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Toronto information and news, covering issues impacting communities across the GTA
Friday July 25th 2014

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Sgt. Ryan Russell Funeral Procession

Funeral procession (09)
Image by Paul Henman via Flickr

Thanks to constant media exposure to all the tragedies in our world I am unable to go a single day without some news of loss of life.  There are reports of floods, massacres, famines, homicides, accidents, drownings, earthquakes, domestic violence, drunk drivers… and the list goes on.  I guess it’s a good thing that we are not wired to be emotionally touched by each and every incident or our lives would be riddled with unending sorrow.  However, we ARE wired usually to connect when we observe or share in the grief of others who are forced to deal with the loss of a loved one.  Such was the case today when I chose to watch the televised funeral service of Sgt. Ryan Russell of the Toronto Police force.

Throughout the broadcast there were many moments that tugged at the heartstrings and brought tears running down my cheeks.  The parts that most left their impression were: the friend who composed and performed a song in his honour, the K.D. Lang version of “Hallelujah” played during the photo montage, and of course the moment when his widow addressed all those in attendance.  A surge of sympathy welled up in me each time and I joined with the thousands who mourned his loss but appreciated his life.  He was a complete stranger but he lived an exemplary life and inspired me, at least in the moment, to be a better more selfless person.

Almost a week ago Sgt. Russell was serving his city when he lost his life trying to stop an individual who had stolen a snow plow.  It was a moment he could not have possibly foreseen when he woke up that morning to leave for work.  But then, we were not designed with the option of knowing our own futures… and that is a blessing.  A song by Garth Brooks called, “The Dance” comes to mind as my thoughts flow.  Sgt. Russell lived in such a way that proves our lives are not “left to chance” as the song speaks of; rather he lived purposefully to bring out the good in others with whom he came into contact.  Yet, despite the dangers that came with his profession he never missed the joy of the dance.

Today Toronto mourned the loss of one of her sons but consoled each other with the example that was his life.  May we all endeavour to live in such a way as to inspire our friends & family, neighbours and strangers, and even those who stand opposed to our values.

Clay McLeod

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The Spit

Leslie Street Spit
Image via Wikipedia

The Spit

In the city’s central-south-east border you find the boardwalks and paths of Cherry Beach.  They are replete with boardwalk & path areas for strollers, cyclers, joggers, in-line skaters and the like.  You journey along these paths east-bound and would eventually end up in the Ash Bridges Bay area.  Prior to reaching that location you have the option of taking the Leslie Street Spit detour instead.  For the first time in my 45 years I took this path last week and was amazed at what I found.  The entire land mass is composed primarily of dump-loads of concrete and rock deposited there over the years.  The extent of this area surpasses even the Toronto Islands in its southern stretch into Lake Ontario.  Upon reaching the end of the Spit you can turn your eyes northward and have a spectacular view of the city skyline.  One can only imagine what a great front-row seat this would provide for observing a lightning storm hit the city (except of course that the location itself would be too precarious and foolhardy a perch on such an occasion).

The Spit is not always open to the public due to the nature of its construction; there are dump trucks and other construction machines constantly traversing the paths and shaping the shores.  The primary hours of access seem to be after 4:30 on weekdays and also all day on weekends.  While there are no permanent residents of the human variety it does play host to numerous bird species, of which the cormorant is the most prominent.  These black-bodied residents cannot be missed circling the skies around the Spit but are most densely populated on its northwestern tip near the lighthouse.  It does not escape even the casual observer’s notice that one particular portion of the foliage is leaf-bare from their activities.

A quick Wikipedia search reveals much to the history of this gem of the city.  It has become a bird sanctuary, a possible site of commercial development, a cyclist’s mecca (though there are shuttle buses for the walking enthusiast as well), and a very secluded destination within easy reach from the city.  It is approximately 5 kms in length and consists primarily of paved paths interspersed with some gravel and stone sections.  Word has it that some nature enthusiasts can be spotted from time to time off the beaten paths in the process of sun-bathing au natural. If  you want to know how to prepare for an excursion on the spit bear in mind the following advisements: use sunscreen, bring some water, ensure your bicycle tires are road-worthy, pack a picnic lunch, bring a friend, it’s wise to avoid standing directly underneath bird-laden habitats, clear your throat often if you should wander down a dirt path so as not to startle the nudists, and don’t forget your camera!

Clayton McLeod

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Spain and the Octpus Win the World Cup

Spain and Octopus win the World Cup

It is official, Spain has won the world cup. We think there is only one major winner in this World Cup and that is the octopus. The world will never be quite the same. We predict the famous octopus will be attending the next G20 meeting, which from here-forth will be known as G20+ The Octopus.

BTW, the octopus can also help you pick your winning lotto numbers. We are also wondering why have a mayoral election? Just ask the octopus.

Spanish fans celebrating in Toronto

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Toronto Pride Parade

Pride Parade turning off Yonge Street onto Ger...
Image via Wikipedia

The Pride Parade this weekend will likely gather a huge crowd  this year along Yonge Street. In 2009, the event attracted an estimated one million people who contributed about $136 Million dollars to Toronto and unlike G20 we didn’t have to board up any stores or buy a sound canon.

In our view Pride Parade represents tolerance, acceptance, love, care for everyone irrespective of their gender, color, race and religion. Unfortunately millions of people around the world don’t have the freedom of expression. Events like Pride Week, gives us hope that we can accomplish a lot for human rights if we put our mind to it.

Check out the parade schedule for this weekend. With all the global media attention, we think this is a great opportunity to sell off the sound canon. We can throw in a few kilometers of concrete barrier worth $700k if they call in the next couple of days !

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Toronto Police Sound Canon

But on a serious note, now that G20 is over what are we going to do the with sound canon? Does the police need to fine tune the sound each year? Did it actually work?

We are not sure why it was not used last Sunday? Perhaps it doesn’t work well in the rain. It is a mystery.

Happy Canada Day Everyone !

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Toronto Canada Day Celebrations and Fireworks Safety Tips

Canada Day Kid
Image by wmacphail via Flickr

Canada Day Celebrations, marks the day when Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Province of Canada( now, Ontario and Quebec) joined together on July 1, 1867.  Below is a list of celebrations that will take place across the city.

North

Live music and barbecue at Mel Lastman Square from 5 to 10 p.m.
Fireworks at Canada’s Wonderland, admission is $44.99

South and Central

Fireworks show at Ashbridges Bay Park
Parade starting at East York Town Centre starting at 9 a.m. and arriving at Stan Wadlow Park by noon.
Winged Wheels police motorcycle riders at Stan Waldow Park celebrations that start at 11 a.m.
Festival of Fire at Ontario Place at 10:30 p.m., admission is $43.80

East

There will be celebrations at Thomson Memorial Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Parade at Scarborough Civic Centre ending at Thomson Memorial Park at 5 p.m.
Fireworks at Milliken Park in the evening.

West

Rib-fest event at Centennial Park until 10 p.m. with fireworks display in the evening.
Celebrations at Amesbury Park from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., includes fireworks in the evening.
Weston Lions Park festivities will start from 7 to 10 p.m., this also includes fireworks
City services on July 1
TTC will be operating on July 1 with a similar schedule to Saturdays.
Garbage collection, recycling will be done on Thursday as schedule.
Toronto City Attractions – Operating Hours
Art Gallery of Ontario – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Ontario Science Centre – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Toronto Zoo – 9:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Canada Wonderland – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Ontario Place – 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
CN Tower – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Note: Liquor stores, libraries, grocery stores, government offices and post office will be closed.

Fireworks Safety Tips

Roger, Bell, Primus, Virgin – Stick, Hub or DSL ?

A DSL Modem
Image via Wikipedia

Over the past couple of years, the major carriers in Toronto like Rogers, Bell, Sprint, Virgin, Wind have been promoting a wide variety of Internet service connections, making it increasingly difficult for an average consumer to figure out what is the most cost effective solution for them. You now have the choice between a hub, stick and/or DSL. In most cases though, your usage is caped so how do you figure out what is the best option for you. Here are some guidelines to help you better evaluate your options.

What is a hub?

A hub is a portable high speed Internet units that you can take with you to different locations like you cottage or remote small office to connect to the Internet. The latest Bell Turbo hub offers 7.2 Mbps speed. It costs approx. $40 per month if you don’t exceed the monthly commit rate or usage that is set to 10GB unless you upgrade your plan. It has four ports, in case you want to add more machines to your network.  For an additional $20 per month you can also use it as a phone.

The unit cost about $400 to own but you will pay almost nothing for the unit if you sign a contract for two years. Bell hub receives Internet signal through the electrical plug in your home. Rogers hub is through airwaves.

What is a stick?

An Internet stick looks very similar to a memory sticks. In fact, the stick also gives you some memory capacity. It comes with a SIMM card similar to a mobile phone.  You will get a new phone number when you purchase your stick. It connects to your computer USB port and allows you to freely move around when you are connected to the Internet. Installation is fairly straightforward. It offers the utlimate portability, you can stay connected in the car or on the train. The unit does not need to be directly connected to a power like a hub. The fasts sticks currently cost about $160. You can get about 21 Mbps speed if the network connectivity is good. The previous generation of sticks are still sold and they are significantly slower speed with a price tag is that is roughly $30-50 cheaper. The standard monthly usage set to 3-5 GB and similar to a hub you are charged an overage fee if you exceed it. If you travel frequently to U.S. you may want to consider paying a small fee to lower your roaming charges. Read the rest of this entry »

G8 and G20 Accomplishments, Public View and Impact on Toronto?

This index measures the degree of inequality i...
Image via Wikipedia

Lets review the events of the past few days and see what has been accomplished after spending a billion dollars and having an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers protecting the summits.

Here are the key areas discussed at the summits:

  1. The European-turned-global financial crisis.
  2. Devastation to trade, investment and development caused by financial crisis.
  3. Environmental and social problems from climate change and energy to food and health.
  4. Strengthening the G20 itself and the international financial institutions and other global bodies to effectively address the complex, uncertain, intensely interconnected world.

According to Associated Press, the leaders at the summits failed to resolve their differences on economic strategy with U.S. wanting to continue spending on economic stimulus whilst European countries and Japan wanting to cut back on spending and reduce their deficit. In the end they agreed to reducing their deficit by half by 2013. On foreign policy they couldn’t agree on a strong condemnation of North Korea and stronger sanctions against Iran.

According to the Accountability Report, the G8 past commitment to women and men living in poverty globally was $50 billion USD and the members have missed that target by at least $18 billion. There was no mention on how they plan to address this gap.

Now, lets see what the protesters are asking:

They want a fairer and greener world. They want G20 to do more than just save the banks. They want them to protect the poorest from impact of globalization. They want world leaders to consider the well-being of the poor and the vulnerable people. They want to see the world’s poorest countries at the table.

They want the world leaders to do more to address climate change. They believe economic security can only be obtained if the leaders address environmental sustainability and equality. They see return to “business as usual” not a sustainable option. They see the G20 dominance of capitalism as the main source of the problem.

Now, lets see what a global poll shows:

Extreme poverty is more serious problem for the world than climate change, terrorism, or the state of the global economy, Read the rest of this entry »

G20 Protests in Toronto

The demonstrations continue in downtown Toronto on Bay, Dundas, Yonge, Queen and Richmond Streets.

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Missing Tourists in Toronto G20 Demonstrations

Below are some photos of the demonstrations earlier today in downtown Toronto. Police worked hard to regain order in different locations including Yonge and College street where there were some arrests.

It was easier to spot a black bear today than a tourist ! Perhaps we need a sign similar to the one below for tourists.

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