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Newsstand: August 16, 2010

Illustration by Matt Daley/Torontoist.

Ripped from the headlines this fair Monday: Barrie parents are up in arms against Wi-Fi, the billboard tax debate gets decided, and Scott Pilgrim doesn’t kill it at the box office.

We’ll never look at you in the same loving way, store-bought green onions. An unusually high number of salmonella cases—twenty-five since late July—have been reported in the GTA, and now the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says green onions may be the culprit. The slender onions have tested positive for salmonella bacteria at five GTA Highland Farms supermarkets, and investigators are working to learn if any other foods may also be responsible. If you purchased green onions from one of the supermarkets listed, it is recommended that you toss them.
Watch out kiddies, the internet without a mess of cords may be harmful to your health, at least according to your irate suburban mother. A group of concerned parents in Barrie are demanding that the schools their children attend turn off their wireless internet connections before classes resume in September. They blame the schools’ Wi-Fi connections for a host of symptoms they claim appear in their children only during the school week, including headaches, nausea, and racing heart rates. The Ontario Ministry of Education says it’s up to local school boards to address the complaints, and so far parents say they’ve been completely ignored.
Good news from the world of transportation for a change! Union Station rail workers have managed to ratify a new three-year deal that will prevent the strike that seemed inevitable only one week ago. The deal was reached between the Canadian Auto Workers and Toronto Terminals Railway on Saturday, and provides workers with an annual wage increase of between 2.4 and 3% over the next three years, along with better dental and vision care.
We like sports and we don’t care who knows! For all the tennis nerds diligently reading each morning’s Newsstand in the hopes of some little nugget of Grand Slam–related information, wait no longer. This weekend, Toronto hosted the men’s portion of the 2010 Rogers Cup, and rain, heat, and some pretty questionable headgear could not stop the world’s top tennis talents from duking it out for their share of some three million dollars in prize money. The men’s singles final on Saturday saw Scotland’s Andy Murray best Switzerland’s Roger Federer 7–5, 7–5, in a match that was delayed three times by rain. It’s the second year in a row that Murray has won the cup; the last player to do so was Andre Agassi back in 1995.
This city’s billboard industry has received some much-needed attention from city hall over the past year or so, and some of the changes being made may directly affect Toronto’s arts community. Back in December of last year, City Council passed a new harmonized billboard bylaw to regulate the industry more uniformly, coordinating things like sign placement, size, and material. The bill also included an increased taxation rate of 4% to 7%. Now here’s where it gets controversial: one of the main reasons the increased tax rate passed was because arts advocacy groups, particularly the Beautiful City Alliance, pushed hard for the new tax revenue to go directly to arts funding. City staff initially promoted the idea, but then decided instead to route the money to general revenues. Well, the arts community has petitioned city staff to find a way for those new tax dollars to go directly to the arts. Today at 10 a.m., the Executive Committee of City Council will present a staff report on the issue, and Toronto’s creatives should be there in full force to push any pro-arts legislation through.
Um, so we here at Torontoist were pretty amped about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World hitting theatres, as evidenced here, here, and here. Sadly, the rest of North America was not. Yes, the flick, it seems, was not as huge a hit as Micheal Cera–lovers might have hoped. The film opened this weekend and finished fifth at the box office behind elderly action hero flick The Expendables and the Julia Roberts feel-good cry-fest Eat Pray Love. Perhaps not the most cleverly timed release. Oh Scott, why have your producers so forsaken you?
The ten-day indie music and theatre bonanza we know as SummerWorks drew to a close yesterday, but not before organizers announced the winners of this year’s SummerWorks Awards. All of the winners can be seen here, but a special kudos to the creators of Ride the Cyclone, who took home the SummerWorks Prize for Production and the NOW Magazine Audience Choice Award, and also to actor and Torontoist theatre writer Johnnie Walker, who won the Steam Whistle Emerging Artist Award for his play, Redheaded Stepchild. Congrats!


  • http://undefined lunarworks

    Scott Pilgrim flopping… I think part of that its target audience is the BitTorrent generation.
    About 5% are gonna go watch it on the big screen, and the other 95% are gonna download a miserable-looking camrip and watch it on a computer screen.

  • accozzaglia

    Yeah. That’s precisely it.

  • http://undefined Ryan

    Those parents in Barrie are being ignored because they’re talking complete rubbish.

  • accozzaglia

    That’s a big 10-4 there.

  • http://undefined Ryan

    Here’s a good article about the wi-fi thing

  • http://undefined Matthew

    +1 to this. I trust neurologist Steven Novella’s assessment of the potential risk of WiFi way more than Susan Clarke, a former research consultant to the Harvard School of Public Health.
    It’s typical though of today’s shrinking newspaper budgets that the only experts they can ever find to interview are the ones that are making a career out of scaremongering the latest benign technology.

  • http://undefined Edmund

    Great article, Ryan. The school board should not ignore them, tempting as it is. They should basically quote that article at them in a calm, patient, reasonable manner to kill off this idea once and for all. All the while thinking they’re hysterical dummkopfs.
    In addition, I wonder if any of the parents watch over-the-air TV. As my wife (who is a wi-fi engineer, and knows something about the matter) commented on the whole affair: “signal from wifi over distance from wifi antenna equals signal from cbc over distance from cbc antenna. cbc is killing our children!”
    Head to the bunkers, folks!

  • http://undefined Marc Lostracco

    It’s a good thing WiFi signals aren’t everywhere in Toronto or else our kids would be in real trouble! Can you imagine the carnage if WiFi was actually employed outside of school classrooms?

  • accozzaglia


  • rek

    “headaches, nausea, and racing heart rates”
    I’m pretty sure kids were experiencing that before wifi was introduced to schools: homework and tests, borderline cafeteria and vending machine food combined with poor eating habits, and hormones in a social pressure cooker.

  • http://undefined The Junkyard Triangle

    Barrie is “Central Ontario” according to the Globe and Mail? I thought it was the suburb where Toronto’s bureaucrats and union brass live.

  • http://undefined Matt

    re: WiFi
    Coincidence is not causality.

  • http://undefined Matt

    Also, for lots of intelligent, insightful and sometimes funny discussion on the Barrie WiFi thing, check out the Slashdot discussion:

  • qviri

    North America is a big place. I’d be mildly interested in seeing the movie numbers for Canada, or Ontario, or even Toronto/GTA only. Are numbers this specific normally made available?