Newsstand: May 14, 2012




Newsstand: May 14, 2012

You've spent the weekend dreading this day, but now that it's here, Monday doesn't really feel that bad, does it? No, it doesn't. We're good. Everyone's cool. Let's all just quietly catch up on the news: Mayor Ford wants the executive committee to scrap the five-cent bag fee; a study that examines the impact of the Eglinton LRT is set to begin this week; the Toronto housing market continues on an upward trend; Toronto's proposed waterfront casino adds a name to its Friends list; and issues with the EMS.

At today’s executive committee meeting, Mayor Rob Ford will urge members to get rid of the 2009 bylaw that introduced the five-cent plastic bag fee. The mayor used his weekly radio talk show to discuss his feelings about the tax, saying that the fee is unnecessary and that retailers should have the option of not imposing the charge on customers. Yes, it does seem unnecessary and frankly just silly to reduce the use of plastic bags by more than 50 per cent. No good can come of that.

An unprecedented, $1.3 million study will begin Thursday, examining what Eglinton will look like after the LRT is built, how it will be zoned, and what kind of buildings and public spaces will be encouraged. This two-year project is called an “avenue study,” and while studies of this kind will typically focus on a kilometre or two, this one will cover 14 wards, from Black Creek Drive through to Kennedy Station. Perhaps this can be added to the list of things deemed unnecessary by Mayor Rob “Subways!” Ford, because who has ever heard of underground tunnel studies? Gravy!

Has the Vancouver housing market been your go-to source for easing anxiety about the Toronto housing market (“at least this isn’t the West Coast!”)? Well, we’ve got some bad news. If demand doesn’t cool or if the supply of single-family homes is not boosted within the next decade, Toronto could see house prices hit the levels of Vancouver’s, according to a Toronto-based housing expert. On the upside, at least we can get in on this game.

Toronto’s proposed waterfront casino has a new supporter and potential suitor. Gerald Schwartz, the head of Toronto-based buyout firm Onex Corporation and one of Canada’s richest men, says he is “enthusiastic” about proposals to build a casino in Toronto. A casino veteran, Schwartz owns the Tropicana hotel and casino in Las Vegas, as well as Casino ABS, which operates four Alberta casinos in Edmonton, Lethbridge, and Calgary. If Onex does pursue a bid, it’ll be up against two known competitors: Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International. We’re in the big leagues now, guys! Maybe, finally, we can be a “World Class City” just like Las Vegas.

If you are feeling a bit of chest tightness today, you might want to phone a friend. Concerns have been raised about a paramedic shortage after Toronto EMS made its highest priority call Sunday and, according to reports, dispatch had no available ambulances to send. According to CUPE Local 416, which represents paramedics, the dispatchers had to start calling various hospitals to find out if any paramedics waiting with patients were able to go the scene. But try not to worry about this, as stress can lead to serious health risks, which can put you at risk of having to try to get an ambulance. It may not end well.