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#TOpoli with Sarah Thomson, Adam Vaughan, Andy Byford, and Travis Myers (July 22, 2013)

#TOpoli explores politics, transit, city building, and more more in the city of Toronto with a digital edge and a constant eye on the #TOpoli hashtag while live on the air.

#TOpoli with Sarah Thomson, Monday July 22:
Sarah welcomes guests Councillor Adam Vaughan, TTC CEO Andy Byford, in-studio guest Women’s Post editor Travis Myers to discuss the future on development on Bathurst with or without a Walmart, issues of funding transit, LRTs versus subways in Scarborough, the Downtown Relief Line, and much more.

 

 

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @ThomsonTO and Travis at @TravMyers.

Trinity Bellwoods Lake? This proposal shows us what it would look like

Now that we’ve all finished drying ourselves off from Toronto’s mini-flood, why not take a moment and extol the virtues of a little flooding?

For Mackenzie Keast, urban planner and member of Toronto based collective Distl, the flooding we saw through the city’s highways and valleys was inspiration for a lake in the middle of west end Trinity Bellwoods Park.

In Keast’s vision, complete with rich renderings, the pit area currently used as a dog park (and colloquially known as the Dog Bowl) would be flooded to create a lake in the centre of the park. The concept is reminiscent of New York City’s Central Park Lake and would add an entirely new dimension to activities and recreation for park goers.

“Aside from restoring one of Toronto’s lost aquatic resources and the wildlife that comes with it, a Trinity Bellwoods lake would redefine this already well-used park into a world-class public space,” says Keast. “Both the fun and beauty of water in an environment like this would take the park to the next level, and would bring people to enjoy the magnificence of the lake for themselves.”

A bird’s eye view of Trinity Bellwoods Park with the proposed lake. Click for full size.

Trinity Bellwoods hasn’t always been water-free. The park was once home to Garrison Creek and Crawford Street was once a bridge across it. The creek has long since been buried and now acts as a part of Toronto’s sewer system — but the underground water supply could possibly ease the creation of a man-made lake.

Although the designers and planners at Distl are quick to admit that this is only a preliminary concept and there would be much more work involved in the planning and execution of a dazzling plan like this, it is still worth noting that this is a remarkably fresh and visionary proposal in a city where development can seem to be constantly mired in politicking and city hall squabbles.

Check out the full gallery of renderings of a possible Trinity Bellwoods Lake by Keast below and let us know what you think.

 

A lake in Trinity Bellwoods Park could possibly be an outdoor swimming spot, almost certainly for pool hopping hipsters. Click for full size.

 

The topography of the Dog Bowl lends itself easily to the concept of a small lake. Click for full size.

 

A lake in Trinity Bellwoods would provide additional activities such as paddle boating. Click for full size.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

GAYPOST: Terrifying threat letters sent to Kingston lesbian couple

In a disgusting display of the hatred for gay and lesbian people that still boils under the surface of many communities two letters to a lesbian couple in Kingston surfaced on image sharing website Imgur on Thursday. One would assume that in Canada, a country that has long since legalized sodomy and more recently gay marriage, this level of intolerance would have been all but stamped out — instead we see the same level of vitriol one might expect in Kill-the-Gays Uganda.

The letters include threats, slurs, and a menacing tone that is downright chilling. The letters demand that they [sic] “leave this city, before it is too late, for you” and informs them that this group has been “following” them for “several months.”

The first letter informs them that they will “strike” and that these are not “empty threats.”

Most terrifying of all is the assertion that the couple being harassed should not bring this matter to the police because the hate group has contacts within the Kingston Police.

As of press time the Kingston Police have not responded to our media inquiry on the matter.

The second letter contains explicit threats of chasing gay people with BB guns, lamenting the fact that real guns are difficult to acquire in Canada as they would prefer to use lethal force.

Below is a transcript of the two letters along with the photos of the originals sourced from Imgur. Be warned that these letters contain explicit language and disturbing depictions of hate-based violence.

 

“Lesbian bitches,

We are a small but dedicated group of Kingston residents devoted to removing the scourge of homosexuality in our city. We know you and have been following you for the past several weeks and we wish for you to leave this city, before it is too late, for you. This will be the first of many reminders, each escalating to higher and higher levels of harassment and derailment. Since we have nothing personal against you, only against your sexuality, we suggest you move to more conductive climes like Vancouver, or preferably San Francisco.

Our base, head office in Deep South, has been energized by the recent US Supreme Court decisions legalizing same sex marriage. We feel that unless homosexuals reconvert to heterosexuality that life under this planet, under the umbrella of our Lord Jesus Christ, will become unbearable. Having observed you, we feel that you are committed lesbians unlikely to convert, hence this (first and only) gentle attempt to make you move.

If you do not, and take this letter to police, as we expect, we will know about this, since we have contacts in Kingston Police. Our efforts to relocate you will escalate. We wish to avoid this scenario. We are primarily non-violent, but use violence surgically to persuade people. We hope you understand without us painting to lurid a picture.

In the last several years we have relocated a few people like you from the Kingston area, through a set of incentives and effective persuasion. Please join their ranks ASAP. We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises. These are not empty threats. MOVE, or else!

Thank you for your attention. We await effective action on your part, ASAP> You are not going to be safe at home, office or anywhere else if you ignore this message! However if you take this seriously, and make attempts to move, someone from our organization will contact you to make your relocation easier financially. If, additionally, you persuade another couple like yourselves to move, we will provide them financial assistance and yourselves a bonus for your help. We are a committed bunch and come hell of high water, we will move you out. Best under congenial circumstances, don’t you think?

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our saviour.”

 

The second letter:

“lesbos:

As a followup, we had a group meeting yesterday on how to best deal with you. Some of our younger members want to have some fun chasing “lesbos”. We have brought them some BB guns and today they are doing target practice, so that they can hunt you down. It is regrettable that in Canada, real guns are hard to find, so BB it shall be. I can assure you BB pellets hurt!!

This is thrilling for the youngsters not so much to older members who would rather see serious action rather than playing with BB guns. However youngsters also want to have their fun, and what better targets than you?

Take our previous letter seriously or fun and games will turn into deadly serious action.

Below are the photos of the original letters posted online, click for full size:

 

 

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers for more information on this story as it becomes available.

Toronto has an extreme heat alert — here’s a list of pools open to almost midnight

The city of Toronto, God bless her, has a program in place for extreme heat alerts in the city where a selection of community pools, some indoor and some outdoor, stay open until 11:45pm for us sweaty folks without air conditioning to use to stay cool.

Guess what? We’ve got an extreme heat alert on the go!

Pool hopping hipster purists might prefer to take their midnight dips illegally, but in all fairness, late night pool shenanigans with an active lifeguard on duty sounds like a smarter and safer way to spend an evening with friends.

Here is a list of community pools staying open late with handy dandy maps to find out which one is closest to you for maximum cool down time this evening!

Alex Duff Memorial Pool
779 Crawford Street


Alexandra Park Pool
275 Bathurst Street


Cummer Park Indoor Pool
6000 Leslie Street


Giovani Caboto Outdoor Pool
1369 St. Clair Ave W


McGregor Park Outdoor Pool
2231 Lawrence Ave E


Monarch Park Pool
115 Felstead Ave


Smithfield Outdoor Pool
175 Mount Olive Drive


Sunnyside — Gus Ryder Outdoor Pool
1755 Lake Shore Blvd W


 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost and Travis at @TravMyers.

Win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience

This is your chance to win a great package from the fantastic health and wellness company Wrap Your Body Slim. One lucky winner will receive a basket filled with goodies such as a detox body wrap, facial wrap, a Vemma (vitamins, essential minerals, mangosteen & aloe) sample bottle, a Verve sugar free energy can, a Bod-e Burn can and a Thirst packette. Enter today for your chance to win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, August 13th, at 2 p.m.

 

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Mark Towhey continues to be one of the funniest people on Twitter

Since his dramatic firing from the office of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in the breaking days of the crack scandal former Chief of Staff Mark Towhey has never ceased being an amazing character on Twitter. Here is a roundup of some of our favourite recent tweets from Towhey himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While his job hunt updates may not be quite on the level it will be interesting to see where Towhey winds up using his talents behind the doors of power. While he has stayed relatively mum on the inner workings of Ford’s office at a time when city hall appeared to be melting down to onlookers, he has taken a few opportunities (as you can see above) to give the proverbial finger to his old boss and office, but then he’ll do something like retweet a garbage announcement from the mayoral Twitter account in earnest — that is, unless there is some meta layer of criticism regarding the mayor being ready for a Sunday curbside pickup that is beyond the grasp of this writer.

While we wait to see where this talented tweeter winds up you can follow him at @Towhey.

As always you can follow Women’s Post at @WomensPost and me at @TravMyers.

This might be the greatest Canadian YouTube video of all time

Backstreet’s Back circa 1999 Canada’s Wonderland

Words fail me when I think of ways to describe this. Masterpiece comes to mind. Genius. Art.

From the description of the video as told by uploader Ryan Doucette:

“So here’s the story… For those of you from Southern Ontario, it’s likely that you went to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto during the late 90’s/early 2000’s in the Summertime. I have very fond memories of the roller coasters, waterpark and food at the amusement park. One year, I went with some friends and we came across the new video karaoke; essentially, you pay them some money and they create a blue screen video of you and your friends singing a song. They would broadcast the song, including the videos of whoever was singing at the time, on the outside of the building.They had all the hits at the time, including a number of songs by the Backstreet Boys. While I never had the guts to go in and sing something, we happened to be outside the place when this guy went in for his solo. The park staff were stunned, and my friends and I were on the ground crying with laughter! Needless to say, I wanted this video, and the staff were kind enough to oblige. I spent the rest of my spending money for the day on the VHS copy of his performance, and to this day, I still consider it money well spent. It’s been hiding in a box in my basement for years, and today, I converted it to digital. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you WTF Backstreet’s Back. Enjoy!”

While this man may not know the joy he has brought to this writer and other viewers of the video, he at least knows that he has a wicked kick and some sick moves.

Below are some of my favourie stills from the video.

 

You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers for all the latest in Backstreet Boys dance videos from over a decade ago.

Racist trolls trick KTVU into reading offensive list on TV

Well this is certainly both hilarious and troubling. Troubling because this is obviously racism in action, hilarious because the people at KTVU news casters clearly cannot do their jobs — and also troubling for the same reason.

Today during the noon newscast for KVTU a list of fake names, all thinly veiled English phrases that would be jokes about the crash of Asiana Airlines 214 that has claimed three lives, was read live on air as a confirmed list of the names of the pilots.

Noon news anchor Tori Campbell apologised for the gaffe after a break, but it remains a mystery why nobody realised that the list was not correct and obviously racist. This is the level of incompetence one might expect from Ron Burgundy, not reality.

This kind of schoolyard racism isn’t new, especially in regards to Asian names. You might remember when Rosie O’Donnell famously impersonated Chinese on The View, or when Miley Cyrus made a “goofy” face that is all to familiar to Asian kids who have been bullied because of the shape of their eyes.

The responsibility of our newscasters to fact check the stories they report is important, but in this case apparently not as important as being the first to report something — note that she pumps the “we got it first” cred for her station two times.

Perhaps better fact checking for major news organisations and less of an emphasis on reporting it first — regardless of how accurate it — would do well for American news.

June Rowlands: Toronto’s first female mayor

Do you know who the first female mayor of Toronto was?

June Rowlands was born in 1925. She started her service in the public specter in the 1950s, serving as president of the Association of Women Electors. In the ’70s she was an original member of the National Council of Welfare.

In 1976, she was elected to city council. While on council, she would become the first female TTC commissioner and budget chief, and worked hard to protect the city’s green space and support social housing. In 1978, she became senior alderman and sat on Metro Council.

After an unsuccessful run in federal politics in 1984, Rowlands left her position on city council to take over as Chair of the Police Commission in 1988—yet again being the first woman to take on this role.

She would return to politics in 1991, successfully running for mayor with a campaign focused on the issues of law and order. At the onset of the race, her main competition consisted of two other women—Susan Fish and Betty Disero—and Jack Layton. By the end, it was down to Rowlands vs. Layton. Rowlands would emerge victorious, being elected by a two-to-one margin and becoming Toronto’s 60th mayor.

While serving as mayor, Rowlands worked hard to reduce property taxes while still offering the services needed to make Toronto a world-class city. Unfortunately, she is likely most remembered for supposedly banning the Barenaked Ladies from performing at City Hall, claiming that their name objectified women. Although the decision was actually made by a staff member (Rowlands was out of town), the event would allow her detractors to portray her to the electorate as ‘out of touch.’ A later incident in which Rowlands seemed uninformed about a youth riot on Yonge Street would only give them further ammunition.

After one term as mayor, Rowlands was defeated by Barbara Hall in the 1994 election. She then officially retired from politics.

A true trailblazer, Rowlands opened many doors for women during her political career. A mother of five, she also exemplifies the modern woman, balancing a stressful career and a home life.

In recognition of her dedication to the City of Toronto, in 2004 Davisville Park was renamed June Rowlands Park, a fitting tribute to a woman who worked tirelessly to promote and maintain our park areas.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.