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Newsstand: February 6, 2013

Kitten Day isn’t a thing, but if it were, we’d suggest that today be the day. In the news: turf-war puns abound at U of T, terrible cab drivers, donate some marrow, and casinos are bad for your health.


Different arms of the University of Toronto community are conflicted over plans to lay a $9.5 million artificial turf field hockey pitch for the Pan Am Games on what is currently a plot of natural grass. A synthetic field is a requirement of the International Field Hockey Federation, but the construction of the one in question didn’t receive a full environmental assessment, because that wasn’t required. Don’t worry though, according the American Synthetic Turf Council, who represents the industry, lead levels are apparently “minimal” in artificial fields.

The Star has found a new poster boy for problems with the city’s taxi licensing system. Bernard Koranteng, who is actively working as a cabbie, has convictions for assaulting a passenger (on her way to pick up a puppy), dangerous driving (which included a police officer hanging off the side of his cab for 15 metres), and threatening death. The city uses an honour system to license taxi drivers, so it is up to a driver to inform the city about their own charges, but apparently that doesn’t always happen. A civilian tribunal ultimately decides whether or not a driver gets to keep their taxi license, but that can take a long time in some cases.

Have you done a good deed yet today? Yeah, it is pretty early still, isn’t it? Well, we have you covered. There is currently no registered bone marrow match for Sarah Watkin, a five-year-old girl with a rare form of leukemia who has been living at SickKids since October. Luckily, registering as a potential marrow donor is as simple as swabbing your cheek and mailing that in.

So, a casino might be bad for your health, and not just because of the alcohol, bad food, and high blood pressure often found in those places. Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, has released a report stating that the adverse effects of a casino probably outweigh the positive, which will in turn have an effect on the health of Torontonians. One thing he notes is that the overall unemployment rate could actually be unaffected by building a casino, which some are touting a way to generate a lot of jobs. This was the case in Niagara Falls. Do you want to be Niagara Falls?


  • Rico

    So what’s this guy’s Beck car number, so people can refuse him?

    • HotDang

      Just avoid all Beck cabs. Doing so will serve you well.

  • James D Paterson

    Toronto relies on an “honour” system by a group of people who are the rudest, sleaziest, and generally most idiotic public service in the city? What the hell is that going to accomplish?

    The lot of them can barely speak passable English as it is, which makes me wonder how they got their license to begin with, the city really thinks these… people are going to tell them when they’ve screwed up?

    We need better licensing info. Reshape the entire taxi licensing system.

    • Glenn Storey

      if you’re willing to go out there and do better, fill your boots. it’s a shitty job.

      • James D Paterson

        It’s a shitty job, so they should cope with it by driving drunk, stunt driving, and assaulting people? That’s interesting logic.

        • OgtheDim

          “They” being how many?

          You’re dipping into stereotype fur shuwa.

          • James D Paterson

            If the amount of drivers that copped a plea and retained their license is any indication, then quite a lot.

    • SRC

      Good thing about stories like this it gives the self righteous reason to vent their often ill informed and racist tinted rants.

      • James D Paterson

        How is it ill informed? I said nothing that can’t be found in any article.

        Racist? Nah. Stereotypical, perhaps. But to claim someone can’t speak English when they literally cannot speak English is not racist.

        Seems like you’re trying to inject something which you can then complain about.

  • Astin44

    I’m confused by the claim there will be lots of good jobs. There will be construction jobs while it is being built. There will be a handful of management jobs once it is built. The majority of the jobs in a casino are low-end. Servers, maintenance, janitorial, front desk, and of course, dealers. I can’t speak for how dealers in Canada are paid, but friends of mine who deal in the States take home a whopping $5/hour before tips. They make enough (thanks to inconsistent tips) that they get by, but it’s not a “good” job, and they often supplement it by playing poker. None of them are earning enough to even start a savings account, and the prospects for moving up the ranks are slim.

    • James D Paterson

      You’re supposed to tip dealers? I have never tipped a dealer, here or in the U.S.

      • dsmithhfx

        This is not surprising…

      • torontothegreat

        Wow. Of course you tip dealers. How uncouth.

    • torontothegreat

      From what I know, many casinos are union jobs. At least in Niagra falls they are.

      Don’t bother comparing to the U.S. considering The Fair Labor Standards Act requires a minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped workers

      • vampchick21

        A quick look at HRDC shows that in Ontario, the low end of the wage earnings median for casino workers is about $13.50/hour. So yeah, better off in the wage end than their US counterparts.

        • torontothegreat

          So the claim that these are actually pretty “good jobs” isn’t that far off.

          • vampchick21

            Where the wages are concerned, yeah. :)

          • torontothegreat

            Yes! Otherwise, casinos are still a bad idea and should stay in the Falls.

          • vampchick21


        • kroberts

          However, many of those jobs are part time – making $13.50/ hour for 20 hours a week or less won’t help you pay your bills…

          • torontothegreat


          • vampchick21

            Well duh. I’m just pointing out that in Ontario and in the rest of Canada, casino workers get paid more than their US counterparts, since we have a better minimum wage across the board and don’t expect employees in service industries to literally live off of tips. Which would you rather, $13.50/hr @ 20 hrs plus tips on top or $5/hr @ 20 hrs plus tips?

          • torontothegreat
    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Salary and union aside and not including temporary construction jobs, just how many of these “good jobs” will be created? 35? 170? 4,000? Unlike the yo-yoing cut the city is estimated to collect on the various casino proposals, I don’t think I’ve heard any numbers offered when it comes to how many people the development will employ, part time or full time.

  • vampchick21

    Something needs to change in the taxi industry and it needs to change now. While most drivers are perfectly normal, honest, hardworking individuals, it’s these bad apples that are making me very very nervous at the thought of getting into a taxi cab again. The Taxi companies need to step up and the City needs to adjust its licensing requirements. And we the public should step up and demand changes for our own safety.