Monthly Archives: August 2009

Toronto a day in the life 5

What I learned about the city in the past 24 hours
Transit isn’t perfect especially when it breaks down
By Kris Scheuer

Streetcar rolls along College St. Love them when they are working. Photo by Kris Scheuer.

Streetcar rolls along College St. Love them when they are working. Photo by Kris Scheuer.

Here’s what happened on my way home tonight.
First of all, you need to know I am a TTC kind of girl. In fact, I don’t drive at all.
I have lived in downtown T.O all my life and never really needed to drive to get around the city.
While I have taken driving lessons, I never did book a road test.
The main reason I would get a license, to be honest, is as a journalist it can come in handy for the job.
So back to my story about transit. After waiting 20 minutes for a College streetcar to get home this evening, I was stranded. Okay, that’s a stretch but the transit driver did kick all of her passengers off her vehicle. Continue reading

Toronto a day in the life 4

My observations about Toronto in the past 24 hours
By Kris Scheuer

Well when I wrote on Friday about my home city, I mentioned that weekend festivals are what summer in this city are all about.
So that’s exactly how I spent my Sunday.
I had a blast at Buskerfest at St. Lawrence Market near Front and Church. I lucked out and happened to be there to see a husband and wife acrobatic team from Australia here to perform in the annual street performers’ fest. They were called Dream State Circus and were awesome. They showed off strength and showmanship. They did tricks like having Sophie stand on top of her husband Jacob’s head while they both juggle three wands of fire a piece.
My friend and I also stopped to listen to a four piece rock band playing at the fest.
Then we spent some time at Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market near Nassau and College. There were at least four different musical acts going on simultaneously in different areas of the market. My fav was a salsa percussion group. It was Samba Elegua and tehy have a lot of energy and had the crowd grooving to their sound.
It was a great way to spend a cool Sunday in the city.

Toronto’s proposed stimulus projects

City seeks 600 mil from Ottawa for infrastructure
List of potential projects given to media ahead of decision announcements

By Kris Scheuer
As a Toronto journalist, I have not posted any articles from other media on my site – until today.
Yesterday I read the article by Brodie Fenlon, a city hall reporter, in The Globe and Mail about more than 500 projects the city government is seeking stimulus funding from the feds.
A list of projects was circulated to all 44 councillors last week and someone gave a copy to The Globe.
This includes projects such as $1.68 mil to resurface the Gardiner Expressway, $9 mil to resurface Victoria Park Ave, $21.4 mil to modernize Pape and Dufferin subway stations and $1.1 mil for the North York Central Library.
To see the full 12-page list, click here.
An announcement is expected next week to see which projects the feds okay for Toronto.
I think it was right that someone “leaked” the list to the media and by extension to the public. Continue reading

Toronto a day in the life 3

My observations about the city I call home
By Kris Scheuer

Here are three things I learned, heard, was told or observed about Toronto in the last 48 hours.

HOUSING
The city is possibly on the verge of getting$200 mil in stimulus funding from the province and feds for new affordable housing. I interviewed Sean Gadon, director of the city’s Affordable Housing Office yesterday. By Sept. 30 council will have voted and submitted a short list of projects for about 1,500-2000 units of new housing worth about $200 mil.
The city is also applying for a portion of the $704 mil senior levls of government are handing out to repair existing social housing. Again the city is seeking about $200 mil and should here next week. If the city gets the cash, it will help with the current backlog of $200-250 mil to fix Toronto’s social housing. Continue reading

St. Paul’s byelection candidates debate

Town Crier newspaper to hold debate Sept 10
It’s an opportunity to meet candidates in St. Paul’s byelection
By Kris Scheuer

Clockwise from the top left are: PC Sue-Ann Levy, NDP Julian Heller, Green Party Chris Chopik, Liberal Eric Hoskins.

There is September 17 byelection to choose a new provincial rep for the riding of St. Paul’s.
The newspaper I write for, The Town Crier, is holding an all candidates debate the week before the vote.
It will be held Sept. 10 from 7-9 pm at Sunderland Hall at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. You will find it 175 St. Clair Ave. West, near the southwest corner of Avenue Rd. and St. Clair.
Firstly, those who live in the diverse riding that stretches roughly from Beltline to Dupont and Winona to Bayview should come and hear what the political players have to say. Trust me it will be a very heated debate.
We have invited:
PC candidate Sue-Ann Levy, who is on leave as a city hall columnist with the Toronto Sun.
Liberal activist Dr. Eric Hoskins, who will try and keep the seat red after former MPP Michael Bryant stepped down to take a position as chief executive officer of Invest Toronto.
Lawyer Julian Heller of the New Democratic Party.
Real Estate agent Chris Chopik of the Green Party.
Five other candidates will also be in attendance.
I will be there and so will my Town Crier colleagues including editor Eric McMillan, who will be moderating.
Besides attending the Sept. 10 debate it’s important to vote in the advance polls or on byelection day Sept. 17.

Continue reading

Danforth Music Hall turns 90

East York icon opened as a movie house and vaudeville theatre in 1919
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Aug.17 for Town Crier.)

The old Allen's Danforth Theatre is the setting for some of Toronto’s new plays. Photo courtesy of The Music Hall.

Surviving the Depression when many others didn’t is one of the stories the iconic Music Hall on Danforth Ave. has to tell since its opening in 1919.
Ryerson professor of communications and culture, Paul Moore, has some insight into why The Music Hall has weathered the years so well.
At the time Danforth was considered suburbia but was starting to expand on the heels of the Bloor Viaduct that was built in 1918. Continue reading

Flemingdon social housing needs repair

My sleepover in the community housing highlights the good and bad
Flemo holds place in my heart ever since
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written for Town Crier Jan/5/06)

On Dec. 5, MPP Kathleen Wynne and I stayed over in the Toronto Community Housing (TCH) rent-gear-to-income apartment located in the heart of one of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.
When I got the tour of the TCH complex, where we were staying I quickly learned why the housing organization was seeking $224 million from the government to repair its 2,200 buildings across the city. Here in Flemingdon, which is southeast of Don Mills and Eglinton, one of the most dramatic needs is to fix the locks on the doors to the buildings and underground garages.
The building where we stayed had a busted front door lock, so anyone can enter the main entrance and congregate in the halls or worse. And this was not an anomaly. Other front and side entrance door locks were broken and so was the lock to the underground garage.
The housing manager John Martin said some gangs hang in this neighbourhood, so imagine having to walk by a drug deal as you make your way to your car or apartment unit? Continue reading

Toronto youth leaders of tomorrow

Teens from troubled neighbourhoods get lessons that will last lifetime
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Jan/6/06 for Town Crier)

For young people growing up in some of the most disadvantaged communities in Toronto, initiatives like the Youth Leadership Program can be a lifesaver. 
More than 200 youth from high-risk neighbourhoods graduated Dec. 17 from the program, a joint initiative of the city and Toronto Community Housing (TCH). 
Many of the 52 gun deaths (from 78 murders) of 2005 involved youth, either as victim or perpetrator, and many of the shootings took place on or near TCH complexes. The city and TCH responded this summer by initiating a pilot project in 13 communities, including Malvern, Lawrence Heights, St. Jamestown, the Jane and Finch neighbourhood and Flemingdon Park, which is southeast of Don Mills Rd. and Eglinton Ave. East. 
The significance of the successful completion of the nine-week leadership course was not lost on parents, community leaders, media, politicians or youth themselves. 
“I feel proud that we are in this moment. We are Toronto the Good when we work and build together,” said Kwasi Kafele, a community leader and youth advocate. Continue reading

City funds drug prevention programs

Toronto council cash for 42 community programs
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Aug. 14 for Town Crier.)

It’s about steering Riverdale youth and women away from drug abuse.
Programs offered by two area community centres will share in $830,000 approved by the city on Aug. 5 for 42 projects aimed at drug-abuse prevention.
The South Riverdale Community Health Centre received almost $28,000 for its 52-week Counterfit Women’s Harm Reduction Project. The program will employ five people to do outreach, develop workshops and consult with various groups like police and Children’s Aid Services.
The Ralph Thornton Centre got nearly $18,000 for a 25-week program called A Photo Voice Project for Youth, which involves teens mentoring youngsters and building their leadership skills.
Winnie Lee, program director at the Ralph Thornton Centre on Queen St. East, says the project includes workshops on drug-abuse prevention.
“We aim to build up (participants’) self-confidence and problem-solving skills that are conducive to leading a drug-free life,” she says. Continue reading

501 Queen streetcar route split in two

The 501 Queen streetcar. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Pilot project aims to cut number of short-turns on city’s longest streetcar route
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Aug. 15 for Town Crier)

The 501 Queen streetcar route will be split for a trial period from Oct. 19 to Nov. 20 in an attempt to reduce the number of short-turns that have been plaguing the line. 
The TTC wants to see if their experiment improves the line’s current service.
Streetcars originating at Neville Park going west will end the route at Shaw St. Meanwhile, streetcars coming from Humber or Long Branch heading east will wrap up at Parliament St. 
Rocket riders who want to continue their journey along Queen will need a transfer to another streetcar travelling in their desired direction.
Beaches-East York councillor Sandra Bussin said she is very pleased the TTC has agreed to the solution. “I’m convinced this is probably the only option that will work,” she said. “It’s the longest streetcar route in Toronto.” Continue reading