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Toronto in Review: November

Occupy lives another day; Condos trump shelters; Support for the 'Ring of Fire' Goes Down in Flames

by Toronto Media Co-op

Toronto in Review: November

Occupy Toronto narrowly avoided eviction today when it was granted an stay pending a hearing.  The hearing will determine whether or not city bylaws trump the constitutional right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.  Mayor Ford and many of his allies on council have backed the eviction, while a number of councils have called on him to stop it.

Meanwhile, international hacking group ‘Anonymous’ has threatened to take Toronto off the internet, should the city go through with plans to evict the Occupy Toronto protesters from St. James Park.  Ford stated he remains committed to evicting the protesters despite taking the threat seriously.

Eva's Phoenix youth shelter, at King and Bathurst, is being forced to move to allow a condo developer to build condos.  The move is on hold until the shelter can find a new location.

The Board of Toronto Community Housing Corporation has proposed selling over 700 single family homes in order to put the money towards repairing units.  While the issue has yet to go to City committees, if approved by City council, the proposal would still have to be approved by the Provincial government.  The current Ontario housing wait list has over 150,000 people on it with wait times in excess of 10 years to get into social housing.

The City of Toronto's attempt to cut the budget deficit took a bad turn recently when the number of City employees taking voluntary buyouts was much lower than anticipated.  1,140 city staffers applied for buyouts, but the City could only offer 230 due to staff requirements or protected jobs.  

Women Speak Out, a program trying to get marginalized women into positions of power, was profiled in the Toronto Star.  The program is being run by four agencies including Voices from the Street and Status of Women Canada.

The president of bike share service 'Bixi' has resigned after difficulties in securing public funding. In May, Montreal's approved loans to cover Bixi's deficit but the City charter forbids giving city loans to commercial interests. Bixi has reported a 3 million dollar deficit this year. The Bixi bike share service was introduced in Toronto last year.

A Toronto cyclist has been killed on city roads in what is being called a 'preventable' collision. Jenna Morrison was struck and killed when she was pulled under a truck.  The pregnant yoga instructor was on her way to pick up her 5 year old son from school when she became trapped under the truck.  The federal NDP has introduced a private member's bill calling for all heavy trucks to be equipped with wheel guards, which has been mandatory in Europe for more than two decades.

The Toronto Transit Commission has approved a new advertising contract with Patisson Outdoor Advertising which could see the sale of subway naming rights, advertisements on vehicle ceilings, and more streetcars and buses wrapped in vinyl ads. The 27 million dollar per year deal will give Patisson exclusive rights to sell ads on the transit system until 2023.  Pattison Outdoor Advertising is owned by Jim Patisson, one of the richest people in Canada.

The Matawa First Nations announced their decision to withdraw support for development in the Ring of Fire area of Northern Ontario. Talks between Chiefs and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) broke down after First Nations’ efforts to obtain a Joint Review Panel Environmental Assessment proved to be unsuccessful. According to the Matawa Chiefs, the manner in which the government is proceeding with development will destroy their traditional way of life, extinguish their treaty rights and destroy their homelands and children’s futures.

Ontario's highest court has ruled that police involved in an SIU investigation are not permitted "to have lawyers vet their notes or to assist them in preparation of their notes." The ruling came in response to the death of Levi Shaeffer.  Schaeffer was shot and killed by an OPP officer in 2009, but the exact details of his death may never be known due to the fact that the officer who shot him and three other officers were instructed by a supervisor not to write their notes unil they had spoken to a lawyer, only doing so two days later.  


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