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Culture

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Newsstand: February 21, 2014

If you're watching fashion week coverage and worrying that you need to bleach your eyebrows, just remember the cool kids aren't always right. And you'd probably look like an alien. (But if you want to do it, enjoy your alien face, and don't listen to what we're saying!) In the news this morning: heavy rain is causing problems, the City has few tools to deal with landlords run amok, and a new taxi rule may allow for discrimination.

matt newsstand carsandflags

From dramatic snowfall to late spring temperatures and heavy rain in the blink of an eye, or, well, a week: Toronto weather has been an adventure, to say the at least. The rain has raised concerns about flooding in the city and resulted in the cancellation of several school buses this morning: while buses in the city are all running, those for Durham, Dufferin-Peel, and Halton have been cancelled either in full or in part.

If you think a potential landlord may be waiting to cash in on Toronto’s condo craze, this story may act as a warning to stay away from their building. A North Toronto apartment building has been without heat for over a week, since Feb. 11, when the City condemned the furnace over a carbon monoxide leak. Landlord Bianca Pollak claims that in order to restore heat, she would have to have the entire building gutted to replace piping as well as the furnace, and that the solution to her building’s problem is “not simple.” Pollak has applied several times to build an “avant-garde condo complex” where the apartment building currently stands. City councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) has been working “around the clock” to fix the situation, but until it’s resolved, tenants will be forced to use space heaters and hope the weather stays warm.

City council approved sweeping taxi legislation reform this week, and the reforms are aimed at helping both customers and drivers. One controversial measure will allow drivers to demand pre-payment of up to $25 and to refuse service to anyone who doesn’t comply. Avvy Go, director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, says she suspects certain visible minorities will be more likely to see this demand than other customers. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) says he does not expect this to happen, and that drivers have few tools at their disposal to enforce payment. By the end of 2014, there will also be 290 new licenses issued, all for wheelchair-accessible taxis: and all new cabs will have to run on either alternative fuels or hybrid engines. Meanwhile, drivers will also be able to charge a cleaning fee if a customer vomits in a cab.

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