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Newsstand: January 16, 2014

One more day after today until the weekend! The sweet, sweet weekend. Here's some news to make the time fly by: pollution is affecting west Torontonians' health, unemployment is on the rise, an advisory group will try to reach a compromise about David Mirvish's proposed condo buildings, and Toronto has a well-balanced budget.

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A recent study from researchers in Toronto finds that the pollution caused by gridlock is negatively affecting west Torontonians’ health. The researchers focused on Etobicoke, and found five pollutants in higher levels than air quality standards allow for. Among the pollutants is benzene. The researchers found that the pollution comes “almost exclusively” from vehicles, especially trucks, that get backed up on highways.

Toronto’s unemployment rate skyrocketed in the last months of 2013, from a depressing but understandable 7.1 per cent in August to 9.8 per cent in October, before ending the year at a dismal 10.1 per cent. The increase wipes “out all improvements made in the last two years,” according to the report that released the numbers. The numbers for Ontario and Canada as a whole are slightly better, though Canada’s unemployment rate was creeping up near the end of the year as well, and ended the year at 7.3 per cent.

An 18-member advisory group has been tasked with coming to a compromise on the issue of David Mirvish’s proposed condo towers that would be designed by Frank Gehry. The towers—a set of three that would reside on King Street West and reach 82, 84, and 86 storeys—would contain space for both OCAD and a gallery to showcase Mirvish’s private art collection. Opponents, including city planners and residents of the area, are upset the towers would require the demolition of the Princess of Wales Theatre and heritage warehouses. The group has people on both sides of the issue and is intended to prevent an ugly, expensive fight in front of the Ontario Municipal Board. If approved, the project will contribute to the ongoing condo-ification of the downtown core (and you have to know condos in a Frank Gehry-designed brand-new complex are not going to be affordable to the everyperson).

Toronto and Waterloo are the only two metropolitan areas in Canada that properly match their budgets to their spending, according to a C.D. Howe Institute report. The report looked at 20 different cities and their budgets from 2003 to 2012, and found that most over- or underspend by as much as 20 per cent. Toronto and Waterloo, by contrast, are each within five per cent of their budgets. However, Toronto would only come in eighth in a ranking that included the provincial, territorial, and federal governments.

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