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Kaeleigh Phillips

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King St. redesign plans put transit first

King Street is not only one of the busiest inner-city roads in Toronto, it is one of the most hectic routes in the entire country. When rush-hour hits at the end of a busy work day, walking is often faster than commuting on public transit on this street and it leaves many transit users extremely frustrated.

Luckily, the City of Toronto is taking steps to redesign King St. and make it more transit friendly. The project was announced at the Transit Alliance’s Green Cities breakfast last month.

On Monday, Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and the Toronto planning division presented three possible options in a public consultation that was widely attended by King St. commuters. The improvements are focused around access, reliability, and speed. The project would affect King St., from Dufferin St. to River St., and is set to cost about $200,000.

The first option to focus on transit on King St. is called “Separated Lanes”. This would separate the streetcars from the vehicles by providing one lane for each going northbound and southbound. This is the least popular choice so far because it would continue to allow thorough traffic for vehicles, but only having one lane would slow car commuters substantially. This option also wouldn’t give more room to pedestrians and bike lanes wouldn’t be constructed.

The second option, which has been dubbed the favourite of the planning division, is called “Alternating Loops”. This would include a dedicated transit lane for the streetcars and an alternating lane for vehicles to have one-way access, and would change every block. This alternative would allow for the lane that isn’t being used for one-way car traffic to have pedestrian access and a dedicated cycling lane. The one-way alternating street would also give delivery vehicles and taxis access to King St., but the vehicle would be forced to turn at the end of the block.

The last possibility is called “Transit Promenade” and would focus on pedestrians with widened sidewalks down the entire stretch on King St. The streetcars and vehicles would continue to be mixed mid-block, but thorough access would be forbidden. Vehicles could travel down the street mid-block and would have to turn right at the end of each block. This would allow for pedestrians and cyclists to consistently access the roadway.

Once the public consultations are complete and a specific plan is chosen, Keesmaat and the planning division will seek city council approval in July and would begin a pilot project in the fall.  Currently Keesmaat pointed out that cars are given 64 per cent of the road on King St. and only move 16 per cent of Toronto commuters, which is not simply not logical. The city will also complete a ‘modelling study’ while they complete the public consultations, which will monitor traffic on nearby routes to ensure that the plan to redesign King St. doesn’t cripple commutes in other parts of the busy downtown area.

Redesigning King St. to become more focused on transit users and pedestrians will get people moving in a way that doesn’t put vehicles first. This is better for the environment, moving mass amounts of people, and is the best way to get everyone home at the end of the day. It will be exciting to walk down King St. after the pilot project is launched, whichever option is chosen.

Time to get naked and comfortable with your partner

Do you find yourself trying to cover up when naked in bed with your partner? Are you racing to put clothes on after the shower? Is being in the nude nearly un-‘bare’-able? You aren’t alone.

Many women dislike being unclothed in front of their partners, and this is ultimately damaging to confidence in a relationship. Women are surrounded by air-brushed lingerie ads of women who are perfect looking, and this leads to damaging self-criticism. This discomfort needs to be destroyed. It is time to throw off the clothes and learn to love that naked body for exactly how beautiful it is. Feeling comfortable being naked in front of your partner will not only strengthen your relationship, it will ultimately make you feel better about yourself.

Embracing the nude isn’t a process that will happen overnight. It takes consistent effort and, if you work at it, slowly but surely it will become completely natural to hang out in the nude with your partner. Start by confronting your fear head-on, the dreaded mirror. After a shower, instead of avoiding your reflection, take a look. Instead of glancing at yourself with critical eyes, try to see what your partner sees. What is beautiful about your sexy body? What makes your feminine self desirable? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and self-criticism is not helpful. High self-esteem starts with yourself, and meeting that beautiful woman in the mirror for a post-shower ego-boost will adjust you to being naked and increase confidence.

Taking care of your body will promote a healthier relationship with your body. This does not mean develop a punishing regiment for daily exercise, but instead should inspire you to learn how to love your body without being fixated on trying to change it. How about a massage or even treating yourself to a manicure and pedicure? Treating your body as a temple will promote a sense of much-needed self-love. Exercise is important and creates a healthy self-image, so challenge yourself to move your body in ways that feel sexy and fun. Do you like to dance? Put on some music and bust a move! Do you enjoy hula hooping or swimming? Grab a hoop or jump in the pool! Moving the body in a fun way makes exercise enjoyable and will make being naked even more fun.

After some serious self-love exercises, it is time to test the waters and try to get naked with your partner. If you are still feeling nervous, enact a ritual to feel more confident like putting a bit of mascara on or putting coconut lotion on your body. If the lighting feels too bright, use a lamp, candles or softer lighting. It creates sexy mood lighting and will make your partner very excited. Remember, your partner wants to be there with you and your beautiful naked self. Men aren’t critically assessing your stretch marks or blemishes, but are simply excited to be with a naked woman they love. Good men are not looking at the flaws, but instead are looking at the woman beneath them. Try and see yourself through the eyes of desire, you will look pretty dang good.
Being naked with a partner will ultimately forge a more intimate relationship, with the added bonus of shaking up your sex life. Be brave, and love your naked body. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and that is precisely what makes women so beautiful. Embrace the body you were given and make it your temple — if only for your own benefit.

Toronto 2017 budget continues to rely heavily on property owners

The executive committee pushed forward the proposed 2017 $10.5 billion budget on Tuesday, and leaves many in Toronto divided on how satisfied they are with the results.

Here are the highlights:

The budget includes a two per cent increase in residential property taxes, will allocate $80 million more to TTC, and $37 million to  Toronto Community Housing. The city will also be providing 200 more shelter beds this year and Mayor John Tory has thrown his support behind supporting more daycare subsidy spots — there are currently 18,000 children on the daycare subsidy waitlist— though provincial aid is needed to help foot the bill.  Unfortunately, recreation fees will still be increasing.

Other revenue tools that have been approved include a hotel tax of four per cent (10 per cent for short-term rentals) that is expected to bring in an extra $5.5 million in revenue. There is also a plan to harmonize the Ontario Land Transfer Tax with the Municipal Land Transfer Tax, which is estimated to raise $77 million.

The city will have to use $87.8 million from reserves to make up the rest of the budget.

The property tax hike, hotel, and municipal land-transfer tax were met with criticism by many Toronto citizens because these revenue tools put even more pressure on locals to meet the budget needs of the city. Relying so heavily on the inflated housing market is also an unstable revenue measure because if the housing bubble pops, the municipal land transfer tax and property tax rates could financially destroy homeowners.

Instead of consistently relying on property owners to pay for Toronto’s services year after year, more creative revenue tools need to be adopted in future city budgets. Road tolls, recently shot down by Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals, is a solution that would directly fund transit by charging not only the 905 commuters coming into the city for work every day, but all Torontonian downtown drivers a small fee. Using road tolls as a revenue tool would relieve pressure on property tax hikes and raise much needed funds for transit and community housing that desperately need to be built.

The budget fills gaps on some city services, but falls short of adequately shortening the affordable housing waitlist, not to mention many other items on the agenda that desperately need funding.

Women in History: Viola Desmond

In honour of Black History Month, Women’s Post wanted to take a moment to honour a woman who was not afraid to take a stand by taking a seat in the ‘white’s only’ section of a local Nova Scotia theatre; Viola Desmond.

Desmond was a successful businesswoman in Halifax and the first black woman to set up a hair salon in Nova Scotia in 1937. On Nov. 8, 1946, she was traveling to Sydney to sell her popular line of hair products and her car broke down in New Glasgow. Desmond decided to see a movie at the Roseland Theatre and, after requesting to sit in the lower level of the theatre, was subsequently given a ticket on the balcony. She thought it was a mistake and returned to the booth to exchange her ticket, only to be told by the cashier: “I’m not permitted to sell downstairs tickets to you people.” Desmond decided to sit in the lower level seats anyway, and was subsequently arrested for doing so.

She spent the night in jail and was charged for tax evasion. The argument? Balcony tickets charged an extra penny in taxes.  Desmond was convicted and forced to pay a fine for $26, which was quite a lot of money at that time. She later sought support from the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP) and made two unsuccessful appeals to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Desmond was posthumously pardoned on April 15, 2010 and has been nominated and chosen to be on the $10 Canadian bill, which will come into effect as of 2018.

Desmond was born on July 6, 1914 into a large family that was active in the community. Her parents were James Albert and Gwendolin Irene Davis, with her father black and her mother white, unusual for the time. Desmond was raised to believe she could achieve her dreams and set out to open a beauty salon once she reached adulthood. Due to her heritage, she wasn’t allowed to train in Halifax to become a beautician and attended school in Montreal, Atlanta City and New York. She then returned to Halifax and opened a hair salon there.

Desmond went on to set up the Desmond School of Beauty Culture, which trained black women who weren’t allowed to attend other schools. She provided women with skills to open their own businesses and further provided jobs for black women in their own communities. Desmond also began Vi’s Beauty Products, a line of hair products for black women. Eventually, she opened a combined barbershop and hairdressing salon with her husband, Jack Desmond on Gottingen Street.

After the failed attempts to appeal her case against Roseland Theatre, Desmond closed her business and enrolled in business school in Montreal. She died in 1965 in New York at 50 years old and never received a pardon while she was living from the Canadian government.

Desmond beat out thousands of contenders who were also nominated to be on the $10 bill, and her name being honoured with such high esteem is well deserved. She stood up for what was right when the stakes were high, and proceeded to pursue justice even when she could not achieve her goal. Desmond is truly a heroine because of her utter refusal to simply accept a blatant act of racism and her willingness to use an unjust legal system to make real change.

That is a woman worth celebrating.

Share with friends: vegan spinach dip with homemade beet chips

Winter blues got you down? What better way to cheer yourself up then have a few friends over for a delicious vegan snack? Everyone loves a good shareable!

One of my all-time favourite dips happens to be full of iron and antioxidants; the classic spinach dip. Vegan-izing this smooth vegetable dip is easy, and it will make it even healthier. If you go even further to pair it with beet chips — suddenly it is a vegetable party! No need to worry about over-indulgence!

Spinach Dip:

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cups baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
2–3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup roasted and unsalted cashews
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup nondairy mayonnaise (try Vegenaise)
1 (12-oz.) container organic silken or soft tofu
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. finely ground black pepper
2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 can whole water chestnuts, diced

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add olive oil. Add the spinach and garlic and sauté until wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Tilt the pan and drain off the additional liquid.
  • In a high-powered blender or food processor, place the cashews, almond milk, and lemon juice and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the non-dairy mayonnaise, silken tofu, sea salt, pepper, and onion. Pulse about 7 to 10 times. Add the cooked spinach and blend until slightly green but not fully incorporated.
  • Fold in the water chestnuts. Transfer the entire mixture to a heat-proof baking dish. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes, or until warmed through.
  • Serve in a bowl

Beet Chips:

Simply cut the beets into thin slices, drizzle lightly in olive or coconut oil and sea salt, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes until crispy. Enjoy with the spinach dip!

 

Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating women

Valentine’s Day is often about separating into couples or honouring your own self-love and independence, but this year I challenge every woman to try something a little different. Instead of giving power to the things that separate women from one another, whether it be by being with our partners or on our own, let’s use the holiday of love to begin building a community of women helping women. Let’s build a community of love, if you will.

January has been a painful month with a megalomaniac fool running the show down south (do I even need to mention his name?) and a relatively silent leader up north, who isn’t saying much to the big bully downstairs. It is a tough time to be a woman, a minority, a member of the media, or anything else other than an old white man. To add salt to the wound, the sun is rarely out and everyone is sick with the cold or the flu. Honestly, what is a girl to do?

In times of great trial, it is necessary to resist spiralling into a great depression by being positive. In an effort to be optimistic, women should use Valentine’s Day as an act of solidarity! Whether it be hanging out with a few friends, or getting your grandmother, mother, and sister to all go out for dinner with you, celebrate the collective community of femininity.

This is not the year for Valentine’s Day to be a comparison between those who have a boyfriend and those who don’t. Doesn’t that seem like such a blasé past-tense way to celebrate a holiday created precisely to celebrate love? By separating women into those two camps, it limits our potential to collectively unite and feel empowered and loved with each other. Let’s continue the momentum from the Women’s Marches around the world and foster a true sense of community and love. There are simply too many women who are not finding valuable connections with other women and are instead desperately lonely and wanting of men on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, which traditionally focus on monogamy.  Instead, use Valentine’s Day as yet another reason to enjoy the beautiful women in your life. Our women communities matter too and deserve as much time and space when it comes to celebrating love.

I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year by looking at my beautiful daughter and revering in her exquisite and effeminate existence. I will be celebrating my mother’s strength and sage wisdom, and thanking her for teaching me how a woman with integrity acts. I will be surrounded by various women influences who have stood by over years of tears and doubts, celebrations and all the mess in between.

Celebrate women on Valentine’s Day. I mean after all, who will be beside you laughing and reminiscing when you are old and bony in the nursing home?

Outlook for 2017 Toronto housing market is red hot

The Toronto housing market is one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country, and it appears as if prices will continue to rise in 2017. This housing bubble in Canada is putting substantial pressure on people who are desperate to find housing — and little is being done to change it.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) keeps track of all the Canadian housing markets and releases alerts when the cost of housing in a given city is increasing at a faster rate than the rate of average income. In October 2016, CHMC put the entire country on its first ever red alert, mostly due to the spill-over effects of Toronto and Vancouver’s housing markets. Vancouver has taken steps to cool their market by implementing a foreign buyer tax, but Toronto has yet to implement any great changes. Frankly, Toronto is in hot water and without government intervention soon, housing will rise an extra 10 to 16 per cent this year.

In December 2016, an average house in Toronto was $730,432 and if the averages were to rise to the anticipated 2017 levels, a home could become a whopping $825,000. This prices most people out of the market, and leaves many without an option of a permanent residence. The Royal Bank of Canada completed a Canadian Housing Health Check for 2017, and highly recommended the government step in to cool off Toronto’s housing market. Nothing has been done as of yet.

Recently, the City of Toronto road toll proposal was abolished by the Ontario Liberals, under the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne, which leaves the municipal housing market as one of the only ways for Toronto to make money for city needs. This puts the already-pressured housing market in a frightening position, as higher taxes in the form of a proposed harmonized land transfer tax or increased property taxes would raise costs even further within the Toronto boundary. Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) released research on Tuesday emphasizing that any added tax pressure to the city’s market would push up prices in the GHTA further because the tax wouldn’t be in these boundaries. It could also impact the rental market negatively.

In order to afford a house, co-buying is growing in popularity, as people come together to buy a home. Though mortgage companies are stricter when it comes to co-buying with non-family members, putting funds into one large pot is a creative solution to being able to purchase a home. It also fosters a shared sense of community and lowers the burden of financing a home with an over-inflated price.

The housing bubble will eventually pop and it will have devastating consequences on homeowners if interest rates sky-rocket. There is a lot of danger in having high home prices and low interest rates, including selling to people who can’t realistically afford what they are purchasing. Instead of continuing the upward housing cost trend, the government needs to intervene and cool the market. People deserve a home and places like Toronto and Vancouver should be accessible to all, not just the select few. The city may benefit off housing in the short-term, but an inflated market will have nasty side-effects and affordable housing needs to become a central priority on a municipal, provincial and federal level.

How to survive planning a child’s birthday party

Planning a child’s birthday party should be fun and easy, right? It is, after all the, time to celebrate another year of a kid’s life with 10 to 20 screaming mini friends while trying to balance allergies and make sure your child’s dreams come true. Alright, perhaps not so easy, but with a plan in place, and with the help of this survival birthday how-to guide, children’s birthday party planning will be a breeze.

Though birthday planning can be overwhelming, it will become easier once you simplify it and start at step one: location, location, location. Where are you having your ultimate kid’s party? There are many options ranging from the movie theatre to a gymnastics centre or a more classic home party at your house. It can be more difficult to plan a winter party because the outdoors obviously won’t work, but here are a few indoor birthday party ideas for winter babies:

  • Indoor Trampoline party
  • Beading studio for jewelry party
  • Art studio for pottery making
  • Indoor playground
  • Gymnastics centre
  • Rock Climbing
  • Baking yummy treats party
  • Homemade Pizza Party
  • Craft and Arts party

If you are on a budget and can’t afford the $250 plus fees at these expensive venues, opt for a party at home or a room in the local community centre to save on costs. Through the City of Toronto for example, there is an option to rent a room for an arts or baking party, or to rent out the gym for a more sports-themed extravaganza.  For my daughter, we decided to do an arts-themed party at the community centre because we are short on space for a group of children at the house.

After the location and time are booked, it is time to decide how many kids to invite. This is a difficult decision because it is hard to think about disappointing kids that aren’t invited. On the other hand though, if too many kids are invited the costs will go through the roof and planning it will become very time-consuming. Most parties would include about 10-15 kids, because not all the invitees will be able to attend due to other weekend recreational activities. Make sure to include a note in the invitations about letting the host parents know about allergies when people RSVP.

Budgeting for various party expenses is imperative to ensure that overspending doesn’t occur. Use an excel sheet or google doc to keep track of expenses and to organize what is left to be done prior to the party. Try to get friends and family to help out instead of paying venue staff. People love kids’ birthday parties because, frankly, children are hilarious and cute when they are excited. By getting family and friends to help on the big day, it will make things go smoothly and then the parents have some adult companions to enjoy the festivities with.

Last but not least, have fun! There will be points of stress and it is nerve-racking thinking about how your child’s birthday party adds up compared to their classmates’ parties, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that your child is smiling and happy.

What are your survival tips for planning a child’s birthday party? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

What is the legality of President Trump’s immigration ban?

The past eleven days in the United States has been nothing short of shocking, with several executive orders reeking of racism, xenophobia and megalomania passed by newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump that have turned many people’s lives upside down.

Trump’s executive order to ban immigration has suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely, and blocked entry of people from seven countries; Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, for 90 days. The decision has rocked the globe and has resulted in complete chaos on the U.S borders since the order was signed on Jan. 27.

The legality of the decision to ban citizens from Muslim-majority countries has been widely questioned by legal officials in the United States, and it appears that the order contravenes at least two constitutional amendments and may also be violating international human rights laws. On Saturday night, federal judge Ann Donnelly from Brooklyn blocked the order from sending people back to their home countries in the airport by claiming that it infringed upon Due Process and Equal Protection under the United States Constitution.

Protection for Refugees under the constitution

Due Process is covered under the fifth and fourteenth amendment and prevents against denying people entry who have valid visas. Equal protection should protect refugees from being sent back to unsafe conditions that threaten their safety and livelihood. Similar rulings were issued in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington. The Department of Homeland Security agreed to comply with rulings, but didn’t release detainees or comply with the ruling right away.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York is leading one of the biggest lawsuits on the issue and is claiming that the Establishment Clause in the constitution indicates that one religious denomination cannot be preferred over another. Though Trump’s order does not officially target Muslims, it does establish that it would help citizens of ‘minority religions’ in the seven listed countries, all of which have a Muslim majority. This indicates that the order attacks the Muslim majority, and thus violates the Establishment Clause.

After the executive order was granted, US Attorney General Sally Yates questioned the legality of the immigration ban and refused to direct staff in the justice department to execute the order. She was subsequently fired on Monday.

International Human Rights Laws

The ban may even contravene international human rights law as pointed out by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. The refugee convention, which is a United Nations treaty signed by the U.S., also prohibits discrimination against refugees on the basis of religion. Though the President of the United States is able to suspend entry to ‘any class of aliens’, a 1965 revision of law also indicates that people cannot be discriminated against based on their race, sex, nationality, place of birth or residence.

The best chance of success to repeal the immigration ban is for the Supreme Court to define the executive order as unconstitutional. This stands a good chance of being granted due to several counts of unconstitutionality that have been brought up by legal agencies across the country. The decision really comes down to the power of the law as distinctly separate from politics and if judicial branch is capable of being a supposedly impartial legal system. This is arguably the only chance the United States has to protect itself from megalomaniacs like President Trump.

The fate of many lives is at stake and one can only hope that the law is, indeed, just.

Vegan Soba Noodle Bowl with the Ultimate Peanut Sauce

On a cold snowy day, a delicious and filling noodle bowl hits the spot and leaves you feeling warm and satisfied.

LoveWildLiveFree, a vegan recipe and lifestyle blog by Avra Epstein, brings you a soba noodle bowl with peanut sauce that is full-bodied and tasteful. It’s absolutely addicting, but you can eat it without the guilt of consuming something unhealthy. A win-win in my opinion.

Soba noodles are a delicious alternative to regular pasta because they are made of buckwheat flour, a grain that is protective against heart disease and full of antioxidants. Soba noodles are also a great source of protein. Epstein also offers coconut sauce, also known as coconut aminos, as an alternative to the typical soya sauce.

Vegan Soba Noodle Bowl

Ingredients:


2 tbsp organic unrefined, virgin coconut oil (or water if you’d like to make this oil free)

1 package of Soba Noodles (about 8.8 oz)

1 onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 + 1/2 cups broccoli, cut into pieces (you can include the stems)

3 – 4 baby bok choy

fresh garlic and ginger, minced, to taste

Sesame seeds, to garnish

Pink Himalayan salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

(use organic ingredients)

makes 2 to 3 servings

Instructions:

1. Cook soba noodles according to the directions provided on the package. In general, they should only take about 3 to 5 minutes to cook once the water has boiled. Once cooked, strain and keep warm until serving.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil (or water if you’d like to make this oil free, you may have to add extra while you cook as needed).

3. Add onion, minced ginger and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until soft, stirring often. Add a tiny pinch of salt to draw out the liquid – this helps the onions to soften.

4. Prepare the baby bok choy by trimming and discarding any rough bottoms. Separate the leaves, rinse, and pat dry.

5. Add bok choy, peppers and broccoli to the pan and continue to cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked through. Season with pink Himalayan salt and ground pepper to taste.

6. Place noodles into serving dishes and top with pan fried veggies and peanut sauce (recipe below). Garnish with sesame seeds.

The Ultimate Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 + 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used a natural Sriracha sauce)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tablespoon coconut seasoning sauce or soy sauce

1/4 cup filtered water

(use organic ingredients)

Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients except for the water in a small mixing bowl.

2. Add 1/4 cup filtered water and mix. Add more water if needed until the sauce is the desired consistency.

Orignal recipe can be found here: Vegan Soba Noodle Bowl with the Ultimate Peanut Sauce