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Baby pandas at the Toronto zoo.

Boredom, be gone: Fun-filled March Break guide

PATRICIA D'CUNHA | posted Friday, Mar 11th, 2016

Children have been waiting for this moment for weeks now, and March Break is very nearly here.

But some parents may not be as enthusiastic with the idea of having the kids home for a week, especially if they haven’t yet planned their activity list.

Not to worry, there are plenty of things to do around town that will help you plan a fun and stress-free break.

This is just a suggested list. You know your kids better: ask them what they want to do.

Baby animals galore
You’ve been waiting for it since the Toronto Zoo giant panda cubs were born last fall. Starting Saturday, you can finally see male Jia Panpan (Canadian Hope) and female Jia Yueyue (Canadian Joy) at the zoo. They will be hanging out with mom Er Shun at the panda enclosure.

Slang words teens of 2016 use

Carina Kresic | posted Thursday, Mar 10th, 2016

We all want to be hip and know the cool lingo of Gen Z, but sometimes some of the words just don’t make sense. Here is a list of our top 5 slang words and how you can use them:

major key

Major Key

Example: “Almond milk. Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Major key to success”

Definition: Used by music producer DJ Khaled, when he started the ‘major key’ trend in his Snapchat videos.



Example: I’m feeling so #blessed today.

Definition:  Feeling good or feeling grateful about something.


Squad Goals

Example: Did you see Taylor Swift and her friends? Such squad goals.

Definition:  When you aspire for your group of friends to be as cool as an other group.



Example: She’s my bae. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Definition: Someone really special to you. Aka, before anyone else.


I can’t even

Example: OMG, that’s so funny. I can’t even!

Definition: Expression used when you have many emotions and you can’t comprehend or put them into words.



Example: Did you see what just happened? Lol. *dead*

Definition: When you think something is hilariously funny and you have no other words to use.

We want to hear some of the slang words that you use or used to use! Tweet us @BTtoronto!

TTC vehicles arriving late 53% of the time, Swiftly app reports

CityNews | posted Thursday, Mar 10th, 2016

If you’ve got a friend who’s always running late, it could be the TTC’s fault.

According to the San Francisco-based transit app Swiftly, Toronto buses and streetcars are arriving on time less than half of the time.

Swiftly collected real-time data over a four-week stretch in January and February, and found TTC buses and streetcars arrived off-schedule 53 per cent of the time.

Off-schedule is defined as more than one minute early or more than four minutes late.

According to Swiftly’s data, the 510 Spadina bus arrives on time less than 25 per cent of the time. The app’s data shows the 502 Downtowner and the 46 Martin Grove buses are also among the worst in terms of arriving on time. The 171 Mount Denis, 49 Bloor and 30 Lambton are among the best, arriving on time over 75 per cent of the time.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said the service is always working to improve reliability.

Swiftly is a scheduling app that provides real-time data about municipal transportation.

Trudeau’s first speech to a U.S. audience: Let’s not live in fear of the world

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 10th, 2016

Justin Trudeau didn’t mention the American election in his first message to a U.S. audience, a few hours after arriving for his first prime ministerial visit to Washington.

He didn’t have to.

The subtext was clear enough. The prime minister used a late-evening talk to lament the danger of isolation, in a country gripped by heated election debates over banning Muslim travellers; refusing Syrian refugees; expelling Mexican migrants; and cancelling trade deals blamed for sending jobs abroad.

“It becomes easy to be fearful,” he told the gathering, hosted by a progressive think-tank at an art gallery near the White House and attended by officials from both countries, including Canadian cabinet ministers.

”It becomes easy to turn in on ourselves. But we know from history that it’s much more important to turn outwards. And to draw out the best of each other. And to understand that whenever people get together regardless of how different they may seem there are always more things that we have in common.”

The closest he came to mentioning the election was to say that Americans, Canadians, and others who discuss politics are struggling with very similar problems: a struggling middle class, rapid change, and globalization that represents not only new opportunities but also risks.

He acknowledged the challenges of globalization.

He said fast-changing populations have people wrestling with their identity. He said Canada has the same challenges – he joked that it isn’t some perfect happy land where everyone hugs pandas all day and everyone’s a progressive feminist, but also has voices pulling the country in different directions.

Related stories:

A moment of firsts, as Trudeau arrives in the U.S.

Trudeau state dinner features the best of spring, with a dash of Canadian whisky

Trudeau alluded to Canada’s recent election. He didn’t specifically mention its debates over religious headwear. But he said the fanfare video shown before he took the stage had sugar-coated the campaign a bit.

He said North America needed a positive attitude about the world to take advantage of its new opportunities: ”To be at its most generous, to be at its wisest, to be at its most innovative… To learn to draw from the populations that come here from every corner of the planet.”

In short, Trudeau appeared to embrace the moniker attached to him in one American newspaper headline last week: “The Anti-(Donald)Trump,” with the piece contrasting his positions with the refugee-refusing, Muslim-travel-ban-proposing, Mexican-wall-wanting, trade-deal-blasting Republican frontrunner.

The contrast was not lost on the people milling about on the sidewalk outside. A small group of people waited to catch a glimpse of him entering and exiting the event, some lingering there for up to six hours.

One woman instantly made the link between the prime minister’s message and the grouchy anti-foreign mood of the American election.

”He’s so positive,” said Chantal Quintero, who’s from Canada but has lived in the U.S. for 22 years.

”And his message of unity is really something that we could use in the United States. Especially with the presidential campaign. Just his advocacy for women, for people of colour, for immigrants – it’s just a really refreshing message.”

The cocktail-party progressive pep-talk atmosphere shifts today, to a more intense day of policy-making.

The prime minister will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House in the morning, followed by a press conference. They plan announce closer co-operation on climate change, border security, and in the Arctic. Trudeau then goes for lunch at the State Department.

In the afternoon he’ll meet with lawmakers from both parties.

The day ends with the first White House State dinner for a Canadian leader in 19 years. Trudeau will dine in the mansion’s East Room, where his father was serenaded by Robert Goulet at an after-party for his own first state dinner here in 1969.

The three-day trip ends Friday with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, a speech, and a town-hall-type forum with university students.

The visit comes so late in Obama’s tenure that one official couldn’t say whether or not this state dinner – the 11th of his presidency – might be his final one.

Another White House official this week described a ”special relationship” budding between the rookie progressive leader and the one who leaves office in 10 months.

Toronto’s inside workers accept new contract

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 10th, 2016

There is labour peace in Toronto’s public sector now that the city’s inside workers have voted in favour of a new four-year contract.

This agreement, which was ratified Wednesday, covers about 20,000 inside municipal workers. It follows a similar deal last month for about 5,400 outside workers in the country’s largest city.

Related stories:

After ‘tough round’ of negotiations, inside workers reach deal with city

Toronto’s outside workers approve tentative contract agreement

CUPE Local 79 says the new deal covers full and part-time workers in three units.

A contract for a fourth unit, whose members work part-time in long-term care facilities, will be addressed in binding arbitration, as those members do not have the right to strike.

“We are pleased our members ratified the agreements we negotiated, made possible because of the strength they showed during bargaining,” said Tim Maguire, president of the local, in a statement on Wednesday night.

“We achieved some improvements and more important, pushed back serious concessions that would have hurt both the quality of city services and city jobs.”

No details of the contract were released, but the city’s last offer included protections against contracting out for some workers in addition to a five per cent raise over four years.

The union says the results of the vote will not be released.

Body confidence champion Liis Windischmann’s tips and tricks for body love

| posted Wednesday, Mar 9th, 2016

Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful, and top curvy model and body confidence champion, Liis Windischmann, wants to change that conversation. Her multi-platform ‘Body Love Series’ was created to help women feel more positive about their bodies and rethink how they feel about wellness, body image and style by focusing on the mind, body and soul connection.

Windischmann shares her insights for loving your body without ever having to step on the scale; instead of paying attention to numbers, notice your level of happiness and vibrancy.

Mind: Create me time

Take a few minutes each day for yourself. Think of it as a spectrum, while you might have enough time for a meditative bath with Epsom salts even taking just a few minutes in the morning to dry brush and wake up your circulation is a start. Windishmann recommends thinking about this “me” time as a necessity instead of a luxury.

Body: Make food fun

Change your mindset and start thinking about food as something that heals you. Think about cooking as an adventure and experiment with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, prepare dishes in fun new ways by using a spirilizer or try a new way of eating like paleo, vegetarian or raw.

Soul: Release your inner child

Turn off the world and take a few minutes to unleash your inner child with colouring books or doodling. This is the perfect meditative activity that can quickly calm the mind at the end of the day. Colouring is also the perfect activity to involve the whole family in promoting healthy soul-fueling habits.

With these simple lifestyle changes, Windischmann hopes to help women feel good about themselves every day.

Sneak peek Wednesday night for proposed bike lanes on Bloor

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Mar 9th, 2016

A public meeting will be held Wednesday night so Toronto residents can take a look at the preferred bike lane design for Bloor Street.

The curbside bike lanes would be installed from Shaw Street to Avenue Road this summer, if the pilot project is approved by city council.

The design includes a separated bike lane and one lane of traffic in each direction. There would be some loss of parking, but the design was completed with input from the public and Business Improvement Areas.

The meeting is being held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre on Bloor just west of Spadina Avenue.

The lane on Bloor is part of a plan to add nearly 41 kilometres of new bike lanes to Toronto over the next 10 years. Bike lanes on two other major corridors, Yonge Street and Dupont Street, are also being considered.

Toronto currently has an 856-kilometre bike network, with 558.4 kilometres of on-street lanes and 297.4 off-road trails.

Why did this dog have to die? Toronto Animal Services protocols under fire

Alanna Kelly | posted Wednesday, Mar 9th, 2016

A Markam veterinarian assistant is asking why Toronto Animal Services euthanized a stray Rottweiler that exhibited no signs of behavioral issues just five days after he was turned over to them.

Sarah Castorina, head veterinarian assistant at the Markham Veterinarian Clinic, turned the Rottweiler over to the Toronto Animal Services branch in Scarborough after a client found him on Sewells Road in Markham.

“He is a found dog,” Castorina said. “If anyone is going to look for him, they are not going to look in my backyard. They’re going to look in the shelters.”

Castorina said the dog was a little skinny and emaciated, with no identification or microchip. She thought the dog was about 1-1/2 to 2 years old and nicknamed him Sewell, after the street he was found on.

(To view on mobile, click here)

“My first instinct was that he came from the scrap yard or that he was dumped,” she said. “But I don’t want to assume things because I don’t know.”

Castorina, a certified canine trainer and behaviourist, said Sewell was extremely well-behaved when in her care.

“He was a little nervous, never growled, never barked at me, never showed me his teeth,” she said. “So loveable. I had him around dogs, cats, he was walking through the clinic … he was fine with us.”

After a night in the clinic’s kennel, Castorina took Sewell to Toronto Animal Services on Feb. 25. On the drive over, the dog didn’t make a sound – no howling or crying. When he wasn’t sniffing around or laying down and peering out the window, he would come over and lick the back of her hand.

“There was not a spot on his body he wouldn’t want me to touch. He was just love me, love me, love me,” she said. “He was sweet as can be, this dog is honestly nicer than my own dog.”

At the Scarborough animal services office, Castorina was told the dog would be held for five business days to allow the owner to claim him. After that he would go through an adoption test to determine whether he was adoptable or if he would have to be euthanized.

“I was so confidant because he was such a sweet dog; there was no possible way he wouldn’t pass the test,” she said.

Castorina checked on Sewell on Feb. 27, and was told the dog was fine and that no one had claimed him. She volunteered to adopt the dog if no one stepped forward by March 2. Unknown to Castorina, a friend and co-worker also called the shelter to adopt the dog if the owner did not come forward.

On March 3, Castorina called the shelter for the latest update. It was then she was told that the dog had been euthanized the night before.

According to Elizabeth Glibbery at Toronto Animal Services, the dog was euthanized after a behaviour assessment was attempted.

“He had strong food, dog and people aggression and during the assessment he responded to several scenarios with hostile behaviour,” she said. “In fact the assessment had to be stopped because it was too dangerous to continue.”

Glibbery said the dog was too dangerous to be adopted.


(To view on mobile, click here)

“Our mandate is to ensure public safety and the welfare of all our animals,” she said. “In this case there were too many triggers to place the dog for adoption.”

Clare Forndran, media director at Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary, said five days isn’t enough time to evaluate a dog’s behaviour.

“Five days isn’t enough to rehabiltate a dog, that’s for sure,” Fordran said. “I would have hoped that this poor dog would have been given more of a chance.”

She said when a dog is in a shelter environment, it is already stressed out and their entire world has been turned upside-down.

“Behaviours in a shelter can certainly be elevated when they are under stress, especially if you are evaluating a dog within a couple days of them arriving,” Forndran said.

Castorina is frustrated that Sewell was put down despite her willingness – and the willingness of others – to adopt him.

“I will open my home and work with this dog, even though I don’t see anything wrong with him, And you are saying no, death is the only option for him?” Castorina said.


(To view on mobile, click here)

Glibbery says that’s Toronto Animal Services policy.

“Toronto Animal Services is dedicated to transitioning all our animals to good homes,” she said. “Where we have dogs that demonstrate traits that will result in dog bites, we never release it into the public except where we receive court orders to do so.”

Fordran says the city is lucky to have an institution like Toronto Animal Services because they help so many animals find homes. But she said many shelters are overcrowded or facing budget constraints.

“Anyone who is working with animals in a shelter, they do care about animals,” said Fordran. “Often it just comes down to limited resources, unfortunately, and orders and people are just doing what they are told to do.”

To Castorina it sounded more like ‘oh his five days are up, lets euthanize him now,’ and she is questioning what Toronto Animal Services is.

“The Toronto Animal Services let me down,” she said. “They let this dog down.”

TAS animal outcomes, 2014
(To view on mobile, click here)

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