festival attendees.

If you bring them they will come.

At least that is the hope for the minds behind this year’s Shaw Festival. On the heels of this season’s lineup revamp, courtesy of new artistic director, Tim Carroll, the Shaw Festival is introducing a shuttle service for festival attendees between Toronto and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The service, which costs $25 for a round trip – theatre goers do not have to return same day – launches in April.

“It’s a new alternative for some people who are already coming but it’s also a way to get and attract more folks who can’t or aren’t anymore,” says Tim Jennings, the Shaw fest’s executive director.

The shuttle service had been in the works for quite some time – at least as long as Jennings had taken up post as the Executive Director last year. After sorting out the matter of funding, the fest’s team is excited to roll out the new service for the first time this year in a bid to draw in a more diverse audience and encourage more social interactions between festivalgoers and programmers.
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The Financial Post's Garry Marr describes how the Toronto real estate boom is driving up prices elsewhere in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and beyond, as far as Niagara.

Canada’s largest city just keeps getting bigger — at least in terms of what constitutes “Toronto” real estate.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Tuesday it is seeing a so-called spillover effect as far away as the St. Catharines-Niagara region after already witnessing the impact in places like Guelph, Hamilton and Barrie.

“Our evidence indicates that increasing single-family home prices in the GTA are motivating buyers to purchase more affordable homes in nearby centres. In turn, this purchasing behaviour is driving up house prices in these markets,” said Jean Sébastien Michel, principal, market analysis with CMHC.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said in January the average price of a home sold in Niagara reached $317,861, up 16.1 per cent from a year ago.

The Crown corporation maintains the impact on price has been greatest in Hamilton, where it says there is strong evidence of overvaluation. “The growth in house prices persistently outpaced economic and demographic fundamentals,” according to the report.
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CBC Hamilton gives me one more reason to go to Niagara Falls this year.

A $4 million lighting makeover is dialling up the wow factor of Niagara Falls at night.

Officials say energy-efficient LED lighting unveiled Thursday will provide brighter and more robust colour than the halogen technology that's been used to cast the Falls in rainbow hues after dark for the past 20 years.

The Niagara Parks commission streamed the event live.

The light beams emanate from banks of spotlights on the Canadian side of the Falls, lighting up the Horseshoe and American Falls that, along with the Bridal Veil Falls, make up the bi-national tourist attraction.

The Falls were lit for the first time in 1860 with 200 lights like those used to signal for help at sea. Electricity was first used in 1879. The Illumination Tower where most of the lights are located was built in 1899.
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  • blogTO notes Niagara Falls' new light show.

  • Body Horrors reports on a 1980 epidemic of MRSA among Detroit drug users.

  • Centauri Dreams describes the final orbits of Cassini around Saturn.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper suggesting Tabby's Star is being star-mined.

  • Language Log looks at an element of Chinese slang regarding telecommunications.

  • The LRB Blog argues against blaming migrants for problems on the left.

  • The Planetary Society Blog discusses the continued Dawn mission around Ceres.

  • Savage Minds talks about the need to slow down in a time of crisis.

  • Seriously Science notes research suggesting whales jump out of the water for purposes of communication.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, in the United States, flag burners cannot be stripped of their citizenship.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians would like the West to make up on Russia's terms and looks at the embassies and delegations of Russia's component regions.

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The Globe and Mail carries Madeline Smith's Canadian Press article describing the new direct air route between Toronto and Niagara.

Starting Sept. 15, charter flight company Greater Toronto Airways will run two round trips between Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport and the Niagara Regional Airport every weekday.

David Nissan, vice-president of operations for Greater Toronto Airways, says the flights will run about 15 minutes, with capacity for eight passengers.

“We hope that it will connect the communities,” he says. “We can cut down commuting times from two hours to 15 minutes.”

Nissan says the company is starting out by targeting business travellers, and flights will cost $85 one way and $149 for a round trip.

Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati says people in Niagara need more options to get to Toronto and back, and finding a way to cross the lake instead of going around it could be a good solution. He says traffic congestion on the highways is becoming “unbearable and unreasonable” for commuters.
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Roy MacGregor's latest in an installment on river valleys of note in The Globe and Mail takes a look at the Niagara River, a wonder of nature shared by two countries. (I do have to get there, and soon. It is in Toronto's hinterland, after all.)

[T]he falls have moved, a remarkable recession chartered by scientists to have shifted 11 km upstream in the past 12,000 years. Every year, more breaks away, sometimes rock chunks the size of a sixteen-wheeler.

“The shape of the falls is always changing,” says Environment Canada’s Aaron Thompson, who also serves as chair of the International Niagara Board of Control. “The rate has slowed down because so much of the flow goes to the power plants.”

And this, it turns out, is what separates the falls the tourists photograph today from the falls that First Nations knew, which so impressed the likes of Hennepin and Lincoln.

The power of Niagara was such that it created the first great industrial centre of North America. By diverting the water into tunnels leading to turbines, industrialists were able to create electricity, first of all direct-current. Once Nikola Tesla invented alternating-current – a discovery Thomas Edison campaigned against as being too dangerous – it allowed for electricity to travel distances and the great industrialization of the Niagara region spread.

Increasingly, more and more water was diverted into such tunnels. Lord Kelvin, the famous Irish inventor and engineer, said he looked forward to the day when every single drop in the river would be used to create electricity.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. One early suggestion had the power companies ransacking the Niagara as much as they wished six days a week but doing nothing on Sundays so that the tourists could enjoy the falls. That idea, luckily, went nowhere. In 1950, the Niagara Diversion Treaty signed by Canada and the United States specified how much each country could draw for power – roughly half the flow that Hennepin and Lincoln had witnessed.

“They could see that one day there would be no water going over the falls,” Mr. Thompson. says
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  • blogTO chronicles the time when Toronto bus transit went as far as Niagara Falls.

  • The Burgh Diaspora's Jim Russell notes that falling global mobility is combining with low fertility rates to produce labour shortages.

  • Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster, thinking of pulsar planets, starts a discussion about science fiction set in extreme environments.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes the complexity of discovering exoplanets around young--hence very active--stars.

  • The Dragon's Tales, meanwhile, observes evidence that the Indus Valley civilization collapsed because of climate change.

  • Far Outliers observes the speed with which German and Austro-Hungarian fronts collapsed in 1918 and comments on American respect for their German counterparts in the First World War.

  • Marginal Revolution notes a paper claiming that immigration doesn't undermine public support for welfare states.

  • Livejournal's pollotenchegg maps the distributions of Russians and Crimean Tatars in that autonomous--and contested?--Ukrainian peninsula.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer thinks that, though things are bad in Venezuela, they aren't nearly as bad as one database on democracy claims.

  • Peter Rukavina shares the story of how much he cost the Prince Edward Island health system and how he found out.

  • Towleroad goes into greater detail about the changes in royal nomenclature forced by same-sex marriage.
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This evening, I returned to Toronto with Jerry from our one-year anniversary trip, a visit to Niagara Falls, Ontario over the Victoria Day long weekend just concluded. A more extensive post will follow, but for the moment (i.e. until I get the pictures), I'll just say that Niagara is a place of very scenic extremes and leave it there.

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