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Real City Matters

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Newsstand: December 31, 2013

Well, here we are at the end of yet another year. So it goes. Let's all collectively pause and remember the year that was. Or else try to convince ourselves it was all a dream. In the news on this last day of 2013: Toronto Hydro is almost done restoring power, arborists say it's going to be a long road towards healing trees damaged by the ice storm, the Governor-General has blessed some fancy-schmancy Torontonians with the Order of Canada, Rob Ford's levee plans are revealed, and a rundown of what's closed—including some roads—over the New Year's holiday.

matt newsstand gull

Thankfully, the calamity is winding down for Toronto Hydro, as crews enter the final push to get the last 290 customers without electricity back up and running. However, emergency response officials say that the spike in calls that began in the aftermath of the storm has not yet died down. Emergency dispatchers are still fielding 10 times the normal volume of calls, which is putting strain on their ability to prioritize emergency response.

Yet another unanticipated consequence of the ice storm is the lasting effect it may have on the city’s tree canopy, which arborists say will need continued care over the next few years in order to be preserved and nursed back to health. It is estimated that the city has lost 20 per cent of its urban canopy, with some of the more harder hit areas in the city loosing upwards of 50 to 80 per cent. The City will begin collecting tree debris this Friday, which should take about eight weeks to complete. So far there is no word on the City’s long-term plans to ensure the health of trees damaged by the ice storm. Although we can all use our Spidey-senses to hazard a guess that this is probably because there is no long-term plan in place yet.

Governor-General David Johnston announced yesterday that 90 Canadians are set to be appointed to the Order of Canada—one of the highest civilian honours in the country. Among the 90 are an impressive list of Torontonians, including Blue Rodeo co-founders Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, journalist Steve Paikin, actress-turned-director Sarah Polley, and designers Glenn Pushelberg and George Yabu. Looks like Mayor Rob Ford will just have to keep waiting.

While he waits, Mayor Ford has decided to go ahead with the annual New Year’s Day levee, giving residents the chance to get up close and personal with him. Please try to contain your excitement for a brief moment. The fun event runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the rotunda at City Hall. We should all be really grateful that the more ancient tradition started by King Louis XIV of inviting the public into his bedroom to watch him wake up in the morning is no longer a thing.

Finally, because we want you to stay safe and not be annoyed during the New Year’s holiday, here is a list of what’s open and what’s closed today and tomorrow. Do your homework, and don’t say we didn’t warn you that most LCBO locations close early today. Also, here is a handy overview of some road closures around the city, including a moratorium on pedestrian traffic across the Dufferin Street bridge.

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