Newsstand: July 24, 2014




Newsstand: July 24, 2014

According to an Algerian news agency, air navigation services lost track of a Swiftair plane—Flight AH5017—50 minutes after takeoff in Burkina Faso en route to Algiers, early this morning, with 116 people aboard the flight. In less-startling news: phone numbers in the 416 area code are worth a pretty penny, online and phone voting in the upcoming municipal election is cancelled for disabled citizens, the City has a new transportation centre, and mayoral candidates talk pedestrian safety.

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Do you have a phone number in the 416 area code? If so, it could net you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, as city-area businesses clamour for a piece of old-fashioned Toronto. Recently, businesses have been using brokerages to purchase old 416 phone numbers at a premium of up to $2,000, citing the perceived legacy of the area code as a motivating factor behind making the pricy switch. Established in 1947, the 416 is Toronto’s oldest area code. It has since been overlapped by both the 647 and 437, two less-chic options that both still have plenty of numbers available to assign to Torontonians according to the Canadian Numbering Association—the governing body that deals with assigning phone numbers to Canadian carriers. The association, however, stopped handing out 416 numbers to carriers in 2006, and likens receiving a phone number within that area code to receiving old currency that has gone out of circulation. This means that numbers do become available to customers if they are reassigned, but at a pace that outweighs current demand. Thanks, Drake!

The City has scrapped plans to make the 2014 municipal election open to online and phone voting for disabled citizens, saying that there is not enough time to build and test the system in advance of the October 27 elections. A new report to City Council claims that third-party experts do not have enough time to conduct a full assessment of the security and accessibility of the new voting system before registration ends on September 8, 2014, which means the project will be nixed. The cancellation alarms members of the City’s disabilities issues committee, who say it is hardly believable that the current time window does not allow for the system to be tested and revised as needed. Andria Spindel, the CEO of March of Dimes Canada, also came down against the report, saying that online voting provides a valuable resource for people with severe disabilities to become engaged in municipal voting.

The City of Toronto has unveiled a newly upgraded transportation operations centre, which boasts a wall of 200 television monitors charged with watching over major traffic arteries and intersections across the city, as part of an ongoing plan to alleviate traffic congestion in Toronto. In addition to the extra traffic monitoring services, other planned upgrades include the creation of a “detour library,” which will allow for the adjustment of synchronized signals to accommodate for increases to traffic flow due to construction detours.

Meanwhile, mayoral candidates are appealing to voters with a variety of plans (and non-plans) to make roads safer for pedestrians in the city. Mayor Rob Ford has been vocally opposed to lowering speed limits to 30 kilometres per hour, as recommended by the province’s chief coroner, saying he believes that Toronto streets are safe for pedestrians as they are now. John Tory also opposes the lower speeding limits, which he believes inevitably cause drivers to roll through stop signs more readily, out of frustration. Olivia Chow, alternatively, also thinks that a city-wide speed limit reduction is a bad idea, but individual communities should have the capability to request them if they feel they are needed.