Newsstand: April 14, 2014




Newsstand: April 14, 2014

Post-Heartbleed, have you changed all your passwords and had a technology- or NSA-related panic attack yet? In the news today: the revitalization of Alexandra Park is a mixed blessing, CIUT's station manager apologizes for his poor handling of a mayoral debate, and urban trailer parks are on their way out.

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As demolition begins on public housing in Alexandra Park—soon to be followed by the construction of new public townhouses and private-market condos—many neighbourhood residents are worried about maintaining the community they’ve built. Even residents like Iveth Maita, who says some of the new developments in the area are undoubtedly good, express concern over how the 10- to 15-year project will impact the neighbourhood. A main goal of the revitalization is to avoid displacing current residents while making room for new ones. “On the surface this is about building,” writes the Globe and Mail‘s Joe Friesen. “But it’s also about power and money.” Unfortunately, the residents of public housing are at a distinct disadvantage when money and power are at play.

Ken Stowar, station manager for the University of Toronto’s radio station CIUT 89.5 FM, cancelled a planned mayoral debate after the poorly planned nature of the debate created a mild controversy. Stowar had invited Mayor Rob Ford as well as candidates Olivia Chow, John Tory and Sarah Thomson; candidates Karen Stintz and David Soknacki were not initially invited despite polling ahead of Thomson, and despite the fact that the debate was billed as a match between the “top four” candidates. After the station extended a belated invitation to Soknacki and then left his name out of a tweet regarding the debate, Ford, Chow, and Tory pulled out and issued a joint statement about the disorganization of the event. Stowar apologized and said he was unable to be as attentive as necessary to the debate because the station’s transmitter died just as the station’s fundraising drive had kicked off. “Without a transmitter the station cannot broadcast,” he said. “As a result, I did not attend to the organization of the debate as closely as I should have or to the inquiries about it from candidates and the media.”

While minuscule and factory-built homes are touted by some urban design experts as the way of the future for affordable housing in dense urban areas, trailer parks—congregations of the first type of small pre-fab housing—seem to be on their last legs. Residents of Barrie’s Burton Avenue Mobile Home Park have been given one year to vacate and $3,000 to cover moving expenses. But as landowners decide to cash in on their investments rather than lease to renters, mobile homeowners have fewer and fewer places to go. One option would be for a group of mobile residents to own a plot of land and run it as a co-op; with no one person in charge and everyone having a vested interest in maintaining the land as-is, there would be much less chance of being evicted for the landowner’s profit. How likely it is that residents of mobile homes would have the resources to purchase enough land to make this option work is another question.