TORONTO SHORT STORIES – June 20 to July 7/2017

TORONTO’s TTC has been named the Outstanding Public Transportation System in North America by APTA – the American Public Transportation Association. The Toronto Transit Commission was last honoured this way in 1986.  Mayor JOHN TORY – “This award recognizes the transformation and modernization that the TTC has been undergoing over the last few years.” The mayor noted there was a $90-million investment in the TTC in 2015 and an additional $80 million in 2017 to continue rolling out PRESTO across the system, and the York-Spadina subway extension, among other improvements.

The federal government will write a check for $4.8-billion to be spent on TORONTO’s public transit services . . . IF the province kicks in one-third of the costs. The money will be spent on the Downtown Relief Line (DRL), SmartTrack, the Eglinton East LRT & Waterfront Transit.  Infrastructure Minister AMARJEET SOHI has written to Bob Chiarelli, his counterpart at Queen’s Park, outlining the federal government’s plans and stating clearly Ontario will have to cost-share “at a minimum of 33.3% or no dice.

On their way to the G20 Summit, Canada’s Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau stopped off on July 5 to meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. The audience took place in the Palace of Holyroodhouse in EDINBURGH, her official Scottish residence. The Queen was presented with the Canadian flag that flew atop the Peace Tower in Ottawa on Canada Day.

49 baby Blanding’s Turtles have been released into a wetland, soon to become part of TORONTO’s Rouge National Urban Park. The Toronto Zoo has been monitoring and working with this threatened species since 2005, including a program which involves raising hatchlings until they get big enough to be released into the wild.  The Blanding’s Turtle Head-Start conservation program is part of a partnership between the Toronto Zoo, Parks Canada, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

No longer a government white elephant, TORONTO’s MaRS Discovery District has become downtown’s tech hub. Among those who’ve moved in – the Advanced Technologies Group of Uber Technologies Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc. Okta Inc., a fast-growing Silicon Valley software company and, in the near future, an expanded Inc.  The federal government has begun fast-tracking visa applications for high-skilled workers. They can be in as quickly as two weeks. The feds have also committed $950-million to tech hubs across Canada – including $125-million for AI (Artificial Intelligence). TORONTO has the engineers. The door is open.

Partnering with Cineplex, THE VOID is opening Canada’s first VR Experience Centre in TORONTO. At its flagship location in NEW YORK’s Times Square, the location-based virtual reality experience allows up to four players to visit the world of “Ghostbusters” by using custom-made headsets and special rumble vests to roam through a set equipped with VR trackers.  Along with TORONTO and NYC, The Void can be found in DUBAI and UTAH. “TORONTO is in the heart of Ontario’s tourism hub and represents the type of market that The Void is looking for,” said CEO Cliff Plumer.

Globe and Mail’s Independence Day cartoon, by BRIAN GABLE, July 4/2017

GERMANY has said ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage in a snap vote. Couples have been granted full marital rights and they’ll be allowed to adopt children. The vote – 393 to 226 with 4 abstentions. – BBC