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Newsstand: May 14, 2012

You've spent the weekend dreading this day, but now that it's here, Monday doesn't really feel that bad, does it? No, it doesn't. We're good. Everyone's cool. Let's all just quietly catch up on the news: Mayor Ford wants the executive committee to scrap the five-cent bag fee; a study that examines the impact of the Eglinton LRT is set to begin this week; the Toronto housing market continues on an upward trend; Toronto's proposed waterfront casino adds a name to its Friends list; and issues with the EMS.

At today’s executive committee meeting, Mayor Rob Ford will urge members to get rid of the 2009 bylaw that introduced the five-cent plastic bag fee. The mayor used his weekly radio talk show to discuss his feelings about the tax, saying that the fee is unnecessary and that retailers should have the option of not imposing the charge on customers. Yes, it does seem unnecessary and frankly just silly to reduce the use of plastic bags by more than 50 per cent. No good can come of that.

An unprecedented, $1.3 million study will begin Thursday, examining what Eglinton will look like after the LRT is built, how it will be zoned, and what kind of buildings and public spaces will be encouraged. This two-year project is called an “avenue study,” and while studies of this kind will typically focus on a kilometre or two, this one will cover 14 wards, from Black Creek Drive through to Kennedy Station. Perhaps this can be added to the list of things deemed unnecessary by Mayor Rob “Subways!” Ford, because who has ever heard of underground tunnel studies? Gravy!

Has the Vancouver housing market been your go-to source for easing anxiety about the Toronto housing market (“at least this isn’t the West Coast!”)? Well, we’ve got some bad news. If demand doesn’t cool or if the supply of single-family homes is not boosted within the next decade, Toronto could see house prices hit the levels of Vancouver’s, according to a Toronto-based housing expert. On the upside, at least we can get in on this game.

Toronto’s proposed waterfront casino has a new supporter and potential suitor. Gerald Schwartz, the head of Toronto-based buyout firm Onex Corporation and one of Canada’s richest men, says he is “enthusiastic” about proposals to build a casino in Toronto. A casino veteran, Schwartz owns the Tropicana hotel and casino in Las Vegas, as well as Casino ABS, which operates four Alberta casinos in Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Calgary. If Onex does pursue a bid, it’ll be up against two known competitors: Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International. We’re in the big leagues now, guys! Maybe, finally, we can be a “World Class City” just like Las Vegas.

If you are feeling a bit of chest tightness today, you might want to phone a friend. Concerns have been raised about a paramedic shortage after Toronto EMS made its highest priority call Sunday and, according to reports, dispatch had no available ambulances to send. According to CUPE Local 416, which represents paramedics, the dispatchers had to start calling various hospitals to find out if any paramedics waiting with patients were able to go the scene. But try not to worry about this, as stress can lead to serious health risks, which can put you at risk of having to try to get an ambulance. It may not end well.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised to learn that the money raised from the “Bag Tax” goes to the retailers and not the city for recycling/trash budget (or so CP24 was reporting this morning – is this correct?).

    While a reduction in trash and less American Beauty moments is a nice thing, I fear I may agree with idiot mayor. Does this make me a bad person?

    • Anonymous

      Yes.

    • Anonymous

      The “tax” should not be going into the pockets of retailers (the actual cost of supplying bags to customers is estimated to be 1¢ ea.), but it is accomplishing the goal of reducing the numbers of bags thrown away either into the landfill or directly onto streets. I don’t recall the issues involved, but either it was the City lacks the legal authority to impose a tax, or some Councillors got cold feet.

      Applying the proceeds to tree care is a great idea.

      Abolishing it altogether is a very, very bad idea.

      There’s an article in the New York Times this morning on how budget cuts to city parks (and tree care) have led directly to multi-million dollar payouts for deaths and personal injury lawsuits there.

      • Anonymous

        Is it even possible (legally) that he bag fee be collected by the city?

        • Anonymous

          This is why the proposal is for a voluntary program – the City cannot legally levy this as a tax.

          • Anonymous

            Lovely that our mayor can’t speak in proper political terms than.

    • Bruce Gavin Ward

      yes.

      • Anonymous

        Does it make me a bad person if I hate it when the cashier asks if I want a bag after paying?

        • Anonymous

          No.

  • Anonymous

    If proponents of a casino were serious about this being an iconic complex and continue to push for it on the waterfront, then OLG should have a worldwide open competition for its design and at least a couple of billion dollars set aside to construct it. Nothing less than a Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid or Rem Koolhaas, please! Not some concrete box built by Paul Godfrey’s friends in the construction business.

    • Anonymous

      This would be like making cancer pretty: no thanks.

      • Anonymous

        Agree. My older brother struggled with a gambling addiction. I know what it can do to people. I’d prefer that casinos, racetracks and lotteries didn’t exist. But they do, so when they promise iconic, they should deliver, iconic.

        • Anonymous

          So because your brother is a gambling addict the other droves of people who are able to gamble responsibly shouldn’t have fun?

          • Anonymous

            Gambling affects far more than the immediate participants: families, employers, creditors and assorted crime victims.

            Ultimately it costs society a bundle, while funneling cash (stolen from us all) into the pockets of casino operators, and providing an illusory boost for cooked government books.

            The government is constantly promoting gambling by ubiquitous and grossly misleading advertising. Basically it asks everyone to put them self in the place of a jackpot winner, when the odds are astronomically high they never will be.

            The government is addicted to gambling revenues, but just like every addict, it can’t admit to the real, lasting harm to all citizens and taxpayers.

          • Anonymous

            *Yawn*

            So does drinking and over eating.

            “The comfort you have demanded is now mandatory”

          • Anonymous

            Why not crack and child prostitution, then?

          • Anonymous

            So gambling, drinking and over-eating is akin to child prostitution now?

            Wow.

          • Anonymous

            I said I would prefer there not be gambling. Not insist it. I even acknowledged that people gamble. So what I’m insisting on, if anything, is that if they are going to promise they build something iconic, that they do just that!

          • Anonymous

            Don’t build it unless it’s like Disney Land!!!!!!

            *Double Yawn*

  • Bruce Gavin Ward

    re: “We’re in the big leagues now, guys! Maybe, finally, we can be a “World Class City” just like Las Vegas.” Lets just hope that “what happens in Toronto, LEAVES Toronto!”.