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Growing criticism of temporary plan to put additional 200 officers on patrol overnight

TINA YAZDANI | posted Thursday, Jul 19th, 2018

There are growing tensions between the mayor, police chief and police union over a plan to put an additional 200 officers on patrol in the city overnight, for the next eight weeks.

The plan comes in response to the recent spate of gun violence in the city.

The Toronto Police Association is grieving the mandatory overtime required to get the job done. Officers will be forced to work 12-hour shifts, and the union says there won’t be an appropriate rest time between shifts, breaking their collective agreement.

“This whole notion that we’re going to have an additional 200 officers available is just not true,” said Mike McCormack, Toronto Police Association president.

“We’re relying on the officers that are already overworked.”

“This is a temporary measure, for eight weeks,” said Toronto mayor John Tory in response to the grievance, noting Police Chief Mark Saunders has reassured him that the well-being of police officers comes first.

But the union says more hires are needed to make a plan like this work effectively. Right now, the city is in the process of hiring more permanent officers, but the mayor said it just can’t happen overnight.

“We can’t hire them that fast,” said Tory.

“We have some obstacles standing in the way of hiring police officers right now that have to do with some of the fitness tests, the capacity of the police college and so on, so it’s not possible to hire police officers on a dime. This is the best way that we can put those resources in the community.”

On Wednesday, the mayor also released a 16-point plan that focuses on youth programs, with the goal of keeping at-risk youth away from violence and violent behaviour. Tory says the initiative will help thousands of young people access jobs, mentoring and after-school programs. The majority of the $12 million dollar cost will come from the federal government.

Experts say there is no short-term fix but investing in marginalized communities and at-risk youth is the best way to see significant changes.

“There’s no real quick fix,” said Jooyoung Lee, U of T Associate Professor. “The solution is systemic, and if we want to rid the city streets of gun violence then we have to invest in infrastructure that’s gonna support people who are marginalized and vulnerable. That’s the real solution.”

In the meantime, the Toronto Police Association says it will not be taking any immediate job action, and the eight-week plan is set to move forward on Friday.

Condos rushing to ban pot smoking before legalization, leaving some residents fuming

SHERYL UBELACKER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 19th, 2018

Gerald Major goes out on the back balcony of his condo several times a day, leaning against the wall and smoking or vaping medicinal cannabis to ease the pain and other symptoms of severe arthritis.

But the looming legalization of recreational marijuana may put his daily ritual in jeopardy, as condominium corporations and apartment buildings across the country scramble to enact rules that would ban pot smoking inside units, on balconies and in common areas used by residents.

“I don’t use inside my dwelling, I have a seven-year-old. I don’t think it’s healthy, nor is it necessary,” said Major, 46, who has had eight surgeries in the last eight years related to ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, which he began developing at age 14.

“So I discretely go about my business and try to respect everyone around,” he said. “The solution I have right now is fine because all the vape goes away from anyone and it’s not going in anyone’s windows.”

Major and his family moved into the Oakville, Ont., condo about five years ago, a couple of years after his medical condition forced him to give up his job running hedge-fund services for a major North American bank.

Although there’s been no such notice circulated to residents, Major is worried what he would do if his condo corporation and the building’s board of directors decide to outlaw pot smoking and vaping on the property in the run-up to Oct. 17, when toking recreational cannabis becomes legal.

“If it does go that way, then my board will certainly take the most conservative approach. And then, I guess I’ll be looking for another place to live.”

Toronto condo lawyer Denise Lash said her firm has been kept hopping by clients putting new rules in place for their buildings before cannabis is legalized, often resulting in some residents objecting to the changes. Social media has been rife with complaints about condo boards being high-handed in banning weed.

Lash said that over the past few years, many condo corporations were focused on dealing with tobacco use within units and in common areas of their properties.

“So now that we have marijuana that’s going to be legalized, there’s a real concern that there’s going to be more (pot) smokers,” she said, noting that the pungent fumes from a joint can permeate nearby condo units, which non-using residents could argue is not only a nuisance but also a health risk.

Such a contention would be valid, as no building can be made completely air-tight, said Sandro Zuliani, president and CEO of Crossbridge Condominium Services, a property manager for about 80,000 units in the Greater Toronto Area.

“You can never wrap it in Saran Wrap, per se, to prevent that smoke from migrating,” he said. “Even someone going out onto their balcony, the smoke can make its way into an adjoining unit.

“What the solution is, you make the building completely smoke-free.”

Yet even going that route won’t necessarily mean a condo complex will be devoid of smoke: unit owners who already used tobacco prior to a smoking ban being instituted can seek to be “grandfathered,” meaning they would retain the right to continue puffing away.

Lash said in part it’s grandfathering that has lit a fire under many condo corporations to get expanded rules in place, to avoid residents using that loophole for recreational cannabis should buildings miss the Oct. 17 deadline.

Also of concern is residents cultivating marijuana plants — legislation will allow four per household for recreational users, six or more for medicinal users — because even such mini grow-ops can cause damaging moisture and mould in units.

“So we’re taking the position of no cultivation,” Lash said of drawing up rule-change documents for clients.

While condo corps in Toronto and many other cities across the country are rushing to get new rules passed by their building’s boards of directors, Vancouver and other West Coast communities have been able to take a much more mellow approach.

“It’s not really a new scenario in the sense that strata (condo) corporations across British Columbia have had no-smoking bylaws for probably five to 10 years already,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of BC.

“And so with respect to any type of consumption of a combustible, whether it’s tobacco, marijuana or any other substance, there’s an extensive list of strata corporations that have already started prohibiting consumption,” he said from Vancouver.

“There was so much anticipation that this was going to be a bigger issue, and it turns out in British Columbia to be not that much of an issue because we already have built into our legislation a nuisance bylaw which applies to any type of nuisance created from one strata lot or a common area into another unit.”

Gioventu said some condo corporations will make special accommodations for residents authorized to smoke medical marijuana and to propagate plants for that use within their units.

Still, that could pit a medicinal pot smoker against a neighbour who complains about contamination of their living space, conceivably triggering a human rights complaint by either party.

“It becomes a human rights Catch-22,” said Gioventu. “Who has the greater rights of the two parties?

“Sometimes both rights are met. Some circumstances require modifications to the ventilation system in the building to accommodate both parties.”

As for Major, he would consider taking his case to Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal if rules come into force in his condo that would prohibit him from smoking or vaping cannabis, along with the oils and tinctures he takes to control his multiple symptoms.

Otherwise, he’d likely have to give up the no-stairs, no-maintenance benefits of condo living and move again to a house.

“It would put me back to what I didn’t want to be doing, which is worrying about cutting grass, shovelling snow,” said Major, who has already fallen and broken a hip due to osteoporosis.

“Or then I get my wife to do it, and it’s just one more thing that she gets to do.”

Seasonal + year-round farmer’s markets to explore in Toronto!

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jul 19th, 2018

Courtesy of Toronto Farmers’ Market Network. Check out their website here.


Seasonal Markets:

Annette Village Farmers’ Market – Runnymede Presbyterian Church, Annette Street
Wednesdays 3 PM to 7 PM, May to October

Bloor-Borden MyMarket Farmers’ Market
Lippincott St., south of Bloor
Wednesdays 3 PM to 7 PM, June to October

Cabbagetown Farmers’ Market
Riverdale West Park
Tuesdays, 3 PM to 7 PM, May to October

Davisville Farmers’ Market
Mt. Pleasant at Davisville, west side of the park
Tuesdays 3 PM to 7 PM, May to October

East Lynn MyMarket Farmers’ Market
Woodbine & Danforth Aves.
Thursdays 3 PM to 7 PM, June to October

East York Civic Centre Farmers’ Market
850 Coxwell Ave.
Tuesdays 8 AM to 2 PM, May to October

Etobicoke Civic Centre Farmers’ Market
399 The West Mall
Saturdays 8 AM to 2 PM, June to November

Humber Bay Shores Farmers’ Market
Humber Bay Park West, Lake Shore Blvd. W. at Park Lawn Rd.
Saturdays 9 AM to 2 PM, May to October

John St. Farmers’ Market
205 John St.
Wednesdays 3:30 PM to 7 PM, June to October

Junction Farmers’ Market
2960 Dundas St. West
Saturdays 9 AM to 1 PM, May to October

Leslieville Farmers’ Market
Queen St. E. & Coxwell
Sundays 9 AM to 2 PM, May to October

Liberty Village MyMarket Farmers’ Market
Corner of Liberty St. & Atlantic Ave.
Sundays 9 AM to 2 PM, June to October

Metro Hall Farmers’ Market
55 John St., near King St.
Thursdays 8 AM to 2 PM, May to October

Nathan Philips Square Farmers’ Market
Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St W.
Wednesdays, 8 AM – 2 PM, May to October

North York Civic Centre Farmers’ Market
Mel Lastman Square
5100 Yonge St.
Thursdays 8 AM to 2 PM, June to October

Ryerson Farmers’ Market
Near Victoria St. and Gould St.
Wednesdays 11 AM to 3 PM, May to October

Sherway Farmers’ Market
NEW LOCATION: 1536 The Queensway (church parking lot)
Fridays 8 AM to 2 PM, June to October

Sick Kids Hospital Farmers’ Market
555 University Ave.
Tuesdays 9 AM to 2 PM, some vendors indoors for the winter

Stonegate Farmers’ Market
194 Park Lawn Rd., Etobicoke
Tuesdays 4 PM to 7 PM, June to October

The Shops Farmers’ Market
NEW: CF Shops at Don Mills (SW corner of Don Mills Rd. and Lawrence Ave.  E.)
Tuesdays, 11AM to 5:30 PM, June to October

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market
Trinity Bellwoods Park, Dundas & Shaw Sts.
Tuesdays 3 PM to 7 PM, May to October

Uptown Farmers’ Market
Yonge St. at Roselawn
Thursdays, 3 PM to 7 PM, June to October

University of Toronto Scarborough Farmers’ Market
Parking lot 4, 1265 Military Trail
Wednesdays 3 PM to 7 PM, June to October, winter markets the first Wednesday of the month November to April

Urban Market, Concord CityPlace
Concord Presentation Centre, Spadina and Bremner
Wednesdays 3PM to 8PM and Saturdays 10 AM to 5 PM, May to October

Weston Farmers’ Market
GO Train parking lot, John St.
(Weston Rd. & Lawrence Ave. W.)
Saturdays 7 AM to 2 PM, May to October

Withrow Park Farmers’ Market
725 Logan Ave.
Saturdays 9 AM to 1 PM, June to October


Year-round markets:

Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market 
873 Dufferin St., in park opposite mall
Thursdays 3 PM to 7 PM year round

Evergreen Brick Works Farmers’ Market
550 Bayview Ave. (Bayview extension)
Saturdays 8 AM to 1 PM May to November,
winter markets Saturdays 9 AM to 1 PM

Market 55
Community Centre 55, 97 Main Street
Sundays 9AM to 1PM year round
Montgomery’s Inn Farmers’ Market
4709 Dundas St. W.
Wednesdays 2 PM to 6 PM year round
St. Lawrence Market North
92 Front St. E. at Jarvis (temporary location south of main market due to construction)
Saturdays 5 AM to 2 PM year round
Sorauren Farmers’ Market
Sorauren Ave., south of Dundas
Mondays 3 PM to 7 PM year round

The Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns
Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St.
Saturdays 8 AM to 1 PM, year round

Toronto Botanical Garden Organic Farmers’ Market
777 Lawrence Ave. E. at Leslie
Thursdays 2 PM to 6 PM year-round

York University Market (YUM!)
Central Square, York University
Thursdays, 11 AM to 4 PM, September to April

Report: Raptors, Spurs finalizing trade involving Leonard, DeRozan

Sportsnet Staff | posted Wednesday, Jul 18th, 2018

The Toronto Raptors are close to completing a blockbuster trade with the San Antonio Spurs that would see Kawhi Leonard head north in exchange for a package including DeMar DeRozan, ESPN is reporting.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Haynes are reporting that a deal could be completed as early as Wednesday, after the teams spent the last two weeks discussing the trade and different packages.

The report also states that neither Leonard nor DeRozan are “expressing enthusiasm” about the trade. According to Haynes, sources close to DeRozan have said that the Raptors brass met with their all-star guard in Las Vegas during Summer League and was told he would not be dealt.

Early morning Wednesday, DeRozan posted some vague messaging to his Instagram account, that would suggest a trade could be imminent.

The notes began with: “Told one thing & the outcome another. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing…”

Leonard’s contract expires following next season, making him one of the biggest targets in the 2019 free-agent class.

More details to come …

Lightning strike causes major delays on GO Transit

Meredith Bond | posted Tuesday, Jul 17th, 2018

GO Transit says it was a lightning strike that caused major delays west of Union Station on the Lakeshore East and West lines on Monday afternoon.

For over two hours during rush hour, no trains were running westbound from Union Station.

Trains began running again at 8:13 from Union Station, but residual delays were still expected.

Sunyya Kukaswadia, a Metrolinx spokesperson, says the cancellation out of Union Station also caused residual delays on the Lakeshore East line.

Shuttle buses were not running during the delays due to the sheer number of the impacted passengers. GO Transit officials say it was close to 10,000 people.

Riders have taken to Twitter to express their frustration over the long delays and reportedly extremely hot trains.

Kukaswadia added she understood riders were frustrated during the lengthy delay.

“We know it was incredibly frustrating. The weather was not great. We apologize truly for the inconvenience,” she said. “We tried our best to get everyone moving as quickly as possible after the  lighting strike impacted our service, but we really do appreciate our customers patience and we have been listening.”

Officials are encouraging riders affected by the delays to file a claim on their Service Guarantee page starting Tuesday morning so they system has time to process the information.


Mother of children shot in playground calls for new approach to gun violence

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jul 17th, 2018

Her two young girls were shot and injured while doing what every kid loves to do — playing in their local playground. Now, Stacey King is among those calling for a new approach to tackling Toronto’s growing gun violence problem.

“I’m the voice for my children. Me being behind the scene is not the proper voice for my children,” said King.

King was among several speakers at a Toronto Board of Health meeting on Monday, encouraging the board to approach gun violence as a public health issue.

Community activists say the recent rash of shootings in Toronto is a result in part of the growing gap between the rich and poor. King believes that simply adding more police officers to our streets won’t solve the root problem.

“They need to decrease the poverty rate. They need to work and get jobs more for youth. They need to open more opportunities for youth.

They need to start going into the schools and speaking to young children,” added King.

The Board of Health is listening to King and other parents. Ongoing research being conducted by the city examines the extent to which people who live in the city are exposed to community violence and how it affects their mental and physical health.

City staff say the project, expected to be completed in 2019, will also seek out “effective evidence-informed interventions” to mitigate community violence and its health effects.

Kelly Whetter lost her 18-year-old son Gabriel to gun violence two years ago. She says more has to be done before more neighbourhoods are faced with unspeakable tragedy.

“A bullet doesn’t discriminate. It really injures an entire community,” said Whetter. “These young people shouldn’t have to have to bury their friends or their brothers.”

“Every time there’s an incident of shooting, it affects not only the immediate family or the immediate friends, it affects the entire community,” added Spadina-York MPP, Chris Glover.

King says her five- and nine-year-old daughters, who underwent surgery for their gunshot wounds, are still traumatized by the experience. She’s now calling for a unified approach to the recent rash of shootings.

“It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to stop gun violence. We all need to come together and stop talking and take action.”

Ontario Tory minister flip flops on sex ed curriculum stance

SHAWN JEFFORDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 17th, 2018

Ontario’s education minister went back and forth Monday on just what students will learn while her government scraps the province’s modernized sex-ed curriculum.

Ultimately, Lisa Thompson indicated that no decisions had been made on whether concepts like consent, cyber safety and gender identity will be taught in classrooms this fall.

The province’s new Progressive Conservative government announced last week that it was reverting to a 1998 version of the curriculum while consultations are carried out to create a new document.

Thompson first told the legislature on Monday that not all parts of the modernized sex-ed curriculum – updated in 2015 by the Liberals – would be scrapped.

“We know they need to learn about consent,” she said at the legislature. “We know they need to learn about cyber safety, we know they need to learn about gender identity and appreciation. But we also know that the former Liberal government’s consultation process was completely flawed.”

A short time later, Thompson told reporters that only a portion of the curriculum will be rolled back, not the entire document.

“What we’ll be looking at is the developing sexual relations,” she said. “That’s the part in the curriculum that we’ll be taking a look at.”

Late Monday afternoon, however, Thompson’s office released a statement that appeared to contradict her comments from earlier in the day.

“We have made no decisions on what the new curriculum will look like. The final decision on the scope of the new curriculum will be based on what we hear from Ontario parents,” the statement said.

“While these consultations occur, we are reverting to the full health and physical education curriculum that was last taught in 2014. This curriculum leaves ample space to discuss current social issues.”

Premier Doug Ford repeatedly promised to repeal and replace the sex-ed curriculum during his run for the Tory leadership earlier this year and during the spring election, saying parents had not been adequately consulted.

Critics have said the 1998 version of the curriculum did not include many modern themes that children need to keep themselves safe online and did not address things like same-sex marriage.

The modernized curriculum included warnings about online bullying and sexting that were not in the previous version, and also discussed same-sex marriage, gender identity and masturbation.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday’s developments make it clear the Tory government does not know what it’s doing on the sex-ed file.

“September is coming pretty quick,” she said. “It’s reprehensible and irresponsible that this government has left everything in such a disarray that educators in our province aren’t even aware of what’s going to happen come September.”

Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser questioned why the government wanted to repeal a curriculum that has been taught in classrooms across the province for three years.

“It’s irresponsible to cancel that curriculum,” he said. “It’s there to protect our children.”

Jason Kunin, an English teacher in Toronto, said regardless of what the Tory government does with sex-ed, teachers will address modern issues in class.

“Whether you have it enshrined in the documents or not, you can’t simply say we’re going to pretend like these things don’t exist and expect 60,000 teachers in Ontario to suddenly go along with pretending that it’s 1998,” said Kunin, who signed on to an online petition condemning the government’s scrapping of the modernized health curriculum among other issues.

“You can repeal the curriculum but these conversations are still going to happen.”

Soulpepper pauses training program amid ‘culture change’ at theatre

ADINA BRESGE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 17th, 2018

Normally, the Soulpepper Academy would be ramping up for a nation-wide audition process to find the finest thespians, directors and playwrights to join its prestigious paid training residency.

But as acting artistic director Alan Dilworth can attest, little has been normal about the past six months for the Soulpepper Theatre Company.

As the Toronto-based cultural institution reckons with sexual-misconduct allegations against one of its founders, the Soulpepper Academy is putting its training program on a one-year hold to conduct a review before admitting a new troupe of artists.

Between a costly legal battle, a six-figure deficit and hiccups in government funding, the not-for-profit would seem to be besieged on several fronts.

Dilworth doesn’t see it that way. To him, the theatre is in a “bridging phase” between the old Soulpepper and the new.

“We’re in the midst of quite a culture change here, and as you know, real change takes time,” Dilworth said in a recent phone interview.

“We’re kind of working our way through, step by step, to get it right.”

In January, four actresses filed separate lawsuits against founding artistic director Albert Schultz and the Soulpepper Theatre Company alleging he groped them, exposed himself, pressed against them or otherwise behaved inappropriately.

Schultz, who has resigned from Soulpepper, has said he would “vigorously” defend himself against the allegations, which have yet to be tested in court. Both he and Soulpepper have filed notices of intent to defend in the case.

In her claim in Ontario Superior Court, one of the actresses said Schultz created a “culture of fear” during her time in the Soulpepper Academy, and to remain in the program, she felt she was expected to put up with his alleged bullying without complaint.

A lawyer for Schultz said his client would not comment specifically on any of the allegations detailed in the lawsuits, other than to reiterate that he denies them.

Dilworth, who declined to comment on ongoing legal proceedings, said that among past and present academy members, there has been “unanimous articulation” of the program’s value.

Twelve academy members are expected to graduate from the two-year program next month.

With admissions on hold until the review is completed and new leadership is in place, the academy has decided to not request federal funding in the next fiscal year, said Soulpepper communications director Brad Lepp.

The academy is still slated to receive $110,000 in 2018-2019 funding from Canadian Heritage, according to federal officials.

Lepp said a portion of those funds will go towards the last six months of training for the current academy members. For the latter half of the funding period, the money will be spent towards maintaining “ongoing relationships” with graduates, he said, in addition to the program’s year-round costs.

In April, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly declared that in order to received funding, all arts and culture organizations must commit to workplaces free of harassment and sexual misconduct. It’s part of what she described as the department’s “zero-tolerance” approach to the issue.

Not long after the measure was billed, Canadian Heritage released half of the $110,000 in funds allocated to the Soulpepper Academy under a multi-year contribution agreement, according to a spokesperson for Joly.

In a phone interview, the minister’s press secretary, Simon Ross, said the payment was held for two months until department officials were satisfied that Soulpepper was following through on its commitments to providing a safe work environment.

Canadian Heritage sent officials to the theatre to get a sense of the picture on the ground, Ross said, and based on this and other consultations, decided go forward with the contribution agreement as planned.

“Our message is clear: we want to work with the arts sector to ensure safety for all creators, but we have zero tolerance for those who do not respect our strict conditions,” Ross said in a statement.

“We received assurances from the Soulpepper Academy that changes were made to ensure a safe work environment and we verified with students that it is indeed the case.”

The rest of the funds are expected to be released later in the fiscal year, he said.

Nearly $2.4 million has been allocated to Soulpepper under various Canadian Heritage programs since the early 2000s, according to a February briefing note prepared for Joly. The document was obtained by The Canadian Press under freedom-of-information laws.

This funding is separate to the roughly $185,000 a year that Soulpepper has received from the Canada Council for the Arts in the past, according to the public institution’s CEO.

The arms-length Crown corporation, which reports to the heritage minister, announced in February that it was rescinding a planned funding increase for Soulpepper but also maintaining its base funding at previous levels.

Soulpepper said that grants accounted for around 16 per cent of its $12.5 million in revenues in 2017, but the theatre company still ran a deficit of $556,000.

It is currently projecting further losses as it faces “extraordinary” costs this year, said Dilworth. But he said Soulpepper has been buoyed by benefactors in the private and public sectors, as well as the theatre’s box office, during this “unusual” financial period.

Dilworth said he expects Soulpepper will be in the black within two years.

The first half of 2018 has been “tricky” for Soulpepper, he acknowledged. But in the wake of the Schultz scandal, he said Soulpepper has been forced to have tough but vital conversations with people across the theatre community.

This shift is reflected in the steps Soulpepper has taken to cultivate a safer and more inclusive artistic space, Dilworth said, including providing crisis counsellors, setting up a whistleblower hotline and adopting a new code of conduct.

“I do believe we’ve come out better,” said Dilworth. “This has been an opportunity to look deeply at our values, and take stock of the best that Soulpepper has … (and where) we haven’t been as strong.”

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