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Newsstand: April 10, 2014

While Prince George was having a play date in New Zealand, a nine-month-old baby was being arrested for attempted murder in Pakistan. Now that you’re all caught up on infant headlines from around the globe, here is the news: a smartphone app to pay for parking is in the works, the City dishes out political donation rebates for non-Toronto residents, the TDSB votes against asking for a nudity ban at this year’s Pride Parade, and some radioactive stuff goes missing from Sunnybrook.

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Our children may never grow up to know the sheer panic of sprinting down a Toronto sidewalk after realizing that they have one minute left on the parking meter. Yesterday, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee approved a motion that could pave the way for commuters to pay for parking with a smartphone app. A similar app that is currently in use in Vancouver has met with success. It allows drivers to enter a location number printed on a parking meter and purchase time directly on their phones. Five minutes before parking expires, users get a text message asking if they would like to purchase a time extension to avoid parking tickets. If approved by city council in May, the new system could be implemented at Green P parking lots as early as August or September of this year. Street parking will require a slightly longer roll out in order to coordinate with Toronto Police.

While mayoral candidates Olivia Chow, Karen Stintz, and John Tory have said they have no plans to hold fundraising events outside of Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford will be putting a province-wide City of Toronto political donation rebate program to good use by holding an upcoming campaign fundraiser in Vaughan. Under the current rules, political donations are eligible for a 75 per cent rebate paid by the City to anyone residing in Ontario who registers for the program. The rebate program has been around for 17 years, and in July 2013 city council approved plans to boost funding for the program, which, as the City estimates, will pay out $4.8 million in rebates for the upcoming election. Research indicates that Mayor Ford raised $623,000 from donors outside of Toronto in 2010.

Yesterday, trustees with the Toronto District School Board voted 16-6 against a motion to ask city council to enforce nudity laws at this year’s Pride Parade. Sam Sotiropoulos, the trustee who wrote the motion, sent out robo-calls by the thousands to explain to residents of his Scarborough ward that his opposition to nudity at the parade does not mean he is homophobic. “I made the (automated) call to explain that I’m not anti-gay or anti-Pride, but our school board code of conduct mandates us to respect all the laws of the city, the province and country,” said Sotiropoulos. Members of the board who spoke out against the motion argued that it was not the board’s job to police the police at the parade, in which the TDSB has had a float since 1996.

Well, this is a bit of an oops moment! Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute announced yesterday that a small amount of radioactive material has done its best Criss Angel impression, and disappeared from a research facility. During a routine audit on March 21, a locked, lead-lined cabinet containing 14 radioactive items was discovered to be missing. While there are no clear leads as to what happened to the cabinet, the best guess so far is that it was accidentally sent to a scrapyard by janitorial staff who were cleaning out the room where it was stored. A spokesperson for the Institute stresses that the missing materials are not a threat to patients at Sunnybrook and are considered to pose the lowest risk on the nuclear safety commission’s risk-assessment scale.

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