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Olivia Chow for Mayor

Toronto can do better. This is how.

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Newsstand: February 6, 2014

Who had a nightmare about shovelling snow last night? In the news: Toronto house prices outpace family income, the TDSB spends a lot of money on paint and…a pencil sharpener, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman mourns the closure of the Chapters Runnymede bookstore, and Doug Ford thinks John Tory’s job advice to women is chauvinistic.

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The Toronto Real Estate Board says that in January, the average selling price of a house in the city was $526,528—a rise of over 9 per cent—while actual home sales fell 2.2 per cent compared to a year ago. The board also projects further price increases through 2014 as more Torontonians choose to list their homes in order to capitalize on what is viewed as a surging market. However, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. Economists warn that with home prices currently outpacing family incomes, the risk of a market correction increases.

An examination of work-order expenses from the Toronto District School Board revealed it has spent tens of thousands of dollars on paint jobs over the past two years. While it is certainly not a scandalous revelation, it does call into question whether or not the perpetually cash-strapped school board is doing enough to cull maintenance expenses—especially since looking further into the work-orders shows that it has also spent $12,000 on outdoor planters, nearly $4,000 to adjust school clocks to daylight savings, and even coughed up $150 to have a pencil sharpener installed. While a $70,000 paint job at Malvern Collegiate was admittedly sped up to coincide with the school’s 110th anniversary in 2013, reps for the school board maintain it was a job that was long overdue, and that the majority of maintenance expenditures have been money well spent. Let’s hope that is one heck of a nice pencil sharpener…

Yesterday, Indigo CEO Heather Reisman visited the Chapters Runnymede bookstore for a town hall meeting about the store’s looming closure. Reisman fielded questions from the crowd of nearly 300 locals, and informed them that while the company had hoped to keep the location open, it was no longer a financially viable option after rent on the space was increased. The 22,000-square-foot bookstore used to be the home of a historic theatre and, after initial opposition from the community, the bookstore eventually became a local meeting spot for many residents of the area. The store closes in 11 days and will eventually be converted into a Shoppers Drug Mart. Definitely a less hospitable hangout destination. Reisman told the audience that she is hopeful that Chapters will return to the community eventually. “We want to be here. We want to be in this community. We’re looking for a place,” she said.

Yesterday, Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) took aim at possible mayoral candidate John Tory over his remarks that women should learn to play golf to get ahead in their careers. Ford pounced on Tory, labelling his advice as —get ready for this!— “chauvinistic.” Somewhat shockingly, it appears he actually knows what the word means, too. Ford then went on to call Tory an “elitist” and unofficially joined the Occupy movement long enough to label him part of the “1 per cent.” So, let’s recap. According to Doug Ford, giving women terrible job advice is totally chauvinistic. Generalizing that the only thing women want is money, with a side of perfume and dresses? Not so much, apparently. So much hypocrisy, so little time.

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