Newsstand: February 14, 2014




Newsstand: February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! It's gonna be a good one. Or something. We have no opinions on this holiday so, uh, go enjoy it if you want to. Everyone do what they want today. If what you want to do is read the news, you've come to the right place! The proposed Kensington Walmart appears to be off the table, TCHC CEO Eugene Jones has been censured by the organization's board of directors, and Rob Ford wants Toronto to get lion's share of the federal government's infrastructure fund.

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The proposal to build a Walmart in Kensington at the corner of Bathurst and Nassau streets seems to have been dropped by developers. City councillors Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) and Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) introduced a new proposal for the land at a Thursday meeting for local stakeholders—a proposal that involves two storeys of offices and retail space. The largest retail space would be 45,000 square feet; the proposed Walmart would have taken up 95,000 square feet. The proposal to build a big-box retail store in the historic neighbourhood was the subject of fierce debate and push-back from both residents and some city councillors: Layton spent two and a half years working to change land developer RioCan’s mind. If the current proposal is accepted by the Ontario Municipal Board and goes ahead as now laid out, it will be a major win for community activists.

Following a number of questionable actions since his 2011 instalment as CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, Eugene Jones has been sanctioned by the TCHC’s board of directors. Jones will not receive his 20 per cent bonus for 2013 and must go to university for a “leadership program.” New conditions will also be added to his yearly bonus, and he’ll have to work with an “executive coach” to improve his performance. Jones has come under fire for evicting senior citizens whose rent is in arrears; keeping an assistant off the provincial “sunshine list” of public employees earning more than $100,000 per year; and firing chief operating officer Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, paying her a severance, and then publicly claiming she had resigned. Mayor Rob Ford threw his support behind Jones, saying that sending him to “so-called school” would be “a waste of money.” There are still a number of questions about the board’s action: the vote and debate took place during a private meeting, and even the language of the vote that led to the above measures is not yet public.

Rob Ford is determined to bring some of the federal government’s $14-billion infrastructure fund home to Toronto. “I think we deserve the lion’s share,” he said yesterday at City Hall. “Toronto must be the focus of this commitment. When Toronto succeeds, the region succeeds, Canada succeeds.” Stephen Harper would probably take issue with Ford’s choice of animal: while the 10-year fund will likely provide the $660 million Ottawa has pledged for the Scarborough subway project, $1 billion will be earmarked for communities with populations under 100,000. “During consultations, our government heard repeatedly that smaller towns such as Stouffville need the same, predictable access to federal funds that large urban centres have,” the prime minister said. “Our government listened.”