News & Opinion

Posts Tagged ‘Rob Ford’

Na na na na hey hey hey Rob Ford, Barrio Coreano and Harvest Kitchen openings, and more this week in the neighbourhood | November 22, 2013

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Heritage & History, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on November 21, 2013 at 12:45 AM
All is calm at Toronto City Hall following the neutering of Mayor Rob Ford

All is calm at Toronto City Hall following the political neutering of  Mayor Rob Ford

By West Annex News | So the deed is done. Our municipal boil has been lanced. Peace, order and good government reign. You know the details. But here are a few fun items you might have missed:


Doug Ford on CNN with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka stashed under his desk | CNN screen capture via Daily Buzz

Self-avowed teetotaler Doug Ford was interviewed in his office by CNN with a bottle of Grey Goose vodka clearly visible stashed under his desk. [Daily Buzz]

Chris Farley stars in Rob Ford the Movie

Chris Farley stars in Rob Ford the Movie | Image credit: Youtube screen capture

The whole incredible story of Rob Ford’s rise and fall is brought to life in this brilliant short film made entirely out of clips from the movies of the late Chris Farley.

Bill Weir’s take down of both Ford brothers on CNN was a joy to behold, but nothing was more delicious than Rob’s squeals of indignation as former Ford BFF John Oakley roasted the mayor when he called in for an impromptu interview on November 18, the day he was stripped of his powers.

Speaking of Council, here’s the final tally of who voted for what in the various motions that transferred power to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. [Matt Elliott/Metro Canada]

The Rob Ford show overshadowed some of the great work council did this month: funding for the environmental assessment for bike lanes on Bloor and Dupont was approved; councillors moved unanimously to rescue and expand the BIXI bike sharing program;  and new funding was devoted to the backlog of repairs to TCHC properties. [,]


Old City Hall, one of only two building worthy of preservation according the Frank Gehry

Old City Hall, one of only two building worthy of preservation in Toronto–according Frank Gehry

Toronto only has two heritage buildings worth saving, Old City Hall and Osgoode Hall, according to architect Frank Gehry. Suitably dazzled, Toronto and East York Community Council chose to give David Mirvish’s proposal to build trio of 80-storey plus condo towers on King West an express route to Toronto City Council. Council ignored City planning staff’s objections and that of heritage preservationists that the project will wipe away four heritage warehouses and the Princess of Wales Theatre, and further stress overburdened public transit on King Street West. [National Post/The Globe and Mail]


The abandoned Shaw Street School has been transformed into Artscape’s latest affordable living and working space for artists and non-profits including the Luminato Festival and the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. [torontoist]


Food and restaurant news:


Harvest Kitchen will soon open at 124 Harbord Street, once the home of Kensington Kitchen and Bistro Tati | Image credit: Google Street view

The beautiful space at 124 Harbord Street once occupied by Kensington Kitchen and later Bistro Tati has been taken over by Harvest Kitchen, which describes itself as “an everyday diner where vegetarians bring their meat-eating friends”. The restaurant plans to preserve Ontario produce onsite starting with the 2014 harvest.  The opening is planned for “any day now” according to the website. [blogTO]

Rakia Bar on 960 Euclid Avenue, just north of Bloor West has opened in the space once occupied by Hrvati Bar. The menu features vegetarian, seafood, Balkan specialties, and suckling pig with advance notice. 

Barrio Coreano, the latest incarnation in the Playa Cabana franchise is scheduled to open this weekend at 642 Bloor Street West. Rajput’s Bistro was the last tenant in this space, just west of Euclid. [blogTO]


Coming up

The 2014 Hot Docs tickets are on sale now

The 2014 Hot Docs tickets are on sale now

Tickets for the March 2014 hotDOCS festival are now on sale on the hotDOCS website

Wednesday November 27 at 6:30PM, Trinity St. Paul’s Centre, 427 Bloor Street West: Toronto Public Health, TCAT, and Cycle Toronto are hosting “Walk Cycle Move: the Annex”, a workshop to examine public opinion on proposed project to:

  • reduce speed limits to 30KPH on seven streets in the neighbourhood including Albany, Howland, and Brunswick,
  • explore alterations to Bloor Street to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists,
  • discus the revival of the Environmental Assessment for bike lanes on Bloor.

If you can’t make it to the meeting you can still share your views in a survey here.


Related posts:


Last week in the neighbourhood: Rob Ford’s end days, Indian Rice Factory closing, another megacondo and more.




All images by Louise Morin for West Annex News unless otherwise noted.

Rob Ford’s end days, goodbye to the Indian Rice Factory, another mega-condo for the Bloor-Annex strip, Yorkville tree slaughter, and more this week in the neighbourhood | November 8, 2013

In Arrivals & Departures, Coming events, Heritage & History, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on November 8, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Image credit: The Simpsons screen capture by Phil Tobin /@RPBRooney on Twitter 12:50PM – 5 Nov 13

By West Annex News | Another busy week in and around the neighbourhood.


This week in Fordlandia

Rob Ford hands out his business cards in happier days

Rob Ford hands out his business cards in happier days

The city is almost numb from this week’s blizzard of increasingly sordid and bizarre rumours and revelations in the Rob Ford saga. Somewhere between the release of yet another video of the mayor staggering and ranting in a drunken stupor, CP24’s interview with his awful mother and the fifth estate’s exposé about organized crime’s attempts to get their hands on the Ford crack video, we all stopped reveling in the salacious details and started wanting it to stop.

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, City Council meets for the first time since the crack scandal reignited. We have high expectations for City Council: no partisanship, no grandstanding by councillors with their own mayoral aspirations (Hello Karen Stintz and Denzil Minnan-Wong). Quickly, without malice, just strip the mayor of all his powers and staff, and get on with the business of the city.


The Indian Rice Factory, an Annex institution for 43 years, closed its doors on November 3, 2013

The Indian Rice Factory closed its doors on November 3, 2013. The restaurant at 414 Dupont at Howland had been in decline since the death of founder, owner and chef Amar Patel three years ago. Patel was a visionary chef who introduced haute Indian cuisine to Toronto in the 1970s, and was a pioneer on the then-mostly industrial Annex-Dupont strip.

While the addition of the lovely Chai Bar in 2011 created hope that the restaurant could be revived, the lengthy reconstruction of the Howland Avenue/CPR underpass dealt a death blow to that enterprise. [blogTO] []


Planning and development news

DTAH design consultants reported their findings from the Bathurst Street Built Form Study to the community on October 22, 2013. They found that the Official Plan and the zoning already in place are appropriate, and that public consultations “underscored the need for more park space along Bathurst and for the preservation of Mirvish Village.” [Inside Toronto]



Architects’ rendering of new 66-storey condominium proposed for 80 Bloor Street West | Image:  archtectsAlliance

Krugarand Corporation has made an application to the City of Toronto to tear down the 18-storey 80 Bloor Street West retail and office tower, and replace it with a 66-storey residential mixed use tower. The building, sandwiched between Harry Rosen and Capezio, currently houses a Gap, Banana Republic, Extreme Fitness and 204,000 square feet of office space. Public consultations are coming. []


Tree slaughter in the Village of Yorkville Park

Tree slaughter in the Village of Yorkville Park

Just when the spruce trees at the east end of the Village of Yorkville Park on Cumberland Street were getting to a nice size, the City chopped them down. Catherine Naismith heard from Kristan Wong-Tam that the trees were removed due to their deteriorating soil beds, caused by a parking garage underneath. New trees will be planted in the spring of 2014. [Built Heritage News]


Early in the new year, Councillor Mike Layton will be hosting public meetings regarding the future of development on Dupont Street. The north side of the street is now zoned as an employment area in the Official Plan. It is facing increasing pressures from developers to to convert the land to residential uses, specifically condominium towers. Layton says “These meetings will be held to help develop a better understanding of how the community would like to see Dupont grow and to receive feedback on specific applications.” []


U of T's proposed Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Image credit: Montgomery Sisam Architects/Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

U of T’s proposed Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Image credit: Montgomery Sisam Architects/Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The University of Toronto revealed plans for a new $50 million Centre for Engineering and Innovation Entrepreneurship. U of T will build the Centre on the site of the parking lot between St. George Street and Simcoe Hall. [Yonge Street]


The City of Toronto has launched a new blog all about Heritage Conservation District studies and plans throughout the city. “The new blog is intended as a resource to learn about milestones, events and ways to participate in the heritage conservation district studies and plans currently underway in the city,” said Councillor Peter Milczyn, Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee, as quoted by Catherine Naismith. The blog also contains a gallery of photos of historic Toronto. [Built Heritage News]


What’s coming up this week:

Remembrance Day services at University of Toronto Soldiers' Tower

Remembrance Day services at University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower

Monday, November 11, 2013, Remembrance Day services. Local services will be held at the University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower at the western end of Hart House, 10:20 to 11AM, followed by a reception at the Great Hall, 7 Hart House Circle.  


Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 7:00PM at St. Lawrence Hall, 157 King Street East, Evergreen’s Executive Director Geoff Cape will be moderating a free Natural History Symposium to discuss Toronto’ natural heritage including “trees as natural heritage resources, what the average citizens can do to conserve natural heritage in the context of our natural ecosystems, the City of Toronto’s Natural Heritage Study and the management of natural heritage resources related to water.” 


November 12 to 14, 9:30AM each day, the Supreme Court of Canada considers questions about Senate reform. The hearings will be broadcast on CPAC including the CPAC Internet live stream.

The Supreme Court of Canada's hearing on Senate Reform start November 12, 2013 at 9:30AM

The Supreme Court of Canada’s hearings on Senate reform start November 12, 2013 at 9:30AM


Related posts:

Last week in the neighbourhood: Rob Ford’s very, very bad day, Honest Ed’s sale, Trinity-St. Paul’s reno, and more




All images by Louise Morin for West Annex News unless otherwise noted.

Rob Ford’s big crack up, Honest Ed’s sale, Trinity-St. Paul Centre reno, and more this week in the neighbourhood | November 1, 2013

In Coming events, This week in the neighbourhood on November 1, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Rob Ford had a very bad day on October 31, 2013 as police release evidence of multiple suspicious rendezvous with drug dealer Sandro Lisi, and Police Chief Bill Blair confirms police have the Ford crack video | Image: Rob Ford press scrum 2011

Rob Ford had a very bad day on October 31, 2013 as Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed police have the Ford crack video in their possession | Image: West Annex News

By West Annex News | Here’s what’s been happening this week in and around the neighbourhood.


Our top story . . . what else but Mayor Ford’s very, very, bad day on October 31st. With pundits across North America weighing in, we thought we’d offer you links to various source material, so you can take a direct look at the evidence yourself:

Rob Ford pushes the press off his property October 31, 2013 | Image: video screen grab

Rob Ford pushes the press off his property October 31, 2013 | Image: video screen grab

We are proud to see the New York Times recognize that even our crack addicts say “Thank you” when having hysterical melt-downs in their driveway.


Police surveillance photos of Mayor Ford peeing on a tree | Toronto Police handout/QMI Agency

Talk about gravy, the 474 pages of police documents and photographs released yesterday show that during office hours, our $173,869 per year mayor spends vast chunks of his time rendezvousing with an accused drug dealer and taking delivery of small packages at gas stations and convenience stores, and drinking vodka and pissing on trees in public.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announces police have the Ford crack video | Image: CP24 video screen grab

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announces police have the Ford crack video | Image: CP24 video screen grab

Then there was Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair’s press conference in which he acknowledged that the police have the famous Ford crack video in their possession, recovered from a computer hard drive seized during the Project Traveller raids in June, 2013.


Doug Ford watches Bill Blair press conference October 31, 2013 | CP24 video screen grab

You know the ship is really sinking when the rats start to disembark. Former Ford enablers CP24 posted a video of Councillor Doug Ford watching Chief Blair’s presser on TV in Ford’s City Hall office. DoFo was uncharacteristically silent after the day’s stunning revelations.

The Toronto Sun put out a special afternoon edition of the paper recapping the day’s events, and in which the Sun called for Mayor Ford to stand down.

Finally, it’s fun to take a fresh look at Ford fishin’ buddy Stephen Harper’s visit to Fordfest in 2011. Tip to the PM: when you choose your friends not by their character but by how rabid their partisanship, expect things to blow up in your face now and again.


Honest Ed’s site sold to developer Ian Gillespie


The shoe finally dropped. The much-rumoured sale of the 1.8 hectacre Honest Ed site including Mirvish Village to Vancouver mega-developer Ian Gillespie’s Westbank Properties was finally announced on October 27, 2013.

Although vendor David Mirvish blithely claimed Gillespie has a “wonderful track record” and “want to make a contribution to our community” and will “respect the Annex”, Mirvish did not obtain any contractual commitments from Gillespie to that effect.


Ian Gillespie’s 61 storey Shangi-La towers over the 48 storey Wall Centre, Vancouver’s second tallest building | Image by Kyle Pearce

Gillespie is known for his love of the super-tall and super-luxe. He complained that the Vancouver skyline was “boring” as justification for building his 61-storey Shangri-La hotel/condominium at a time Vancouver’s tallest building was 48 storeys tall.

Gillespie and Westbank are being sued by disgruntled Shangri-la condo buyers for false promises about cost-sharing with the hotel, and are accused of insensitively exacerbating the housing crisis for the poor with their efforts to gentrify Vancouver’s Downtown East Side.

Mirvish says that Gillespie has agreed to lease back Ed’s to him for two or three years, while the new development proposal works its way through the Toronto planning process.


Trinity-St. Paul Centre unveils renovation

The Trinity-St. Paul's Centre has reopened after an extensive renovation to the performance and worship space

The Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre has reopened after an extensive renovation to the performance and worship space

The Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre at opened its doors on Saturday, October 26, 2013 to show off the results of its $3 million renovation spearheaded by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

The space now boasts a permanent stage and new flooring. Individual upholstered theatre-style seats have replaced the pews.


The heritage view of Queen' Park has been protected by an Official Plan Amendment

The heritage view of Queen’ Park has been protected by an Official Plan Amendment

Heritage preservationists and Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam have scored a victory protecting the heritage view of the Ontario Legislature. Wong-Tam conducted a two-year battle to convince City Planning to support an Official Plan Amendment to protect the views of Queen’s Park and to convince developers to drop all appeals to the OMB. ____________________________________________________________________________________________


Friday November 1, 5PM to 8PM, Vermont Square: There will be free cider and hot chocolate for the Seaton Village Community’s Pumpkin Patch in Vermont Square. All are invited to bring their pumpkins to the south-west end of the park any time after 4PM.  The City will dispose of the pumpkins after the event. [Seaton Village Residents’ Association]

Monday, November 4 at 5:00PM in the See House, 120 Howland Avenue: Royal St. George’s College Neighbourhood Liaison Meeting. Once a year, RSGC is obliged to hold a neighbourhood liaison meeting to discuss traffic and other issues of concern to the neighbourhood. Councillor Adam Vaughan and his constituency assistant Areej Hasso are expected to be in attendance.

As for us, we’d like to know:

1. When is the Hydro transformer leaving that was installed on the lawn of St. Alban the Martyr Cathedral without the consent of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services?

2. Hey, what happened to this tree that the OMB and bylaws ordered RSGC to preserve?

2. Hey, what happened to this tree that the OMB and bylaws ordered RSGC to preserve?

3.   How did the low fence promised by RSGC on the Albany Avenue side of the campus morph into a penitentiary-style barrier that’s even higher than the Toronto fence bylaw permits?

4. Heritage signage: RSGC promised new signage for all the designated buildings on campus. Instead, all heritage signage was torn down by RSGC in the fall of 2012.

RSGC PROMISE: heritage signage for all designated buildings. DELIVERED: all heritage signage torn down.

RSGC PROMISE: heritage signage for all designated buildings.
DELIVERED: all heritage signage torn down.


All images are Louise Morin for West Annex News unless otherwise noted. 



Last week in the neighbourhood: In which we learn Honest Ed’s sign is younger than Michael Jackson’s thriller, and other news.

The Cathedral of St. Alban the Martyr: truly a national treasure

Visit Kyle Pearce’ photostream on flickr

A new map of Toronto, how Adam Vaughan almost snuck on Mayor Ford’s executive committee, Crazy Town: Robyn Doolittle’s upcoming book on Ford, Bathurst built form report, Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Bloor, and more this week in the neighbourhood | October 18, 2013

In Coming events, The West Annex, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on October 18, 2013 at 12:05 AM

Map of Toronto by stereotype

By West Annex News | Another jam-packed week with lots of things happening in and around the West Annex.

BlogTO wrote this week about URBANE, a US hipster-map manufacturer’s new map of Toronto neighbourhoods by stereotype. Burn: nothing north of Bloor was included on the map, so Harbord Village–“Professors in bay and gable housing”–has to stand in for the Annex.


Adam Vaughan almost joined Rob Ford's executive committee when Council's left wing called a snap vote after five Ford allies had left for the weekend.

Adam Vaughan almost joined Rob Ford’s executive committee when Council’s left wing called a snap vote after five Ford allies had left for the Thanksgiving weekend.

This week in Fordlandia

#TOpoli aficionados are salivating at the news broken by Marc Weisblott at that The Star’s Robyn Doolittle will publish a book about Rob Ford and family called Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story. Quill & Quire reports that Doolittle’s publisher promises the book will contain “shocking new revelations” about Ford. The book will be released March 2014, in the midst of the nomination period for the 2014 Toronto municipal election. is taking advance orders for Doolittle’s book.

Complaints to the Ontario Press Council about The Star’s series of articles about the Rob Ford crack video scandal and the Globe and Mail’s revelations about Doug Ford’s drug dealing past were both dismissed this week. []

Let sleeping Ford's lie.

Let sleeping Fords lie.

Not long after he called for the firing of an apparently napping city employee, a photograph of a sleeping Mayor Ford began circulating on the Internet.

Council’s left wing almost snuck Councillor Adam Vaughan on Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee Friday evening, October 11 when five of Ford’s allies left Council’s October meeting early for the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Vaughan allies moved a snap vote to break the shut out of the old City of Toronto from the powerful executive committee. Although the motion failed on a 16-16 tie, Vaughan told The Star’s Daniel Dale “I certainly saw the panic in Ford’s face, and every time I see that, I love it.”


Condominium towers at Dupont and Shaw

Two eleven-storey residential condo towers are proposed for the Sobey's site at Dupont and Shaw

Two eleven-storey residential condo towers are proposed for the Sobey’s site at Dupont and Shaw

The Grid reports this week on the battle to build two 11-storey condominium towers at Dupont and Shaw where Sobey’s grocery store now stands. The lands are zoned for employment and if the developer wins an exception from the city or the OMB, all of the employment lands on the north side of Dupont Street will be up for grabs for residential development.


Brooklyn graffiti artists subcontract mural job on Bathurst Street

Brooklyn street artists subcontracted this mural on Bathurst north of Davenport

Brooklyn street artists subcontracted this mural on Bathurst north of Davenport

The National Post revealed that Brooklyn, NY graffiti artist collective Faile, paid $23,000 for a mural commission on Bathurst Street just north of Davenport Road, did not show up to paint the mural themselves but subcontracted the work to others.

If you support bikes lanes on Bloor-Danforth, Cycle Toronto is asking you to write to members of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee by 4:30PM today, October 18, to support the Bloor-Dupont environmental assessment, and to ask the committee to expand the assessment to include Danforth. Email addresses for the members of the committee are on the Cycle Toronto website.

A $1.3 million semi at 314 Robert Street just south of Bloor is Toronto Life‘s House of the week. With a skylit kitchen, massive living room fireplace, coffered ceilings and wainscoting throughout, the before and after transformation of this recent reno is truly stunning.


Bicycle Fall Blowout sale logoComing events:

Bicycle Fall Blowout Sale, Saturday, October 19, 10AM to 5PM: The 14th annual Bicycle Fall Blowout Sale is this Saturday, 10AM to 5PM at the Direct Energy Centre, East Annex, Hall F in Exhibition Place. This annual seven-hour sales blitz is well worth your time if you’re looking to buy a new bike, bike accessories, clothing or footwear, as manufacturers and local retailers clear out 2013 stock at deeply discounted prices. It pays to be well-prepared for the sale. Stock moves incredibly fast. Do your research, study the floor plan and be ready to pounce when you see a deal you want.


Toronto Waterfront Marathon Sunday, October 20th

Bathurst and Bloor will be closed Sunday, October 20, 2013 for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Image credit Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Bathurst and Bloor will be closed Sunday, October 20, 2013 for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | Image credit Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon | click to enlarge

Get your cowbells ready, the 25,000 runners of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be passing through the neighbourhood the morning of Sunday, October 20, 2013. This is a chance to see world-class marathoners up close, as last year’s winners Sahle Warga Betona and Mary Davis try to repeat their wins and break the course record of  2:07:58.

The race starts at 8AM at University and Queen Street. Runners head up University, then along Bloor and down Bathurst. Running at just over 3 minutes per kilometer, the leaders should be on Bloor between Spadina and Bathurt by about 8:08AM. The Bloor Annex BIA is sponsoring a window decoration contest, asking Bloor Street businesses to decorate their windows with banners and signs to cheer on the runners.

Road closures for the event: Bloor will be closed between Bay and Bathurst from 8AM to 10:15AM. Bathurst will be closed from Bloor to Lakeshore from 8AM to 10:45AM. Details of all street closures in Toronto are here.


Bathurst Street Built Form study Tuesday, October 22, 6:00 to 9:30PM


Councillors Mike Layton and Adam Vaughan are once again hosting a community meeting at Central Technical School, this time to discuss the draft proposed recommendations of the Bathurst Street built form and land use study team. More details at Ring Around the City.


Related posts:

Last week in the neighbourhood: Report from the Four Corners of Bathurst and Bloor community charette

This week in the neighbourhood | September 27, 2013

In Coming events, Heritage & History, This week in the neighbourhood, Toronto politics on September 27, 2013 at 12:05 AM
Heritage tree tour of Queen's Park Sunday, September 29th. See detail below | Photo credit: Alden Cundanin/Toronto Before

Heritage tree tour of Queen’s Park Sunday, September 29th. See detail below | Image credit: Alden Cundanin/

By West Annex News | There’s so much great stuff going on this coming weekend we’re going straight to it.

What’s up this weekend:

Sunday, September 29th 11AM Heritage Tree Tour of Queen’s ParkPresented by LEAF with arborist Philip van Wassenar, the tour will explore rare, old and other significant trees in Queen’s Park and Philosopher’s Walk, some of which are promised to have as much heritage value as the historic buildings around them

Sunday, September 29th 11AM: Park Crawl. Join the David Suzuki Foundation crawling by foot, bike and canoe between four parks along Toronto’s former Garrison Creek corridor.  Each of the four parks will host food booths by Pizzeria Libretto, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, the Country General, Ursa and 13 others, and local musical acts including Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Choir!Choir!Choir! and Local 164. The crawl starts at Christie Pits at 11AM, moves to Bickford Park at 1:00PM, to Fred Hamilton Park at 2:00, and to Trinity Bellwoods at 3:00PM.

Soupalicious this Sunday from 11AM to 4PM at Wychwood Barns | Photo credit Heidi Swanson/100 Cookbooks

Soupalicious this Sunday from 11AM to 4PM at Wychwood Barns | Photo credit Heidi Swanson/101 Cookbooks

Sunday September 29th noon to 4PM: Soupalicious at Artscape Wychwood Barns. Enjoy 10 free soup tasting with the cost of admission. Advance tickets $12, $20 at the door. From the website: “we highly recommended that you arrive no later than 2:30 pm to enjoy the full array of soups.”

Friday to Sunday, September 27th to 29th: U of T Toronto Science FestivalThe University of Toronto is launching a public celebration of science. The festival will include keynote talks, panel discussions, film screenings, live music and dance, microscope and telescope sessions. You can even send a message into space.

Saturday and Sunday, September 28th & 29th: Culturedays. The local and totally free events in this country-wide festival are:

Ai Wei Wei's Forever Bicycles under construction in Nathan Phillips Square for 2013 Nuit Blanche

Ai Wei Wei’s Forever Bicycles under construction in Nathan Phillips Square for 2013 Nuit Blanche

And don’t forget to mark October 5th, 6:51PM in your diary for the big one – Nuit Blanche 2013. You can preview Ai Wei Wei’s Forever Bicycles under construction now in Nathan Phillips Square. More on Nuit Blanche next week.

This week in and around the neighbourhood

Hot Docs has completed their first economic impact study.  It shows the festival contributes $29.9 million to Ontario’s GDP. [Broadcaster]

Anne Mirvish, wife of the late Honest Ed Mirvish, died at age 94 on September 20, 2013. [National Post]

Kensington Market | Credit:  Friends of Kensington Market

Kensington Market | Credit: Friends of Kensington Market

Keep Walmart out of the Kensington neighbourhood. Friends of Kensington Market are crowd-sourcing for funds to pay for traffic and market impact studies and for a lawyer to represent them at the Ontario Municipal Board.  If you care about the market, donate here, and sign the petition at  “We are seeking to have Torontonians build Toronto, and not the OMB or Walmart” says Councillor Adam Vaughan.

The 2014 mayoral race see-saw. First The Star reported that Olivia Chow received assurances over the summer that councillors Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll will not enter the 2014 mayoral race, thus eliminating any rivals from the left. The latest Forum Research poll showed Chow would defeat Rob Ford in a head-to-head race 57 per cent to 33 per cent. Then the mayor scored $660 million in funding from the feds for the Scarborough subway and got a bump up in his approval rating to 49%.

Meanwhile, Michael Bouck AKA @VainHostile told us on Twitter this week about the ABCDEF movement – Anybody but Chow or Dat Eedjit Ford.

Speaking of the mayor, Ford Fest West was held in Centennial Park in Etobicoke on the evening of September 20, 2013. Here’s what you missed:



Related post:

Last week in the neighbourhood


Image credits:

The before and after image of a Queen’s Park tree was used with the kind permission of Alden Cundanin. Visit his Toronto Before blog for more of his enchanting juxtapositions of historic and contemporary Toronto images, and follow him on Twitter.

Taking stock of Rob Ford’s Toronto, 2011

In The Maven, Toronto politics on December 31, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Rob Ford in a rare press scrum, at David Pecaut Square | Image: West Annex News

By The MavenAs we head into 2012 and are well into the second year of Fordism, we should pause and take note of what has occurred so far.

Thugs like Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti run wild.

Idiots like Josh Matlow feel self-important.

And Ford claims success so far for his mandate. He feels that whatever he wishes to do is ordained directly from ‘the people’. Having been elected, he has stated (following in the footsteps of that other democrat and man of the people, Steven Harper) that election victory means no more consultation for four years. Being Mayor means to Ford that whatever he wants to do is has already been sanctioned and he needs no further approval.

Interestingly, in spite of current and looming layoffs (he promised none would occur during his administration), service cutbacks (he guaranteed they were not going to happen during his mandate) and tax increases (hidden as ‘user fees’, which he insisted would never happen while he was mayor), Rob Ford says he has had a successful year.

As well, although he has found virtually NO gravy at City Hall to cut, he did manage to piss an awful lot of gravy away on his own team of consultants who confirmed that the only gravy around was the stuff Rob was feeding them.

Thank god for Adam Vaughan and Shelly Carroll. I know Gord Perks is a nice guy as well, but if the City is to be saved, it will be Vaughan and Carroll at the head of the battle.

But keep looking for the conservative and butt licking Toronto press to quiet down much of the righteous rage against Ford. They prefer access to the corridors of power (as the Fords only grant press access to those who toady up to them) to exposing the truth about this gang of mental giants.

We’ll survive but it won’t be a pretty sight along the way. But, at least the laughs are great. I mean we couldn’t dream up a better target for derision than the Brothers Ford.


Read more of The Maven’s blog at

For other articles by this author on the West Annex News, visit The Maven archive.

Pumping up the protests in Toronto City Council Chambers

In Coming events, Toronto politics on September 25, 2011 at 12:05 PM

By order of speaker Case Ootes, Toronto Police drag the public from Toronto City Council Chambers, October 11, 2000 during the Adams Mine debate | Screen shot from Brenda Bozlo YouTube video of CityPulse broadcast.

By West Annex News | Last month in one of the nicest tributes I saw to Jack Layton, Dave Meslin posted a link to a YouTube video of one of Jack’s most passionate moments at Toronto City Hall. The video shows then-CityTV reporter Adam Vaughan covering the Adams Mine dump debate at Council  on October 11, 2000. There’s a terrific shot of an outraged Jack pounding  on a pile of documents on his desk, yelling “Mr. Chairman, you are a bloody sham!” at Case Ootes.

That’s followed by several shots of citizens in the council chambers who are, astoundingly, standing, stamping their feet, chanting, jeering, demanding that council listen to them. When they refuse to shut up and Ootes orders them out of the chambers, they refuse to go. Next, we see the Toronto Police hauling people out one by one, still shouting, still protesting.

Wow. The passion, the theatre!

Cut to today’s City Council meetings. It seems that in every meeting something at least as heartbreaking or ill-conceived as the Adams Mine dump is foisted on us by our city-hating millionaire mayor. Transit City is cancelled, free nurses from the province are refused, $200,000 is squandered to remove bike lanes installed for only a year earlier, the mayor’s thugly brother tries to derail the award-winning Portlands development, and democracy is trampled.

Yep, nothing says "outraged citizen" like jazz hands | Image by Toasterb via Wikipedia

And how do we respond? Jazz hands.

Yep, we sit and shake our hands in silent pantomime.

If we’re really mad, we shake our hands really, really hard. Because if we don’t stay utterly silent, speaker Frances Nunziata threatens to throw us out. And heavens knows we can’t have that.

What happened to the time Torontonians were willing to put their bodies on the line for the values we cared about? In a city full of creative, funny, fun people, can’t we come up with anything better to express ourselves–non-violently–in Council Chambers?

Council will be sitting in a special session on Monday, September 26th starting at 9:30AM, to look at core services cuts.  While Ford’s recent swoon in popularity seems to have saved subsidized daycare spaces from cuts and library branches from closing, reduced library hours are still on the mayor’s hit list. He wants to close four of Toronto’s ten museums, and sell the Toronto Zoo and three performing arts facilities, and more.

When Councillor Mammoliti sticks out his thumb, how about making a sign right back to him? | Image credit David G Brault/Wikimedia Commons

And while I’m not saying we have to disrupt the council chambers just like the protesters did during the Adams mine debate, surely we can express our passion for the values we hold dear in a better way than jazz hands.

Non-violent doesn’t have to mean meek and deferential to the threats of a tyrannical speaker.

When the Sycophant-in-chief Georgio Mammoliti sticks out his thumb to tell the lemmings of council how to vote, how about making a hand signal right back to him?  A simple search on Google or Youtube yields many interesting signs derived from American sign language that could fit the bill.

Or how about if we brandish (but do not throw) a shoe, in tribute to reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi’s greeting to George Bush on the occasion of his visit to Iraq in 2008. Perhaps that shoe could be a flip-flop, to symbolize Ford’s broken campaign promise of “no service cuts, guaranteed.”

Might Speaker Frances Nunziata object to these innocuous forms of protest? Might she go all Case Ootes on us and threaten to clear us out? Yes, and yes. But like the Adams mine protesters, we shouldn’t go voluntarily. We should call Nunziata’s bluff. Nothing good can come to Ford from video of  the police dragging Toronto citizens out of their own council chambers.

And if you are physically hauled out of chambers by the police, at least you have a great story to tell your grandchildren–better than the story of how you sat in council chambers and made jazz hands while Rob Ford dismantled the city around you.

How about brandishing (but never throwing) a flip-flop, to symbolize Ford's broken campaign promise about of "no service cuts guaranteed."

Does Mayor Ford even understand his own ideology?

In The Maven on March 20, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Stop the press: Robdoug isn’t what he appears to be!

1:49PM | And thank god for that. Nope,  our ‘stop the gravy train’, ‘cut councillors spending’, ‘I don’t need my councilor’s salary’ mayor, it has just been revealed (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail) is still doing business for his family firm.

Now, not only does this explain why Rob cannot be reached by the press for interviews (he doesn’t feel the job of mayor is full-time) but also why he can afford to forgo some of the financial benefits of his job (he’s got his own private gravy train).

Yep, great gig if you can get it. Keep riding high, Mr. Mayor. You’re setting a great example for the kids.


By The Maven | Mayor Robdoug is an ultraconservative right wing politician. That would make him an adherent of the right’s favourite economic theory, trickle-down economics. The theory, simply put, is to lower taxes to allow the rich to keep more of their money. In doing so, the rich will spend more on goods and services which will increase economic activity across the board and thereby trickle down to us all.

Never mind that whether practiced by Ronald Reagan, George Bush I or II, Margaret Thatcher or Brian Mulroney, all left behind massive government debt when they exited office. Low taxes have been shown everywhere to be a disaster. Why do politicians continue to espouse these policies and this discredited economic theory? Well it really has nothing to do with economics. It is all ideological. Conservatives believe in less government. Reducing taxes decreases the government’s capacity to provide services, and therefore reduces the size of government. And not incidentally, with lower taxes the rich get to keep more of their money. Yeah, it’s really a gravy train for the better off.

Well now that Robdoug has begun his destruction of Toronto’s economy with his simple-minded approach, we face a massive debt for 2012 (just like right-wing politicians always leave us). His approach of cutting taxes will lead to layoffs in the civil service and privatization of services. That can only mean large pay cuts for thousands of employees. This can only lead to lower disposable incomes for many Torontonians, and–follow the logic here–less spending and less economic activity.

So it seems to me, if you are really a believer in trickle-down economics you should want more people earning more money so there is more money to stimulate economic activity thereby enriching us all. So what we have here is indeed one of those few hidden agenda unhidden moments. Ford’s agenda isn’t about saving money by making the provision of services more efficient. It’s about reducing services, period.

And that is cool with me. As long as Robdoug admits his agenda, we can have an open debate about the issues. No more gravy train stuff. Let’s have the real debate, about whether we think there is a role for government in society.

And lets see those centrist councillors get off their butts and declare where they stand. Do they support civil society or are they in the camp of simply protecting privilege?

That’s a debate I welcome.


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Is the Media that stupid or is Mayor Robdoug that smart?

In The Maven on March 12, 2011 at 4:29 PM

The Mayor can't even sit through a City Council meeting. Even on the occasions he wanders into the chamber, he often turns his back the proceedings to chat with his office staff and coterie of advisors

By the Maven | Don’t ask me why; I picked up my Saturday Globe this morning and found myself reading that well-known intellectual columnist Mark Schatzker. What he lacks in political insight he tries to make up with humour, the all-too often refuge of the lightweight thinker.

It his column Downtown elite, have you enjoyed Ford’s first 100 days? he pretends to quote stereotypical elite-types from downtown neighbourhoods, irrationally placing blame on Robdoug’s administration for things like dead birds and bad food.

Ok, cute.

But it is his opening paragraph that pisses me off. He says “Since entering office, Rob Ford has cut taxes, balanced the budget, revived the city’s once dead subway map, and discovered a vat of gravy at TCHC”.

Really? That’s pretty good for 100 days. Too bad Mark got his facts wrong. First, there is no Rob Ford. Ask any reporter who has tried to interview him. Have you seen or heard Rob Ford interviewed? Right. You’ve only seen his brother Doug, whom 12,660 voters supported in Etobicoke North in the last election, or one-half of one percent of the total population of Toronto. Rob isn’t good about thinking things through, so Doug doesn’t let him talk to reporters. Rob can’t even sit through a City Council meeting.

Nope, there is no Rob Ford. There is only Robdoug, a hideous amalgamation of two of the most unattractive politicians this city has ever spawned. As for his accomplishments to date, Robdoug has indeed cut taxes, leaving even his budget chief Mike Del Grande scratching his head and worried about the implications for 2012.

Robdoug cancelled the very worthwhile LRT program (you know, the one that we have already spent millions on–did you know the LRT was a gravy train?) only to substitute it with a much scaled back subway concept that, as yet, has no secure funding.

And the TCHC gravy train? Well the investigation into that wasn’t even initiated by Robdoug.

In the meantime, our proud and free media won’t even pressure Rob to submit to questions, instead letting Doug do all the talking.

The free and proud media is giving Robdoug a free ride because they believe his rhetoric that he is riding a wave of popularity, notwithstanding that he polled less than 50% of votes cast. Now 47% is good, but more people voted against him than for him.

And 100 days into his administration he has a 60% approval rating. That sounds good. However, six months into his first term David Miller’s was over 82%. Did Miller get a free ride from the media to bully every opponent into submission?

No, our media are missing in action. They are not asking the Mayor tough questions, they accept speaking to a local councillor who happens to be the Mayor’s brother as a substitute for the real thing, and they accept the gravy train analogy as given from on high without delving below the surface.

And you know what offends me most about Schtazker? Is it his conservative politics?

No. It’s that he isn’t even funny.


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Rob Ford supports the NDP!

In The Maven on March 5, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Provincial Conservatives Hudak and Harris: not exactly urban-friendly | Image credit G. Keeming, YouTube screen capture

By The Maven | Mayor Robdoug announced late this week that if Dalton McGuinty doesn’t cough up the over $300 million he has asked from the Ontario government he will work against the Liberals in the next provincial election this October.

Now, never mind that Robdoug shamed the previous City Council for asking Ontario for money (“Toronto has a spending problem, not a revenue problem”) and that he has cut taxes, amounting to about $120 million in lost revenue to the City. And, of course we know that Robdoug is a member of the Conservative Party.

However, here is the thing: the Conservatives, who began the beggaring of Toronto under Mike Harris, are not urban friendly and would be less likely than the Liberals to give money to Toronto.

So, that leaves the NDP, as pro-urban, downtown progressives to support Toronto. Which can only mean that Robdoug is about to announce his support for the Ontario NDP in the fall election.

Who says shit doesn’t stick?


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