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Pay It Forward Grocery Store opens in Toronto, but experts say model can be hit-or-miss

CASSANDRA SZKLARSKI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 18th, 2018

There’s a reason you don’t often see a pay-what-you-can grocery store, say marketing experts intrigued by a Toronto venture billed as the first of its kind.

But chef Jagger Gordon says it’s an experiment he’s eager to try with his Pay It Forward Grocery Store, which opened Saturday with many of the typical staples you might find in a conventional supermarket.

The difference is that visitors are encouraged to take just what they need, and only pay what they can, even if that’s no money at all.

Gordon doesn’t expect to make a profit from this project, which includes a bakery and cafe and is the latest endeavour from his zero-waste and food security campaign, dubbed Feed It Forward.

He says the goal is to feed the hungry with food that he’s “rescued” from food terminals, supermarkets and bakeries that would otherwise go to waste.

“It’s a simple procedure of taking those trucks that are destined for landfills and hijacking them and giving them to people in need,” says Gordon, who last year helmed a pay-what-you-can restaurant that made soup and sandwiches from discarded produce that might have a bruise or blemish.

“There’s more of a demand for food that is needed by Canadians than people know.”

You’d be hard pressed to find critics of such a worthy mission.

The sliding scale concept, however, is more often applied to arts events like theatre, dance or museums, notes marketing professor Claire Tsai of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

And generally speaking, it’s not something she expects would translate well to shopping for fruits and vegetables.

“When people think about groceries, people want to save money,” Tsai says.

“It’s not the same as going out to eat. Going out to eat is a time for us to enjoy ourselves — people are more generous in buying alcohol, buying drinks. When you are in this mindset of shopping for groceries, people look for savings.”

The charitable aspect in this case could affect that, she allows, as would peer pressure to do your part if the neighbourhood is tight-knit.

But the pay-what-you-can-model is a tricky one to get right, she says, noting it often fails to offset costs. Tsai points to the pay-what-you-can days at New York museums, which she describes as free-for-alls for many tourists.

“You need a relationship with the buyer and seller. You cannot have everyone who just wants to come and get a freebie … and at least a group of high-income people who are willing to support this cost.”

There will undoubtedly be some who take advantage of the system, adds marketing expert Brent McKenzie at the University of Guelph. But he suggests this venture is buffered by a uniquely altruistic spirit. Public perceptions certainly play a role, too.

“They’ve had studies, too, like in an office setting, where people pay for coffee or snacks and things,” McKenzie notes.

“When it was a specific price and you had to put your money in, they actually found they made more money when they just said, ‘Put in what you think you can today.’”

Gordon certainly has faith in people with means to cover those who don’t. He says his eight-month run with a pay-what-you-can restaurant “balanced out” in the end.

There are limitations to Feed It Forward, however.

He notes visitors can only take one day’s worth of food for a family, or choose a bi-weekly box of pre-packaged food and recipes. And checking out involves providing your name, contact information and details on what was taken.

Gordon adds that costs are relatively low since food is donated and labour is volunteered.

He expects to cover overhead through fundraisers, online donations and revenue from his catering business, Jagger Gordon Catering. He says he’s also in the process of registering the project as a charity, and pursuing corporate backers and sponsorships.

Still, suggesting pay-what-you-can risks turning some potential benefactors off, says food industry expert Robert Carter, noting the fear of paying too much, or too little, can lead some uncertain shoppers to go elsewhere.

“I could see that being a bit of a challenge,” says the NPD Group executive. “It’s such a different mindset for consumers.”

Nevertheless, he pointed to millennials as a socially conscious generation that is changing the way consumers assess value and spend money.

“If you look at the younger cohort today, rather, the millennial cohort, we know that they’re very much motivated by cause-based situations,” says Carter.

“If they know this is going to help the community, (they’re more likely to say), ‘Then I should be spending my money here instead of going to a corporate store.”

 

Rain falls in Eaton Centre as storm hits downtown Toronto

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 14th, 2018

Even the Eaton Centre wasn’t a refuge from the rain as a storm rolled through downtown Toronto on Wednesday afternoon.

Numerous people posted videos on Twitter as water poured from the ceiling of the shopping centre.

One person tweeted “It’s raining inside Eaton Centre,” and video showed pools of water on the floors and a woman continuing to shop as water poured from the ceiling of a store.

Security guards were putting down barriers to keep the water from flowing into other shops.

A spokeswoman for mall operator Cadillac Fairview says a water leak, believed to have been caused by the rain, started on the third level of the shopping centre at about 4:30 p.m. and flowed down to the lower levels.

Michele Enhaynes says the source of the leak has been found and part of the mall is closed off, affecting some stores.

“The shopping mall is operational but there a few retail clients closed for the evening including Ted Baker, Guess, Marciano and Massimo Dutti,” Enhaynes said in an email.

The areas affected by the flood were closed “in order to ensure the safety of our tenants, guests and staff,” she said.

Much of southern Ontario was under severe thunderstorm watches and warnings on Wednesday afternoon and electrical utility Hydro One said about 47,000 customers were without power, many due to storm-related outages.

John Tory vows action on cyclist safety amid calls for lower speed limits

Michael Talbot | posted Thursday, Jun 14th, 2018

Another cyclist killed in a collision with a vehicle. Another photo of a twisted bicycle, followed by a another tweet offering condolences to the victim’s family.

The cyclist was a 58-year-old woman killed Tuesday while cycling near Bloor and St. George streets. The photo of her mangled bicycle was further evidence of the perils of cycling in Toronto, and the tweet was from Mayor John Tory — who faced a barrage of angry responses from those who feel he hasn’t done enough to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Former Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, was among those voicing her dismay online, and pleading for change.

In a tweet Tuesday, Keesmaat said it was time to “declare a State of Emergency” and said the “First step is to lower speed limits and enforce them.”

In a subsequent series of tweets, Keesmaat continued to argue that the most practical solution to the disturbing spate of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Toronto is to reduce driver speed.

“Slowing down on city streets prevents death,” she wrote. “If residents won’t do it voluntarily, it needs to be regulated.”

“Everyone needs to slow down,” she added. Reducing speed matters most.”

Mayor Tory responded to Keesmaat’s tweets on Wednesday while fielding questions about Toronto’s potential role in the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament.

“I think anybody who would suggest we are not seized with a sense of urgency about this is not being fair, but I acknowledge that we have to do more,” he said.

Some citizens and advocates for pedestrian and cycling safety accused Tory on Twitter of failing miserably to live up to the Vision Zero road safety plan he launched in January 2017.

“These are preventable deaths, and we’re going to take the steps necessary as a city to get that number down to zero,” Tory said when the initiative was launched.

Tory’s tweet offering condolences to the family of the woman killed on Tuesday sparked hundreds of angry responses from those who feel the mayor has done too much talking, but hasn’t taken enough action on the life-or-death issue.

Steve Masse said: “I’m frustrated and angry that politicians extend their thoughts and prayers, but fail to implement adequate protections for cyclists and pedestrians. I’m done with the excuses.”

Jay Wall added: “We don’t elect a Mayor or City Councillors to give us thoughts and prayers. No. Make good policy and then implement it like we’re dying out here. Because we are.”

When asked about the growing public anger about the issue on Wednesday, Tory maintained that pedestrian and cyclist safety is a top priority and he implored drivers to slow down and pay attention.

“Of all the things that gives me sleepless nights … it is this matter of people dying on the streets in safety related incidents that take lives of cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.

“I spent the first two hours of today … sitting with the people at city hall trying to figure out what we can do.”

“We are going to reconfigure roads, we are changing speed limits, we are putting up signs to tell people how fast they are going, we are enforcing the laws, we are bringing in photo radar, but people have to change, who are in cars and trucks, their own behaviour.”

Tory said that everyone has a shared responsibility for road safety, but stressed that “the principal onus for change and to get better results heading towards Vision Zero must rest with people who are drivers. And they have to slow down…”

While Tory maintained he was working to find solutions, some pointed towards other Canadian cities for ideas.

 

Here’s a guide to World Cup pubs in the GTA

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jun 14th, 2018

Whether you’re a footie fan or not, it’s hard not to get swept up in World Cup fever.

There’s no better way to watch a match than cheering alongside die-hard supporters at a packed pub in Toronto — even if it’s at 9 o’clock in the morning (yes, the city has passed a motion allowing alcohol to be served at 9 a.m. from June 14 to July 15).

Here’s a map showing dozens of locations to enjoy the month-long tournament in the GTA.

Where do you watch the World Cup?

If you have any suggested hot spots, Tweet us or post a message on our Facebook page.

Canada wins vote to co-host 2026 FIFA World Cup with U.S. and Mexico

Sportsnet Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 13th, 2018

The biggest and most popular sporting event on the planet is coming to Canada.

In a historic vote held in Moscow on Wednesday, the “United Bid” of Canada, Mexico and the United States beat out Morocco to win the right to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, marking the first time that international soccer’s marquee event will touch down on Canadian soil.

The “United Bid” won the vote over Morocco during a special congressional meeting where every single member nation of FIFA, excluding the four potential host countries, cast a ballot.

Mexico previously hosted the World Cup in 1970 and 1986. The United States staged the tournament in 1994. Canada has never held the competition, but it did host the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Canada’s only appearance at the World Cup came in 1986 when it loss all three of its games and crashed out in the first round.

Historically, the host nation has always automatically qualified for the World Cup — it hasn’t been forced to play games in order to qualify for the tournament.

However, FIFA previously ruled that should the “United bid” beat out Morocco, the number of host countries to automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup would be decided by another vote by the FIFA council sometime in the future.

The 2026 World Cup will expand to 48 teams from 32, and will feature a new format of 16 round-robin groups of three teams with the top two from each pool advancing to a 32-nation knockout round. The tournament will still take place over 32 days.

The “United Bid” calls for the U.S. to host 60 matches, including all games from the quarter-finals through to the final. Canada and Mexico would each host 10 games.

Three Canadian cities – Edmonton, Montreal, and Toronto – could potentially host matches. The “United Bid’s” organizing committee will now work in conjunction with FIFA to decide which cities will get games, although FIFA makes the final call.

The American candidate cities are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York/New Jersey, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The Mexican candidate cities are Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.

In total, 23 cities are part of the “United Bid,” and 16 cities will be selected by FIFA to host games.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on Thursday, with host Russia taking on Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar.

Canadian soccer official calls 2026 World Cup bid vote a ‘watershed moment’

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 13th, 2018

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will make one last pitch Wednesday at the FIFA Congress in Moscow for their joint 2026 World Cup bid.

It is limited to 15 minutes, with bidding rival Morocco to follow at the Moscow Expocentre.

More than 200 FIFA member associations will then cast their ballot, deciding who gets to hold soccer’s biggest showcase.

“It’s a watershed moment for our country and for our sport,” said Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada’s bid director. “It’s not only about our sport and sports, it’s building a nation, it’s a nation-builder. And it gives us eight years to tell and deliver a great story for soccer, for youth, for grassroots, for men’s (soccer) alignment and for sports in general.

“It’s a game-changer.”

It would likely open the door to Canada finally returning to the men’s world stage — a widely expected scenario as co-host that has yet to be officially confirmed. But with the tournament expanding from 32 to 48 teams in 2026, tripling the hosts would not cause as many ripples.

Under the current blueprint, the U.S. would host the lion’s share of games with 60, compared to 10 each for Canada (with Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto serving as host cities) and Mexico.

But that could change after Wednesday’s vote when FIFA takes over the tournament planning. Canadian officials have already said that there is a movement to stage games in all three countries on the tournament’s opening day, should the so-called United bid carry the day.

Traditionally, the opening day has featured one game involving the tournament host. With three host countries, it would be natural to give all three host sides a Day 1 showcase.

The United bid made a presentation to UEFA officials on Tuesday, with CSA president Steve Reed handling the Canadian portion. They had done presentations for the five other confederations on Monday.

“We felt our message was very strong,” said Montopoli.

On paper, the two bids are worlds apart.

In rating the risk assessment of both bidders, with grades of low-, medium- and high-risk, FIFA’s own bid evaluation report gives Morocco three high-risk grades (stadiums, accommodation, and accommodation and transport), 10 medium and seven low.

The so-called United bid gets 17 low-risk assessments and three medium (organizing cost, legal-government support, and human rights and labour standards).

The evaluation report also offers a “technical scoring” of the two bids, with Morocco getting 274.9 out of 500, compared to the United bid’s 402.8 total.

Morocco plans to use 14 stadiums, nine of which have yet to be built with the other five due for renovation. The United bid plans to use 16 from a list of 23 — 17 of which are deemed just fine the way they are, with six needing renovation.

The United bid also has a massive edge when it comes to the all-mighty dollar — a key factor considering FIFA uses the world showcase to bankroll its operations. The North American bid projects US$14.3 billion in revenue compared to $7.2 billion for Morocco.

Hard numbers aside, it is a vote with Gibraltar having the same say as China.

And unlike past World Cup hosting decisions, it is being made by the 211 FIFA members associations (minus the bidding countries and any under suspension) as opposed to the FIFA executive committee.

President Donald Trump’s negative comments on African countries and his bid to tighten immigration restrictions on some nations have likely helped Morocco’s cause. However, the New York Times has reported that United bid officials have letters from the U.S. president saying all teams that qualify — and their fans — will be able to enter the country.

Montopoli, speaking for the Canadian portion of the bid, said only that they had the government guarantees they had required.

“Not to comment really on the U.S. side, but maybe they felt that they wished to go further in some additional letters which they had received from their president,” he added.

Montopoli says there could be as many as 1,000 people in the room when the two rival bids make their presentations. The FIFA member associations usually come with three delegates each and there will also be a good number of guests.

Taking no chances, Montopoli is pulling out his lucky charm.

“There’s a pair of socks that I like to wear for these type of situations,” he said in an interview.

The socks are red and Montopoli wore them when Canada won the right to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup as well as the 2012 and 2016 women’s Olympic bronze-medal matches.

Ontario’s tough distracted driving rules to take effect Jan. 1

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 13th, 2018

 The new laws for distracted driving in Ontario are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, police sources have revealed to 680 NEWS.

The fines for distracted driving would increase from a maximum of $1,000 to up to $2,000 on a second conviction and up to $3,000 for third or subsequent incidents, as well as six demerit points for multiple offences.

Offenders would also see their licence suspended for three days on a first offence, seven days after two convictions, and 30 days for third and further convictions.

However, officers won’t be able to seize a driver’s licence at roadside. A judge would have to order it suspended only after the driver is found guilty.

The rules received royal assent earlier this year.

Speeding fines may double around Toronto schools

Betty Wondimu | posted Wednesday, Jun 13th, 2018

Toronto is considering doubling speed fines around elementary schools in an effort to slow motorists down, and photo radar could be a part of the picture too.

The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is considering a report Tuesday that would replace existing school zones with new community safety zones around more than 750 elementary schools.

Unlike school zones, community safety zones wouldn’t have a perimeter limit of 150 meters and drivers would have to pay attention to signage, flashing lights and zebra-style road markings to identify the zones.

If approved by council, speeding fines would increase and the city would be one step closer to using photo radar to catch drivers in these zones. For photo radar to become a reality, the province would have to enact regulations in the Safer School Zones Act first.

The report under review is a part of the city’s Vision Zero safety plan, which aims to bring the number of road deaths in Toronto to zero.

At least two young children have died so far this year while getting dropped off or picked up from Toronto schools.

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