It is already shaping up to be a glorious day. Run wild, people! In the news: the provincial election is too close to call, trouble at the MaRS centre, and a jukebox goes missing.
A new Forum Research poll says that this Thursday’s provincial election is too close to call. According to the poll, it is a dead heat between Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals and Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives. Whichever way voters swing the pendulum on whom they elect, the only thing that appears certain at this point is the eventuality of another minority government. According to the survey, the Liberals are in the narrowest of leads with 39 per cent support, while the Conservatives come in at 37 per cent. Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats sit at just 17 per cent. While Tim Hudak was touted as the winner of the last televised debate, Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff says it seems to have had little impact on voter decisions. “Maybe he was the best debater but it doesn’t mean people liked him,” Bozinoff said. Forum also surveyed 18 key ridings for the Toronto Star, showing that shakeups could be coming for a few local ridings. Incumbents Doug Holyday (PC, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) and Rosario Marchese (NDP, Trinity-Spadina) are both in peril of losing their seats to Liberal challengers.
No matter who emerges victorious in next week’s election, they are set to inherit a pretty big set of problems with phase II of Toronto’s MaRS centre. The troubled 20-storey tower of labs and offices geared towards being a hub for scientific innovation was rescued by a $317-million bailout from the Liberal government to prevent the private-public-funded project from defaulting on the $235-million loan received from Infrastructure Ontario. Only a handful of tenants have moved into the completed space, with prospective tenants such as Ryerson University’s science department shying away due to exorbitant rent costs. The lack of a frenzy to scoop up space within the tower doesn’t come as a surprise to many who were familiar with the development plans, since there were early warnings that phase II would have challenges drawing in prospective tenants. Real estate experts say that there was a lack of basic demand, and the building setup made it difficult to attract tenants who could potentially have vastly different needs. Still, expansion went ahead pointing to the enormous success of phase I as an indicator that demand for phase II would grow. This was a mistake, according to critics of MaRS, who say phase I might not be performing as well as has been reported, having relied heavily on government funding to succeed. Documents indicate that 60 per cent of the square footage of phase I is occupied by publicly funded entities and MaRS offices, while 60 per cent of total revenue in 2012 and 2013 came from provincial government funding. MaRS, however, argues that this public investment has paid off in spades, generating $3 billion in economic impact since its launch. While the debate over the success of MaRS can linger on, the question for the incoming government of what to do with a massive building space that is largely sitting empty will be a more pressing one to answer.
Finally, have you seen this jukebox? Police are appealing to the public for help finding a vintage Wurlitzer jukebox that was stolen during a break-and-enter in the Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road area. Police should be looking for either The Hulk or some calculating thieves who were prepared in advance to transport the jukebox, which is estimated to weigh up to a not-so-portable 400 pounds.