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Newsstand: June 3, 2014

It is June and the Stanley Cup has yet to be won. So much for hockey being a winter sport. In the news: Rod Phillips is the new chair of CivicAction, Rob Ford plans his return, the push for Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams to become first responders, and raccoon-proof green bins.

matt newsstand raccoon

Former Ontario Lottery and Gaming Coroporation CEO and current Postmedia Chair Rod Phillips is the new Chair of the non-profit CivicAction. Phillips replaces John Tory, who resigned in February when he registered to run for mayor, and joins new CEO Sevaun Palvetzian as the organization begins to focus on tackling youth unemployment in Toronto. Needless to say, CivicAction will face an uphill battle, as 22.5 per cent of youth aged 15-24 is currently unemployed in the city—more than twice the municipal average. Torontoist spoke with both Phillips and Palvetzian about CivicAction’s plans to work with several existing jobs and mentorship programs within the city, and create collaborative solutions to address the complex issues surrounding youth unemployment.

“The next four months you’re going to see a different Rob Ford,” said Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) as he began to make the rounds to local media yesterday to drum up support for the mayor’s planned return from rehab on June 30. Mayor Ford announced his comeback plans in a new interview with Toronto Sun reporter Joe Warmington, to whom he said he takes full responsibility for his past. “It’s a cop-out to blame it on others. No one has enabled me,” said Mayor Ford. The Mayor also texted Warmington a snapshot taken of him wading in a pool at the GreeneStone facility where he is in treatment, and denied that he has spent any time at his family’s cottage while in rehab. At the very least, we can thank Mayor Ford for giving us almost a full month to steel ourselves for his return, during which we can all still enjoy pretending that Norm Kelly is our real mayor.

The recent inquest jury examining the deaths of three mentally ill Torontonians during altercations with police recommended the expansion of Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams to become city-wide, 24-hour operations. However, Toronto Police say that these teams—which pair officers with mental health nurses—can do little to intervene when a violent situation is in progress since they are secondary responders. According to Deputy Chief Michael Federico, MCIT teams exist to help prevent future potentially deadly encounters by introducing people to the mental health system as early as possible. This is not the case in Hamilton, where the similar Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team program has had success allowing teams of uniformed officers and mental health nurses to act as first responders when they are geographically closest to the call. John Sewell, head of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, says that MCITs in Toronto should also be made first responders, arguing that they play an important part to improve police attitudes towards people with mental illness. MCIT teams are currently available at 14 police divisions in Toronto, and in 2013, they responded to 15 per cent of the 11,056 calls involving what police label as “emotionally disturbed people.”

When it comes to long-standing battles, fewer have been more epic and drawn-out than the fight to keep raccoons out of Toronto garbage cans and green bins. It is a fight we have been losing, but Torontonian Simon Treadwell has a new design that he hopes will even the score. Treadwell is set to pitch a new-fangled lid to the City that he invented to raccoon-proof green bins. After testing the lid for a week, Treadwell claims that even the most determined of critters was unable to open the prototype bin, but don’t fear that this makes it impossible for human-use also. The design is made to be user-friendly, and also open in a hands-free way for City garbage handlers, making collection easier. Whether or not the City chooses Treadwell’s design remains to be seen, but a more raccoon-proof green bin is expected to be chosen in January, and will roll out next fall.

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