Comedian Dave Chappelle was in Toronto for three shows and stopped off at Mayor Rob Ford’s office. Yesterday, the mayor’s office posted a Twitter photo of their meeting. Today, Chappelle even commented on the photo.
On August 22, when news that Chappelle went to the mayor’s office to ask about the city’s smoking bylaws came out, this prompted media calls to Toronto Public Health about how TPH planned to enforce the rules under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
I recently became a spokesperson for TPH and as such I occasionally get quoted in the media. Yesterday, on this topic, was one of those days.
The Globe & Mail, Toronto Sun, the Toronto Star, and National Post called TPH for information and quotes and other media including the Hamilton Spectator, Canada.com, The Hollywood Reporter also reported on this issue.
As a former journalist for 16 years, I recently made the switch to communications (in May 2011) and am still getting used to being on the other side - being quoted rather than being the one doing the interviewing.
The new Sky Ride a throwback to the old Alpine Way ride at the CNE. Photo by Kris Scheuer.
Let’s go to the Ex, oh baby.
Toronto comes alive in the summer and one tradition for me is the Ex -CNE-Canadian National Exhibition now in its 134th year. I have not gone all 134 years of course as that would make me the oldest living person, and I have not even visited yearly since I was born.
But this summer I will likely hit the Ex three times!!!
The first trip is a today, Aug 18, to BMO Field to watch my first ever professional football/soccer match with Toronto FC vs Sporting Kansas City thanks to my friend Karolyn. The stadium is inside the CNE so includes admission to the Ex as well, so we’ll take in the sights. (Update: Toronto lost 1-0 to Kansas City.)
TFC vs Kanas City at BMO Field inside the CNE fairgrounds. Photo by Kris Scheuer.
Aug 19, I will be going back to the CNE with my boyfriend and since we are both health conscious and I am a vegetarian, it won’t be to eat the red velvet pancakes, pulled pork and Jack Daniels maple syrup concoction. And sorry to disappoint, but I won’t be partaking in the funnel cake, bacon, ice cream and carmel chocolate sauce either. According to one article that bacon dessert is 2,000 calories and 176 percent of the recommended daily fat. For some the sugar, fat and calories is half the fun, for me it’s about seeing the flash and spectacle, looking at line-ups for the outrageous food options, watching acrobats, daredevils, horses, browsing the international merchandise and being part of the crowds.
On the Labour Day long weekend, I hope to go back for my third 2012 trip to the Ex to see the Air Show, which always amazes.
One thing I definitely plan to do is hitch a ride on the new Sky Ride. I vividly remember travelling in the old Alpine Way cable cars at the Ex. One year, back in 1978, I was with my stepmom, younger brother Shawn and baby sister Rose who was a toddler then. My dad declined to join us and waited for our return at the entrance of the ride. Little did we know it was only one way trip across the fair grounds, either west or east, but not roundtrip.
My stepmom had changed Rosie’s diaper in the Alpine Way ride, which was a series of enclosed cable cars, and did not have time to retrieve the stinky evidence when we were ushered off the ride after the one-way trip. We told the ride usher about the diaper in the cable car that had now moved on to new, unsuspecting riders, but he just shrugged that mishap off. We also explained to the teenage boy who ushered riders on and off, that my dad was waiting for us back at the other end of the Ex and that we didn’t know this was a one-way trip. Rather than make my stepmom trek us three kids all the way back through the Ex to my waiting dad, the operator kindly let us back on to ride back to my father.
So with this memory in tow, I am so excited to get a bird’s eye view of the CNE grounds again from the new Sky Ride. I am sure when I am on the ride, I will reminisce about my childhood trips to the Ex with my siblings, who are now spread out across North America. Too bad the view won’t stretch all the way to New York and San Francisco where my sister Rose and brother Shawn now live.
Recalling fond memories with loved ones and creating new ones with new loved ones is worth the price to the Ex even if I don’t partake in the bacon, pork, ice cream or alcohol. What’s on your hit or miss list for the Ex this year?
Here are my observations, reflections and comments on life in the big city-Toronto this past 10 days. On Saturday May 19, I was on the Carlton streetcar riding along College Street when I saw a young family with a baby in a stroller. Their young boy (under two) had the most infectious laugh. It sounded like a mechanical toy. His laugh was almost unnatural as it sounded like a hahahaaaaaaaaaaa in one long continuous laugh. Kind of like as if you stepped on a baby toy by mistake and didn’t let your foot up so the sound just stayed stuck in one long string of sounds hahahahahahahaha. I started laughing so much at the sound of this young boy’s laught that it brought tears to my eyes and the twenty-somethings (young men and women) sitting behind and across the aisle from this family and baby were also laughing along side this young toddler. It was just great. Just the week before, I went to see the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel a comedy about a group of mostly strangers, all British retires, who head to India to live out their golden years. It had me laughing out loud many times. One of the best lines is from actor Dev Patel’s (lead in Slumdog Millionaire) character Sonny Kapoor who says, “Everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, it’s not yet the end.” Life is not all laughter of course. But these small moments caught me in this city and made me smile. What has made you laugh or smile lately?
I started a new job in Media Relations with Toronto Public Health for the City of Toronto on Monday, April 30. It’s combining my background in communications at St. Joe’s (St. Joseph’s Health Centre) and 12 years as a journalist with a decade of that reporting on Toronto politics.
It’s fast paced, fun and very fulfilling so far.
Thankful, and thankfully, not just tonight.
By Kris Scheuer
I was not planning to write a Thanksgiving post. And this is not that, exactly. But it is a thankful observation on what happens to be Canadian Thanksgiving, Oct 10.
I was walking on this blissfully warm evening (22 C) along a residential street south of the Annex neighbourhood.
It was early evening and still too early in my mind to be dark at only 7:30 pm. I crisscrossed the streets so I would be on the side where the lamp posts are lit up, so I’d feel safer in this big city I have always called home.
I looked at each of the houses that were the most lit up that I could knock on, if need be, should someone be following me. I looked for homes where lights were beaming on the main floor or basement where someone could come more quickly should I have the need to knock on a stranger’s door for assistance.
Not that there was anyone following me. And not that I am willing any bad omens, because I am not. I have always been safe in Toronto.
But it is something that crosses the mind of a woman walking alone on a quiet residential street in the dark that she/I might not feel had I been strolling with company or on a busier street.
I noticed something along the way. In the course of four short blocks, I saw at least a dozen houses where the main doors were wide open.
The front screen or glass doors were closed, but the main doors that you lock or unlock to enter your home were all wide open to the hallways.
It was such a small town, welcoming, reassuring sight. It was nice to know in my moment of wondering, which Torontonians I could call on if need be in an emergency . It was nice to know that some of my neighbours leave their doors open.
By leaving their main doors open, my neighbours sent a message, consciously or not, that they could be called on in a flash.
It was most reassuring. And I am thankful I got to see how open many of my neighbours feel in this big city. That they feel trusting enough to not lock their doors in the early evening. To send a message to passersby that they aren’t completely shut off from the world outside.
That they are only a door knock away, should I need to call on them for help.
Federal election results in new MPs to Toronto
NDP and Conservatives made gains at Liberals expense Kris Scheuer
NDP leader and MP was re-elected in Toronto Danforth. Photo courtesy of NDP.
Here’s a look at the 22 Toronto elected members of parliament voted in in last night’s federal vote.
1) Beaches-East York winner NDP Matthew Kellway got 41.6% to beat out incumbent Liberal Maria Minna.
2) Davenport winner NDP Andrew Cash got 53.6% ousting Liberal incumbent Mario Silva who got 27.8%.
3) Don Valley East winner Conservative Joe Daniel got 36.7% edging out Liberal incumbent Yasmin Ratansi who got 34.5%.
4) Don Valley West Conservative John Carmichael won with 43% beating Liberal incumbent Rob Oliphant with 41.8%.
5) Eglinton-Lawrence saw another upset as Conservative Joe Oliver won with a convincing 46.8% over longtime Liberal incumbent Joe Volpe with 38.5%.
6) Etobicoke-Centre Conservative Ted Opitz squeaked out a win with 41.2% and just 26 votes over Liberal incumbent Borys Wrzenewskyj with 41.1%.
7) Etobicoke North winner was Liberal Kristy Duncan with a convincing 42.5% over Conservative Priti Lamba with 32.2%.
Eight) Etobicoke-Lakeshore Conservative Bernard Trottier pulled off a huge upset with 40.4% booting Liberal MP and party leader Michael Ignatieff who got 35.1%.
9) Parkdale-High Park New Democrat Peggy Nash a former MP won back her seat with 47.2% beating the Liberal incumbent MP Gerard Kennedy who got 32.9%.
10) Scarborough Centre Conservative Roxanne James won with 35.5% compared to Liberal incumbent John Cannis with 32%.
11) Scarborough Southwest New Democrat Dan Harris won here with 35% with Conservative candidate Gavan Paranchothy coming 2nd with 31.8% and Liberal Michelle Simson getting 29.1%.
12) Scarborough-Agincourt Liberal Jim Karygiannis win convincingly with 45.4% over closest rival Conservative Harry Tsai with 34.2%.
Conservative Joe Oliver beat Liberal incumbent Joe Volpe in Eglinton-Lawrence.
13) Scarborough-Guildwood Liberal John McKay was re-elected in a squeaker with 36.1% and just 600 votes more than closest rival Conservative Chuck Konkel with 34.5%.
14) Scarborough Rouge-River NDPer Rathika Sitsabaiesan won with 40.5% over closest rivals Conservative Marlene Gallyot with 29.9% and Liberal Rana Sarkar with 27.4%.
15) St. Paul’s Liberal Carolyn Bennett was re-elected with 40.6% against closest challengers Conservative Maureen Harquail with 32.2% and NDPer William Molls with 22%.
16) Toronto Centre Liberal Bob Rae was re-elected with 40.9% over closest challengers NDP Susan Wallace with 30% and Conservative Kevin Moore with 22.6%.
17) Toronto-Danforth New Democrat MP and party leader Jack Layton easily re-captured his seat with 60.5% over closest rival Liberal Andrew Lang with 17%.
18) Trinity-Spadina NDPer Olivia Chow was re-elected with 54.1% over Liberal Christine Innes with 23.2%.
Liberal John McKay was re-elected in Scarborough-Guildwood.
19) Willowdale Conservative Chungsen Leung got 39.9% with a margin of victory of fewer than 1,000 votes over Liberal incumbent Martha Hall Findlay who got 41.7%.
20) York Centre Conservative Mark Adler pulled off a victory with 48.5% beating incumbent Liberal Ken Dryden with 33.3%.
21) York South-Weston NDPer Mike Sullivan won with 40.1% ousting Liberal incumbent Alan Tonks with 32.6%.
22) York West Liberal Judy Sgro got re-elected with 47% support over closes challengers NDP Giulio Manfrini with 27.8% and Conservative Audrey Walters with 22.1%.
City moves closer to contracting out garbage service
(Written for Town Crier April 26.)
Toronto's Public Works Committee has voted to push ahead with Mayor Rob Ford's plan to contract out garbage collection west of Yonge St. Photo by Dan Hoddinott and Illustration by Shadi Raoufi/Town Crier.
The city has moved closer to contracting out residential trash collection west of Yonge Street.
Despite every resident or group who presented to the Public Works Committee during the nine hour proceeding speaking against the idea, councillors voted 4–2 to put garbage collection out to tender along with cleaning up parks and litter vacuuming of all the city’s streets.
Public works committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong told the media privatization will reduce the size and cost of government.
“It will save us over the life of contract – $60 million,” he said.
City staff recommended the city seek bids for contracts of between five to nine years that could cost the city about $250 million. It will also reduce the city’s workforce by at least 300 jobs and save the city about $8 million a year, according to the report.
Contracting out curbside waste collection west of Yonge Street for up to nine years would be worth between $200–300 million according to what Geoff Rathbone, general manager of the solid waste management told the committee.
A seven to nine year contract for litter and recycling collection in city parks would be worth about $30 million. A five year contract to operate mechanical litter vacuums would be worth less than $20 million as would a contingency contract to pick-up residential garbage citywide (in the event of a public contract disruption).
Works committee decides to keep ban
Playing ball games on city streets remains illegal Kris Scheuer (Written for Town Crier April 26.)
L-R: Xander Anderson, Andrew Polanyi, Bowen Pausey and Liam McMahon presented the city with a petition asking to remove the ban on street hockey on city streets. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier file.
Teen Andrew Polanyi just wants to play street hockey with his friends without risking being hassled by the man.
“There’s a sign right in front of my house saying, ‘ball hockey prohibited’ and ever since that sign has been up neighbours have been coming up to us,” 13 year old Polanyi told the media during a Public Works committee hearing on Tuesday. “Some of them have been taking our pictures and sending them to the police and threatening to call the police.”
Currently, anyone found playing road hockey on Toronto streets could face a $55 fine. But in reality no one is charged or fined, said Ron Hamilton, manager of city traffic operations in Toronto and East York.
“I’ve been with the city for 40 years and I can’t recall anyone in Toronto being charged or fined by police,” said Hamilton. Continue reading →
Mayor Ford’s more costly Eglinton underground LRT
Eglinton LRT is a go but no cash left for Finch, Sheppard
(Column written for Town Crier April 4)
Get ready, midtown, to face the envy and scorn of the rest of Toronto.
A new, underground version for a 25 km Eglinton LRT is moving ahead, thanks to a joint announcement by the province and the city.
Good news, right? Yes, except that the previous plan included $8 billion for surface LRT routes along Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton, and converting the Scarborough RT into light rail transit lines. Then-incoming mayor Rob Ford pronounced that plan dead on Dec. 1.
Mayor Ford wanted the Eglinton line fully buried, so that it won’t interfere with traffic. That’ll be achieved except for a small elevated portion as it approaches Kennedy subway station. Burying the entire rapid streetcar line will increase the cost of the Eglinton project by at least $2 billion.
The result is the $8.4 billion the province had set aside for four will now be entirely eaten up by two: Eglinton and Scarborough. As a result, the new plan cancels LRTs on Sheppard and Finch.
But here’s the kicker: The city will be on the hook to pay back $49 million in costs already incurred for the Sheppard and Finch routes to provincial agency Metrolinx. That is a lot of money down the drain for a decision by a mayor who claims to value respect for taxpayers.
Mayor says wait until parade’s over to vote on funding Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 18.)
Mayor Rob Ford said the city will wait to see if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in the Pride parade before the city decides whether to fund it. Francis Crescia/Town Crier file photo.
Mayor Rob Ford is taking a wait and see attitude before deciding if Pride Toronto should receive city funding this year.
For Ford, the funding issue hangs on whether the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in this year’s Pride festival.
If the organization doesn’t participate, then Ford said that Pride Toronto can still get a city grant of about $125,000.
“Last year council agreed if they don’t (participate), they (Pride) will get their money after the parade. That’s what we agreed on,” the mayor said at an April 15 media scrum. “If they (group) does march in the parade (Pride) won’t get their money.”
The city also provides in kind services for police security and clean-up worth around $250,000. The mayor did not know if those city services would be impacted if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid aka QuAIA participates in the parade.
QuAIA issued a statement April 15 announcing that it would not march in the parade, but would instead participate in activities outside the parade. It said now there will be no excuse not to fund Pride.
“Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up,” stated Elle Flanders with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. “By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed.”