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Toronto a Day in the Life 16

By Kris Scheuer

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 laughter 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?  

Federal election results 2011

Historic change in Canada on election night
Kris Scheuer

St. Paul's MP Carolyn Bennett was one of a few dozen Liberals who held onto their seats. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

 Wow. What a difference a day makes.
At the beginning of May 2 before all the votes were cast, this was the make-up of parliament:
Conservatives: 143
Liberals: 77
Bloc: 47
NDP: 36
Green: 0
And by the end of election night May 2, this is how the next parliament will look according to Elections Canada at 2:19 am May 2 evening/May 3 morning:

RESULTS
Conservatives majority government with leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper: 167 (increased 24 seats).
NDP official opposition (first time in history) with leader Jack Layton: 102 (increased 66 seats).
Liberals (third party for first time ever): 34 seats (down 43) and party leader Michael Ignatieff lost his own Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding.
Bloc: 4 seats (lost 43 seats) and the party leader Gilles Duceppe lost his own seat in Laurier-Sainte-Marie.
Greens: 1 seat (first time ever elected in Canada) with party leader Elizabeth May winning in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding.

Expand Oriole Park

Residents push the TTC to give up land for park
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 20)

Residents push for a section of TTC yards to be annexed to expand park. Image courtesy of Friends of Oriole Park.

Ulli Rath wants the TTC to give up a portion of their Davisville yard to expand Oriole Park.
The local resident and his group, Friends of Oriole Park are putting out the feelers to see if an expansion is possible. He says it’s a natural choice, given that the Davisville TTC yards at Yonge and Chaplin Crescent neighbour Oriole Park.
Rath wrote to TTC for its Dec. 15 board meeting, and says the next step is to get the matter added to a future commission meeting so residents can plead their case.
Rath is quick to point out the request has merit: A 2009 TTC report indicating Davisville likely won’t be adding to its storage yard.
“There will be even less (TTC vehicles) parked there,” Rath said. “The yard wasn’t designed for the new generation subways.” Continue reading

How much homework is enough?

How schools strive for homework, life balance
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier’s Education Guide Dec. 6)

How much homework is too much? Photo courtesy of Evil Erin.

Homework shouldn’t be the focus of a kid’s life. They need time for family, friends and extracurricular activities that help develop them into a well-rounded child.
While theories abound about how much homework is best, schools are working hard to help students achieve a work/life balance.
“About 10-12 years ago the Ministry (of Education) had a new policy for teachers to cover a lot of materials in schools across Ontario,” said Fieldstone Day School’s head of grades 7-12 Josephine Parody. “So there was lots of homework. Then the pendulum swung another way (less homework).”
In fact, it was complaints by parents about the amount of after school work students were given that led the Toronto District School Board to rethink its homework policy.
“The main concern was there were too many hours in the evening assigned to homework, which took away from family time and learning opportunities to participate in extra curricular activities,” said former trustee Josh Matlow, who helped push the policy forward. Continue reading

Car tax gone January 1

Council votes today to scrap unpopular tax
It will cost $64 mil in 2011 in lost revenue, refunds
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 16)

Mayor Rob Ford got votes to kill car tax. Town Crier file photo by Francis Crescia.

Mayor Rob Ford got his first win today as council voted 39-6 to scrap the vehicle registration tax as of Jan. 1.
“It’s a great day for the taxpayers of Toronto,” he said in a media scrum Thursday afternoon. “We just put $64 million back into their pockets and they can do what they want. They can create jobs and stimulate the economy or they can save it.”
“I’m glad we finally got rid of it and I look forward to saving the taxpayers more money in the next four years,” he said. “I just want to bring back respect for taxpayers at city hall.”
It will cost the city $64 million to repeal the tax, $48 million in lost annual revenue plus $12 million for refunds for car owners who paid their 2011 tax in advance. The city doesn’t yet know how it will make up the revenue, but that will be dealt with during the budget process.

Continue reading

Scarboro Beach Amusement Park

Heritage homes on site of former amusement park
Some of the houses are up for sale facing Kew Beach
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Aug. 12.)

Scarboro Beach Amusement Park in 1907. Photo courtesy of The Beach in Pictures 1793-1932.

A dozen heritage properties on Wineva Ave and Hubbard Blvd were built where Scarboro Beach Amusement Park once stood. It was a destination spot for Torontonians in the early part of the 20th century.
Harry and Mabell Dorsey paid the Sisters of St. Joseph $165,000 in 1906 for the land between Leuty and Maclean avenues and opened the $600,000 theme park in 1907.
This is where the young and old came to see “waltzing horses, comic bears and the first genuine monkey circus ever in Toronto,” according to The Beach in Pictures 1793-1932 by Mary Campbell and Barbara Myrvold. Continue reading

Perry Missal Ward 27 candidate

Missal one of 14 running to replace outgoing Councillor Rae
Kris Scheuer
(Written July 28 for Town Crier.)

Local resident Perry Missal running in Ward 27. Photo courtesy of Perry Missal.

Ward 27 candidate Perry Missal wants regular inspections of public playgrounds, a Toronto lotto to generate revenue and increased pedestrian safety.
He’s launching an extensive platform on his yet-to-be released website, www.perrymissal.ca, in mid-August.
“I want to look at a City of Toronto lottery managed by the (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp). It’s not a tax but a user pay. People from Markham or Mississauga could buy the Toronto lotto as well,” said the 43-year-old. “We could target (lotto funds) for specific projects such as subways and the rest could go to general revenues.”
Another key issue is posting when public playgrounds were last inspected. Continue reading