Archive for June, 2008

Canada Day Around Toronto

Although Ottawa is, bar none, the best place to celebrate Canada Day, Toronto is no slouch in the festivities department:

  • 8:00 pm, Mel Lastman Square — The official City of Toronto celebration. A concert and fireworks to music
  • 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, East York’s Stan Wadlow Park — lots of games, music, eats, exhibits, and fireworks
  • 10:00 am to 5:00pm, Fort York — Fort York Summer Guard, perform musket and artillery drill as well as fife and drum music
  • 11:00 am, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood — parade and picnic
  • 11:00 am to noon, Chinese Railroad Workers Monument, North Linear Park, west of Skydome — honour the over 4,000 Chinese who lost their lives during construction of the railroad
  • 11:00 am to 4:30 pm, Toronto Zoo — celebrate Canada Day with the animals, bipedal and quadrapedal alike
  • 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Queen’s Park — the dignified celebration with a 21-gun salute
  • 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Black Creek Pioneer Village — 30 people become Canadians, crafts, games, music, and more
  • 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, Downsview Park — free activities and entertainment, buskers at night, huge fireworks in the sky
  • Noon to 5:00 pm, Mackenzie House — explore the editorial cartoons and media influence of the Confederation debate of the 1860s — those cartoonists pulled no punches! I love this small treasure of old Toronto on Bond Street.
  • Noon to 6:00 pm, Kew Garden Park — kids games, live entertainment
  • Noon to 10:00 pm, Centennial Park — ribfest!And fireworks too.
  • 12:30 pm, CHIN International Picnic — a very packed picnic at the CNE’s Better Living Centre
  • 5:00 pm to 9:45 pm, Harbourfront Centre — from Jackie Richardson to the Great Canadian Campfire Song Circle to Martha Wainwright, and much more
  • 10:30 pm, Ontario Place — the must-see fireworks to end the happy day on a glorious note

And if all the isn’t enough of a selection, click on this PDF schedule provided by the city for more options.

Happy Canada Day!!!

Tragedy on Fleet

When I commented on Adam Giambrone’s laissez-faire attitude to streetcar collisions, I had no idea that someone would be killed by one mere days later.

Even when the intersection of Fleet, Bathurst, and Lakeshore is not under construction, it can be confusing to drivers when turning from Bathurst onto Lakeshore or Fleet. Sometimes, one is aiming for Lakeshore and ends up on Fleet. Still, it is shocking that a woman died because there has been an ongoing problem with drivers not understanding quickly where they should aim their cars (fast flowing traffic does not usually allow one to ponder all the signs and make a thoughtful decision as to where to go). Clearly, signage is inadequate.

“The signage is definitely lacking. People who live in the area know better than to turn down there, but people who aren’t necessarily familiar with it, they do it all the time.” (Jason Jeffcock, a local, The Toronto Star 28 June 2008)

“Certainly if part of that investigation indicates that signage is an issue, then we will of course work with the City of Toronto to improve that.” (Brad Ross, TTC spokesperson, The Toronto Star 28 June 2008)

If locals see drivers heading down the wrong way on Fleet many times a day, why does the TTC and Toronto traffic services not know about it? Clearly, there’s a disconnect between the community and officialdom, such that officialdom apparently does not know what’s going on with the streetcars. Even if locals aren’t calling the TTC or their local Councillor, have not streetcar drivers not noticed the cars heading towards them? Have they not filed reports with the TTC? Is this the very first time the police have been made aware of this dangerous intersection? I think not. The lack of communication between locals and officialdom is not the only problem here; so is the lack of response. Clearly, locals are concerned, yet the TTC is continuing to take a wait-and-see attitude. Meanwhile, laissez-faire equals one dead woman, and one badly injured woman.

Epicly Tdotted

Studio Gallery is showcasing the photography of Patrick O’Dell.  O’Dell is a New York based skateboard and fashion photographer. He’s probably best known for his work with Vice Magazine and his photo-journal and Vice Television show called Epicly Later’d.  The  exhibition opens tonight and runs until July 23rd.

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TO ALL MY FRIENDS
The Photography of Patrick O’Dell
Studio Gallery
June 27 to  July 23
294 College Street, 2nd Floor
(Just west of Spadina above The Savannah Room) 

Hot Air, Not Safety

We have an odd City Council. On the one hand, they’re suddenly all hot and bothered about private gun clubs leasing space on city property, which as any thinking Torontonian can tell ya will make diddly squat difference to the gun crime rate in Toronto. On the other, they couldn’t care less that the fire department reports serious safety concerns with the design of the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way. They’re much more concerned that Fire Chief Bill Stewart toes the party line and declares everything hunkey dorey. Of course, if they do act in Torontonians’ best interest and start tackling the issues raised in the fire department’s report, then they may, gasp, have to rethink their vaunted light rail transit design and may even have to modify the strategy and, in the end, admit that subways make much more sense on some city streets. After all if wide St. Clair Avenue cannot fit a dedicated streetcar right-of-way (and I’m not saying it cannot, it’s just that the fear-response by Council suggests it), how can narrower, more crowded streets accommodate them, like Pape Avenue on the proposed Don Mills Road LRT?

Mayor David Miller and Council took an inordinate amount of time to respond to the summer of the gun. He couldn’t even get out of his comfy limo to say some soothing words to the masses. But this late-day hot-air shutting down of gun clubs, while shutting up the Fire Chief, says that nothing has changed since 2005. Miller still can’t figure out how to make this city safer, and even when given a concrete report on how to ensure emergency services can arrive safely and quickly to Torontonians in trouble, he doesn’t want to know about it. This is leadership?

Feuermusik for FREE Tonight, Ensemble Saturday!

Tonight Feuermusik will be performing in-store at one of the best music stores in town, SOUNDSCAPES MUSIC.  The new CD on Standard Form is pretty amazing.  There will be an extra special ensamble performance in support of their CD Release this Saturday as Feuermusik are joined by 11 other musicians.

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Feuermusik (FOY-er-mu-zik)
are Jeremy Strachan (woodwinds) and Gus Weinkauf (percussion)

Feuermusik in-store duo performance at Soundscapes Music
(572 College St.)
June 25th (tonight), 6pm
Free

Saturday June 28 • MUSIC GALLERY PRESENTS
FEUERMUSIK + NEPTUNE
Double bill, with special guest Marilyn Lerner,
solo pianoPart of Suoni per il Toronto
Doors 7pm, concert 8pm
Tickets: $15 regular, $10 advance, member + studentAdvance tickets at http://www.ticketweb.ca 

Streetcar Collisions — No Big Deal

On Monday, June 23, 2008, Adam Giambrone, Chair of the TTC, and a duly elected Toronto Councillor, stated to a Toronto Star reporter that these things happen from time to time. What things, you ask? Streetcar collisions. Really? Until about 8 months ago, I don’t recall ever hearing about a streetcar collision, crash, accident, except for poles coming off wires. Apparently, three collisions in less than a year are not enough to get Mr. Giambrone’s feathers ruffled. After all they only sent four on Saturday, seven on June 11th, and I’m not sure how many in the first instance. Only a dozen or so injuries. No big deal, according to the TTC Chair. Now granted, he’s a young pup, and this being his first adult experience with streetcars, maybe he thinks these sorts of things are normal. But Mr. Giambrone, they’re not.

Hopefully, I, or any of you, will not be in the next streetcar that goes BANG into its fellow streetcar. But rest assured that if you’re injured in such a collision, as long as it happens in the next 2 weeks — Mr. Giambrone’s time frame for getting concerned — then you’ll contribute to him thinking that maybe this is a problem. You’ll probably have to wait for one more collision for him to then decide to tackle said problem.

Meanwhile I continue to be baffled how streetcars can run into each other. Perhaps manual switches may have been a pain, especially in the wind and cold and rain, for drivers to get out and switch, but they seem to have ensured no collisions all these years. Either that or they’re not training drivers very well. Given the diminishing level of service, I suspect a combo of the two. But until Mr. Giambrone gets off his young ass and investigates, we’ll never know.

Toronto the Turtle of High Speed

Awhile ago I saw a PBS documentary on so-called high speed in the US and how American telephone companies could not deliver on high speed because of not replacing copper wiring with fibre optic cables. Tonight I watched CBC’s Marketplace compare high speed services between four of the largest Internet Service Providers in Canada: Rogers, Bell, Telus, and Shaw. The Rogers user came in close to the company’s advertised speed; the Bell user came in dead last, like waayyyyy last. At the end of the program, they recommend going to their website to check your own speedy (or lack thereof) connection.

There they link to Speedtest.net. Speedtest has a nifty graphical interface and aside from the difficulty of clicking on the Toronto pyramid due to it hiding behind the Hamilton one, it was pretty easy to use and to test one’s own broadband connection speed. After testing, you can compare your speed to others using the same ISP, or see the stats for Toronto or Region or Canada.

Let’s just say that we might live in the largest city in Canada, and we might be the capital of Ontario, but we get no respect. The big players, Bell and Rogers, are absent in the top ten list of the speediest downloaders in Toronto — Toronto Hydro’s speed of about 16 Mbps easily crushes anything by the big telecoms — but the Canada stats tell the real sorry tale of Toronto speeds. Toronto is nowhere on the map, and Ontario is pretty dismal. The ocean-bordered provinces do way better. What’s up with that? Toronto is supposed to be the economic hub of the country; we’re supposed to have businesses that require both speedy connections in their skyscrapers as well as for their employees at home; we’re supposed to have upgraded fibre optic cables — after all they crowed about replacing copper wiring eons ago and, as well, haven’t we all been inconvenienced by Bell employees replacing our ancient lines and giving us new lines for the past many years?

Still, the stats paint a different picture. When it comes to broadband high speeds, Toronto is distinctly in the slow lane, except for Toronto Hydro Telecom, which the city just sold off.

Got To Get My Sk8 On…

Had enough of the rain.  Granted we have had some sunny spells here and there but this weekend we have a 60% chance of more of the same, SHOWERS.  Oh well, going to try and get a skate session with crew today and maybe check out the eS game of S.K.A.T.E tomorrow at “Poyner Park” (Scadding Court Skatepark at Dundas and Bathurst).

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eS Game of S.K.A.T.E. – Toronto Eliminations
June 22, 2008
11 am to 8 pm
Scadding Skateboard Park
707 Dundas St. W, Toronto ON 

My Run At This NXNE Thing

Been laying low as lately.  Must have been the extreme heat to cold thing.  Ah no matter, the party starts now (for me), but NXNE (North by North East) already started yesterday.  Even Mayor Miller rocked out and help launch the festivities!

Lots of great bands to check out as always at this year’s NXNE including LADYHAWK, MoneenJulie DoironThe Besnard Lakes, Peanut Butter Wolf, SWERVEDRIVER and Grand Analog are some excellent choices that come to mind.  There will be alternative venues from tents and outdoor music at Public Parks and Parkettes (Dundas Square, Metro Square, Trinity Bellwoods Park, College Park Parkette and more). to celebrity interviews this weekend.  If you’re ready for more check out some NXNE films at the National Film Board or The Royal.

So much rocking to do, so little time… Got to love NXNE!!!

The Missing Art of Weather Forecasting

The weather is weird. Even the forecasters can’t forecast in the moment!

Yesterday, as the meterologists I’m watching are saying it’s plus 30 and humid out, I had the windows open, revelling in the cool air blowing in from the “tornado-watch” winds. Today as my weather forecast is saying the temperature has dropped about 6C to something more comfortable, I stick my head outside and find it’s still hot as Hades out there. The thunder is grumbling threats, and I see evidence of rain on the ground, but where’s the cooling air?

I’m used to weather forecasters not getting it right even 12 hours earlier — night-time forecasts totally off the mark from the morning reality — but not getting it right in the moment?! Sheesh!

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On a totally unrelated note, I seem to be the only one showing up sort of regularly these days here on Toronto Metblogs, yet I’m ready for my summer hiatus from blogging. We are looking for new, energetic authors, and if you want to spout off regularly about Toronto, give us a ding. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep some sort of presence here on the web.

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