Butt out on Yonge Street – an idea whose time has come.

CIGARETTESThe Downtown Yonge BIA continues its fight against littering in our city’s core.  Their latest project – cleaning up cigarette butts.  As a test, 12 ashtrays are being installed on BIA-owned streetlight poles between Dundas and Gerrard Streets. The hope is that smokers will use them.  The BIA has been cleaning up Yonge Street for a few years now.  The strip has never looked better . . . or cleaner.  <PHOTO – http://www.smosh.com&gt;

‘They died with their boots on’ – the 100 Workers Monument in Simcoe Park

A millenium project, the 100 Workers Monument in Simcoe Park, Front Street West, consists of two long, low red granite walls.  On top are 100 bronze plaques, each naming a worker who died while on the job. There is one name for each year from 1901 until 1999. The plaque for the year 2000 is blank. 100 Workers is by John Scott & Stewart H. Pollock.  The second part of the monument, The Anonymity of Prevention, is a bronze sculpture of a worker wearing full safey gear, appearing to chisel into the wall of 100 Workers. This sculpture was done by Derek Lo and Lana Winkler.

TORONTO’s colourful CONRAD BLACK lands himself a TV show.

CONRADBLACKCONRAD BLACK, aka Lord Black of Crossharbour, will soon be appearing in living rooms across the country.  He’ll be the host of a weekly television news magazine, “The Zoomer – Television for Boomers With Zip” on VisionTV.  “It’s a bit of a marquee show for them and I will have a lot of people that I know in this and other countries who are fairly prominent who will be happy to be interviewed.  We should make it moderately interesting.”   Lord Black himself is more than moderately interesting.  He’s founder of the National Post, former CEO of Hollinger International, a member of the British House of Lords, and a recently released resident of a US penal institution.  <PHOTO ABOVE – Lord Black and his wife, newspaper columnist Barbara Amiel>

This 1928 Buick – used extensively by royalty – was made in OSHAWA, Ontario

BONHAMS<1928 model year McLaughlin-Buick 496 Tourer>  The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is, and has long been, a major automobile manufacturing region.  From 1876, OSHAWA was home to the McLaughlin Carriage Company, which produced  more than 25,000 carriages a year.  By 1915, under the presidency of “Colonel” Sam McLaughlin, the company was turning out roughly one horseless carriage every ten minutes.  The McLaughlin-Buick 496 Tourer (ABOVE) was one of only two built for a royal visit to Canada.  Custom-built McLaughlin-Buicks, designed and detailed with elegance in mind, were used extensively by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), his brother the Duke of York (later King George VI) and shipped from province to province by train.  Somehow they ended up in the United Kingdom.

17 square foot apartment rented for $440/month – only in PARIS

apartmentAnd you think we have it bad in TORONTO?  PARIS, a city noted for teeny, tiny hotel rooms has topped itself.  An “apartment” measuring less than 17 square feet has been rented for over 15 years to a 50-year-old man, identified only as “Dominique”, at 330 euros, or about $442 per month.  “I come home, I go to bed,” Dominique told the French website and radio station RTL, describing how he coped with living in the space.  The “apartment” has a skylight and a slanted roof, but “a person doesn’t stand correctly” in the space, the Fondation said on its Twitter feed. It added that the photo might make the place seem larger than it actually is.  This is highway robbery under the guise of an overheated real estate market.

A new urban sport – Arctic-Temperature Cycling IN TORONTO & NEW YORK

WINTERCYCLINGStand on any major street corner in TORONTO during the early morning commute, and you’ll see them – several hundred hardy two-wheeled commuters, bundled up against the cold, in-bound to the office.  Among the earliest – MATT GALLWAY, CBC radio’s popular early-morning host, who leaves the house at 4 am and is on the air by 5:30.

WINTERCYCLING2In NEW YORK CITY, wintertime commuting is really catching on – with some suburbanites peddling over 40 miles into Manhattan.  Bridge crossings, icy roads, transport trucks and buses, coyotes, rain – nothing stops the NYC bike commuter.  “As long as it’s at least 10 degrees, I ride,” says Dr. Scott Bernstein, an electrophysiologist and assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine.  He commutes from Tarrytown to 34th Street and 1st Avenue.

From the ultimate window seat, CHRIS HADFIELD photographs Canada in winter

Born in SARNIA, Ontario in 1959, former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, now astronaut, CHRIS HADFIELD, is circling the globe aboard the International Space Station.  Besides being an astronaut, he’s an excellent photographer.  His images are appearing in newspapers and other media around the world.  As the Space Station passes over the largest country in the world – Canada – Chris has been taking photographs of our landscape, cities and towns.  He’s also been busy talking with school kids via satellite, doing lengthy interviews on CBC radio and television, and even “dropping” the puck for last week’s Montreal-Toronto NHL game.  Toronto won by the way.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS HADFIELD BELOW1)  Toronto by day;  2) Montreal by day; 3) Toronto (left), Montreal (right), 350 miles in between: 4) Winnipeg; 5) Quebec City by night; 6) Detroit (top), Windsor, Ontario (bottom) by night 7) Calgary; and 8) Vancouver, British Columbia.  To learn more about Canada’s Space Program, check out the Canadian Space Agency @ http://www.asc.csa.gc.ca

There are 17 ‘Walker’s Paradises’ in TORONTO. Believe it!

MONTYPYTHON<Ministry of Silly Walks, Monty Python’s Flying CircusOf 1200 Canadian neighbourhoods surveyed by WALKSCORE, http://www.walkscore.com, 30 of them were tagged ‘Walker’s Paradises’, scoring 90% or higher.  TORONTO has 17 of them.  VANCOUVER 3.  (Naw, couldn’t be.  Could it?)The Walkscore website rates Canada’s Top 10 most walkable large cities
1. Vancouver (Walk Score = 78)
2. Toronto (Walk Score = 71)
3. Montreal (Walk Score = 70)
4. Mississauga (Walk Score = 59)
5. Ottawa (Walk Score = 54)
6. Winnipeg (Walk Score = 53)
7. Edmonton (Walk Score = 51)
8. Hamilton (Walk Score = 51)
9. Brampton (Walk Score = 48)
10. Calgary (Walk Score = 48)WALKABLE BENEFITS:
* Toronto Public Health study recently found overwhelming consumer preference for walkable neighbourhoods with easy access to public transit.  Futhermore, people living in walkable neighbourhoods have lower body weights and walkable neighbourhoods contribute to better air quality and traffic reduction.
* People who live in walkable areas are 2.4 times more likely to get the required daily amount of physical activity (Government of Canada).
* One point of Walk Score adds up to US$3,000 in home values according to independent research conducted by CEOs for Cities.