Monthly Archives: June 2009

Toronto strike drags on

By Kris Scheuer

The city could be in for the long haul when it comes to the garbage strike.
So says city manager Joseph Pennachetti at a press conference this afternoon.
“I wish I had a crystal ball,” Pennachetti said around 2:30 p.m. June 30. “I still say we literally have no idea when this strike will end.”
He stressed that the city remains ready to meet 24 hours with the Canadian Union of Public Employees
CUPE Local 79 and Toronto Civic Employees’ Union CUPE Local 416.
The city and unions continue to negotiate on a settlement, he said on day nine of the strike, but at 3 p.m. there had been no formal talks June 30 and nothing was currently scheduled for
Canada Day July 1.
During the strike, which started at midnight June 22, a number of city services have been suspended. This includes the cancellation of city run parks and recreation programs, community centres, camps, daycares, garbage collection, water testing at beaches, park permits and Canada Day events.
For a full list of affected city services click here.
(I wrote this June 30 and it was originally posted at www.mytowncrier.ca)

Would you swim at Sunnyside Beach?

Councillor Bill Saundercook dives in at Sunnyside Beach
Will a pilot project to clean up the water tempt you to swim?
By Kris Scheuer

Councillor Bill Saundercook swims at Sunnyside with his wedding suit on in mid-June. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Following through on a promise made to me, Parkdale-High Park councillor Bill Saundercook took a dive into Lake Ontario off Sunnyside Beach.
As for his choice of swimming attire, the ward 13 rep decided to wear the same suit he wore at his wedding almost 30 years ago.
He dove in June 18 to promote the fact the city’s spending $1 million on a pilot project to make a section of the beach more swimmable and ward off pollution from the Humber River.

(Written June 18/09 BEFORE the city strike that started June 22, which suspended daily beach water testing. This story was originally posted June 29 at http://www.mytowncrier.ca)

City to sell its beachfront homes

Million Dollar Views in Toronto


Government to unload 5 Hubbard Blvd, which fronts onto Kew Balmy Beach. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

By Kris Scheuer
For those who always dreamed of owning a cottage on the lake, the opportunity may be closer than you imagined.
The city plans to sell a handful of Kew Beach waterfront homes that are too costly to repair. The properties at 3, 5, 7 and 9 Hubbard Blvd. are owned by Toronto Community Housing and are on prime real estate facing Lake Ontario and Kew-Balmy Beach.
“TCH conducted a comprehensive review of our housing stock,” says community housing spokesperson Kyle Rooks. “The goal was to see the best way to invest scarce resources to ensure quality housing is given to our tenants.”
The Real Estate Asset Investment Strategy was completed in December and recommended selling 45 homes and three buildings with 326 apartments. Before that proceeds, an implementation plan will go to the housing board in July and then needs city council approval.

Continue reading

Get your Michael Jackson fix

Music and videos hard to find in Toronto after MJ’s death
By Kris Scheuer

It’s been less than three days since the death of superstar Michael Jackson.
I have his two most famous CDs Off the Wall and Thriller, but was looking for a DVD so I could watch some of his thrilling music videos and dance moves. Like many born in the ’70s, I grew up on his music and vividly remember sitting in front of the TV anticipating the premier of his Thriller video in 1982.
Right now finding a copy of any of his CDs or DVDs in Toronto stores is, not surprisingly, nearly impossible.
The only place I have seen any in stock is at Sunrise Records on Yonge St. north of Dundas.
Online, Indigo book and music store is showing all of its Toronto locations are sold out of the two DVDs I was looking for: Michael Jackson – Live in Bucharest and Michael Jackson – Number Ones.
HMV music stores are showing some TO locations have the videos in stock, but I have yet to see a copy at the locals I visited. The music chain is advertising these DVDs at $20 for the pair.
I also tried Soundscapes at College and Manning with no luck.
Until they stores stock up again, I was hoping to borrow a copy from one of Toronto’s 99 library branches. Continue reading

Toronto strike impact

How is the strike affecting you?
By Kris Scheuer
It’s day six of the strike and garbage is piling up in the streets, city waste transfer stations and 19 temporary dumps located near parks such as Christie Pits and beaches like Sunnyside.
Parents are having to find alternative arrangements as all city-run daycare is shut down.
City-run camps and recreation programs and community centres are a not open. And there’s no water testing at Toronto’s 11-designated beaches.
Check out the city’s website to see a full list of services affected by this labour disruption. Then tell me what service has impacted you the most since the strike began June 22?
As well, for articles on how this situation is playing out in TO’s communities please check out online coverage at the paper I work for the Town Crier.

Couple aims for zero garbage

Sarah McGaughey in her home. Town Crier file photo.

By Kris Scheuer
(Originally published Mar/8/07 for Town Crier.)
Sarah McGaughey and Kyle Glover made a pledge when they returned from a teaching stint in Korea in 2004 to try and go a full month without producing any waste.
One month has turned into two years of diligent effort for the Ossington and St. Clair couple. McGaughey updates their progress on her blog.
Rather than throw out items such as a TTC Metropass, markers, light bulbs and beer caps, they made art collages and cards for their friends out of them. And in the two years they threw out just two garbage bags of trash.
Nonetheless, “I felt we had failed,” said McGaughey in a Feb. 1 interview beside her kitchen table.

Continue reading

80-year-old ‘Fry Lady’ retires


Catherine Wilson fries up one more basket
of potatoes. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

By Kris Scheuer
(Originally published March 8/05 for Town Crier.)
Say goodbye to the Fry Lady — the 79-year-old woman is retiring after 25 years of serving up fries to hungry customers at a local McDonald’s.
Catherine Wilson, known affectionately as the Fry Lady and Granny by customers and colleagues alike, started her first shift at the McDonald’s at Bayview and Eglinton Aves. in January of 1979 at $3 an hour. Now she is packing it in.
Over the years, she has cooked and packaged too many French fries to count, but here’s a rough estimate. She served up at least 1,709,400 packages of fries in 25 years — and that’s just during lunch hour.
Ironically, Wilson doesn’t even like fries. This is not a slight against McDonald’s fries, mind you. “I have never eaten the French fries,” she said. “I was just never into French fries my whole life.”

Continue reading

Toronto may allow backyard chickens


Toronto Chicken lady.Town Crier file photo.

Toronto opens debate to permit chickens in urban yards
By Kris Scheuer
The city may be gathering the pluck to allow residents to legally have chickens in their backyards.
The issue was raised in a staff report on urban agriculture at the June 16 Parks and Environment Committee meeting. 
“While accessibility to a healthy and sustainable supply of eggs, increased soil fertility, pest and weed control are considered benefits of keeping urban chickens, the situation requires further examination,” the report stated. “Staff will investigate the feasibility of raising chickens in an urban setting.”
The truth is, chickens are already cooped up in the city. 
As the Town Crier reported last summer, a midtown yard is home to three hens. Continue reading

Seven school pools saved

Trustee Josh Matlow.Town Crier file photo.
But seven more go down the drain

By Kris Scheuer
Seven pools have been taken off the critical list, while another seven will be drained for good.
The Toronto District School Board voted June 24 to save pools at George S. Henry Academy, Forest Hill, Rosedale Heights SS, Humberside, North Toronto, Malvern and West Toronto CIs.
Board staff had recommended saving four on that list but trustees added an additional three in a vote around 11:20 p.m. 
“It was literally an eleventh hour decision,” said St. Paul’s trustee Josh Matlow the following morning. 
However, Danfoth, Oakwood, Parkdale CIs, Bickford Centre, Central Commerce, Bloor CI and Western Tech (Ursula Franklin site) weren’t so lucky as their pools got the axe. Continue reading

Fate of school pools in limbo

Closures to come after June 24 school board meeting
By Kris Scheuer
Four school pools have been thrown a lifeline. And 13 are safe. Sixteen others are on the critical list. Another seven have been pronounced dead. 
That’s the picture being painted by a Toronto District School Board report released today. School trustees will decide the fate of the 40 pools tonight at a board meeting.

LIFELINE
Four pools recommended to be added to safe list:
North Toronto CI
Malvern CI
West Toronto CI
George S. Henry Academy
SAFE
13 pools the board voted to save back in April:
Allenby PS
AY Jackson SS
Deer Park PS
Glenview PS
Harbord CI
Keele PS
Lawrence Park CI
Newtonbrook SS
Northern SS
RH King Academy
Riverdale CI
Stephen Leacock CI and 
Westview Centennial SS
Continue reading