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File photo of the entrance of the Glen Abbey Golf Club on Aug. 20, 2017.

Oakville council rejects bid to demolish Glen Abbey for development

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 28th, 2017

Oakville town council has voted unanimously to reject a plan to demolish the historic Glen Abbey golf course despite its heritage status.

Glen Abbey’s owner ClubLink filed an application Monday to demolish or remove the golf course and some buildings to make way for a mix of homes, offices and stores.

The golf course has hosted the Canadian Open 28 times.

In August, the Town of Oakville voted in favour of designating Glen Abbey as a heritage site, giving it some protection under Ontario heritage laws.

ClubLink had applied to demolish the golf course and several buildings, but some sites, including stables and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, would have remained.

The development plan proposed construction of 141 detached homes, 299 townhomes, 2,782 apartments, retail and office space, as well as parks, open space and natural heritage areas.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dead at 91

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 28th, 2017

Hugh Hefner with Bunnies at the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1960. Photo credit: Playboy

Playboy founder Hugh M. Hefner, the pipe-smoking hedonist who revved up the sexual revolution in the 1950s and built a multimedia empire of clubs, mansions, movies and television, symbolized by bow-tied women in bunny costumes, has died at age 91.

Hefner died of natural causes at his home surrounded by family on Wednesday night, Playboy said in a statement.

As much as anyone, Hefner helped slip sex out of the confines of plain brown wrappers and into mainstream conversation.

In 1953, a time when states could legally ban contraceptives, when the word “pregnant” was not allowed on “I Love Lucy,” Hefner published the first issue of Playboy, featuring naked photos of Marilyn Monroe (taken years earlier) and an editorial promise of “humour, sophistication and spice.” The Great Depression and World War II were over and America was ready to get undressed.

Playboy soon became forbidden fruit for teenagers and a bible for men with time and money, primed for the magazine’s prescribed evenings of dimmed lights, hard drinks, soft jazz, deep thoughts and deeper desires. Within a year, circulation neared 200,000. Within five years, it had topped 1 million.

By the 1970s, the magazine had more than 7 million readers and had inspired such raunchier imitations as Penthouse and Hustler. Competition and the internet reduced circulation to less than 3 million by the 21st century, and the number of issues published annually was cut from 12 to 11. In 2015, Playboy ceased publishing images of naked women, citing the proliferation of nudity on the internet.

But Hefner and Playboy remained brand names worldwide.

Asked by The New York Times in 1992 of what he was proudest, Hefner responded: “That I changed attitudes toward sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

Hefner ran Playboy from his elaborate mansions, first in Chicago and then in Los Angeles, and became the flamboyant symbol of the lifestyle he espoused. For decades he was the pipe-smoking, silk-pajama-wearing centre of a constant party with celebrities and Playboy models. By his own account, Hefner had sex with more than a thousand women, including many pictured in his magazine. One of rock n’ roll’s most decadent tours, the Rolling Stones shows of 1972, featured a stop at the Hefner mansion.

Throughout the 1960s, Hefner left Chicago only a few times. In the early 1970s, he bought the second mansion in Los Angeles, flying between his homes on a private DC-9 dubbed “The Big Bunny,” which boasted a giant Playboy bunny emblazoned on the tail.

Hefner was host of a television show, “Playboy After Dark,” and in 1960 opened a string of clubs around the world where waitresses wore revealing costumes with bunny ears and fluffy white bunny tails. In the 21st century, he was back on television in a cable reality show – “The Girls Next Door” – with three live-in girlfriends in the Los Angeles Playboy mansion. Network television briefly embraced Hefner’s empire in 2011 with the NBC drama “The Playboy Club,” which failed to lure viewers and was cancelled after three episodes.

Censorship was inevitable, starting in the 1950s, when Hefner successfully sued to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from denying him second-class mailing status. Playboy has been banned in China, India, Saudi Arabia and Ireland, and 7-Eleven stores for years did not sell the magazine. Stores that did offer Playboy made sure to stock it on a higher shelf.

Women were warned from the first issue: “If you’re somebody’s sister, wife, or mother-in-law,” the magazine declared, “and picked us up by mistake, please pass us along to the man in your life and get back to Ladies Home Companion.”

Playboy proved a scourge, and a temptation. Drew Barrymore, Farrah Fawcett and Linda Evans are among those who have posed for the magazine. Several bunnies became celebrities, too, including singer Deborah Harry and model Lauren Hutton, both of whom had fond memories of their time with Playboy. Other bunnies had traumatic experiences, with several alleging they had been raped by Hefner’s close friend Bill Cosby, who faced dozens of such allegations. Hefner issued a statement in late 2014 he “would never tolerate this behaviour.” But two years later, former bunny Chloe Goins sued Cosby and Hefner for sexual battery, gender violence and other charges over an alleged 2008 rape.

One bunny turned out to be a journalist: Feminist Gloria Steinem got hired in the early 1960s and turned her brief employment into an article for Show magazine that described the clubs as pleasure havens for men only. The bunnies, Steinem wrote, tended to be poorly educated, overworked and underpaid. Steinem regarded the magazine and clubs not as erotic, but “pornographic.”

“I think Hefner himself wants to go down in history as a person of sophistication and glamour. But the last person I would want to go down in history as is Hugh Hefner,” Steinem later said.

“Women are the major beneficiaries of getting rid of the hypocritical old notions about sex,” Hefner responded. “Now some people are acting as if the sexual revolution was a male plot to get laid. One of the unintended by-products of the women’s movement is the association of the erotic impulse with wanting to hurt somebody.”

Hefner added that he was a strong advocate of First Amendment, civil rights and reproductive rights and that the magazine contained far more than centerfolds. Playboy serialized Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and later published fiction by John Updike, Doris Lessing and Vladimir Nabokov. Playboy also specialized in long and candid interviews, from Fidel Castro and Frank Sinatra to Marlon Brando and then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, who confided that he had “committed adultery” in his heart. John Lennon spoke to Playboy in 1980, not long before he was murdered.

The line that people read Playboy for the prose, not the pictures, was only partly a joke.

Playboy’s clubs also influenced the culture, giving early breaks to such entertainers as George Carlin, Rich Little, Mark Russell, Dick Gregory and Redd Foxx. The last of the clubs closed in 1988, when Hefner deemed them “passe” and “too tame for the times.”

By then Hefner had built a $200 million company by expanding Playboy to include international editions of the magazine, casinos, a cable network and a film production company. In 2006, he got back into the club business with his Playboy Club at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. A new enterprise in London followed, along with fresh response from women’s groups, who protested the opening with cries of “Eff off Hef!”‘

Hefner liked to say he was untroubled by criticism, but in 1985 he suffered a mild stroke that he blamed on the book “The Killing of the Unicorn: Dorothy Stratten 1960-1980,” by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. Stratten was a Playmate killed by her husband, Paul Snider, who then killed himself. Bogdanovich, Stratton’s boyfriend at the time, wrote that Hefner helped bring about her murder and was unable to deal with “what he and his magazine do to women.”

After the stroke, Hefner handed control of his empire to his feminist daughter, Christie, although he owned 70 per cent of Playboy stock and continued to choose every month’s Playmate and cover shot. Christie Hefner continued as CEO until 2009.

He also stopped using recreational drugs and tried less to always be the life of the party. He tearfully noted in a 1992 New York Times interview: “I’ve spent so much of my life looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Not surprisingly, Hefner’s marriage life was also a bit of a show. In 1949, he married Mildred Williams, with whom he had two children. They divorced in 1958. In July 1989, Hefner married Kimberley Conrad, the 1989 Playmate of the Year, who was then 27. The couple also had two children.

On the eve of his marriage, Hefner was asked if he would have a bachelor party. “I’ve had a bachelor party for 30 years,” he said. “Why do I need one now?”

They separated in 1998 but she continued living next door to the Playboy mansion with their two sons. The couple divorced in 2010 and he proposed in 2011 to 24-year-old Crystal Harris, a former Playmate. Harris called off the wedding days before the ceremony, but changed her mind and they married at the end of 2012.

“Maybe I should be single,” he said a few months later. “But I do know that I need an ongoing romantic relationship. In other words, I am essentially a very romantic person, and all I really was looking for, quite frankly, with the notion of marriage was continuity and something to let the girl know that I really cared.”

He acknowledged, at age 85, that “I never really found my soulmate.”

Hefner was born in Chicago on April 9, 1926, to devout Methodist parents who he said never showed “love in a physical or emotional way.”

“At a very early age, I began questioning a lot of that religious foolishness about man’s spirit and body being in conflict, with God primarily with the spirit of man and the Devil dwelling in the flesh,” Hefner said in a Playboy interview in 1974.

“Part of the reason that I am who I am is my Puritan roots run deep,” he told the AP in 2011. “My folks are Puritan. My folks are prohibitionists. There was no drinking in my home. No discussion of sex. And I think I saw the hurtful and hypocritical side of that from very early on. ”

Hefner loved movies throughout his life, calling them “my other family.” He screened classic films and new releases at the mansion every week. Every year on his April 9 birthday, he’d run his favourite film, “Casablanca,” and invite guests to dress in the fashions of the 1940s.

He was a playboy before Playboy, even during his first marriage, when he enjoyed stag films, strip poker and group sex. His bunny obsession began with the figures that decorated a childhood blanket. Years later, a real-life subspecies of rabbit on the endangered species list, in the Florida Keys, would be named for him: Sylvilagus palustris hefneri.

When Hefner was 9, he began publishing a neighbourhood newspaper, which he sold for a penny a copy. He spent much of his time writing and drawing cartoons, and in middle school began reading Esquire, a magazine of sex and substance Hefner wanted Playboy to emulate.

He and Playboy co-founder Eldon Sellers launched their magazine from Hefner’s kitchen in Chicago, although the first issue was undated because Hefner doubted there would be a second. The magazine was supposed to be called Stag Party, until an outdoor magazine named Stag threatened legal action.

Hefner recalled that he first reinvented himself in high school in Chicago at 16, when he was rejected by a girl he had a crush on. He began referring to himself as Hef instead of Hugh, learned the jitterbug and began drawing a comic book, “a kind of autobiography that put myself centre stage in a life I created for myself,” he said in a 2006 interview with the AP.

Those comics evolved into a detailed scrapbook that Hefner would keep throughout his life. It spanned more than 2,500 volumes in 2011 – a Guinness World Record for a personal scrapbook collection.

“It was probably just a way of creating a world of my own to share with my friends,” Hefner said, seated amid the archives of his life during a 2011 interview. “And in retrospect, in thinking about it, it’s not a whole lot different than creating the magazine.”

He did it again in 1960, when he began hosting the TV show, bought a fancy car, started smoking a pipe and bought the first Playboy mansion.

“Well, if we hadn’t had the Wright brothers, there would still be airplanes,” Hefner said in 1974. “If there hadn’t been an Edison, there would still be electric lights. And if there hadn’t been a Hefner, we’d still have sex. But maybe we wouldn’t be enjoying it as much. So the world would be a little poorer. Come to think of it, so would some of my relatives.”

Glen Abbey owner wants to demolish parts of golf course despite heritage status

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 27th, 2017

File photo of the entrance of the Glen Abbey Golf Club on Aug. 20, 2017.

The Oakville town council will continue Wednesday to hear submissions on a plan to demolish the historic Glen Abbey golf course despite its heritage status.

Glen Abbey’s owner ClubLink filed an application Monday to demolish or remove the golf course and some buildings to make way for a mix of homes, offices and stores.

ClubLink is battling local residents over its redevelopment plan for the golf course, which has hosted the Canadian Open 28 times.

In August, the Town of Oakville voted in favour of designating Glen Abbey as a heritage site, giving it some protection under Ontario heritage laws.

ClubLink has accused the Town of overreaching but says it will not appeal the heritage designation.

Council heard Tuesday night from a number of groups opposed to ClubLink’s plans and will take up the issue again on Wednesday night.

The company has applied to demolish the golf course and several buildings, but some sites, including stables and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, will remain.

‘Some progress’ made as contract talks resume between GM and striking workers

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 27th, 2017

General Motors Co. (GM) signage is displayed outside of General Motor of Canada Ltd. headquarter offices in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. General Motors of Canada Ltd. will pump $2.535-billion into a trust fund that will finance health-care costs for its retirees, eliminating a key legacy cost that the auto maker said hobbled it in the fiercely competitive North American auto market, according to The Globe and Mail. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The union representing 2,500 workers who have been on strike since Sept. 17 at GM Canada’s CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., says contracts talks have resumed with the automaker.

Unifor Local 88 says the two sides met on Tuesday in Woodstock, Ont., where GM responded to proposals put forward last Sunday.

A statement on the local’s website says “some progress has been made” and the talks will continue.

The brief statement did not elaborate, nor has Unifor revealed what was contained in Sunday’s formal proposal.

However, the union had previously said it wants the automaker to designate the CAMI plant as the lead producer of the Equinox sport utility vehicle _ currently the only product built at the plant.

Job security has become more of an issue for the union since GM shifted production of its Terrain SUV from the CAMI plant to Mexico earlier this year at a loss of more than 400 jobs.

Man found dead in suspected drug lab near Eglinton and Mount Pleasant

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Sep 27th, 2017

Toronto Fire's hazmat team at the scene of a suspected drug lab on Broadway Avenue near Eglinton Avenue East and Mount Pleasant Road on Sept. 27, 2017. CITYNEWS

One man is dead after emergency crews found him in, what’s believed to be, a drug lab near Eglinton Avenue East and Mount Pleasant Road.

Toronto Fire’s hazmat team was called to a unit at an apartment building on Broadway Avenue just before 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

It originally came in as a medical call, but when crews arrived on scene they found the man without vital signs and discovered the suspected drug lab.

He was pronounced at the scene.

The cause of death is not yet known, but police said it is not considered suspicious.

Some nearby apartments were evacuated as a precaution.

Toronto students feeling the heat in stifling classrooms

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 26th, 2017

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Parents at a public school in Toronto are concerned their children are feeling the current heat wave more than usual due to construction blocking school windows.

“I walked into the classroom and I could feel the heat coming out of the classroom,” said Marvin Kaye, whose daughter attends Grade 4 at Rawlinson Community School, near St. Clair Avenue West and Dufferin Street.

Kaye said when he asked his daughter’s teacher about the conditions inside the classroom, she told him the temperature was hovering around 30 C during the day.

“I can’t imagine what eight- and nine-year-olds are like after a few hours in 30-plus heat,”  he said.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said the school has been going through a significant renewal project for the last two years, and some classroom windows have been boarded up with only a small gap for air to come through.

“We would love to complete the work in the summer when students aren’t there, but the fact is with 584 schools, some of those schools needing significant maintenance and repair, it’s not possible to cram it all into July and August,” said TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird.

He said the classrooms have been provided with fans, and students are relocated to cooler areas like the basement when possible. But he added the challenge of keeping schools cool during extreme heat alert is city-wide, with only 125 of 584 schools air conditioned.

“The fact is, it is a very hot day and we’re doing the best we can given the circumstances were faced with,” he said.

Kaye argued that’s not good enough.

“Why isn’t there an air conditioner? Why not take the construction off the windows and let them get some air in there?” he said. “It seems like an incredible lack of rational thought.”

Meanwhile, the TDSB cancelled all outdoor activities for both Monday and Tuesday due to the extreme heat.

 

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle make first official public appearance together

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 26th, 2017

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Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle chose to make their public debut as a couple in Toronto on Monday, making an unexpected but highly anticipated appearance together at the Invictus Games, the international sporting competition spearheaded by the royal.

The prince and Markle, a Toronto-based actor in the legal drama “Suits,” held hands as they walked toward Toronto’s city hall to take in a game of wheelchair tennis, one of several events that make up the week-long Games for wounded soldiers.

Both were dressed casually in jeans, the prince pairing his with a black polo shirt while his girlfriend wore a pale button-down shirt. They both wore dark sunglasses. And for those wondering, there was no ring seen on Markle’s left hand.

Harry, 33, is in the city for the Games, a multi-day sporting event he founded in 2014 to inspire and motivate wounded soldiers on their paths to recovery.

His presence had sparked intense speculation about whether the couple — who have publicly acknowledged their relationship and have been photographed together in the past — would appear together at an official event.

Markle, 36, had appeared at the Games’ opening ceremony this weekend, cheering athletes from the stands, but was seated several rows away from Harry, who sat next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. first lady Melania Trump.

That they chose a sporting event at the Games as their first public joint appearance is significant, said royal historian Carolyn Harris, author of “Raising Royalty: A Thousand Years of Royal Parenting.”

“The Invictus Games has been his initiative and it grows out of his own military service and now one of the key aspects of his public service is promoting the interests of veterans, so it shows how important this event is to him that he’s in Toronto attending all these events and that Meghan is accompanying him,” she said.

“This public appearance also demonstrates how Canada is a very welcoming environment for royalty — William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, made Canada their first Commonwealth tour as a married couple and now we’re seeing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping out as a couple.”

Some royal watchers had earlier suggested the couple would hold off on a public appearance together for fear of stealing the spotlight away from the Games, but Harris said their presence has, in fact, brought more attention to the event.

She said it is interesting that they chose to attend wheelchair tennis together, noting that tennis courts have been “the setting for royal events since the Middle Ages.”

Harry has been dating Markle since last year. He confirmed the relationship in November when he complained about intrusive press coverage. Markle recently told Vanity Fair she and Harry are in love.

Harry and Markle sat together in the stands at the small downtown Toronto tennis venue on Monday, occasionally applauding or leaning in to talk to each other. The couple later lingered to speak and shake hands with some in the crowd.

They eventually walked away from the event, again holding hands.

The Invictus Games run until Sept. 30.

 

TDSB takes steps to help students beat the heat

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Sep 26th, 2017

Students are seen in a classroom in an undated file photo. CITYNEWS

Summer vacation is over and kids are back in school, but summer weather only just arrived in Toronto last week.

With unseasonably warm temperatures some classrooms across the city are sweating it out.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) governs 584 schools out of which only 125 are fully air conditioned. Others are partially air conditioned and some have no air conditioning at all.

In an email, Ryan Bird, TDSB media relations, says it’s simply not financially possible to install full air conditioning in all schools.

“The cost to install complete building air conditioning at all schools that don’t currently have it would reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars – not to mention the added maintenance, replacement and operational costs associated with the installation of A/C in all schools,” he said.

However, he stressed that school staff make every effort to ensure students are comfortable.

“During warmer temperatures, our staff do their very best to keep students cool,” Bird said.

Some of the steps taken to help students beat the heat include:

  • Closing blinds and using fans
  • Relocating to cooler areas where possible
  • Reducing strenuous activity like some gym activities
  • Cancelling all practices for school sports teams temporarily across TDSB schools till temperatures cool down.
  • Students with heat related medical concerns are encouraged to speak to staff for further accommodation.

In addition, Bird said the TDSB is in the process of creating cooling stations in schools that are not equipped with A/C.

This involves cooling large ares such as gyms or libraries so that students have access to cooler areas when temperatures soar. The process is expected to take five to seven years to complete

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