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Heat warning remains in effect for the GTA

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jun 18th, 2018

A heat warning remains in effect for Toronto and the GTA with the humidity expecting it to feel like 40 C on Monday.

Environment Canada said hot and humid conditions will continue with temperatures expected to reach the low 30s to kick off the week. Plus, temperatures overnight only dropped to the low 20s, which offered little relief from the heat.

But the agency said that a cold front is expected to cross southern Ontario Monday night, bringing temperatures into the teens, seeing an end to the “heat event.”

On Sunday, the City of Toronto issued a heat warning that continues to remain in effect. It is advising residents to drink lots of cool water even before you feel thirsty, take shelter in air-conditioned places such as shopping malls and community centres and avoid leaving children or pets unattended in cars.

The city is reminding the public to take these precautions during high temperatures:

  • Drink lots of cool water even before you feel thirsty
  • Go to air-conditioned places such as shopping malls, local libraries and community centres
  • Take cool showers or baths or use cool wet towels to cool down
  • Wear loose, light-coloured, breathable clothing and, when outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Avoid the sun and stay in the shade or use an umbrella
  • Reschedule or plan outdoor activities so they take place during cooler parts of the day
  • Make sure that elderly people, children or pets are not left unattended in a car

Collection featuring Group of Seven paintings donated to University of Lethbridge

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 18th, 2018

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Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess spent a lifetime following her passion.

A lifelong educator and art collector, the Order of Canada recipient bequeathed a collection worth as much as $5 million to the University of Lethbridge following her death at age 100 in 2016.

The University of Lethbridge Art Gallery received word last year that Hess had donated her vast collection, which includes works from some of the most well-known artists in Canada and from around the world.

University president Mike Mahon knew Hess for eight years prior to her death. He said she created a masters-level scholarship for students at the university and her generosity was well known.

“I’ve seen her generosity in spirit, in volunteerism and in funds over the course of her life,” Mahon said

“I knew she had an amazing art collection partly because when I would have a cup of tea in her living room you’d be surrounded by the Group of Seven and Emily Carr and others hanging on the wall or stacked against a chair.

“She had art everywhere.”

The gallery at the University of Lethbridge, now renamed in her honour, has on display 112 of the 1,140 pieces she donated.

“It’s really exciting. I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite. It was hard enough to come up with a selection out of the gift to show this summer,” said assistant curator David Smith.

“What I’ve tried to do is replicate the areas of strength in her collection. More than half of her collection was work by Indigenous artists so more than half the works in this show are Indigenous artists,” he added.

“There’s a selection of Group of Seven works with Tom Thomson and an Emily Carr piece. They’re really great pieces. The Thomson is particularly exciting. A recent guesstimate says there are only about 75 of those panel sketches left in private hands.”

There are about 15 Group of Seven paintings safely behind Plexiglas.

Smith said the remainder of the collection will be displayed in years to come.

Hess, who was the daughter of a lumber magnate, never married and spent her life collecting art and lecturing on it.

She received a doctorate of fine arts from the University of Lethbridge and at one point was a member of the university senate.

“She was very close with A.Y. Jackson. He used to come and stay with her and visit her at her ranch near Cochrane. She’d drive him around to the best spots and they had a really great, lifelong friendship there.”

Also on display until Sept. 7 is an original sketch by Henri Matisse, a print by Pablo Picasso and the art of prominent Indigenous artists, including Alex Janvier, Bill Reid, Tony Hunt, Jessie Oonark and Helen Kalvak.

York University students not optimistic strike will end any time soon

TARA DESCHAMPS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 18th, 2018

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York University students aren’t feeling hopeful that they’ll be back in class soon, even after some of the school’s striking contract workers voted to accept the university’s latest offer.

CUPE 3903 Unit 2 said more than 1,000 course directors and some teaching and instructors who are not full-time graduate students will return to work on Monday, but about 2,000 other teaching and graduate assistants, who belong to two other units, will remain on the picket line of the 15-week strike.

Students, and even some staff, say they are confused about when, or if, classes will resume in lieu of Unit 2 accepting the offer and don’t feel optimistic that the uncertainty caused by the battle that began in March over wages and job security will end any time soon.

The university and union did not immediately respond to requests from The Canadian Press for comment, but in a Friday news release, CUPE 3903 chairman Devin Lefebvre stressed that the units that have yet to agree to the offer “cannot accept precarious work and the decline of academic integrity at York” and “will continue to work toward a fair contract.”

Carrie Cooper, a third-year history student, said she doesn’t feel optimistic that she will be headed back to class any time soon, because she said believes the university has been prolonging reaching an agreement, in hopes that workers will just give in to the school’s demands.

“I have seen the York administration’s true colours with the way they have dealt with students and workers. … Obviously, they don’t care,” Cooper said.

“Everyone is saying wait for your professors to email you (about the status of classes), but a lot of students have a) left or b) started working at a job for the rest of the summer. … There is confusion and tensions and the school is in chaos.”

Cooper said students have been emailing each other for advice about whether they should finish assignments or expect to be called back to classes soon. Many, she said, are feeling deterred from continuing their education with masters or PhD degrees and others are eyeing transfers to other universities.

Fellow third-year student Robyn Osbourne, who is studying law and society, considered transferring schools, but said she is sticking with York because she is more than half-way done her education.

She said she is “is not necessarily hopeful” the strike will end soon. Because it has been so lengthy and there has been a lack of summer classes offered in lieu of its duration, she will have to delay her graduation and commit to a fifth year of classes to get all the credits she needs.

Even if the strike ends and classes resume, Osbourne said it will still put students in a bind because many like her grabbed jobs after losing hope of the university reaching an agreement with workers any time soon.

“We can’t just abandon those commitments because we won’t have the money to pay for school next year,” Osbourne said.

Joanna Pearce, a teaching assistant in the Department of Humanities who is part of the striking Unit 1, said she is just as frustrated as the students.

She said she has been fielding emails from them seeking clarity about what is happening with classes, credits and degrees, but said even she doesn’t have answers.

She is particularly concerned about students who are transferring to other universities and colleges in the fall and are in danger of not being able to move because they don’t have grades to provide the institutions they are going to.

“I really miss my students,” she said. “I really hate not being able to give them a clear idea of what is happening and what their next steps are.”

 

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

People are seen shopping for produce at Feed it Forward's Pay-what-you-can grocery store in Toronto, Ontario on Saturday, June 16, 2018. The new model grocery store, created by Chef Jagger Gordon is the first of it's kind in Toronto, encouraging those from different socioeconomic backgrounds to use and fuel the model to help curb food waste. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

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

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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

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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

German supporters celebrate on Front Street in Toronto following Germany's victory over Argentina in the World Cup final on Sunday, July 13, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

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.

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