TORONTO SHORT STORIES – MARCH 21-31/2017

The three green cubes at the foot of Sumach Street, TORONTO landmarks since 1996, are up for sale. Unfortunately they’re sitting on a prime piece of land and could go for over $3-million. The home was last sold in 2002 for $265,000 when the neighbourhood was pretty much an undeveloped wasteland. But all of this is changing rapidly.

Hopes are high that they can somehow be saved.

<PHOTO – Eduardo Lima/Metro News>

Bonnie and Clyde, High Park Zoo’s most famous rodents, are now mom and dad to three bundles of joy. Born on February 23, the pups have been kept indoors because “they’re South American and they’re babies, so they need to stay inside,” said city spokesperson Megan Price. <PHOTO – Jason McCullough>

BETTY KENNEDY, once one of Canada’s best-known television and radio personalities, died at 91. For 27 years she hosted ‘The Betty Kennedy Show’ on TORONTO’s CFRB. And for 33 years she was the only female panelist on CBC television’s “Front Page Challenge”. Mrs. Kennedy-Burton was also a senator for seven months – retiring, as required, in January/2001 upon reaching the mandatory age.

<PHOTO – Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press>

TORONTO’s Trump Tower has been approved for sale to the San Diego investment firm JCF Capital ULC. The building wasn’t owned by Donald Trump but his organization licensed his name and operates it. The $298-million “stalking horse” bid means JFC Capital would own the property if no other bidder comes forward.

The 65-storey tower in TORONTO’s financial district opened in 2012 and has 211 hotel rooms, 74 private residences, a restaurant, spa and ground floor bar.

TOURISM TORONTO has launched a new campaign – ‘The Views Are Different Here’ – promoting our city as Canada’s Downtown.
Andrew Weir, CEO of Tourism Toronto says T.O. is the most-visited destination in Canada. While other cities have vibrant downtowns “international visitors will start in TORONTO … because that’s where the planes fly. People want Canada, and they want the cities of Canada.”

Check out Tourism Toronto’s website and see their new video – http://www.seetorontonow.com/#sm.00003d3687bc0ctvw3r19grtn5c68

CALIFORNIA and other states are planning to step up as President Trump tries to undo President Obama’s efforts on climate change. “They have powerful allies and foes. This will test California and other states like never before as they seek to wrest control of (America’s) energy future from a hostile White House.” – Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times

Shortly after Trump signed his energy plan California’s Governor Jerry Brown vowed that the president’s “outrageous move will galvanize the contrary force.” Brown and New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo are moving fast to consolidate the power of several other states and countries that are united on climate action.

An in-depth front page article in Sunday’s New York Times: Canada’s Syrian refugees, sponsored for one year, have reached Month 13. What happens next? Canadians are learning to let go.

Read the 3-page article with photographs at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/25/world/canada/syrian-refugees.html

There aren’t many left. Surface parking lots have pretty well disappeared in downtown TORONTO. Once they were everywhere, but not any more. This one is on Church Street at Wood, soon to be the site of a condo building.  Once upon a time this lot was favoured by Maple Leaf hockey fans. The Gardens were across the road.

A grand piece of TORONTO architecture – the Dominion Public Building – has been sold for $275.1-million. It was purchased by Larco Investments, a Vancouver-based company that also owns Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel.

The Dominion Public building, 1 Front Street West, was the federal government’s first customs house, where imports and exports were administered and inspected. The building’s first of two phases was built from 1929 to 1931. In 1934 and 1935 the west pavilion was added.

GILBERT BAKER, the “Betsy Ross” of the Rainbow Flag died on Friday, March 31. Although the original underwent a few revisions, the design has endured for over 30 years as the international symbol of the LGBTQ community.

The first Rainbow Flag appeared at San Francisco Pride on June 25, 1978. Mr. Baker said “I knew instantly when I saw the reaction that it was going to be something. I didn’t know what or how or – but I knew.” He refused to apply for a trademark for his creation, saying it was his life’s work and his gift to the world. Mr. Baker was 65.

TORONTO SHORT STORIES – MARCH 6-20/2017

The world’s largest rubber duck will pay TORONTO a visit this coming summer during the Redpath Waterfront Festival, July 1-3. Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s 30,000 pound sculpture made its debut in 2007, and since then copies – of which this will be one – have been touring the world. It’s 61 feet tall, 79 feet wide and 89 feet long.

The duck’s itinerary includes five other Ontario towns – Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie, Midland, Amherstburg and Brockville.

NOBU Hospitality, the luxury restaurant and hotel chain founded by actor Robert De Niro, famous Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Hollywood producer Meir Teper, will soon be coming to TORONTO. Two 49-storey bronze towers will be built above the current Pilkington Glass Factory on Mercer Street, and will include a hotel, NOBU, retail space and an outdoor Zen garden. The glass factory’s facade will be part of the development.

BMO Economics says TORONTO’s housing bubble will pop in 24 months. “At the rate we’re now going with 20% year-on-year price increases, assuming stable mortgage rates and continued income growth, we’ll be at 1989 valuation levels in about 24 months,” senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote last week.

TORONTO’s average house price jumped 27.7% in February/2017 from a year earlier, to $859,186. Single-family homes soared to $1.57 million on average, a jump of nearly 30% in a year.

Sidewalk superintendents gathered to watch DON, one of two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), hoisted above ground and taken apart. It had been digging underground for nearly four years, helping to build the Crosstown LRT’s north tunnel.

The 400-tonne monster was disassembled along Eglinton Avenue. A second TBM, named HUMBER (after the river), surfaced a few days later. The TBM’s bored 16-20 metres below ground, around the clock, with a crew of six operators each.

Young people from both the United States and other parts of the world are looking to Canada for their post-secondary education. In TORONTO, both Ryerson University and the University of Toronto are reporting an 80% increase in applications from south of the border. In 2017 so far, the University of Toronto has 1,791 American applicants – up 790 over last year.

There’s been a 35% increase in student applications from England; 62% from Mexico; and 53% from the United Arab Emirates.

German Chancellor ANGELA MERKEL spent some time at the White House and left many of us wondering just what she was thinking as the day progressed. Ms. Merkel has a very expressive face, and news photographers captured a variety of candid nuances from pleasure to bewilderment.

Headline of the year from the Catskills.  In Newburgh, New York, folks were digging out from under 18-24 INCHES of snow.

Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU, his wife Sophie, former PM Jean Chretien and his wife Aline, along with Ivanka Trump and 120 ambassadors from around the world, attended “Come From Away” on Broadway.

In remarks before the show, Trudeau got on stage and said he was pleased that, “the world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each other through the darkest times.” The Canadian/American musical at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre opened to rave reviews.

Charles Edward Anderson CHUCK BERRY, one of the founding fathers of rock ‘n roll, has died at the age of 90. He grew up in Missouri during the time of racial segregation; rose to become a worldwide star; was jailed for robbery at the age of 17; lived an outrageous life; became famous for his ‘duck walk’ as well as Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven and Sweet Little Sixteen.

“He lit up our teenage years, and blew life into our dreams of being musicians and performers,” – Mick Jagger.

<Top 10 Canadian cities viewed by Chinese buyers – Juwai.com>

Canada remains the third most popular real estate market for Chinese buyers according to Juwai.com and Sotheby’s International Real Estate.
It seems the main reason Chinese buyers want to get into the Canadian housing market is education.

They love our schools. By the end of 2015, Canada had 119,335 Chinese students enrolled in institutions across the country – up from 39,850 in 2004. British Columbia saw the biggest growth in Chinese students with a 253% increase, compared to 214% in Ontario and 209% in Nova Scotia.

After being in storage for 9 years, Ryerson University is bringing Sam The Record Man’s sign back to downtown TORONTO. The ‘spinning records’ will be shining brightly atop 277 Victoria Street, near Yonge-Dundas Square, this coming summer.

TORONTO SHORT STORIES – FEBRUARY 13-27/2017

lastfarmer1The Reesors came to the TORONTO area in 1804. “It was a Mennonite family. They came from Pennsylvania. travelled up and bought land in this area. It’s been in the same family ever since,” said Dale Reesor to Metro News reporter Chris Bateman. Their farm is the last significant chunk of undeveloped land in northern SCARBOROUGH.

donmills1Purchased 50 years ago for $27,000, this 1,500-square-foot, 3 bedroom Don Mills house sold for $2.3-million. That’s more than $1.5-million over the $1.9-million list price.

Another house in the same neighbourhood was listed for $990,000 a few weeks ago. It sold for $1.95-million. <PHOTO – real estate agent Sohail Mansoor>

Shawn Micallef EventSo near and yet so far. In his new book, Shawn Micallef – among other things – brings some old skeletons out of the closet. The Rob Ford ‘administration’, the gravy train, amalgamation, the village mentality, NIMBYism, suburbs vs downtown elites, taxes, transit, gridlock, the province – the whole roiling mass.

Micallef paints a picture of a city facing serious social, environmental and economic challenges, yet also in a position to create a promising future.

stuartmclean1STUART McLEAN, CBC radio host of ‘The Vinyl Cafe’ and award-winning humorist and storyteller died of melanoma at the age of 68. Both on the stage and on radio he had millions of fans from the late 70’s to the present day.

McLean also created current affairs radio documentaries for CBC Radio’s ‘Sunday Morning’, including an ACTRA Award-winning piece in 1979 about the Jonestown massacre.

banksy1A stencil painting by BANKSY, created several years ago in a TORONTO laneway, has been saved and reinstalled at #1 York Street. The restored artwork can be found in a second-floor PATH pedestrian walkway in a condo, office and retail building, just south of the Gardiner Expressway.

The piece was created during the artist’s trip to TORONTO for the release of his film, ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’, a documentary about street art.

nandu1NANDU, the Indian Rhino calf at Toronto Zoo is one year old this month and weighs in at nearly 1,400 pounds.

His horn continues to grow and he’s still playful with his mom ASHAKIRAN. The marks you see are minor scratches as he and mom spend a lot of time playing with one another. The marks heal quite quickly and it isn’t long before they are both playfighting again.

meme5Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU meets with President Trump in Washington DC.  He neatly avoids the Trumpster’s crushing handshake.

tourism1A new 31-page publication from Toronto Tourism celebrates the 150th year of Canadian Confederation with an emphasis on Canada’s largest city. You can find FREE copies at City Hall, 100 Queen Street West or go online at http://www.seetorontonow.com/

The book is a primer to 150 quintessential TORONTO people, places and things, experiences, happenings, food, drink, history, art, architecture, fashion, entertainment, sports, and where to enjoy them all in Canada’s downtown: TORONTO.

bookmobile1TORONTO Public Library has unveiled its new technology-filled bookmobile ready to hit the streets this coming May. The $300,000 vehicle is equipped with free Wi-Fi, large computer screens and tablets – ideal for job searches and research.

juno1Toronto Zoo’s JUNO, a 15-month-old polar bear cub, is heading west to WINNIPEG on March 1. It’s been decided that the little bear needs to socialize with other cubs close to her age. Juno was born at the Toronto Zoo on Nov. 11, 2015 but was raised by zoo staff because her mother couldn’t produce milk.

realestate1TORONTO has placed 8th out of 500 cities in the 10th annual Innovation Cities Index by Melbourne-based 2thinknow consulting company. The cities are scored on 162 indicators grouped into 3 categories: culture, infrastructure and location & access to networked markets.

The Top 10 – 1) London 2) New York 3) Tokyo 4) San Francisco/San Jose 5) Boston 6) Los Angeles 7) Singapore 8) TORONTO 9) Paris 10) Vienna

janjessen1

22-year-old film student and cameraman JAN JESSEN from Hamburg, Germany has just released a short film that captures the sights and sounds of TORONTO and the mighty NIAGARA.

Jan had this to say about our city: “I was really impressed by the diversity of the people and the architecture. In most cities, if you want to go from a neighbourhood full of skyscrapers to smart urban living, you have to drive an hour — not walk 10 minutes. We walked 20 or 25 kilometres a day and rarely took a bus.”

TORONTO SHORT STORIES – JANUARY 25 TO FEBRUARY 5/2017

crows1crows2<PHOTO ABOVE – one of the theatres & performance spaces in Crow’s new theatre complex, Joel Levy/Toronto Guardian>

Congratulations to the Crow’s Theatre Company & Streetcar Developments on the opening of their beautiful new facility in the East End. After 34 years as nomads, Crow’s now has a state-of-the-art home base and can mount a full season of theatre, music, dance, opera, comedy and classes for the kids.

In the spring of 2017, Gare de l’Est, a restaurant and patio from Erik Joyal and chef John Sinopoli will open in Crow’s spacious lobby. To learn more about getting involved as a volunteer, supporter or Crow’s frequent flyer, drop a line at info@crowstheatre.com or visit their website at http://www.crowstheatre.com

beautiful1Canada’s CHILINA KENNEDY, who is starring on Broadway in “Beautiful – the Carole King Musical” is bringing the show to TORONTO in June. She will join the first national tour of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning show exclusively for the TORONTO engagement.

“I am so excited to be playing Carole King at home! Her story is truly beautiful and the music is powerful — TORONTO audiences will love it.”

torontoeconomyIn case you were wondering, TORONTO – home to 20.4% of Canada’s population – is this country’s most important economic engine. In 2013, the year Statistics Canada put out a new data series about ‘local’ economies, TORONTO pumped out $330-billion. That’s virtually equivalent to the entire province of Alberta’s GDP ($331 billion) at that time, and within spitting distance of Canada’s second-largest province, Quebec ($337 billion). – Economist & CBC business columnist Armine Yalnizyan

Read the entire story online in MacLean’s at http://www.macleans.ca/economy/economicanalysis/torontos-economy-doesnt-get-the-respect-it-deserves/
Follow Ms. Yalnizyan on Twitter – @ArmineYalnizyan

massey1The grand old Bank of TORONTO at 205 Yonge Street may soon be up for sale. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but negotiations are in the works to turn this neo-classical temple <on the left in above photo> into a thing of beauty. It’s been locked up for about 15 years.

The building is designated as a heritage site with both the exterior and white marble interior protected.

revival1Revival 629 Film Studios will build a new 7,500 square foot studio called Revival XP. This studio, at 629 Eastern Avenue, will cater to those making music videos, television commercials and virtual reality (VR). The state-of-the-art facility will offer 40-foot ceilings, green walls and lighting grids.

Mitchell Goldhar, joint owner of Revival 629 said in a press release “With over 240,000 square feet in 11 studios over an 18.5-acre site in the heart of the Film District, Revival is one of the largest film operations in Canada.”

georgeorwell1George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ is resurging again.  These days it’s nearly impossible to buy a copy.

MICHAEL SHELDEN, writer and professor at Indiana State University, wrote ‘The year of living dangerously, again’  published in Canada’s Globe and Mail on Saturday.  You’ll find his article at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/george-orwells-nineteen-eighty-four-in-the-age-oftrump/article33776339/

trump2More than 1.6-million Britons have signed a petition calling for Trump’s state visit to the UK to be cancelled. The president’s immigration ban targeting Muslim-majority countries pushed the numbers way over the top. The matter will be debated in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’ on February 20 – NATIONAL POST, February 1/2017

lightfestival1lightfestival6lightfestival2 . . . and it’s free.

muybridge1<IMAGE – Eadweard Muybridge>

Greater TORONTO Area real estate was off-and-running in January/2017. In the 905 outer suburbs AURORA is the hottest neighbourhood where prices increased 55% to $1,415,649 last month.  NEWMARKET saw a 52% increase in the price for a detached home and five other municipalities saw prices climb over 40%.
The average price for a detached home in the entire Greater TORONTO Area – GTA (a very large sample of sales) is still up 28% over last year.

“A 28% annual increase in house prices is not normal, not sustainable and if left alone to run its course will eventually end badly for all.” – John Pasalis, President & Broker of Realosophy Realty Inc.

TORONTO SHORT STORIES – JANUARY 15-24/2017

HOUSING1If you’ve got it, flaunt it – and that’s what they’re doing in some TORONTO neighbourhoods. Sotheby’s International Realty Canada released its annual luxury home sales report this week. The city had a 95% gain in sales of $4-million plus properties in 2016.

BRAD HENDERSON CEO of Sotheby’s: “There’s no question that in TORONTO anything above $2.5-$3-million is considered luxury – so at $4-million plus, it’s definitely the luxury market.”

16,534 homes were sold in the GTA (Greater TORONTO Area) in the $1-million to $2-million range in 2016, compared with 9,425 in 2015.

pennyoleksiak3TORONTO’s Summer Olympics/2016 champion swimmer (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) PENNY OLEKSIAK used Twitter to save several of our city’s public pools. Mayor JOHN TORY happened upon the tweets and “gold medal message received,” he wrote. “I’ve asked the Budget Chief to save these pools.”

CHRIS WILSON of Swimming Canada said “to shut down as many as 48 at one time would be one of the most disastrous and short-sighted decisions.”

brexit1Canada might soon be the most desirable place for E.U. students to attend university. A new Red Brick Research survey of 219 international students in the United Kingdom rated Canada #1 – ahead of the U.K., the United States and New Zealand.

Anver Saloojee of TORONTO’s Ryerson University said “I think definitely there will be a Brexit bump, there’s no doubt about it. They certainly wouldn’t want to spend time in a region that is unwelcoming.”

<IMAGE ABOVE – The Guardian>

alternatefacts1‘The Little Golden Book of ALTERNATE FACTS’ makes an appearance.

shopify2SHOPIFY is growing and growing fast. The e-commerce platform company has just opened its second TORONTO office downtown, near its primary headquarters in the financial district. Shopify has 300 employees right now, with a goal of hiring another 200 at its new R & D office, and another 500 by 2019.

The new R & D office is home for a large part of Shopify’s user experience (UX) design team and a big chunk of its engineering talent. Shopify Garage also calls it home.

682199_Rooster_BK6_Stamp_400CANADA POST celebrates the Year of the Rooster with a collection of specially designed stamps. To see the full collection go to http://www.canadapost.ca/roostercollection

islandtheatre2Didn’t know that – TORONTO Islands once had a cinema.  Photo above is from the City of Toronto Archives/John Milne – the Island Theatre in the 1940’s.

circus2circus4After 146 years “The Greatest Show on Earth” won’t exist after May/2017. Dropping ticket sales, high operating costs and legal battles with animal rights activists no doubt brought on the closure.

The Circus performed in TORONTO several times. <PHOTO ABOVE – horses at Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, Coliseum, TORONTO, 1973 – photo Boris Spremo/Toronto Star>

JOHNTORY-LATESTMayor John Tory has announced a plan to cancel tax rebates to landlords and business owners who harbour empty storefronts. These eyesores can be found in several downtown neighbourhoods, and are costing the city roughly $22-million a year.

“We are subsidizing people to keep space empty that is increasing, almost hourly, in value,” Tory told reporters. From 2001 to 2013 the city handed out $367-million to landlords of vacant commercial and industrial buildings, and 50% went to downtown businesses where property values are “skyrocketing.”

TORONTO SHORT STORIES – JANUARY 1-10/2017

giraffe-kiko1One of the world’s most elegant creatures, the giraffe, is endangered. Globe and Mail columnist TARATHA SOUTHEY writes “Forget dinosaurs. Let’s bring back something more exotic: giraffes. Could there be a more accommodating animal than the giraffe? Is there another large mammal that has gone quite so far in not wanting to be in the way? Giraffe are entirely delightful. They are an animal a child would mock-up.” <PHOTO – KIKO THE GIRAFFE – Toronto Zoo>

Ms. Southey suggests symbolically adopting a giraffe with a donation to either the Giraffe Conservation Foundation – http://www.giraffeconservation.org – or the World Wildlife Fund – http://www.worldwildlife.org

crime2

There was a sharp rise in murders in TORONTO in 201669 slayings in all. Gun deaths were up to 40 from 26 in 2015. Arrests have been made in 52% of the 2016 murders and there have also been arrests in two cold cases.

archiving2Fearing slash-and-burn from DONALD TRUMP on Environmental Protection, researchers at the University of TORONTO hosted a “guerrilla archiving” event to save important U.S. climate change data.

Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Centre for Science and Democracy; “Many of the people . . . appointed to prominent posts in the new U.S. administration have either attacked climate scientists or been hostile to them . . . Now that they’re inside the walls of the castle, there’s a lot of concern that they will do deep damage.”

arctic2In an effort to head off Donald Trump before he takes office, the US President has designated the bulk of American-owned waters in the Arctic and some areas of the Atlantic as off-limits to oil and gas leasing – in perpetuity. This edict appears to be iron-clad.  (Trump has said he plans to open up offshore drilling.)

Canada will ban all offshore and gas licensing in the Arctic for at least the next five years.

lalaland1Canadian actor RYAN GOSLING and EMMA STONE win Golden Globes for best actor and actress in a musical for their performance in “La La Land”.  Ryan Gosling is a native of London, Ontario.  “La La Land” took the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016.

marketdig3Remnants of TORONTO’s past in-and-around the North Market site are on display at the Market Gallery until March 18/2017. Among them are busts depicting the Twelve Apostles found in a garden behind St. Lawrence Hall.

The exhibition shows the history and ongoing archaeology of North America’s longest continually running food market.

housing1The price of a new detached house in the TORONTO region has risen 27% in the past year to an average $1.24-million per house according to the latest statistics from the Building & Land Development Association (BILD).

60% of the 43,651 new homes sold in the region this year were high-rise condos. The average sale price of those was $493,137. On average the size of condos in 2016 rose to 820 square feet.

CLGADANCE6CLGA4Toronto’s Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archive will soon become much more accessible. The second largest lesbian and gay archive in the world (after Los Angeles) will soon be renovating and installing new ramps, larger bathroom spaces and a working elevator. The three-storey house on Isabella Street downtown contains only a third of a huge collection, which is housed for the most part off-site.

Founded in 1973, the century-old structure also hosts an art gallery and is open to the public several nights each week. For further information go to http://www.clga.ca

taxes1Metro columnist MATT ELLIOTT writes “Next time you decide to gripe about property taxes in TORONTO, remember the tax rate here is far lower than the average city in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)”.

taxes2“The proposed 2% residential property tax increase in the upcoming 2017 budget amounts to an average increase of $96 annually – $8 a month. Additional child care – 1 cent/month; TTC transit track maintenance – 10 cents/month; better park maintenance – 2 cents/month“.

canadanyt1NYTIMES1This week there are three full pages about Canada and its capital city OTTAWA in the New York Times Travel Section. On pages 6 and 7 “five Canadian authors reflect on the one place that holds an enduring memory.” Says The Times – “Canada, our No. 1 pick for this year’s ’52 Places to Go list’ spans millions of square miles. It contains multitudes, not just of people and locations, but of memories.”

The places chosen by the authors – Port Hardy, Vancouver . . . Grindstone Island, Ontario . . . Dawson City, Yukon . . . Niagara, Ontario . . . and the Eastern Townships, Quebec.

ottawa1As for OTTAWA, it gets a full page all to itself. “36 Hours in Ottawa – the capital gears up for its 150th birthday bash this year, with exhibits, galleries and a thriving food scene.”

Craig MacDonald, director of Ottawa Walking Tours sees the value in a New York Times plug. “The larger the newspaper, the more likely you are to have (visitors) come up here. We’re looking forward to a fantastic year.”

queenspk4Researchers at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) recently mapped urban canopies in eleven cities around the world. Using Google Street View they measured the percentage of each city’s area covered by tree canopy. At 19.5%, TORONTO came in fourth, ahead of Paris, London & New York, but behind Vancouver, Geneva, and Seattle.

movies3movies1Plans are in the works to create an IMDb page as a marketing tool for TORONTO’s film industry. Location managers, directors and production designers can then sit in their offices in LOS ANGELES or elsewhere and see the impressive list of projects that have been, or are being, shot here.

What is IMDb? It’s an online database of info related to films, television and video games. IMDb is a subsidiary of Amazon.com.

gingerbreadto1It took nine batches of gingerbread and a kilogram of candy plus hours of work, to create an edible TORONTO City Hall with its famous sign and skating rink. Graphic designer AMELIA ROBLIN and her family laboured through the baking, and then many hours of assemblage.

“We did smash it up and eat it a week ago,” admitted Ms. Roblin, who lives in OAKVILLE.

ttc2The TORONTO Transit Commission’s merchandising shop has been quite the success. People love the stuff. But Mike and Marty of NotInService couldn’t resist sending up the TTC ‘s marketing success story. A website http://www.notinservice.ca is now selling their version.  <ABOVE – the fuzzy announcements that sometimes come over the subway PA system>

The TTC on-line shop can be found at http://www.ttcshop.ca

da-mao1DA MAO, one of TORONTO Zoo’s pandas, loves nothing better than rolling in the snow.  DA MAO, a star attraction, has a distinct personality and his facial expressions are often human-like. He’s the father of two panda cubs who are also at the Zoo.

da-mao2

GLOBALLY 2016 WAS A TERRIBLE YEAR, BUT LOCALLY WE HAVE MUCH TO CELEBRATE

roundup1<Headline, NOW magazine’s year-end cover>

2016First off, we’re all still here. And secondly, looking through Toronto Savvy’s 2016 archive there’s much to celebrate (without being smug). It’s been a pretty good year for our TORONTO.

PANDAS100DAYS2JANUARY – our crop of smaller neighbourhood theatres is growing . . . the Zoo’s panda cubs are 100 days old and thriving . . . 51% of TORONTO residents were born outside of Canada . . . high-school graduation rates are at an all-time high . . . city’s 2016 operating budget $11.75-billion.

PETERDOIG1FEBRUARY – Greater Toronto Area (GTA) population 6.63-million . . . an Indian Rhino calf is born at the Zoo . . . Peter Doig’s painting of a TORONTO house sells for $22,681,093 at Christie’s London . . . average life expectancy in TORONTO 83 years

HOWARD2MARCH – the Howard Street neighbourhood rises again . . . cross-dressers get full treatment at the Art Gallery of Ontario . . . artist-run Propeller Gallery is now 20-years old . . . Riverdale Farm welcomes spring with several animal births . . . bargain fares introduced on UPExpress to and from Pearson Airport . . . Prime Minister Trudeau bonds with President Obama in Washington DC . . . a chunk of Yonge St. is designated a Heritage Conservation District . . . and sadly, former mayor Rob Ford dies.

FASHIONX6APRIL – Gardiner Expressway construction ends 3 months ahead of schedule . . . a whole new city is rising on Queens Quay West . . . 22 major road improvement projects are announced . . . American tourists discover TORONTO . . . Prince’s home goes up for sale at $13-million . . . a new YMCA opens on Cherry Street . . . former Pan Am Athlete’s Village becomes city’s newest neighbourhood . . . Fashion Exchange (a ‘fashion hub’) opens in Regent Park . . . Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 64th year as Canada’s head-of-state . . . the late urbanist Jane Jacobs is given an exhibition at 401 Richmond . . . Mayor John Tory checks out Asia’s public transit systems and is mightily impressed.

MORLEY SAFER1MAY – Canada’s Morley Safer of ’60 Minutes’ dies . . . Globe and Mail de-accessions its photo library . . . Grange Park gets a $15-million makeover . . . Waterfront East is a hive of development . . . city increases its plan for Barbara Ann Scott Park and skating rink . . . facadism versus heritage preservation is debated . . . Humber Cinema, built in 1949, is being demolished . . . Patch Project breathes new life into deteriorating public spaces . . . Celebrate Toronto’ advises whiners to stop whining and show the city some love.

LUMINATO1JUNE – Luminato Festival closes after two successful weeks at the massive Hearn Power Station . . . Britain stuns the world by quitting the European Union . . . Mayor John Tory’s approval rating remains stable at 74% after 18 months in office . . . a new Peace Garden is dedicated at Nathan Phillips Square . . . the rainbow flag is raised as Canada launches its first-ever Pride Month . . . the transgendered flag is raised at City Hall . . . Underpass Park is chosen for a Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian design exhibit . . . heroic Canadian flight crew rescues two Americans from Antarctic’s wicked winter . . . President Obama delivers a full-length speech to Canada’s House of Commons . . . Christie Pits Film Festival presents its biggest-ever lineup . . . the Lower Don Trail connects with the Pan Am Path.

OSSINGTONMURALS6JULY – Barco Escape Panoramic theatres and Canada’s first 4DX cinema open . . . Ossington Avenue’s sparkling new murals are a love letter to the Great Lakes . . . TORONTO Bike Share’s $5-million expansion – 1,000 new bikes & 120 new stations . . . Bridgepoint Hospital has the finest green roof in town . . . downtown TORONTO now has North America’s lowest office vacancy rate . . . Stephen Marche of The Guardian writes “TORONTO’s dullness is what makes it exciting.”

PHLEGM3AUGUST – Art Nouveau stylized maple leaf canvas, 1893, by Gustav Hahn discovered at Queen’s Park . . . BBC and New York Times are opening news bureaus in TORONTO . . . The Economist ranks TORONTO #4 out of 140 “most liveable cities in the world” . . . tunnel boring for the Eglinton Avenue Crosstown LRT is all done . . . Phlegm, the UK artist, paints a massive 8-storey mural at Yonge & St. Clair . . . paintings by Lawren Harris are a hit in Los Angeles, Boston and TORONTO . . . a book – ‘Rise and Fall: The Condominiumization of TORONTO’ has been published . . . Rey, an endangered Grevy’s Zebra is born at the Zoo . . . former prime minister Stephen Harper quits Parliament and resigns from public life . . . you can now self-guide yourself through TORONTO’s fully restored Old Don Jail.

gtairways2SEPTEMBER – Greater Toronto Airways began regular commuter service from Niagara to TORONTO . . . The Goodyear Blimp visited for the first time since 2007 . . . 60 local artists and organizations re-opened Ontario Place with ‘In/Future’ . . . Governor-General’s Medal in Architecture awarded to Nathan Phillips Square . . . TORONTO’s Diamond Schmitt Architects will build ‘Buddy Holly Hall’ in Texas . . . new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art takes shape in The Junction . . . Fan Expo Canada/2016 attracted over 130,000 & featured 1,000 exhibitors . . . after years of pleading Bloor Street West now has a bike lane on it.

thomson2OCTOBER – bound for Paris ‘Mystical Landscapes’ painting exhibition stops in TORONTO . . . Mayor John Tory announces a Super Park for the Don Valley . . . separated Bayview Extension Bike Lane opens . . . Canada ranks #2 on the FORBES list of ‘most reputable countries in the world’ . . . Duchess of Cambridge gives a big boost to TORONTO designer Bojana Sentaler by wearing one of her creations . . . Downtown Yonge BIA shows interest in a laneway neon sign museum . . . Thomson Reuters adds 400 jobs in TORONTO with a focus on cognitive computing . . . New York Times’ “Frugal Traveler” discovers excellent Chinese food in Richmond Hill, Markham and along Highway 7 . . . TORONTO has become a popular destination for American expat professionals.

greathall5NOVEMBER – The Great Hall, opened in 1890, Queen West at Dovercourt, has been completely restored . . . ‘Mounted Forms’ by Lawren Harris sold for $11.21-million in TORONTO . . . refurbished Royal Alexandra Theatre reopens with the hit musical ‘Come From Away’ . . . Snoop Dogg wants to move to TORONTO – he’s looking for a ‘crib’ . . . Lonely Planet names Canada the #1 travel destination for 2017 . . . the new 58,000 sq. ft. Casey House will be a leading model for advanced HIV/AIDS care . . . road tolls may be in the offing for the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway . . . a much-improved St. Lawrence Market North is about to rise . . . Crow’s Theatre Company moves into an $11-million home in Leslieville . . . streetcar safety murals by Lucas Declavasio & Andrew Patterson capture NXT City Prize . . . 110th annual Santa Claus Parade marches down University Avenue . . . our ‘energetic food scene’ gets a write-up in the NY Times Travel Section . . . TORONTO’s Miss General Idea exhibits in both Mexico City and Buenos Aires . . . Donald J. Trump is elected President of the United States.

housing2DECEMBER – price of a new detached house in the TORONTO region rose 27% to $1.24-million in 2016 . . . average size of a condo in 2016 rose to 820 square feet . . . city council votes to protect 303 potentially significant downtown buildings . . . Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village are about to disappear forever . . . Glad Day, the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookshop opens beautiful new premises on Church Street . . . Barbara Gray, TORONTO’s new GM of Transportation arrives from Seattle . . . 5,500 Syrian refugees are taking English As A Second Language classes . . . Ford Motor Company in MARKHAM has produced a roadworthy $450,000US GT supercar . . . a real estate agent wants Scarborough to separate from TORONTO . . . Green P Mobile App payment option, finished ahead of schedule & is available city-wide . . . The Purple Onion Coffee House site in Yorkville is being eyed by a developer . . . tallest Christmas tree in the country lights up the Eaton Centre . . . more small businesses have closed in lower Yonge St. which means more condos are on the way . . . film, television & media production has exceeded $1-billion annually over the last five years.

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