Newsstand: September 9, 2010




Newsstand: September 9, 2010

Illustration by Matt Daley/Torontoist.

Ripped from the headlines on this oh-so-special Thursday: Toronto is too self-centred, Ford hits YouTube, and the Royal York Hotel is perilously close to striking.

In a rare and glowing moment of consensus last night, Toronto’s mayoral candidates agreed that Toronto is too self-centred. The candidates assembled at the MaRS Centre for one in a series of what can only be described as a bazillion debates, to rail against the costly insular attitudes of civic politicians. Everyone mercifully agreed that the City of Toronto needs to work more closely with surrounding municipalities and with the province to encourage cost-saving synergies like more unified TTC services. Also of note were some great food-related metaphors, including “alphabet soup” from Rocco Rossi and that oft-heard promise from Rob Ford to “trim the fat and stop the gravy-train spending at City Hall.” Yum.
He’s hip, he’s with it, and to prove it, Rob Ford released his transportation plan for Toronto yesterday on that bastion of fleeting fame known as YouTube. The video included promises to build a twelve-kilometre subway track along Sheppard Avenue from Downsview to Scarborough, create one hundred kilometres of new bike trails, and replace downtown streetcar lines with buses, all by 2015. His opponents say the plan is a “fantasy” that is poorly thought out and impossible to execute on Ford’s proposed budget.
A hotel strike during a film festival is like a garbage strike during a long, stifling summer: strategically timed, incredibly inconvenient, and…stinky? Royal York Hotel employees voted with 87% in favour of a strike last night, just days before the stars are expected to roll up for TIFF. Hotel management and union leaders will be back in talks this morning, but if no agreement is reached by 11:59 p.m. tonight, Hollywood’s hottest may have to find alternative incredibly luxurious pillows on which to rest their disturbingly well-groomed heads.
The city block at King Street and John Street where the TIFF Bell Lightbox resides has been officially named Reitman Square. It takes the name of Leslie and Clara Reitman, whose son Ivan Reitman produced Ghostbusters. The couple immigrated to Canada from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War and built a car wash at the intersection where the Lightbox now sits. In 2001, the Reitmans donated the land so that the festival could build a permanent site, which, starting this Sunday, will play host to the film industry’s finest.
Do you ever feel like your boss is a robot? A dismembered head barking orders and taking names? For employees of Toronto tech developer Mike Beltzner, that’s actually the case. Beltzner keeps an eye on the California branch of his business with a robotic machine on wheels that is topped with a screen playing a live feed of Beltzner’s face. (The Times has video.) He can wheel his virtual self around the office to check in on employees and give weird virtual pep-talks, and Beltzner’s bosses at Mozilla are loving it. Employees are less convinced. “The general response was that it was kind of creepy,” says Beltzner.