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Newsstand: February 19, 2014

Apparently, Seth Cohen is now married. Time to cry in your breakfast cereal. In the news: lots of snow this winter means the City’s snow removal budget is disappearing quickly, the race to become the TTC chair heats up, the Toronto Zoo doesn’t know a whole lot about the Inuit language, and replacing glass walls is an expense that prospective condo buyers should probably consider.

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It’s been a rough winter. Toronto has been hit by 96.6 centimetres of snow since the beginning of December, which means we’re already closing in on last year’s average winter snowfall amount of 109 centimetres. The problem is that all of this extra snow is eating up the City’s snow removal budget faster than expected. Public works committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) says that the snow removal budget for this year sits at $85 million, and just under half of that has already been used up. Generally, at this point in the year, Minnan-Wong says the City would only have used one quarter of the budget. And to think the fun isn’t even over yet: we’re expected to head into another wonderful deep freeze next week. Oh, the joy.

As prospective mayoral candidate Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) enters her final days as chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, focus is now shifting to councillors Maria Augimeri (Ward 9, York Centre), and Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) , who are both in the running to assume the role. Voting for the new chair begins today, and like everything else that happens at city council meetings lately, it could get nasty as councillors take sides on whom they support. It has been clear that outgoing chair Stintz favours Colle as her replacement. Colle recently told the Globe and Mail that he would want to focus his mandate as chair on service and reliability, and bring some calm to the transit file. For her part, Augimeri says that she would act more as a caretaker for the TTC, keeping the board running efficiently until the election, when she would not seek the position again. Considering the fact that Augimeri made it onto Mayor Rob Ford’s newest political hit list, one could hazard a guess that she likely isn’t the candidate he will back.

The Toronto Zoo has apologized for shortlisting the Inuit word “Searik” as a potential name to bestow upon a new polar bear cub—because it turns out, it’s not actually an Inuit word at all. Because it totally seemed like a legit idea at the time to use Wiki Answers as an authority on the Inuit language and not consult an actual authority on the Inuit language, the name was included as part of a list of names for the public to weigh in on in a feel-good contest. However, when Piita Irniq, former commissioner of Nunavut, saw the list, he was puzzled and immediately identified that “Searik” does not mean “beautiful” in Inuit as the website claimed. The Toronto Zoo has issued an apology for the blunder and, while it no longer cites “Searik” as being an Inuit name, it is still included in the contest name options because the public has responded well to it.

Think condo living will save you from all those pesky issues relating to home maintenance? You may have to reconsider after reading about University of Waterloo professor John Straube’s concerns that degrading glass from condo windows will soon begin to cost owners big bucks. Straube believe most condo wall windows have a lifespan of 30 to 35 years, and could cost up to $100,000 per unit to replace. Over time, the adhesive, gaskets, and sealants used keep the windows in place will degrade due to temperature changes, explains Straube. While this sort of window replacement is still relatively uncharted territory, he cautions that owners should be prepared for longer-term operational and maintenance costs when investing in condos, in the same way they would if they were purchasing a freehold home.

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