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Weekend Newsstand: May 3, 2014

Last night police shut down a party in Brampton that had over 1,500 youth at it. That's a real party. In adult news: a history of St. Lawrence as a successful mixed-income neighbourhood, beer can factory workers are on strike, the city's last pig slaughterhouse might shut down soon, and it's Free Comic Book Day.

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The Toronto Star today has a history of St. Lawrence Neighbourhood, one of the most successful mixed-income, partially public-housing neighbourhoods in the city. From officials at all levels of government working together to proper funding and access to a renowned urbanist with a vision, the story details some of the things that made the creation of the neighbourhood possible, and why they may not converge again any time soon. According to architect and planner Allan Littlewood, one key ingredient is missing now that wasn’t then: nerve. “The city has lost its nerve. I think the population has lost its nerve, too. Toronto has also lost its sense of civicness. We’re more focused on the rights of the individual than the city.”

Most beer cans in Ontario, and especially in southern Ontario, are being made by “scabs”—people willing to work in place of striking workers. That’s been the case since September 2013, when Crown Holdings factory employees struck to demand a fairer contract for new employees. The 120 employees of Crown Holdings’ Fenmore Drive factory (the American company has 149 plants and employees a total of 21,900 people), most of whom are near retirement, want a contract for new hires closer to the existing contract. Currently, new hires move up over three years to $24 per hour. The contract that precipitated this strike would have new hires starting at $9 per hour and wages would move up so slowly that Local 9176 VP Calvin Gillard called it a “40-year contract.” Meanwhile, the company’s earnings nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012 alone, from $282 million to $557 million, and CEO John Conway brings home a $12.4-million salary.

Toronto’s last abattoir has gone into bankruptcy, and next week a judge will be asked to appoint a receiver to sell the plant’s assets; if unopposed by creditors, the sale will go ahead. The plant currently accounts for 25 per cent of Ontario’s pork output. Prices for live pigs have gone up 45 per cent in the past year, largely due to an incredibly infectious disease that has killed millions of piglets at more than 6,000 U.S. farms. Porcine epidemic diarrhea has also spread to dozens of Canadian farms but the impact hasn’t been as devastating as in America. Residents near the abattoir and developers in the neighbourhood are also looking forward to the end of Toronto’s Hogtown days, as they look to change the neighbourhood’s formerly rough reputation. As is usually the case these days, the abattoir’s owners signalled they were ready for change by looking to change the land’s zoning for residential and commercial use. It may be only a matter of time before a luxury condo building pops up on the historic site.

Today is Free Comic Book Day, so go support your local comic book store (and pick up an armload of free issues while you’re there).

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