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Newsstand: April 4, 2014

Rob Ford is in the news again. By now it wouldn't feel like home if he weren't, though, would it? News today: Bill Clinton weighs in on Ford, staggering wealth inequality in Canada, city council approves more food trucks, and Unifor continues to push for car plant unionization.

matt newsstand raccoon

Following Mayor Rob Ford’s embarrassing error in voting “the wrong way” on a motion to honour Nelson Mandela, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and his guest former U.S. President Bill Clinton discussed—and laughed at—Ford. “I will say this: He has absolutely destroyed every stereotype people have about Canadians,” Clinton said. “Everything I ever believed about Canadians, ol’ Rob has proved that you can’t be.” Maybe we should thank him for undermining stereotypes?

American income and wealth inequality are discussed far more often than those same problems in Canada, but a new report sheds light on why that should change. Published by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the report finds that just 86 people in Canada control more wealth than the poorest 11.4 million. For every new dollar of wealth created since 1999, the split in who takes home how much has further compounded this problem: 66 cents goes to the richest 20 per cent of Canadians, leaving 23 cents for the upper-middle class and just 10 cents for the bottom 60 per cent of Canadians.

After a lengthy battle hearing voices supporting all sides of the debate, city council voted in favour of relaxing some rules on food trucks. Trucks will now be allowed to gather in private lots and park in “pay and display” spots on streets. Other regulations were tightened, though: the number of trucks allowed in the city this year is 125 and, contrary to a committee recommendation of five hours, the new rules will only allow trucks to stay in the same place for a maximum of three hours. The trucks will also be prohibited from setting up shop within 50 metres of any restaurants, which may prove difficult in the food-congested downtown areas where food trucks usually flock.

Unifor has withdrawn an application filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board to vote on union membership at three southwestern Toyota plants. While the union maintains its commitment to bringing membership to a vote, there are disputes over the number of eligible workers. Unifor president Jerry Dias said the group plans to spend more time getting membership cards signed, which will alleviate the uncertainty over how many employees might be involved. If the drive succeeds, these will be the first Toyota plants in North America to be unionized.

Comments

  • Mike N.

    The 50m rule for food trucks is ridiculous. If you want fairness apply that for all restaurants — no restaurant within 50m of other restaurants — to see how idiotic it is.

    • steve

      Becomes even more silly when there is no restriction about a restaurant opens next door, even if it serves identical food.

      • estta

        Right? If I want to sit down for a meal, other restaurants pose way higher risk of competition than food trucks.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Imagine restaurants only being allowed to open their doors for five hours a day, or a cap on the number of restaurants allowed in the city. It’s ridiculous beyond belief.

      • jimro

        Apples to oranges comparison!

        • OgtheDim

          Then its an apples to oranges comparison to be concerned about food carts hurting restaurants.

          Or does the comparison only apply if its something that supports your view?

          • jimro

            Did I express a particular “view” anywhere? I didn’t think so but maybe you feel that anything short of full acceptance or agreement is expressing a view.

          • OgtheDim

            “Personally, I don’t get the whole food truck thing”

            That would be a viewpoint.

            Otherwise, why type it?

          • jimro

            I would think that is more of an admission on my part. A view would be “I love them” or “I hate them”.

    • HotDang

      Hopefully the food truck thing will go over well, as I think it will, and we can collectively loosen some of these “restrictions” in the near future.

    • jimro

      Personally, I don’t get the whole food truck thing. Just because “they operate in other cities, we should allow them here” is a pretty shallow argument. As things stood, we had plenty of food vendors operating on sidewalks. Why did we not just remove some of the restrictions on them?

      • HotDang

        Torchy’s taco is good, and there is nothing remotely comparable in Toronto.

      • OgtheDim

        The food vendors we have on sidewalks consist of street meat and one lone kiosk up at Finch and Yonge serving Korean food.

        • jimro

          The question is why? I understand that street vendors limit themselves to “street meat” for regulatory reasons.

          • CaligulaJones

            …which is what we are talking about.

            The regulations were seen to be a needed changed because, duh, people aren’t eating as much street meat as they once were. Hope you didn’t miss that whole “health” craze.

            A hot dog, even with exotic stuff like onions on it, isn’t necessarily reflective of a palate that change, oh, about three freakin’ decades ago or so.

            So….the city created an absolute abortion of a compromise, where vendors had to put up tens of thousands of dollars for a cart designed by the requisite bureaucratic committee, and signed off by a complete waste of human skin called John Fillion. He was the chair of the Health Committee, because that’s the person you want in charge of food carts.

            The result? Years later, tens of thousands of dollars wasted, and we’re back to square one. Again. Still.

          • jimro

            I believe the regulations governing the food vendors and what they can sell are provincial rather than municipal. Has this regime changed?

          • torontothegreat

            You believe incorrectly, it’s a municipal thing

      • vampchick21

        New York has an abundance and variety of street food available, as well as a thriving restaurant industry, as just one example. It works there, it works in other cities, it will work here without hurting anyone who wasn’t going to go under anyway. If you personally don’t want to grab a bite from a food truck, no one is holding a gun to your head. But I would like to see a thriving food truck industry alongside a thriving restaurant industry like you see elsewhere. And our municipal bylaws and regulations can help us have that if we stop listening to fearmongers and people who are scared of changing the status quo.

        • jimro

          Comparing New York to Toronto is a bit naive – even in a Toronto blog! By New York, I assume you mean Manhattan, and by Manhattan, I assume you mean lower Manhattan. I have no idea whether it works there nor have I seen anyone produce any evidence that it does. Nor, indeed, have I seen anyone define what “works” means in the context of food trucks.

          • vampchick21

            Seriously dude? Seriously?

          • OgtheDim

            Ugh…you are being selectively obtuse.

        • adamd1

          I mean I guess you could have done a simple Google for “new york’s best food trucks”, and you would find a huge number of lists of really unique, excellent food trucks that offer food that no restaurant even offers. Most of these food trucks are promoted via twitter accounts that have several thousand followers because (yes, you could have looked this up too) their customers **LOVE** the variety of the food they offer! Cinnamon Snail: 15.5k followers. Morris Truck: 5,845. Kim Chi Truck: 9,807. Big Gay Ice Cream: 55.8k followers! They promote via twitter because in NYC there are no restrictions regarding where the trucks can set up, or for how long. This is less of an issue because they usually sell out completely within four or five hours. They often have lineups during the lunch hour (or whichever hour they operate. There are several breakfast food trucks.)

          btw you can perform the same search using “brooklyn”, “bronx” or “queens” and you will STILL see way more variety than anything currently available in Toronto. The point is: people love variety. Food trucks are a form of that variety. It’s pretty obvious to anybody with taste buds.

          • jimro

            So if we apply the 10:1 thing that we usually do when comparing the US to Canada, I wonder how sustainable this all is. For the record, I’m not against the idea of food trucks but I am not convinced of the attractiveness of them or their business potential. Maybe images of “The Van” are stuck in my head :)

          • adamd1

            The “convincing” you’re talking about comes as a result of (you know) actually trying one instead of just commenting negatively when you haven’t even tasted their food. We have good ones in this city. It’s worth checking them out.

          • adamd1

            Add: You don’t have to do the “10:1 thing”. Toronto is now bigger than Chicago. Chicago has *amazing* food trucks. Way better than many restaurants.

          • jimro

            I feel I am more sceptical than negative about this. I certainly didn’t contact my councillor to oppose it although I attended one of the information/discussion sessions. But I don’t believe the hype the “pro” lobby are putting out there. I think this decision is far better than the last false start.

          • torontothegreat

            It’s sustainable in Hamilton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Ottawa, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc

  • Sonny Yeung

    Ford is ridiculous! Should Kimmel continue to embarass “Toronto’s crack smoking mayor” by talking to Americans yawl… TPS should continue the investigation, if Ford was under oath he would have to explain what was in the pipe? Could explain his votes.

    The Canadian Inequality numbers is a play on the fact that the 86 Wealthiest people in the World are worth more than the poorest half.

    Some new restaurants may succeed but the majority fail so why should some roving truck get to take some of their business paying little in property tax. Of course Ford is for food trucks.(delicious)

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Why do food trucks “take” business from restaurants, but other restaurants aren’t guilty of the same thing?

      • Notcleverguy

        It’s all about property tax. Restaurants (or owners of said buildings) pay it, Trucks don’t, trucks don’t even have to pay the vehicle registration tax anymore. Thus being able to offer lower prices.

        I’m one who doesn’t really care about this issue though, I have no desire to eat while standing on a sidewalk.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          The VRT was pennies compared to what food trucks pay for licensing and the inspections required when your business is both a vehicle and a place of food storage/preparation/handling. Trucks may pay less, but they aren’t operating for free. They also can’t operate the same hours as a restaurant, given the shortage of refrigeration space, or serve the same number of customers, so restaurants will always have the advantage.

          • jimro

            Relatively speaking, trucks ARE operating for free. The costs of setting up a food truck are relatively trivial compared to setting up a restaurant. The main advantage a food truck has is that it can go where the crowds are whereas a restaurant has to wait for the crowds come to their location.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            “Relatively”. I have absolutely no money at all relative to the Sultan of Brunei, yet I don’t live in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.

            And trucks can’t go just wherever they want. Different municipalities have different rules and licensing requirements, on top of all the physical limitations inherent in being a tiny truck with a tiny fridge.

          • Notcleverguy

            Again, I don’t really care, I do think the notion that truck serve food restaurants don’t is laughable, but I digress. Like I stated before I have no desire to eat food out on a dirty street. Food trucks or no food trucks wouldn’t really make living in Toronto any different.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Nobody’s going to force you to eat anything anywhere.

            My experience living in Seoul tells me street food, especially at night, makes a huge difference to the life and energy of a street, and is an essential part of evolving into a 24 hour city. Food trucks haven’t caught on – or had TV series dedicated to them – because they have zero impact on anyone’s life

          • Notcleverguy

            Toronto is not Seoul.
            Rob Ford was on TV too, do you think he’s a good idea?

            Sarcasm aside, I don’t care, but plenty of studies have shown the rate of food poisoning from food trucks is five fold that of restaurants. This is why in places like Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami are putting in major food truck restrictions. Like I said, I don’t really care one way or another, but it just seems like those that are for it are late jumping on a fad that will just be an afterthought soon.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Derp aside, cite these studies and then explain how it’s anything but an enforcement problem. Restaurants are flagged and shut down all the time for food poisoning and other hygiene issues.

          • Notcleverguy

            Just look up the health department memos of any of these cities, it’s all on public record.

            Again, I don’t care, but if you want to jump on a trend that has passed, go for it.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Maybe you should get out more. The only way food trucks are a trend that’s passed is if you mean it’s passing Toronto by; Ontario has nearly 100 food trucks that bill themselves as gourmet (i.e. not hot dogs or chips).

          • OgtheDim

            Food out of something other then restaurants is a centuries old idea.

            Restaurants are from the mid 1800′s.

          • Notcleverguy

            Agreed, and far less people have been getting sick since.

          • vampchick21

            you can also get food poisoning from food you purchase at the grocery store and cook at home.

            Bottom line is it’s fine if you don’t want to grab something from the food truck, no one is forcing you. But plenty of us would very much like it as an option.

          • TheSotSays

            Food poisoning from your cooking. There’s a surprise. I’ve always had a suspicion that NDP women don’t know how to cook.

          • vampchick21

            Go. Away. You. Worthless. Troll.

          • TheSotSays

            Ah there’s nothing to beat sweetness and light.

          • vampchick21

            Go. Away. You. Worthless. Troll.

          • jimro

            Agreed! The idea of standing on the street with ketchup dripping on the sidewalk or, worse, my shoes doesn’t strike me as attractive! I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have bought and eaten food on the street.

          • CaligulaJones

            As petty as it is irrelevant.

            That you are a clumsy slob isn’t an argument for anything, other than better parenting.

          • jimro

            Not irrelevant at all. The issue of litter, street mess and noise associated with food trucks is a real issue and has come up in other cities as well.

          • torontothegreat

            Move to Collingwood than ffs

          • jimro

            What has Collingwood got to do with anything? Do you understand the concept of discussion?

          • OgtheDim

            You need to get up to Finch and Yonge and get something from that cart.

          • OgtheDim

            You’ve eaten food in a dirty restaurant and probably not noticed.

            Food trucks would add something to a city that is constantly adding something. Being against it because you don’t personally like it is like being against the Zombie Walk.

          • dsmithhfx

            Zombies spread disease.

          • OgtheDim

            People who go to restaurants do not want the food truck experience.

            Its two different types of business that both happen to serve food.

            This is NIMBYism.

          • torontothegreat

            You have no idea what it takes to setup a restaurant or a food truck.
            Case in point. I know owners of both. Bero cost about 150k to setup, Let’s Be Frank cost about 95k to setup.

            Trucks are “relatively” more expensive to operate and maintain.

        • CaligulaJones

          Yes, but the trucks are paying fees to operate, and as you mention, aren’t offering what restaurants are offering anyway. Their overhead is more, but they charge more as well.

          Its just a year, people. If your business is that shallow (and I realize restaurants operate on a narrow margin), don’t blame someone 50 meters away selling something you don’t.

        • torontothegreat

          And food trucks pay other fees which annually are more expensive than most property tax bills.

    • torontothegreat

      Most food trucks require a kitchen to make food that they serve in the truck. Southern Smoke doesn’t “smoke” onsite, for example. Most food trucks are paying property tax in one way or another.

      Also, capitalism. If you don’t like it, move to Cuba.

      • Sonny Yeung

        Most eh? Cuba si comrade great. You know they trade!(smile)

        • torontothegreat

          Okay how about “all except for the ones currently parked in front of Nathan Phillips Square or those that only sell street meat or fries”, is that better?