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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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  • Daily Xtra's Arshy Mann and Evan Balgord report on how the Jewish Defense League plans on marching in Toronto Pride. Grand.

  • Spacing's Shazlin Rahman reports on the Jane's Walk she organized around sites of significance to Muslims around Bloor and Dufferin.

  • The Toronto Star's Nicholas Keung and Raju Mudhar reported earlier this month on the happy reunification of a Syrian couple with their cat.

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  • Lisa Coxon of Toronto Life shares eleven photos tracking Toronto's queer history back more than a century.

  • Michelle McQuigge reports for the Toronto Star that the Luminous Veil does save lives. I would add that it is also beautiful.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee thinks it makes perfect sense for there to be a dedicated streetcar corridor on King Street.

  • Ben Spurr describes a new plan for a new GO Transit bus station across from Union Station.

  • Emily Mathieu reported in the Toronto Star on how some Kensington Market tenants seem to have been pushed out for an Airbnb hostel.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Irish-born John Doyle explores the new Robert Grassett Park, built in honour of the doctor who died trying to save Irish refugees in 1847.

  • Justin Ling in VICE tells the story of three gay men who went missing without a trace in Toronto just a few years ago. What happened?
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  • Caroline Alphonso reports in The Globe and Mail about how Toronto Islands students have been displaced to school on the mainland, in Regent Park.
  • Robert Benzie and Victoria Gibson describe in the Toronto Star a new waterfront park in a revitalized part of Ontario Place.
  • Torontoist's Keiran Delamont notes how Metrolinx's sharing of data with the police fits into the broader concept of the modern surveillance state.
  • Steve Munro tracks the evolution, or perhaps more properly devolution, of streetcar service from 1980 to 2016.

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Oh, my Dufferin Street! From CP24:

The Canadian Automobile Association says Burlington Street East in Hamilton has won the dubious distinction of being voted Ontario's worst road for 2017.

[. . .]

Dufferin Street has made nine appearances on the provincial top 10 list since the campaign's inception more than a decade ago.
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  • The Independent suggests that potentially flammable cladding was mounted on London's Grenfell Tower so as to make it look nicer for richer neighbours. If the lives of the poor were put at risk of burning to make richer neighbours happy ... Wow.

  • Adam Rogers at Wired describes the many complexities regarding fighting high-rise fires and evacuating their inhabitants.

  • CBC suggests that local building codes in Canada are sufficiently stringent to prevent a repetition of the Grenfell Tower tragedy here. One hopes.

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  • City News shares a Canadian Press article sharing the warning issued by Sears Canada itself, another historic colossus of retail, that it may well be coming to its end.

  • The Columbia Review of Journalism warns that Canada's Postmedia chain is failing, and could take all our newspapers with it.

  • Tess Kalinowski at the Toronto Star observes that the number of Greater Toronto Area home sales has continued to decline.

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  • Orville Lloyd Douglas is critical of Black Lives Matter on Pride, calling it out for being self-appointed representatives of black Canadians.

  • Alex McKeen writes in the Toronto Star about First Nations groups holding ongoing ceremonies in Queen's Park.

  • Betsy Powell, also in the Star, notes new restrictions and licensing Toronto is set to impose on Airbnb locally.

  • CBC notes that King Street is slated to become a street where transit, particularly streetcars, will have priority over other traffic.

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My attention was piqued at the end of May by Lauren Pelley's CBC report about the West End Phoenix, a new community newspaper in Toronto imagined by Dave Bidini. The Phoenix, a monthly broadsheet slated to concern itself with west-end Toronto "from the Junction Triangle to Parkdale, Christie Pits to Baby Point", will be sustained by annual subscriptions and gifts from donors.

The non-profit publication is the brainchild of Toronto writer, publisher and musician Dave Bidini, and sparked, in part, by his 2015 writing trip to the Northwest Territories, where he spent the summer working at The Yellowknifer.

"I was reinvigorated by that experience," he told CBC Toronto.

Bidini — who's beloved in Canada for his years with the Rheostatics — wondered if a hyper-local newspaper could flourish in Toronto's west end, where he's been living for 23 years in the house he bought from his grandmother.

"I've seen the west end evolve as a social organism, I suppose. It's a pretty interesting time here. You blink, and there's something new and different," he mused. "I wondered about the ability of a newspaper to sustain here, and to illuminate that evolution."

[. . .]

Bidini's vision for the newspaper is a visual and literary representation of "that feeling you get when you're wandering home one night and you find yourself up an alley you haven't traveled through before."

Already, he's joined by deputy editor Melanie Morassutti and senior editor Susan Grimbly, both formerly of The Globe and Mail, and has an advisory council assembled with notable names from the city's arts and culture scene, including Grid founder Laas Turnbull and J-Source managing editor H.G. Watson.


I am fascinated by this project. Consider this post a placeholder of sorts.
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  • The Globe and Mail describes how the flooding of Lake Ontario is starting to impact buildings built near the waterfront on the mainland, like some of Toronto's new condos.

  • All of Toronto's beaches will be, CBC reports, at least partly closed on account of the flooding.

  • Lucas Powers' photo essay at CBC tracks the impact of flooding on the Toronto Islands.

  • Steve Munro continues his study of buses on Queen Street, noting that the frequency of buses needs to be increased to keep pace with streetcars.

  • Edward Keenan argues in the Toronto Star that Michael Ford's call for a study for Queen Street transit will reveal that streetcars are the better way.

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  • Daily Xtra notes that, in the 1930s, the shops of Yonge and Dundas supported a queer community. The tours described sound interesting.

  • Torontoist's Tricia Wood arguesthat the proposed high speed rail route in southern Ontario is wasteful spending, reflecting a two-tier transit network.

  • Steve Munro crunches data on the Queen Street route to find that buses have an advantage over streetcars.

  • The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr notes that the TTC is planning to noticeably expand its express bus network.

  • NOW Toronto's Lisa Ferguson writes about potential NIMBYism in the opposition to new high-rises in High Park.

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  • NOW Toronto's Tammy Thorne looks at the reasons given for the lack of bike lanes on the Entertainment District's John Street.

  • The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr reports on the success of bike lanes on Bloor Street.

  • The Star carries Liam Lacey's Canadian Press article on Gregory Becarich, maker of ghost bike memorials in Toronto.

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  • Torontoist's Tamara Yelland reports on the intensification of the rent strike in Parkdale aimed against Metcap.

  • The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski notes that the market for detached homes in Toronto is facing unmanageable levels of demand.

  • Torontoist's David Stokes makes the case that suburbs should allow homes in residential districts to be converted into businesses.

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  • Peter Goffin reports from the hauntingly empty Toronto Islands during their time of flood.

  • Edward Keenan, also in the Star mourns for Torontonians who will spend most of the summer, at least, without having the Islands.

  • Alison Gzowski, a resident of the Toronto Islands, writes for The Globe and Mail about how the flooding reminds her of nature's power.

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Osgoode Hall, the handsome Georgian building t Queen and University downtown that houses most of Ontario's higher courts, was open for Doors Open. I was taken by its libraries, including not only the American Room where American law texts are stored but the gorgeous, columnned Main Reading Room.

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  • The Globe and Mail examined the unique real estate market on the Toronto Islands, with lower places but also restrictions on buyers.

  • The Toronto Star reported that carp have taken over the baseball field at Gibraltar Point.

  • The Toronto Star reports on a peacock that has escaped Centreville Farm to become the islands' mascot.

  • The National Post reported on how the Toronto Islands' businesses have all been shut down by the flooding.

  • blogTO noted that Water Taxi Now is offering tours of the flooded islands.

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  • Steve Munro calls for an honest public review of what Toronto actually does need insofar as mass transit is concerned.

  • Torontoist is justly critical of a one-stop Scarborough subway extension that will help make mass transit there worse.

  • Spacing's John Lorinc is critical of plans for mass transit expansion that do not respond to existing issues.

  • The Toronto Star notes that Union-Pearson Express ridership is up but also notes that it remains heavily subsidized.
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  • Metro Toronto's David Hains reports on a new interactive map of Trinity-Bellwoods Park designed to help users find other people in that large complex space.


  • You’ll never have to spend 20 minutes trying to find your friend in Trinity-Bellwoods Park again.

    New York-based cartographer (and former Toronto Star employee) William Davis loves Toronto, and so he knows this is one of the city’s great summer frustrations. It’s because of the geographically complicated, but very popular park, that he and Tom Weatherburn made an interactive map for Torontonians to share their location.

    All users need to do is drag and drop a “here” pin on a map of the park. It can be accessed for free at the MapTO website, a personal project with Weatherburn that features quirky and interesting maps on a variety of city subjects.

    The Trinity-Bellwoods map is overlaid with easy-to-read icons, including a dog at the dog bowl, a baseball at the baseball diamond, and beer mugs where people like to hang out.


  • The Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro describes the catastrophic state of repair of far too many of the houses of Toronto Community Housing.


  • Half of Toronto Community Housing developments will be in “critical” condition in the next five years without additional funding for repairs, according to an internal database provided to the Star.

    Already, the data shows more than 30 social-housing properties are in serious disrepair. Of 364 developments — which include houses and groupings of low-rise buildings and towers — 222 developments are ranked in “poor” condition, with dozens edging on critical condition, based on a standard ranking used by the housing corporation.

    Those critical sites are homes for more than 3,000 individuals and families.

    The data shows a pervasive problem at a time when the city is grappling with how to keep thousands of units open with a $1.73-billion funding gap.

    Of the 364 developments, more than 100 were offloaded onto the city by the province more than a decade and a half ago without money needed to cover the repairs. Of the buildings in the critical and poor categories, more than a third were downloaded by the province.


  • Back in August, Yasmine Laarsroui wrote for Torontoist about the potential for the housing co-op model to help solve the Toronto housing crisis.


  • Those affected by the lack of rent controls left young professionals, like reporter Shannon Martin, with no option but to turn to more extreme alternatives, such as couch-surfing.

    Young people seeking more reliable housing options are turning to co-op housing—at least, those lucky enough to get a unit.

    Toronto renter Donald Robert moved into Cabbagetown’s Diane Frankling Co-operative Homes in September 2016 and speaks highly of his experience.

    Robert pays $1,300 for a large two-bedroom unit with access to an underground parking and a small gym, almost $500 cheaper than the average one-bedroom unit in Toronto. Robert explains that, “the best part though has been the community here. Everybody says ‘hi.’”


  • Also back in April, John Lorinc wrote in Spacing about the oft-overlooked musicality of the lost neighbourhood of The Ward.


  • If you try to imagine your way back into the early 20th century streets and laneways of The Ward — the dense immigrant enclave razed to make way for Toronto’s City Hall — you might pick up the sounds of newsies and peddlers hawking their wares, the clanging of the area’s junk and lumber yards, and shrieking children playing on the Elizabeth Street playground north of Dundas.

    Those streets would also reverberate day and night with a jumble of languages — Italian, Yiddish, Chinese. The dialects and accents of these newcomers were considered to be not only “foreign,” but also proof (to the keepers of Toronto’s Anglo-Saxon morality) of the area’s worrisome social and physical failings.

    But despite the fact that many mainstream Torontonians saw The Ward as an impoverished blight on the face of the city, the neighbourhood resonated with energy and culture and music — evidence of the resilience of the stigmatized newcomers who settled there in waves from the late 19th century onward.

    Photographers recorded fiddle players and organ grinders with their hurdy gurdies, playing as mesmerized children listened. After their shifts ended, one 1914 account noted, labourers whiled away their free times playing mandolins or concertinas as they sang rags and the Neapolitan songs so popular at the time.

    “When sleep in crowded rooms seems all but impossible,” journalist Emily Weaver observed in The Globe and Mail in 1910, “the people of ‘The Ward’ are astir till all hours, and the Italians amuse themselves by singing in their rich sweet voices the songs of their far-away homelands or dancing their native dances to the music of a mandolin or guitar in the open roadway beneath the stars.”


  • The Toronto Star's Azzura Lalani describes how the rapid growth of young families in Leslieville threatens to overload local schools. What will the Downtown Relief Line do?


  • As the mother of a 16-month-old boy, Michelle Usprech is looking to leave the Financial District where it’s just “suits and suits and suits,” for a more family friendly vibe, and she’s got her eye on Leslieville.

    But one of Toronto’s most family-friendly neighbourhoods may be a victim of its own success as signs from the Toronto District School Board have cropped up, warning parents in Leslieville their children may not be able to attend their local school because of possible overcrowding, school board spokesperson Ryan Bird confirmed.

    Those signs warn that “due to residential growth, sufficient accommodation may not be available for all students,” despite the school board making “every effort to accommodate students at local schools.”

    [. . .]

    It’s a concern for some parents, including Kerry Sharpe, who lives in Leslieville and has a four-month-old daughter named Eisla.

    “It’s still early days for me,” she said, but, “it is a concern. Even daycare, that’s hard to get into, so I don’t see it getting any better.”
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    In The Globe and Mail, Alex Bozikovic looks at what plans for redoing the Bloor street entry of the Royal Ontario Museum mean.

    The Crystal is flawed. The Royal Ontario Museum doesn’t want to put it that way, but that is the message of what it calls the “Welcome Project”: Its architectural transformation of a decade ago, which was meant to revive the Toronto institution, doesn’t work as it should.

    That message was hidden in a piece of news this week from Canada’s most-visited museum. It plans to reopen the entrance in its 1932 wing, add a new ramp and broader stair, and reconfigure the rotunda inside as a lobby once again.

    A small step, but it’s an appetizer for larger plans that include new plazas, an outdoor amphitheatre and renovations to the current lobby.

    It’s good news for residents and visitors to Toronto: The region’s most popular and most democratic museum will be a more pleasant place to visit.

    And it reflects a new focus for architecture in institutions such as this: not in making showpieces, but on the nuts and bolts of making places that work.
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    The Toronto Star's Ben Spurr looks at how the new streetcars the TTC is contracting to buy with Alstom with compared with Bombardier's oft-promised ones, and the consequences.

    After a protracted dispute with Bombardier about delays to its light rail vehicle order for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx has taken the drastic step of placing an order for cars with another company.

    Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced Friday that Metrolinx, which is the provincial agency in charge of transit planning for the GTHA, has inked a deal to buy 61 vehicles from the French firm Alstom at a cost of $528 million.

    The transit agency hasn’t cancelled its $770-million purchase from Bombardier, which as a result of a lawsuit brought by the manufacturer is now tied up in a dispute resolution process. But Del Duca said allowing both purchases to go ahead simultaneously would provide Metrolinx with a backup fleet that guarantees it will have enough vehicles to open the Crosstown line by 2021.

    Del Duca called it “a creative and prudent approach to dealing with a less than ideal situation.”

    Bombardier maintains that Metrolinx had no need to seek another supplier, and says it will be able to supply all 182 cars the agency ordered in 2010, 76 of which would run on the Crosstown line.

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