Weekend Newsstand: January 4, 2014


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Weekend Newsstand: January 4, 2014

So Alicia Keys and Blackberry have called it quits. Nothing lasts forever anymore, does it? In the news: It is really cold outside and there is more snow coming our way, swine flu is back, restaurants across the city face few consequences from DineSafe violations, and the owner of Captain John's is countersuing the Port Authority.

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Your neighbour who keeps asking if it is cold enough for you yet might be getting on your last nerve, but small talk about the weather isn’t totally unjustified given that Environment Canada says Friday was the coldest morning the city has seen in nine years. Temperatures sat at -23 C yesterday, which was colder than both Iqaluit, Nunavut and Whitehorse, Yukon. Yikes! On the bright side, temperatures will be thawing slightly over the weekend. On the not-so-bright side, there is a possibility of between 15 to 20 centimetres of snow heading our way on Sunday.

Remember “swine flu”? Well, it is back. But this time the deadly H1N1 flu virus that erupted into a global panic in 2009 isn’t the same pandemic it was last time around. While in 2009, lack of immunity amongst children and young adults seemed to make them unusually susceptible to the illness, now health officials say those who received a flu shot this year are likely protected. There is also a likelihood that most people have built up some measure of immunity to it from the 2009 outbreak. Which is a good thing, since infectious-disease experts are touting H1N1 as the cause for the majority of confirmed flu cases in Ontario this year. While Toronto Public Health has confirmed that there has been two fatal cases of H1N1 this flu season, officials say there is no reason to panic since overall there are actually fewer cases of confirmed influenza in the city this year over last year.

Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul’s West), the chair of Toronto’s board of health, says that the city is not in the business of closing restaurants. Fair enough, but when it comes to health and safety inspections, CBC News reports that repeat offenders get little more than a slap on the wrist from the DineSafe program and continue to operate with little consequence for their infractions. While conditional passes can be given to restaurants with the stipulation that they fix problems within a certain deadline, these conditional passes can be given out where issues as serious as faulty refrigeration and contaminated food are present. Yuck. Regardless, Mihevc says that the DineSafe program is a success so far, with compliance rates at around 90 per cent. According to CBC, a Scarborough restaurant takes the cake in the city as the worst offender, with more than 30 violations in just two years, resulting in eight conditional passes. Double yuck.

The saga of Captain John’s floating restaurant continues as the ship’s owner John Letnik has filed a countersuit against the Toronto Port Authority, seeking more than $1.2 million in damages for allegedly preventing him from finding a buyer for the restaurant/vessel. While Letnik still owes the city $648,947.61 in unpaid property taxes and utilities—in addition to other debts to both Waterfront Toronto and the Toronto Port Authority itself—he argues that the taxes are unjust.