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Newsstand: July 21, 2014

The weekend was jam-packed with news from all over the world. Here's some local flavour. The provincial government wants to increase the aviation fuel tax, a factory in the Junction Triangle is upsetting residents, and the provincial Liberals are playing hardball with a First Nations community.

matt newsstand gull

Part of the Liberals’ ambitious budget calls for $29 billion dedicated to transit and infrastructure over the next decade. To pay for that, they’ve introduced a measure to raise the aviation fuel tax by four cents per litre over the next four years, from 2.7 cents to 6.7. The increase will leave Ontario with one of the highest aviation fuel taxes in North America, and will cost airlines an estimated $100 million, which some fear will be passed on to the consumer by way of higher ticket prices. Another possibility is that airlines will circumvent the tax by fuelling up outside the province.

Gentrifiers often want the gritty feel of an undiscovered pocket of urban territory, but rarely want to deal with the factors that might have kept that pocket undiscovered. Such is the case in the Junction Triangle, where the Nitta Gelatin plant produces unpleasant odours and has attracted 106 complaints since 2003. Almost half of the complaints have come in the first half of 2014. Product manager Randy Robinson promised residents that the company “is dedicated to removing all the odours,” and the plant has changed the way it disposes of waste water, which appears to have mitigated the smell to some extent. Still, Toronto Public Health has ruled the emissions aren’t toxic, and the plant isn’t violating any laws, leaving complaining residents without some potentially helpful tools in their fight against the smell.

Despite their decidedly pro-First Nations rhetoric during the provincial election, the Liberal government has told a First Nations community the province will not provide any of the $16 million needed to improve transmission lines for a new hydroelectric project. The project, situated on the Namakan River and proposed by the Lac La Croix band, may provide some much-needed economic development for the community, and elders say that the former Ontario Hydro promised to upgrade an existing transmission line. That promise has not been fulfilled.

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