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Weekend Newsstand: March 1, 2014

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus. Otherwise, Happy Saint David’s Day! In the news: Crude oil shipments running through midtown have residents irked, a major law firm is no more, Grange Park will get a facelift, and to say things are getting intense at TDSB meetings would be kind of an understatement.

matt newsstand gull

A CP Rail line that passes through midtown Toronto has residents on edge after they learned that it carries freight shipments of crude oil through the area on the daily. After tank cars carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec this summer causing a massive explosion that killed 47 people, Torontonians are fearful that a similar disaster could happen locally if shipments are not rerouted elsewhere. Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) met with CP Rail and says that little has been done to ease his fears about the highly unstable substance, since CP Rail reps says that the crude oil shipments cannot be rerouted outside of the city in future.

Yesterday marked the end of an era for high-glitz Toronto law, as one of the country’s most prestigious law firms Heenan Blaikie dissolved and shut the doors of its Bay Street office. Okay, so it might not be as devastating as that time they cancelled Street Legal, but with nearly 500 lawyers working for the firm from coast to coast, and after posting a 2013 profit of $75 million, you might wonder why the good times had to end so soon. Well, after dozens of high-profile lawyers jumped ship recently, rumblings are that clashing partners and management styles were responsible for the split. While no one formerly in command of Heenan Blaikie’s Toronto office has commented on the closure, an anonymous source working at the firm says that there is a deep feeling of abandonment amongst workers who say they were kept in the dark.

This week it was announced that Art Gallery of Ontario-owned Grange Park would be receiving a much-needed design facelift thanks to the Weston family, who have committed financial backing to re-energize the tired downtown green space. Matthew Teitelbaum, chief executive of the AGO, says that the renovations will include a playground, a water feature, and improvements to paths and lighting to make it an urban green space that is functional and yet not over-filled with features. “The plan is not to put a lot of stuff in the park,” says Teitelbaum. “We are going to maintain it as a great green space.” Yay for fancy-but-not-too-fancy green space!

Finally, Chris Bolton, chair of the Toronto District School Board, says that police presence is required at all future meetings due to increasingly threatening behaviour by elected trustees, including an incident this past Wednesday where a trustee allegedly yelled so threateningly at senior staff that they felt unsafe. Bolton has made a request for an off-duty police officer to attend all meetings, saying in an email: “It is very disturbing and unfortunately not the only occurrence that I have personally witnessed in the past two months.” Bolton has also further recommended that doors separating trustees from staff remain closed and locked, with formal requests put forth if trustees would like to speak with staff. At the same meeting, a yelling match broke out between three trustees, making it pretty clear that a lot of these people have “being passionate” confused with “being ridiculous and childish.” But seriously, if the people involved in the education of young minds cannot keep a grip on themselves, it is safe to say we have no hope for the future.

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