Weekend Newsstand: May 24, 2014




Weekend Newsstand: May 24, 2014

A Forum Research poll indicates that Rob Ford's approval ratings have hit an all-time low at 32 per cent. It looks like people really don't like it when your car gets impounded while you are in rehab. Sheesh. In the news: police look at new cost-cutting measures, it could cost a Torontonian $1 million to own a free coach house, and Toronto surgeons get set to perform the first Canadian hand transplant.

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As Toronto Police look for ways to trim budgets, 12 areas have been identified as potential cost-saving measures, with a service cut to private alarm response among them. These calls are a drain on resources, according to police, who say that in 2012, only 300 of 20,000 private alarm service calls they responded to turned out to be legitimate. Other recommendations include scrapping police reports deemed redundant, such as reports for lost Canadian identification, licence plates, and debit or credit cards—all of which are documented and replaced by other government offices or corporate institutions. Animal complaints may also be up for service cuts, since police argue they are generally managed by other city agencies. Overall, the steering committee that is reviewing cost-cutting measures as part of Police Chief Bill Blair’s Internal Organization Review process has identified $2.1-million worth of potential savings that equal almost 41,903 police hours. That ain’t no chump change!

Nothing is free, not even a free home. When City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) tweeted the news that a Victorian-era coach house belonging to Casey House would be given away at no cost to anyone who could remove it before it would be demolished during planned renovations in the fall, it seemed unlikely there would be any takers. Well, Toronto business owner Robert Hiscox eventually stepped in and has made an application to the City to get rid of his three-car garage on Molson Street to make room for the coach house, which would need to be delicately moved more than two kilometres to his property in Summerhill. If it seems as straightforward as that, it really is not. The move—which has already cost Hiscox $20,000 in these early planning stages—has a $1-million price tag and involves getting special blessing from the City to sever Hiscox’s property in order to accommodate two homes, since current city code prohibits having two homes on one lot. At a recent community meeting, Hiscox’s neighbours balked at the idea, saying it sets a bad precedent for building on secluded Molson Street. Some even argued the coach house does not fit with the local aesthetic. Right―because if we have learned anything from urban development it is that nothing can destroy the integrity of a neighbourhood quicker than the preservation of historic buildings.

Dr. Steven McCabe is the director of the University of Toronto’s hand and upper extremity program—possibly one of the most peculiar-sounding job titles ever. He was also one of the surgeons who came together to perform North America’s first hand transplant in 1990. Now, surgeons at Toronto Western Hospital are preparing to perform the first-ever hand transplant in Canada. The procedure has been considered controversial in Canada, but McCabe says it offers patients a new option for treatment of limb loss and should be available to Canadians. An eight-year-old boy has already been identified as a potential candidate for the transplant, which could happen within the next six months.