Rare panda triplets were recently born in China, and the first photos of them just became available yesterday. Man, are they ever ugly babies! Seriously, they are not cute. In the news: Baldwin Street is left in tatters due to the construction at Dundas and Spadina, Wi-Fi is coming to more subway stations, Toronto’s Chilean community may finally get a street named after Salvador Allende, and a Toronto woman challenges the federal government over a new U.S. banking law.
Construction at the intersection of Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue may be complete, but the prolonged road closure has had some unintended consequences according to residents of a nearby street. Buses used Baldwin Street to divert around the construction area and left it with massive potholes that residents say are an accident waiting to happen. City officials say that if buses were indeed responsible for the surface damage, they may also have caused asphalt beneath the surface to rut and shift, which would make repairing the road a lengthy undertaking.
While the Toronto Transit Commission may be inadvertently wrecking streets, we can at least all be thankful that it has our need for incessant internet connectivity in mind. Yes, Wi-Fi will soon be at more downtown subway stations. Yesterday, Bay Station became the third to offer Wi-Fi, after Bloor-Yonge and St. George stations. The TTC plans to have service up and running at College, Dundas, Wellesley, and Union stations by the fall, with the full Yonge-University-Spadina line to be completed by next spring. Being able to hold a Wi-Fi connection for the duration of your subway trip will be possible in the semi-distant future; there are plans to extend service to tunnels sometime between 2017 and 2019.
A group of Chilean expats in Toronto were nearly thwarted in their attempt to have a street named after a former president of Chile by a City policy requiring the written consent of the man’s relatives. For years the group has been trying to name a street after Salvador Allende, the former socialist president who was brought down by Augusto Pinochet’s CIA-backed coup in 1973. When a street in a new townhouse development became available for naming, the group, led by Patricio and Luz Bascunan, was told that their request had been denied because they did not have “informed written consent” from Allende’s family, even though they managed to obtain letters from the Chilean Consulate General and local associations in support of the renaming. In the end, the Toronto and East York Community Council saved the day by overruling the policy, which means the street name will now go to a city council vote at the end of the month.
Two Ontario women are suing the federal government; they allege that Canada has violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by agreeing to share the financial details of nearly a million Canadians with authorities in the United States. Gwen Deegan of Toronto and Ginny Hillis of Windsor launched a claim against the Attorney General of Canada, stating that a new American tax-fraud law that strong-arms international financial institutions into handing over personal banking information about people deemed to be “U.S. persons” is unconstitutional. The problem is partly that the definition of a “U.S. person” is broad and includes not just American citizens living in Canada, but also people born in the U.S. who have no existing ties to the country and those who have never lived or worked there. This does not sit well with Deegan and Hillis, who were born in the U.S. but moved to Canada at the age of five. They argue that the privacy violation exposes them to the possibility of unfair legal penalties, since if they do not comply they could be deemed tax evaders by the United States government.