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Newsstand: April 8, 2014

Only time will tell whether the Rob Ford Crackathon game will become the Drugwars of a new generation. In the news: Open Streets might transform Bloor Street this summer, new finance minister Joe Oliver chats with some old Bay Street chums, a transportation consultant from Great Britain schools Toronto on public transit, and a film based on an infamous Mississauga murder heads straight to VOD.

matt newsstand gull

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) has proposed a series of Open Streets events that would see a section of Bloor Street turned into a community playground where residents could get outside and partake in events such as salsa dancing lessons, yoga practice, and cycling on select Sunday mornings this summer. Wong-Tam says the Open Streets program aims to provide residents with recreation space within existing infrastructure, while also building community. To facilitate the program, Bloor Street would be “soft-closed” to car traffic between High Park and Withrow Park on the proposed dates of July 27, August 3, August 17, and August 31, meaning that north-south traffic could continue to cross Bloor. The events still require approval from City Council to move forward, so we’ll likely get to enjoy another round of banter about the now-legendary war on the car. So be prepared for that.

Newly minted finance minister Joe Oliver was in Toronto yesterday to deliver his first speech to a Bay Street audience since taking over the post from Jim Flaherty last month. Oliver said that the federal government will move to provide tax relief to Canadian families after it balances the budget next year; however, he did not reveal any details of what those potential breaks would be. Oliver toed the Conservative line for the most part by emphasizing familiar messages related to job creation and support for business, while he steered clear of the much-debated and often-maligned Conservative campaign promise of income splitting—a tax policy that his predecessor Flaherty openly questioned.

British transportation consultant David Quarmby can probably teach this city’s upper brass a thing or two about how to transform public transportation. He is one of the masterminds behind Transport for London—a local government body created in 2000 that oversees most aspects of the transport system in England’s capital city, and is responsible for road policies—which is credited with having successfully decreased the number of cars on the road by 15 per cent and upping bus ridership by 75 per cent. Quarmby will be in Toronto this Wednesday to give a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade about his successes with revamping public transpiration in London. His visit is sponsored by the Neptis Foundation, a think tank that has been largely critical of Metrolinx recently. So, while Quarmby says his intention is not to dictate how Toronto should navigate its transportation issues, it is possible the Neptis Foundation kinda sorta hopes he will do just that.

Well, Abigail Breslin’s Little Miss Sunshine days are certainly behind her. The former child star takes a turn alongside Georgie Henley and Mira Sorvino in a new film called Perfect Sisters, which is based on the story of two Mississauga sisters who were convicted of their mother’s murder when they were teenagers. Dubbed the Bathtub Girls, the sisters were 15 and 16 respectively when they fed their mother a cocktail of vodka and Tylenol 3 in order to make her drowning in a bathtub look like an accident. While we may never know the names of the real sisters due to the fact that they were minors at the time of the crime—and so their identities are protected by law—we do know that they are now in their 20s, and that one sister is actively pursuing a law degree.

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