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Toronto’s Alo tops 2017 Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 1st, 2017

Toronto’s Alo has topped the 2017 Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list while Vancouver eatery Kissa Tanto has been named the country’s best new restaurant.

Alo, which launched in 2015 with fine-dining tasting menus, made the jump from the seventh spot on last year’s list.

It’s the second time in recent months that chef Joel Watanabe’s Kissa Tanto, which features a blend of Italian and Japanese cuisines, has been called the hottest new restaurant in Canada. In the fall, enRoute magazine put Kissa Tanto — which means House of Plenty — atop its list of best new restaurants, while Alo placed second.

The annual list of top restaurants is determined by an 82-member panel of judges and printed in the Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants magazine. Other awards were also handed out by the publication on Tuesday night, including a lifetime achievement honour for Susur Lee.

The Hong Kong-born chef oversees Luckee, Lee, Lee Kitchen at Pearson International Airport, Bent and Fring’s in Toronto along with TungLok Heen in Singapore’s Hotel Michael. He’s been a judge on “Chopped Canada” and “MasterChef Asia” and was a finalist on “Top Chef Master” and tied with Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef America.”

Charles-Antoine Crete of Montreal Plaza also got an award for most innovative chef, Claude Guerin of Maison Boulud at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal was named best pastry chef, and The Design Agency won for best restaurant design for Lena Restaurante in Toronto.

Here is the list of the top 10 ranked restaurants:

1. Alo – Toronto

2. Toque! – Montreal

3. Joe Beef – Montreal

4. Le Vin Papillon – Montreal

5. Edulis – Toronto

6. Hawksworth Restaurant at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia – Vancouver

7. Buca Osteria & Bar (Yorkville) – Toronto

8. Canoe – Toronto

9. Dandylion – Toronto

10. Pigeonhole – Calgary

Trudeau gets a shout-out in Trump speech

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 1st, 2017

The prime minister of Canada received a surprise shout-out during Donald Trump’s first speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, in an address Tuesday that carried more than one reference to the northern neighbour.

The president mentioned Justin Trudeau as he hailed the creation during the prime minister’s recent visit to Washington of a women’s business group — a project involving the president’s daughter Ivanka.

Trump’s speech was sprinkled with surprises.

The biggest of all, the one that will snare Americans’ attention, was his unexpected call for comprehensive immigration reform, a long-elusive goal of U.S. policy-makers that Trump appeared to have suddenly embraced.

Smaller ones involved references to Canada.

“With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a council with our neighbours in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams,” Trump said in the prime-time address.

It’s the third time Trump mentioned the project in public remarks.

Trump appeared at the group’s initial meeting at the White House; raised it during a White House press conference as something he was proud of; and mentioned it again in his state-of-the-union-style speech Tuesday. The idea for the project came from Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, who presented it to Ivanka’s husband, White House aide Jared Kushner.

Other elements of the speech that touched on Canadian interests included his promise to build the Keystone XL pipeline; his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and his call for a still-vaguely-defined border adjustment tax.

He also saluted Canada’s immigration system as something to emulate.

It came during Trump’s attention-grabbing remarks on immigration reform. In the speech, and in comments Trump made earlier in the day to TV network anchors, he appeared to signal an interest in seizing a Holy Grail for a generation of U.S. policy-makers: an immigration deal between Republicans, who want a tighter southern border — and Democrats who want legal status for the country’s millions of undocumented people.

“Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system,” Trump said.

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals — to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.

“If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.”

The speech made only a passing reference to the biggest unknown in Canada-U.S. relations: the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump blasted daily during his election campaign and now wants renegotiated.

Republicans on Capitol Hill appeared in the dark Tuesday on his intentions regarding NAFTA. Although lawmakers are supposed to be involved in the process, they said they hadn’t received direction from the White House yet.

The uncertainty is heightened by the fact that one key player in trade negotiations, the United States trade representative, could see his Senate confirmation stalled for months, amid partisan wrangling and concern about his past legal work for foreign governments.

“I don’t have any information about when, or what process will be used,” said Republican Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance committee, which would have a key role in trade negotiations.

Policy-makers are already overwhelmed by Trump’s insistence on health reform, and tax reform — where he’s requested big changes, popular changes, and not offered much direction on the specifics and hard choices.

Now Trump appears poised to add immigration reform to the to-do list — in addition to paid parental leave which he also mentioned Tuesday. The Senate leadership sounded determined to put the onus on Trump to deliver specifics.

“We’re anxious to see what the president wants to do about immigration,” Senate leader Mitch McConnell told CNN.

“I’m anxious to take a look at what the president would recommend.”

People involved in Canada-U.S. relations might have picked up on other elements of the speech. Trump applauded the idea of joint public-private funding for a massive infrastructure spending project — which is a priority for the Trudeau government, although it remains controversial on the American left.

Trump also referred to his plan for regulation-slashing, which Canada might play a role in. The countries meet frequently through a regulatory co-operation body, and Treasury Board President Scott Brison offered to share some ideas during a trip last week to Washington.

No streetcar service on Queen Street this summer: TTC

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 1st, 2017

TTC riders who take the 501 Queen streetcar have had their fair share of disruptions on the route, and now, they will face yet another challenge this summer.

For the first time in TTC history, there will be no streetcar service on Queen Street from May to September, TTC spokesman Stuart Green said. Instead, 65 buses will be in use.

The massive changes to the 501 route are due to TTC and road construction in the area.

About 43,000 people use the line every day.

“There are a number of projects this summer between the Neville Loop in the east and the Long Branch loop in the west. It made more sense to just replace the streetcars with buses, as opposed to having people get on and off different modes of transit,” Green said.

“It’s not a long-term solution. A streetcar holds [the same amount of passengers] as one-and-a-half worth buses. The longer articulated streetcars, it’s two buses. The newer Bombardier cars, it’s about three buses.”

Some of the projects include track and sidewalk work west of Queen, replacing the bridge over Queen that connects the Eaton Centre to Hudson’s Bay, and various track work in the east.

“In the days gone by … we would have had three different partial closures of the Queen streetcar, which I think would have caused more disruption in total,” Mayor John Tory said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Tory acknowledged the temporary change will be disruptive but by doing it this way, all of the work will be done at one time.

While buses may be viewed as a test project – to see if they move people faster and improve traffic – Tory said the plan is still to have streetcars on the line. Buses cost more money to run and are not environment-friendly. He said officials will monitor how it works, but there are no plans to change streetcars to buses.

Tory echoed Green, saying streetcars carry more people than buses, and at least two buses would be needed to carry the same number of riders as one of the new streetcars, which have yet to be delivered by Bombardier.

 https://twitter.com/tonyfera1/status/837042104710885383

This service change is one in a series that have affected riders since last spring.

Starting Jan. 8 and for the rest of 2017, streetcars have been turning back at Roncesvalles Avenue, so that track and bridge work can be done on The Queensway, Lake Shore Boulevard and at Humber Loop. Streetcars are bypassing Humber Loop as well.

Last year, from May until early December, streetcars were diverted on Queen Street West between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue due to watermain work on Queen.

However, passengers have praised the buses that are currently in use along part of the 501 route. Their ability to weave in and out of traffic made for a faster commuter, some riders said.

The sheer volume of people that can fit on a streetcar is a huge advantage, Green said at the time, especially from an environmental perspective. Fewer vehicles also reduces gridlock.

In January, Green said that streetcars last a lot longer than buses do, which means the TTC replaces vehicles less frequently. As well, fewer vehicles are required, which means cheaper operating costs.

What you need to know if you take the 501

Although Green said Wednesday that travel times will be about the same on buses versus streetcars, he admits the schedule will change when the bus service kicks in on the entire line in May. He said riders, especially those who travel during off-peak hours and overnight, should check their schedule beforehand. The updated schedule is expected to be posted online in April.

The existing stops will remain in place and will only be relocated if there is TTC construction or road work.

One of the concerns for TTC riders is whether buses will be pulled from other bus routes to service the Queen line. Green said buses will be pulled off of existing streetcar routes where buses are being used. Below are the details:

  • 511 Bathurst will resume operation with streetcars for the summer
  • 503 Kingston Rd will also be operated with streetcars for the first half of the summer
  • 504 King supplemental buses will be replaced by streetcars

 

“This frees up a significant number of buses to be used on Queen,” Green said in an email. “In addition, TTC adjusts services on many routes during the summer and this frees up available buses for construction projects such as these.”

Another concern is whether there will be enough shuttle buses available in case of a subway shutdown. Green said the buses are generally pulled from less busy routes, but that buses may be pulled from 501 if needed.

“It is possible 501 buses might be used in that situation, but generally the buses are pulled from less busy routes.”

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