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Newsstand: April 17, 2014

So, on Monday a Nebraska toddler got stuck in one of those claw-style toy vending machine games. No, you read that right. That actually happened. In slightly less awesome news: Open Streets will happen this summer, a new zoning law could allow small businesses to open up within apartment towers, electronic joints may not be safe to smoke, and the who’s who of city councillors running for re-election this fall.

matt newsstand gull

Toronto’s economic development committee has given a green light to a downsized version of the Open Streets proposal, which originally aimed to transform a 10-kilometre section of Bloor Street by closing it down to motorists into an urban park for special outdoor activities on four Sunday mornings this summer. After hearing that Toronto Police quoted $839,092 to police the events and that the Toronto Transit Commission could support opening the subway early on only three of the four proposed dates, the committee unanimously agreed to have staff devise a scaled-back pilot for Open Streets that would see the event happen only once this summer, across a shortened route. City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale)—who spearheaded the event—feels the concessions are fair, saying, “We recognize that we have to go slow. People legitimately have concerns about what the impact will be, and so those fears are there and we want to be able to alleviate them.”

The new Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) zoning law could see some previously residential-only zones allow small businesses to open up in as many as 564 apartment towers across Toronto. Under the new zoning, buildings with at least 100 residential units could have businesses of 200 square metres—up to a total commercial area of 1,000 square metres for all businesses—open up on ground-floor or basement levels. The new zoning aims to help revitalize tired suburban apartment tower communities around Toronto by giving residents of these areas—who may otherwise not be able to afford the upstart costs of small businesses—the ability to set up ventures to better serve their local communities, such as hair salons, grocery shops, and markets.

Sniffing bath salts that are not really bath salts? Smoking actual coffee grinds? Drug use in the modern era must be really confusing to the folks who can still remember the good old days when everyone from average joes to city mayors could just get high off of “real drugs.” Now, Torontonians have to make sense of electronic joints that are currently popping up for sale. Called eCigJoints, these faux pot products promise to produce a high even though they do not contain THC—the active ingredient in marijuana. So, are they safe? According to naturopath Bryce Wylde, the ingredients—including a pair of amino acids used to treat anxiety and the sleep agent melatonin—are considered safe when used properly. However, he cautions that these all-natural substances have never been tested as inhalants.

Finally, if you are interested in knowing whether or not your city councillor will be campaigning for re-election, here is a full breakdown of who is running, who intends to run, and who is not. SPOILER ALERT: nearly everyone on Mayor Rob Ford’s hit list is coming back for another round.

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