Category Archives: Toronto News

Good night and good luck

A new journey for me starts now
Kris Scheuer

Kris Scheuer (me).

The above headline Good Night and Good Luck was the sign off of famous American radio journalist Edward Murrow.
Well friends, after 13 years in journalism and 10 of those reporting on news, politics and city hall, I am signing off from reporting.
At least for now.
I said goodbye to my colleagues for the last 8.5 years at the Town Crier, and hello to a new team in public affairs at St. Joseph’s Health Centre
On May 4, I started an exciting and challenging new career with a one year contract as a communications associate at St. Joe’s hospital in Toronto. After just over a week on the job, I am already learning a lot and am busy writing for our website http://www.stjoe.on.ca. Some of my articles (two so far) will appear sans byline under the What’s New section. I will be writing monthly features for Hospital News, articles  for biweekly Connections newsletters , three editions of In the Community publication and website stories.
So far, I also attend hospital events and write about them, interview surgeons, nurses and other health care staff for profiles on them, new procedures, advances in health care, about teaching medicine for the next generation.
I will be helping with events around the hospital’s new wing Our Lady of Mercy opening later this year and our annual report.
Our department does internal communication to all staff in the hospital on any changes of procedure, policy, legislation, equipment, etc. And we handle external communication for every department in the hospital in coordination with the CEO.
At some point, I will be a spokesperson for the hospital and share the 24/7 on call role with my boss.
I remain a lifelong Torontonian and when appropriate can comment on life in Toronto from my perspective.
Keep you comments coming on anything I have written, will write or any of your observation on news and life in Toronto. I look forward to posting again soon.
After my contract is up in May 2012, I will either continue in communications at the hospital, elsewhere or venture back into journalism. We shall see what the future holds. I will of course keep you posted.

City keeps ban on street hockey

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

Kippendavie Beach condos approved

City, residents and developer reach deal
Toronto council approves Kippendavie Ave project
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier April 14.)

These homes will be demolished to pave way for at least 60 condo units on Kippendavie Ave. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier file photo.

The city approved a settlement for the Beach development at 66-76 Kippendavie Avenue.
Developer Worsley Urban Partners first proposed the condo project in 2009 but due to council’s lack of a decision in a timely matter, the developer appealed directly to the Ontario Municipal Board.
So this new settlement was an 11th hour deal considering 1 board pre-hearing looming April 19.
The city, Kew Beach Neighbourhood Association, Toronto District School Board and the developer met with a city-funded mediator on April 6 and came away with a settlement, which was approved by council without debate on April 12.
Beach Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said that all parties compromised to reach this agreement.
“I am happy everyone can get on with their lives and have worked really hard especially the community,” she said hours April 12 vote to approve the project. “But I am worried about the size and the (area basement) flooding.”

Continue reading

Toronto Community Housing selling properties

Case Ootes lone board member votes to sell 22 homes
City-owned housing provider to make millions
Money would be used to fix crumbling housing stock
Kris Scheuer
(Written April 6 for Town Crier.)

Case Ootes explains his vote to sell 22 social housing properties. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier photo.

Case Ootes, the one man board at Toronto Community Housing Corporation, voted today to sell 22 single families homes in the portfolio that could net the corporation up to $15.7 million.
Some who came out to the meeting asked Ootes to defer the decision until a full board is in place this June. But Ootes said he’s acting on recommendations of the previous board to sell these homes including beachfront property on Hubbard Boulevard that are too costly to maintain.
A staff report this issue states the net profits from the sales should be used to tackle the backlog to fix up existing community housing across the city which Ootes pegs at close to $600 million.
“I made the decision based on the fact this corporation is facing serious financial problems,” he told the media after the meeting. “There are almost 2,000 vacant units in some form of disrepair. Money is needed to repair these units.”
But selling all 22 homes, which contain 29 separate units, won’t be a cakewalk.
Currently, 15 of the 29 units are occupied by tenants with most of them paying market rent. The market rent tenants can’t be kicked out by any new owner unless they or their families plan to live in the homes.
“Most buyers do want (houses) to be vacant so it will be more difficult to sell,” said Ootes.  Continue reading

Canadian federal election 2011

Who holds power now
Kris Scheuer

PM Stephen Harper will be facing voters in a spring election. Town Crier file photo.

So a federal election is on for May 2.
Click on the Green Party, Conservatives, NDP and Liberals to see who each of those parties are running as federal candidates in Toronto ridings.
The Liberal Party’s motion expressing non-confidence in the current Conservative government over issues of contempt of Parliament passed 156-145 today.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will formally ask Governor General David Johnston to dissolve Canada’s 4oth Parliament tomorrow.
Here’s a low down on who all the current MPs are now.
What will new parliament look like post election?
Quick Facts:
There are 308 seats up for grabs.
There are 305 current Members of Parliament and three vacant seats, click here for the full list.
Current representation across Canada is:
Conservative MPs: 143
Liberal Party MPs: 77
Bloc Quebecois MPs: 47
New Democratic Party MPs: 36
Independents MPs: Helena Guergis (Independent Conservative) and Andre Arthur
Vacant seats of 3: Calgary Centre-North in Alberta, Prince George-Peace River in B.C., and Haute-Gaspesie-La Mitis-Matane-Matapedia in Quebec.
In Toronto there are 22 federal seats with 2 New Democrat MPs and 20 Liberals elected here currently.
Here’s the breakdown of the current reps in Toronto ridings. Continue reading

No decision on Kippendavie

After months of deferrals, community council makes no ruling
Condo proposal will go to city council then OMB
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier March 23. UPDATE.)

Artist rendering of Kippendavie proposal.

Despite months of deferrals and a six hour debate, Toronto and East York Community Council still didn’t make a decision on a controversial condo proposal at 66 to 76 Kippendavie Avenue. It voted instead to refer the issue to city council without recommendation.
Leading up to the vote, it was unclear what would happen as council members had differing views on the project. Chair Gord Perks wanted to take city staff’s advice and approve the 65 unit project while Beach rep Mary-Margaret McMahon recommended rejecting it.
In the end, the body followed Councillor Janet Davis’s advice to punt the ball to April 12 city council meeting. But time is not on the city’s side as an Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the project has been scheduled for April 19.
Following the advice of councillors Pam McConnell and Paula Fletcher the city will hire a third party mediator to work on reaching a settlement on the outstanding issues between the residents and the developer, including reducing the unit count to 54 and requiring $10 million in insurance to cover any impacts on adjacent homes during construction, before council meets. Continue reading

City to decide what services to deliver

Memo for city manager refers to core service review
Some city services could be discontinued altogether
Kris Scheuer

City Manager Joseph Pennachetti.

The city is reviewing all city services with an eye on determining what are core services. what is mandated and what is discretionary, according to an internal memo obtained by 680 news.
Toronto’s city manager Joe Pennachetti’s March 21 memo to city staff outlines how the three-part service review will work and why it is needed.
“In the longer term, we have an operating funding shortfall, with the 2012 beginning operating pressure estimated at $784 million,” states his memo.
“Starting in April, we will conduct a three-part service review program to prepare for the 2012 budget process. The three parts will include: a core service review, service efficiency studies and a user fee review. The Core Service Review will study whatservices the city should be delivering and the Service Efficiency Studies will examine how city services are delivered,” the memo continues.
“These reviews are expected to generate significant efficiencies and cost savings,” states this memo.
These are just excerpts of the 3-page memo, which can be read entirely here.
This review goes beyond just looking at what services  the city currently delivers. It will be looking at what services could be cut or possibly discontinued in terms of the city delivering them. Staff will report back in September with recommendations.
The March 21 memo outlines the goals of the review.
“Core Service Review. This element of the service review program will develop an inventory of all services, service levels and service standards. The review will:
• define which services are legislated, core and discretionary
• benchmark services and service levels against those in other jurisdictions
rank services for potential reductions and discontinuation and identify the service, policy, human resource and financial impacts of recommended service changes.”
Pennachetti continues to write, “While the funding gap in the 2012 operating budget is significant, the goal of the Core Service Review is beyond cutting costs – it is to confirm the services and functions that are core to what the city does and to innovate in other areas. The outcomes will provide solid reasons for continued service delivery in core areas and for making any necessary changes in other areas.”
There will be much more to report on this when we see those reviews and what the recommendations are and whether it includes job cuts, service reductions and possible elimination of services delivered by the city/public sector.