Morning Brew: Union Station rail workers' strike averted, mayoral candidates reject pay raise, two ski hills in jeopardy, green-bin processing machine needs repairs, botched jewelry heist, elaborate missing puppy case
A report by The Hay Group, which cost City Hall $50,000 to commission, has declared that the job of mayor of Toronto is under-compensated compared to other municipalities such as Mississauga and Montreal. The group recommends that our city's next mayor should get a $16,000 raise to bring the annual salary up from about $167,800 to around $183,600. How do the leading mayoral candidates feel about this? All are rejecting the suggestions, instead maintaining that they would actually reduce the top job's wage, freeze it, or donate any increases to charity.
Two ski and snowboard hills previously operated by the City are in danger of being shut down this coming winter. As a cost-cutting measure, the idea was to have private companies step in and operate the facilities, but since the call was put out for bids and proposals, none have come forward. The hills in question -- at Centennial Park Etobicoke and Earl Bales in North York -- may still be saved via public funds, but how and when this might happen is a big question mark with a tight timeline.
Morning Brew: threat to dogs at Cherry Beach, lost and found in a cornfield, office space vacancy rates spike, Tory's decision and Thomson's campaign, Toronto Hydro tries to settle with stray voltage victim
He was lost in a Bradford cornfield overnight, but at about 6am this morning a three-year old boy was found after surviving a 12-hour ordeal. The boy went missing yesterday behind the family farm, but with the help of a search helicopter, police dogs, and about 50 officers he was found tired and a little dazed, but safe.
Vacancy rates of downtown office spaces are hitting double digits. Despite the overall economy having been on an upward recovery from a fairly significant recession in 2009, there's a growing number of unoccupied offices in the core. A variety of factors appears to be at play here, including downsizing trends as a result of the recession and a glut in recent and ongoing new office space developments.
Morning Brew: police administrative error makes G20 charge vanish, horrific stench in the Scarborough air, Smitherman taunts Ford in schoolyard style, hydro rate hikes on the horizon, Colangelo reflects on Bosh
Residents of Birkdale and Midland Park neighbourhoods in Scarborough have been pinching their noses and forced to abandon their own backyards as a seemingly worsening, putrid odour emanates from a paper milling company in the area. Atlantic Packaging (the company responsible) says it hasn't changed its processes, and is investigating the problem (but has been doing so since March with no solution). Until the problem is found and fixed, residents will have to try to ignore the smell of rotting eggs and sewage while they enjoy that poolside cocktail or backyard barbecue.
Things are getting heated in the municipal politics arena, which, at times, seems more like a school playground. Mayoral candidate Rob Ford is turning down an opportunity to go one-on-one with fellow candidate George Smitherman on a CFRB talk show, and Smitherman isn't shying away from calling it like he sees it. Accusing Ford of "chickening out" and his bid being a "peekaboo candidacy," Smitherman suggests that Ford is afraid to take him on in debate. The Ford team has responded by saying that they will debate, but on their own terms and when the time is right.
Morning Brew: John Tory still on the fence, Pakistani mango smuggling, Enbridge billing fiasco, Toronto Hydro customers might pay lawsuit settlement, police take down the wrong man, rubber bullet flip-flop
Pakistani mangoes are so different from other, more common types mangoes that people are willing to go to great lengths to savour their sweetness -- including travelling to Toronto from the US to get a taste, and putting themselves at risk of criminality by trying to smuggle crates back with them. Banned in the US pending adherence to agricultural pest control standards (which may happen in the fall), the fruit is more readily available now in our fine city's ethnic stores and fruit stands.
Are you an Enbridge Gas customer? Have you gotten your July bill? Picked your jaw up off the floor yet? Last year they made errors by setting monthly rates too low for many of their customers, and they've had to make adjustments to their July 2010 instalment invoices to make up for the underpayments. As a result, many customers have a massive instalment to pay this month. In some cases, customers are going to have to pay the equivalent of an entire year's worth of service (i.e. more than 10 times their usual monthly instalment).
Morning Brew: Jarvis bike lane traffic impact to be measured in the fall, teen charged after texting while cycling, bid to create "Little Ethiopia" rejected, submitted resume leads to theft arrest, iPhone 4 is available on Friday
A teen up in Owen Sound has been charged with careless driving after being involved in an accident while he was riding his bike. Police claim that the teen was distracted as he was texting on his cellphone while cycling, inadvertently hit a parked car, was thrown from his bike and smashed the back window of the vehicle. Oops.
While a stretch of the Danforth between Greenwood Avenue and Monarch Park does have 11 Ethopian restaurants, the Danforth-Mosaic BIA isn't likely to support calls to have the area officially designated "Little Ethiopia." It's too diverse an area to be labelled such (and perhaps some parts of the stretch on Bloor between Christie Pits and Lansdowne might also be a contender for that title).
Morning Brew: rubber bullets used by G20 police?, CityPlace congestion solution two years away, Simcoe teen stranded in Cuba after traffic accident, Presto card vs. open payment for TTC, snake on the loose in London
He's been caught on camera three times but not yet been caught by authorities. Peel region police are appealing to the public to assist in the identification of a suspect who is described as armed and dangerous and is accused of multiple bank robberies in Mississauga this summer.
A solution to the traffic congestion problem (that appeared with the introduction of a number of condos towers at CityPlace) is in sights but won't be implemented for a couple of years. Fort York Boulevard will eventually be extended to Bathurst but until then navigating the area where Fort York Boulevard and Bremner meet Spadina will continue to be a challenge shared by motorists, pedestrians, and transit users.