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Newsstand: January 30, 2014

So I finally listened to a Justin Bieber song. In retrospect it was a really poor life decision. In the news: council approves a 2.23-per-cent property tax increase, a new development at Front and Spadina could revitalize the area in a creative way, trying to declare war on sandwich board signage, and The Biebs is charged with assault.

matt newsstand bikelane

Yesterday, city council approved a 2.23-per-cent property tax hike for the 2014 budget. The motion—put forth by Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly—includes a 0.5-per-cent levy to help fund the shortfall for the Scarborough subway extension. Council voted 32 to 13 in favour of the motion, with predictable dissent from Mayor Rob Ford. Mayor Ford had promised to pull a Rocky-and-Bullwinkle-style rabbit out of his hat by introducing $60 million in potential savings for the operational budget, which has yet to materialize. This could be because the Mayor was really busy yelling at Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre) to shut up, and autographing some head shots at his desk. Because he’s got, you know, priorities. At any rate, some details of Mayor Ford’s proposed savings were leaked to the Toronto Sun, including a push to find $19 million in corporate sponsorship for the Pan Am Games, and a reduction of councillor salaries by $1 million. We will just have to stay tuned and see what happens on today’s episode of The Real City Councillors of Toronto.

The 7.7-acre home of the Globe and Mail located at 444 Front Street could soon become a new neighbourhood called “The Well” if developers have their way. The initial plan for a mixed-use development at Front Street West and Spadina Avenue was filed with the city yesterday and would see a mélange of residential, retail, and office buildings interspersed with pedestrian walkways. Another key component of the plan is setting back buildings along the south side of Wellington Street to allow for a strip of green space to connect Clarence Square to Victoria Square, and establishing a 1,500-square-metre open-air plaza. Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) praised the plan as a proactive and community-based initiative that will help reduce the need for cars within the walkable neighbourhood. Currently, it is possible that construction of “The Well” could break ground in 2016.

Sandwich boards—technically called A-frame signs—have long cluttered Toronto sidewalks. However, according to Mark Sraga, the Director of Investigation Services at the Municipal Licensing & Standards department for the city, most of those signs are illegal. Businesses are required to apply for a one-year permit which costs $95, and only 69 of those permits were issued in 2013. Considering you likely encounter at least that many on one walk down Queen Street West, it is safe to say enforcement of the bylaw is a bit lax. This poses a significant problem for visually impaired Torontonians who say they are a serious tripping hazard. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind recommends that A-frame signs be prohibited from use as they are in a number of other large cities, including Chicago and New York. Let’s face it, we can safely live without 95 per cent of them anyways.

And finally—because no news cycle is complete without some celebrity behaving badly—pop star Justin Bieber was charged with assault in Toronto yesterday. The charges stem from a December incident where a limo driver alleges that one of the passengers physically assaulted him shortly after he had picked Bieber and his entourage up at a nightclub close to Adelaide Street West and Peter Street. Bieber caused a brief frenzy when he turned himself in to Toronto Police yesterday evening without incident, and is scheduled to appear in court on March 10.


  • Suicide Boi

    In the CBC article the police claim that “one of the passengers” in the limo assaulted the driver. If that’s the case, why is Bieber under arrest?

    • Doug Earl

      It’s written that way because that’s how the cops put it. Both the cops and the CBC trying to describe the situation without directly defaming Bieber in the event that the charges don’t hold up in court. Common way for cops to speak in the allegation phase of things. CBC could have written it more clearly without risking libel IMHO, but the story was also probably lawyered and lawyers tend toward reducing risk at the expense of clarity.

      • Sean_Marshall

        Especially when you’ve got Eddie Greenspan and his associates – some of the top criminal lawyers in Canada – representing the accused.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    I can see how the A frame signs would be a hazard to the sight impaired but they really are a nuisance to all pedestrians, some times they take up enough space on a narrow sidewalk to force passersby to walk single file. Really, they are just added clutter in an already noisy streetscape.

  • VictorianShuter

    [obligatory pun on Bieber having a new hit at hand]

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Imagine the revenue this city could raise if it enforced its myriad bylaws and collected the associated fines for things like unlicenced A-frame signs, illegal billboards, littering…

    • HotDang

      … parking on the sidewalk and / or bike lanes …

  • nevilleross

    I listened to a Justin Bieber song; surprisingly, it was good, and it didn’t kill me, nor was it a waste of time.

    People need to chill the fuck out and like what they like in music without having to be so shitty about this young guy.

    • CaligulaJones

      I’m not a hypocrite. If I were 20 years old, with millions to spend, famous and teenage girls found me attractive, I’d be doing exactly the same thing he is doing. I know this because when I was 20, living on credit card advances, non-famous and a 6 if you were drunk and it was dark, I WAS doing the same thing.

      Didn’t make me any less of a douche, though. He is just another entitled rich brat who will eventually pay for playing the fame game. If he has a good accountant, he might have some money left when he’s 30. Then he can open for the Backstreet Boys on the oldies tour and still call himself a singer.

      What of Justin Bieber shone through the song for you? His individuality, if by that you mean being one of six writers for a three minute pop song?

      Was it the auto-tuning? The generic musicianship of nameless studio musicians, if by musicians, you mean the producer who pressed “play” on a Mac?

      I’m going to go see Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt tonight. Two guys, two guitars, two hours of music. Maybe Hiatt will tell the story of how he wrote an entire album after drying out, after he spent the day of his son’s birth throwing up in a bathroom 1,000 miles away.

      • nevilleross

        At over a billion fortune-wise, I wouldn’t hold your breath; he’d be an old man before he runs out of cash, most likely. Also, the way commercial radio plays his songs, he’s probably always rolling in dough somehow.

        As I said above, like what you like, go in peace, and let others be.You like/love John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett, cool beans. But try to accept that others like Justin Bieber, and think that he’s the cat’s meow. If you’re tired of Bieber and other pop stars, you can always write your MP and tell them to start re-regulating radio so that one company doesn’t own every station in one city or town, and also pressure them and the rest of the government to start trust-busting most of these media oligopolies on general so that radio stations are owned by people that give a shit about radio (alternatively, you can also ask your MPP or whoever is in charge of education to start bringing back music appreciation classes so that young people will know what else to listen to besides pop music.)