As October draws to a close, extreme weather dominates headlines. Sandy is the big news of the day, but other happenings include a fire on Queen Street West; a new casino report; and mixed results on whether Mayor Ford is perceived as being good or bad for the City of Toronto.
Sandy has left in her wake one death, significant power outages, and downed trees across Toronto. Just before 7:30 p.m. last evening, an as-of-yet unidentified woman who was walking on Keele Street south of St. Clair Avenue West was struck and killed by a piece of a Staples sign that blew apart in the wind. At least 55,000 Torontonians were left without power as of this morning, and other Toronto residents were faced with downed trees that left property and vehicles badly damaged. While the wind warning has now been cancelled, the storm has led to some flight cancellations at Toronto’s Pearson airport (check before heading to the airport today, travellers!) and all flights at Billy Bishop airport are cancelled until at least this afternoon.
An early morning three-alarm fire on Queen Street West has destroyed a commercial building that housed a Roots store, a hair dresser, and a tattoo parlour. A large hole could be seen at the front of the building above the Roots sign, and there has been speculation that an explosion of some kind started the fire. Due to the fire investigation, police have closed a section of Queen Street between John Street and Spadina Avenue to cars, pedestrians, and TTC vehicles. The 501 Queen streetcars are turning back at Bathurst with shuttle service operating between Long Branch and Church.
City manager Joe Pennachetti’s highly-anticipated casino report, which was released Monday, shows that Toronto could reap as much as $195 million per year from an integrated resort casino near the waterfront. According to the report, Exhibition Place would be the best bet in terms of location. However, the report was not a total jackpot, as it also concluded that a new casino would increase problem gambling no matter where it is located, but especially for the facility’s neighbours. City council will not vote on a casino or a site until February or March of next year at the earliest. In the meantime, the city manager will ask permission to conduct public consultations on a casino over the next couple of months. However, if the PCs win provincial office in the spring, all that work may be for naught, as Tim Hudak said Monday that he would insist Toronto hold a referendum on building a casino even if council has already approved one.
It seems Torontonians are split on Mayor Rob Ford’s effect on the city, with 52 per cent of respondents to a Forum Research poll indicating that Mayor Ford has been bad for Toronto, while 41 per cent think the mayor has been a good influence. The survey also found that more people think things will get worse (48 per cent) during the second half of Ford’s four-year term than those who think things will improve (37 per cent). So who is it, exactly, that approves of Mayor Ford, you may be asking yourself? People older than 44, drivers, and those living outside the former City of Toronto or East York.