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    0 0

    Toronto has been borderline-obsessed with the idea of a figurative "winter wonderland" in recent years, hence the soaring popularity of idyllic skating trails and jam-packed holiday lights festivals.

    Now, as of Wednesday morning, you can look forward to hitting up a literal winter Wonderland — as in Canada's Wonderland, during the winter.

    The amusement park just announced an "all-new immersive holiday experience" called WinterFest, set to take place in late November and December.

    Like Halloween Haunt, WinterFest will see Wonderland completely transform in the spirit of the season — minus all the spooky monsters, plus a ton of Christmas trees.

    A press release announcing the new attraction calls it "an enchanted winter wonderland complete with uniquely themed areas, dozens of Christmas trees, millions of spectacular lights, ice-skating, live
    entertainment, savoury treats, crafts and hands-on family activities."

    Guests will be able to skate across the park's iconic fountain on International Street (it'll be known as 'Snowflake Lake' for the season) and enjoy live, holiday-themed performances every evening.

    A daily lighting ceremony is also scheduled to take place for a 70-foot-tall Christmas tree with more than 40,000 ornaments.  Gourmet hot chocolate, peppermint fudge, turkey and other holiday treats will also be present.

    "This is the largest capital investment we’ve made in our park since opening," said Wonderland General Manager Norm Pirtovshek in today's release, which also announced the launch of a massive new dive coaster called Yukon Striker.

    "We're excited to offer world-class thrills and a truly unique
    experience for our guests next year," he said. "WinterFest will be a holiday event unique to Canada as our park transforms into a winter wonderland."

    More like Canada's Winter Wonderland™, am I right?

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    Each month, Grocery Gateway will be partnering with restaurants in Assembly Chef’s Hall for a unique Happy Hour dining event. Want to attend? We're giving away tickets to the August 22 event along with some gift cards.

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    A popular, family-run cat café in midtown Toronto has closed its doors to the public following several high-profile incidents in which people with disabilities say they were denied entry.

    Meow Cat Café, a Korean pet supply store and coffee shop on Mount Pleasant, first came under fire on Friday when Global News published the story of 16-year-old Jacob Trossman's failed attempt to visit their nine friendly cats.

    Trossman, who uses a wheelchair, had planned on going to the café for his birthday last weekend, but was told upon arrival that he could not come in on account of a no-wheelchair policy.

    The shop's owners allegedly said at the time that they had special permission from the government to refuse wheelchairs — despite all existing accessibility laws— as wheels could pose a threat to their in-house felines.

    Co-owner Erica Yun, who opened Meow with her mother, Helen, in 2016, later told Global that one of her cats had been injured by a wheelchair in the past.

    She also said that Toronto Police had given her the right to refuse customers, that her priority is the cats (all of which she personally owns) and that she would rather close the café than allow wheelchairs inside.

    Trossman's mother described the move as discriminatory — and she was far from the only person who would do so, as Meow Cat Café would soon find out.

    People on Twitter and Facebook started decrying the cafe's owners as ableist almost as soon as Global's story came out.

    Paralympian Jeff Adams, who lives in Toronto, took it upon himself to visit the business on Friday afternoon after learning of Trossman's experience.

    Adams, also a law student, documented his visit in a series of videos on Twitter, reporting that the shop's owner "took all the cats and three patrons into the back and closed the doors" after he came in.

    A video shot and uploaded to Facebook by Adams' partner, Maggie Dort, shows one of the café owners arguing with Adams over accessibility laws.

    Even as cats moosh against his wheelchair and try to jump into his lap, the younger owner swats them away so Adams can't touch the animals.

    At one point, an older woman comes out from behind the cash register and snatches Dort's phone from her hands. The younger woman proceeds to call 911 and explain that her cats aren't trained to follow wheels.

    "We stayed for quite a while longer but no police ever showed up," wrote Dort in the caption of her Facebook post. "I wonder why."

    On Saturday, midtown residents started sharing photos on Facebook and Twitter of a sign posted to the door of Meow Cat Café.

    The two-page-long letter says that, because of Global's news report, "people with wheelchairs came in obstinately" on Friday and injured "many cats" who went to the hospital.

    "Those people said that they could do whatever they want to do, and then continue to use the wheelchairs, even though the cats keep going under the wheels!" reads the note.

    "As a result, the cats are in a state of too much stress and anxiety," it continues. "We don't know these cats will ever come back in this danger."

    In their letter, the women also accuse Global News reporter Matthew Bingley of circulating false facts, failing to tell the truth, and disregarding them because "we are weak women and Asians who don't speak English well."

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Meow Cat Café appears to be closed. Calls to the store are going unanswered. The store's owners have yet to respond to any requests for comment.

    Meanwhile, their Facebook page is filling up with horrendous reviews from people who disagree with what many are calling an illegal and discriminatory wheelchair policy.

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    For this year’s CNE, the world’s largest indoor silk lantern exhibition has arrived in Toronto.

    The exhibit contains lanterns made by 90 Chinese artists out of 4,000 metres of synthetic silk and 55 metres of silk, illustrating the theme of the Silk Road through the people and places along it.

    lantern festival

    In a summer that’s been full of heat warnings in Toronto, a little time indoors in the dark surrounded by magical lanterns could be just what the doctor ordered.

    lantern festival

    We already know Toronto is obsessed with light art thanks to other festivals that have previously enjoyed success during less outdoors-y months.

    lantern festival

    The lanterns depict scenes from history and mythology, subjects ranging from Greek myth to fairy tales, ancient Chinese lore and wild animals.

    lantern festival

    It took 60 days just to construct the lanterns, and then another 60 for them to be transported from China to the CNE in eight shipping containers.

    lantern festival

    The constructions range from around the height of an average adult human to those towering up to the convention centre ceiling. Some “flying” lanterns are even suspended from the roof.

    lantern festival

    There’s even a simple maze, guarded by a lantern version of the legendary Minotaur.

    lantern festival

    Just 11 artists actually assembled the exhibit here in town, which will remain on display in the Enercare Centre for the duration of the CNE, from August 17 to September 3.

    lantern festival

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    The best Vietnamese restaurants have pho, spring rolls, and bún cha down to a science. There's plenty of things to enjoy about Vietnamese cuisine, from the clean, complex flavours of a rare pho broth to the savoury fish sauce. At the end of the day, though, cheap prices top it all.

    Here are the best Vietnamese restaurants in Toronto. 

    3 - Golden Turtle

    Also known as Pho Rua Vang, this old Ossington classic has been a favourite for years in large part to its fast service, great prices and side patio. It's cash-only here so come prepared to fork out the dollar bills their famous beef phos.
    4 - Pho Tien Thanh

    Sitting on Ossington just south of Golden Turtle is its biggest competitor, Pho Tien Thanh. There's no patio here, but a meal in this small pink-walled establishment is guaranteed to be generously portioned and super well-priced.
    11 - Vit Beo

    It seems all the hip Vietnamese spots are snack bars these days. Open into the late morning most days, this Bloorcourt eatery has decked-out (and pricier) takes on standard items like congee and fried shrimp, served alongside cocktails.
    8 - Saigon Star

    These guys are known for one thing: curry crab. Nestled in a Highway 7 plaza, Saigon is definitely more of a dinner spot than a quick place to drop by for lunch. Everything here is good for sharing. Highly recommended: roti, to go with all that curry.
    6 - Pho Linh

    If you're a self-proclaimed pho enthusiast, a visit to this Brockton Village Vietnamese spot is a must. You'll find fresh ingredients in their bowls of satisfying soup noodles and crave-worthy fried spring rolls.
    7 - Pho Metro

    A Scarborough fave, this humble plaza shop on Lawrence East has some of the best pho broth around. I recommend taking a sip before dousing your noodles with hoisin and hot sauce. Expect a lineup on weekends: their vermicelli is also worth a try.
    9 - Pho Hung

    Follow the laughing cow marquee into this Chinatown institution for hearty bowls of broth filled with rice noodles. The cash-only Pho Hung has been around for years. Step into this corner establishment for a sunny meal in a well-lit restaurant.
    10 - Hanoi 3 Seasons

    People tend to forget about the east side as a destination for good Vietnamese food. This restaurant specializes in North Vietnamese with good quality ingredients in a low key setting. They also have a cute backyard patio.
    5 - Pinky's Ca Phe

    This intimate snack bar on Little Italy is definitely not an old school joint, but it has all the vibes of a 70's era hole-in-the-wall. By the same people behind Hanmoto and OddSeoul, you won't find regular items like plain ol' pho but you'll get something far fancier than that.

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    Food coming to the CNE this year give the people what they want: gold, rainbows, ramen, Cheetos and of course, lots and lots of deep-frying. Though the priciest item this year may top out at a hundred bucks, the best thing about the CNE has always been that there are so many options. If you don’t want to go big ,you don’t have to go home.

    Here’s the most outrageous food coming to the CNE for 2018.

    $100 Gold Burger

    A brioche bun covered in 24-karat gold is the crowning glory of this burger already fit for a king, with two beef patties, cheese, smashed avocado, onion rings, and of course bacon (seeing as this offering comes from Bacon Nation).

    cne food

    The Heartbreak S’mores

    Fried chicken is sandwiched between brioche buns, dipped in chocolate, then topped with graham crackers and icing sugar for this epic summer sandwich from Heartbreak Chef.

    cne food

    Luck Struck Cheesecake on a Stick

    Cake Shack is putting a whole piece of cheesecake on stick, bringing the sophisticated dessert down a peg with the child-like topping of Lucky Charms.

    cne food

    Rainbow KitKat Crepe

    The Royal Crepe is turning out crepes with a technicolour batter rather than the usual ordinary old beige, stuffed with banana, strawberries, nutella, KitKat and finished off with a scoop of your choice of ice cream.

    cne food

    Hong Kong Style French “Toast” Curds

    King of Curds puts a twist on the typical artery-clogging deep-fried cheese curds by topping them with peanut butter, condensed milk, and a pat of butter to evoke over-the-top Chinese dessert toasts.

    cne food

    Dutch “Luv” Puffs

    These puffs are actually decked-out versions of Dutch poffertjes, fluffy little pancakes about the size of a loonie. They’re normally topped with nothing more than butter and powdered sugar, but here they get taken to the next level with condensed milk, shaved coconut and pineapple.

    cne food

    Korean Fried Frog Legs

    There’s nothing swampy about this rendition of frog legs with a sticky sauce. The sweet and spicy blend has the meat of this amphibian tasting just as juicy as any Korean fried chicken.

    cne food

    Fettuccine al Bowlo

    Eat the bowl too with this take on a classic, creamy fettuccine alfredo inside a bread bowl from Eat My Bowls.

    cne food

    Thrilla in Manila

    Yatai is stepping up their ramen burger offerings this year by sticking healthy hunks of spam in between signature fried ramen buns.

    cne food

    Concha with Ice Cream

    Pancho’s is bringing the Latin flair by making an iconic pastry into an ice cream sandwich. They’re also filling their legendary churros with cheese this year.

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    Home sales activity continued to grow stronger across the country last month, according to new report from The Canadian Real Estate Association, thanks in large part to figures in the GTA.

    CREA reported on Wednesday that national home sales had risen 1.9 per cent in July of 2018, marking the third monthly increase in a row for Canada and Toronto alike.

    "Led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), more than half of all local housing markets reported an increase sales activity from June to July," reads the real estate association's report

    "The national average price is heavily skewed by sales in the [Greater Vancouver Area] and GTA, two of Canada's most active and expensive markets," it continues.

    "Excluding these two markets from calculations cuts close to $100,000 from the national average price, trimming it to just under $383,000."

    The actual (not seasonally-adjusted) amount of Canada-wide sales activity was actually down in July, year over year,  but analysts say this was to be expected, given how hot the market was during the first half of last year.

    "This year's new stress-test on mortgage applicants continues to weigh on home sales but its effect may be starting to fade slightly in Toronto and nearby markets," said CREA President Barb Sukkau in the release.

    "The degree to which the stress-test continues to sideline home buyers varies depending on location, housing type and price range."

    Prices were also up across the country by 2.1 per cent, year over year, this July, marking the first acceleration in annual home price growth since April 2017.

    This number, according to the CREA, suggests that the "rebound period" Toronto is now experiencing will contribute to even stronger year-over-year gains in the latter half of 2018.

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    A new bakery selling gourmet dipped donuts is set to open in Kensington Market at the end of the month. 

    Aptly named Dipped Donuts, the bakery has been producing specialty donuts for nearly three years, but this will be its first brick-and-mortar store. 

    dipped donuts toronto

    Dipped Donuts will open in Kensington Market on August 25.

    Slated to open up shop on August 25, the shop will take over 161 Baldwin St., providing donut-lovers a chance to drop in and peruse their selection of gourmet goods. 

    A post shared by Dipped Donuts (@dipped_donuts) on

    It also looks like they'll have coffee available to go with their uber-sweet treats. 

    The bakery is known for their roster of creative, rotating flavours. Past menus have included orange thyme, glazed blueberry cheesecake, and hibiscus berry lemonade fritters. 

    A post shared by Dipped Donuts (@dipped_donuts) on

    They've even done 'Chocolate Stout Bombs' using beer from Henderson Brewing

    A post shared by Dipped Donuts (@dipped_donuts) on

    If you absolutely can't wait to try some of their donuts, they are currently for sale at cafes like Strange Love Coffee and Reunion Island

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    One of the world's most fascinating young graffiti artists will be making her North American debut this weekend with a show at ILLEGALLERY right here in Toronto.

    SATR, a 22-year-old art star from Guangzhou, China, is best known for her ferocious depictions of animals, most often in her signature colour palette of red, white, black and grey.

    Her distinctive brush strokes have been described as "vigorous" and her penmanship "exquisite."

    A post shared by Satr (@satrxx) on

    With such a consistent style and subject matter, her murals have become almost instantly recognizable to those in the know since she first started working in 2013, winning her praise from around the world and contracts with global brands like Nike and Vans.

    "Come celebrate one of China's rising stars in the world of streetart," reads an invitation to the opening reception of her show at The Junction's ILLEGALLERY, a newish gallery that focuses on the contemporary post-urban art movement.

    A post shared by Satr (@satrxx) on

    Called "Animals Told Me," SATR's show is set to open this Saturday, August 18, at 3128 Dundas Street West. It will run until September 8 and feature "a series of paintings and drawings conveying her relationship to the animal kingdom."

    This will be the artist's first solo show outside of Asia and ILLEGALLERY's first show featuring a female or international artist. 

    "Best show you will see this summer," reads a Facebook page for the event. "Maaaybe?"

    A post shared by Satr (@satrxx) on

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    Futuristic raincoats for buildings, streets made up of hexagons, and towers made completely of timber were some of the key features unveiled by Sidewalk Labs last night in their latest 'smart city' plans. 

    The Alphabet-owned organization hashed out more details of their vision (more than they have before, anyway) during yesterday's  latest phase of public roundtables at their Lakeshore headquarters, which continues for a second session this evening. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    Sidewalk Labs held a roundtable discussions at its headquarters yesterday. 

    Those who have visited Sidewalk's 307 have likely already seen the prototypes of technologies being proposed for the 12-acre district slated for Toronto's eastern waterfront, dubbed Quayside.

    Dynamic streets was a main talking point (as it was during their headquarters opening) with emphasis on the high-tech hexagonal flooring that the street will be comprised of. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    Modular pavement prototypes made of wood are available for viewing at the Sidewalk Labs headquarters. 

    The idea of autonomous cars was a major proponent of the streets, which have the potential to be heated, illuminated, and reconfigured to transform from pedestrian walkways to roadways at a glance. 

    According to Lauren Skelly, the director of external affairs, the modular pavement might go into test mode as early as this fall. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    Expandable canopies extending from buildings is a proposed feature of Quayside. 

    Raincoats for buildings — a cute way of describing expandable canopies — made of lightweight materials would have the ability to retract and expand according to weather, making parks and public spaces more accessible during Canada's harsh winters. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    Sidewalks has a goal of using timber wood to construct its tall buildings. 

    A third key idea was creating buildings made completely of tall timber, which according to Sidewalk, offers more flexibility, more warmth (physically and emotionally), is more sustainable, and can be cheaper than or as cheap as steel. 

    It would make Quayside the world's largest timber project, and due to its ability to be assembled offsite, would save surrounding residents' a lot of the pain that comes with onsite construction. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    The roundtable answered some — but not all — of attendees' questions regarding Quayside. 

    Attendees yesterday had more specific questions regarding how that tech would be implemented, land ownership, and data collection — the latter which remains as unanswered as previous roundtables.  

    “We’re really not going to tell anything new on that topic,” said Sidewalk Labs' head of urban systems Rit Aggarwala to press yesterday. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    The project has plans to use Lake Ontario as a main feature of Quayside. 

    The issue of privacy has been a major concern since Sidewalk Labs' partnership with Waterfront Toronto to reshape the stretch of the waterfront between East Harbour and the Port Lands.

    How the urban development experiment will collect residents' and passers-by's data, and what it will do with all that information, has yet to be clarified to the public. 

    sidewalk labs toronto

    More roundtables and open talks are slated for the coming months. 

    Another roundtable is slated for sometime in November, where Sidewalk plans to unveil a fuller plan for Quayside including details like building density. By January we can expect to see a master draft, and as soon as March, a final submission. 

    After that, plans will finally go to the board of Waterfront Toronto for approval. By then, anyone with further questions (I'm sure there wil be many) can look forward to public consultations run by the City itself. 

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    It's going to be another weekend full of road closures in Toronto as annual festivals will be shutting down routes all over the city. Taste of Manila and Open Streets TO are on, so ditch the car and explore the city by foot.

    If you do plan on driving, here's what you need to know to navigate around Toronto by car.

    Chinatown Festival 

    The annual event will be closing southbound lanes of Spadina Ave. from St. Andrew St. to Sullivan St. from August 18 at midnight to August 19 at midnight. Dundas St. will remain open during this time period.

    Taste of Manila 

    This Filipino street festival wasn't cancelled after all. As a result, Bathurst St. from Wilson Ave. to Laurelcrest Ave. will be closed in both directions starting August 18 at midnight to August 19 at midnight.

    Festival of South Asia

    The arts and food fest will leave Gerrard St. East from Coxwell Ave. to Glenside Ave. closed from August 18 at 8 a.m. to August 20 at 2 a.m.

    Wheels on the Danforth

    To accommodate the epic car show on August 18 from 7 a.m. to midnight  Danforth Ave. will be closed from Byng Ave. to Leyton Ave. and from Warden Ave. to Leyton Ave. Danforth Rd. will also be closed from Landry Ave. to Danforth Ave during this time period.

    Open Streets TO

    The car-free event will leave Bloor St., from Montrose Ave. to Sherbourne St., and Yonge St., from Bloor St. to Queen St., closed on August 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

    Vehicles will be able to cross Bloor St. at Grace St./Christie St., Bathurst St., Spadina Ave., Avenue Rd., Bay St., Church St., Ted Rogers Way and Sherbourne St.

    Vehicles will also be able to cross Yonge St. at Wellesley St., College St., Gerrard St., Dundas St., Shuter St. and Queen St.

    Panorama India Day Festival and Grand Parade

    Two northbound lanes on University Ave., from Queen St. West to Dundas St., and Armoury St. from University Ave. to Chestnut St. will be closed on August 19 from 12:01 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the festival and parade.

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    It’s always nice when you find condos that aren’t completely run-of-the-mill. This century-old Victorian home in Rosedale stands out, and has been transformed into a contemporary condo.15 scarth road torontoThere are three units up for grabs in this house, all designed by Tara Fingold. This particular one is the “New York Penthouse” suite, and it’s both the nicest and most expensive.

    15 scarth road torontoIt has over 2,000 square feet of living space and another 1,040 square feet dedicated to a divine rooftop terrace that has a spectacular view of the back lawn.

    15 scarth road torontoThe large backyard is a common area where people and dogs alike can relax.

    15 scarth road torontoInside, the unit has two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main level.

    15 scarth road torontoThe open living and dining area has a fireplace and French doors opening to a balcony at treetop level.

    15 scarth road torontoThe kitchen is very modern with a mix of high-gloss white doors and distressed wood.

    15 scarth road torontoThe master bedroom is bright and airy thanks to the skylights. It also has the original sloping rooflines, which add a nice touch of character.

    15 scarth road torontoBoth bedrooms have luxurious en suite bathrooms, one with a free-standing tub and a marble shower.

    15 scarth road torontoThe upper level has a door leading to the rooftop and two rooms, which could be anything; a bar area, home office, a study or more bedrooms, the sky's the limit.15 scarth road toronto

    • Address: #4 - 15 Scarth Road
    • Price: $3,650,000
    • Bedrooms: 2 + 2
    • Bathrooms: 2
    • Parking: 2
    • Walk Score: 72
    • Transit Score: 89
    • Maintenance Fees: $1,521.29 monthly
    • Listing agent: Donna Thompson
    • Listing ID: C4105915
    15 scarth road torontoGood For

    Anyone who hates the sardine-can-feel of many of the downtown condos. This place only has four units and each one is designed to feel private, with its own character. It would also be great for a couple looking to downsize.

    15 scarth road torontoMove On If

    You’d rather get more bang for your buck. This place is quite expensive, so if you don’t mind a more typical condo you can get a lot more for less.15 scarth road toronto

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    Two cities in the GTA are taking advantage of a one-time chance to ban cannabis retail in their jurisdictions. 

    A few days after the province's announcement that municipalities will be able to disallow weed sales, Richmond Hill and Markham have both decided to do so. 

    The province said in August 13's announcement that cities would have a one-time opportunity to opt out of allowing cannabis stores. The date for the opt-out window was not given. 

    However, municipal council elections are taking place across the province around the same time as cannabis is being legalized. Physical stores will not enter Ontario's market until April 2019.

    So, a newly-elected council may reverse decisions made by Markham's and Richmond Hill's current governments.

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    As promised during his spring election campaign, Ontario Premier Doug Ford is moving forward with plans to "upload" Toronto's subway system to the province.

    Ford confirmed to reporters at Queen's Park on Wednesday that his PC government still intends to take ownership of Toronto's subway infrastructure, and use it as part of a regional transportation system they intend to create.

    “When we take over something as large as transit, I think it's nothing but a benefit to the city of Toronto," said the Premier.

    "We're taking this off their shoulders," he continued. "The reason we're doing it, as I've said all along, for 12 years we just can't seem to get transit built in the city of Toronto."

    Toronto Mayor John Tory isn't as optimistic about the idea. 

    "We must not see a repetition of what we saw with the city council," said Tory earlier this week after meeting with provincial Transportation Minister John Yakabuski.

    "That's not something that I'm prepared to countenance," Tory said, noting that he would only approve such a move if it were a "good deal for the people of Toronto."

    The Mayor also made clear that he would expect some "robust consultation" this time around, as opposed to what happened when Ford's government slashed Toronto City Council in half without warning.

    "They need to consult in advance," he said. "It's our TTC, it's our subway, paid for largely by Toronto taxpayers and customers over time and we would expect to be fully consulted."

    In response to Tory's comments, Ford assured that his government would work "hand-in-hand, with not just Mayor John Tory if he is the mayor in October, but other mayors in the region" to create a provincially-controlled transit system.

    If everything happens as laid out in the PC Party's election platform, Ontario will take responsibility for building and maintaining all new and existing subway lines.

    The city would still operate Toronto's subway system and keep any revenue it generates, but would no longer have control over infrastructure projects such as the newly-built Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension or future Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

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    Toronto Restaurant Openings highlights the latest food news in Toronto and gives a preview of what's coming soon. Find us here every Thursday morning.

    Open now
    Recently reviewed
    Opening soon
    • Four Four South Village, a Taiwanese beef noodle chain from Taipei, soft opens its first Toronto location tomorrow (Friday, August 17) at 474 Yonge Street (north of Grenville Street).
    • Another Japanese dessert brand is coming to the city: Amausaan Uji Matcha will be opening its first Toronto shop at 480 Dundas Street West in Chinatown.
    • Old Town Bodega should be opening soon in Corktown.
    • iQ Food Co. will be opening a 2,300-square-foot location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre this month.
    • The Good Son will be opening another location in late fall, this one at the CF Shops at Don Mills.
    • Full House Desserts is opening a second location, this time in North York, at 4750 Yonge Street.
    • Vegan Grasshopper will open a third location this fall, which is taking over what was previously Skwish at 2252 Queen Street East in the Beaches.

    Have you seen restaurants opening or closing in your neighbourhood? Email tips to

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    It feels like summer is almost over, but there's still lots of events on in Toronto this weekend. The CNE opens amidst some controversy and Taste of Manila gets a second chance. Open Streets shuts down Yonge and Bloor and there's more than enough festivals to keep you busy.

    Events you might want to check out:

    CNE (August 17 - September 3 @ Exhibition Place)
    The Toronto tradition of ending the summer at the CNE continues this year with two weeks of wild food, rides, games, shows, activities and more.
    Camp Wavelength (August 18-19 @ Fort York National Historic Site)
    Two days of dreamy synths, electro grooves and chill vibes is happening alongside art installations, dance, games and activities.
    Taste of Manila (August 18-19 @ Bathurst and Wilson)
    The previously-cancelled Filipino festival is back on with two days of street vendors, entertainment and a giant parade.
    Open Streets TO (August 19 @ Bloor and Yonge Streets)
    The first of two Open Streets events is on where parts of Bloor and Yonge go carless to become an urban playground of pedestrian-focused activities.
    Rastafest (August 18 @ Toronto Plaza Hotel)
    A celebration of Rastafari culture is on featuring music, dance, ancestral drumming, a market, food, live concerts and lots of activities.
    Animals Told Me (August 18 @ Illegallery)
    22-year-old Chinese prodigy Satr has been gaining international attention for her aerosol creations that depict wild animals.
    Butterfly Festival (August 18 @ Tommy Thompson Park)
    Get your nature on and spend the day checking out thousands butterflies and moths, and learn about butterfly conservation and biodiversity.
    Toronto Chinatown Festival (August 18-19 @ Chinatown)
    Toronto's vibrant Chinatown neighbourhood shows its colours with a big street festival that includes vendors, activities and cultural showcases.
    Festival of South Asia (August 18-19 @ Little India)
    Performances, arts, food, and more are all going down at this huge, weekend-long neighbourhood celebration of traditional South Asian culture.
    Wild N' Out Tour (August 19 @ Scotiabank Arena)
    Nick Cannon brings his Wild N' Out tour to Toronto with a night of outrageous improv comedy featuring free styling, dance battles and more.
    Cityfest Parc Rosé (August 18 @ Canoe Landing Park)
    A massive, all-day, pink and white party is going down in celebration of all things rosé featuring a lavish garden, activities, dancing and lots of food.
    Wild Blueberry Festival (August 19 @ Evergreen Brick Works)
    Blueberries, blueberries and more blueberries are on at the big festival with over 20 food producers offering up the best in blueberry products.
    Indie Fridays (August 17 @ Yonge–Dundas Square)
    Up and coming musicians perform for free in the heart of downtown, also featuring graffiti artists and a beer garden.
    Dean Brody (August 17 @ Budweiser Stage)
    Canadian country superstar Dean Brody has been a busy man, starring in a documentary, winning awards, and making a stop in Toronto for the night.
    Marianas Trench (August 19 @ Bandshell Park, Exhibition Place)
    Vancouver's Marianas Trench remain the embodiment of the 2000s pop punk scene and they've arrived in Toronto to open the CNE.
    Fantastic Planet (August 17 @ The Royal Cinema)
    Catch a screening of René Laloux's classic animated film that broke new ground in the genre of sci-fi with its imaginative storytelling and challenging themes.
    Three Identical Strangers (August 17-30 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    The uncanny resemblance of three boys living in New York City in the '80s leads to the discovery of an unusual origin story in this new documentary.
    Jumanji (August 18 @ Downsview Park)
    Snuggle up under the stars and catch a free outdoor screening of the new remake to the 90s classic Jumanji, starring The Rock.
    Vertigo (August 19 @ Christie Pits)
    The Christie Pits Film Festival comes to a close with the last of the Cinematic Cities series, this time taking us to San Francisco for aHitchcock classic.
    Latin Sparks Block Party (August 18 @ Latin Sparks)
    After a successful Ottawa run, Latin Sparks is making its way to Toronto for a day of Latin American dancing, food and live performances.
    Summerdaze (August 18 @ 54 Fraser Ave)
    Underground electro surfaces during this big dance party in Liberty Village featuring a night of thumping beats from four different DJs.
    Promise Cherry Beach (August 19 @ Cherry Beach)
    Weird to think there's only a few PCBs left. This week's beach party welcomes Box of Kittens and MightyKat from Montreal on the decks.
    Sunnyside 20 (August 19 @ Sunnyside Pavilion)
    Kick it by the sand at Sunnyside with another round of DJs to keep the summer vibes high, plus New York's Tony Humphries on deck.
    Kaskade (August 19 @ Cabana)
    Legendary DJ Kaskade lends his talents to Cabana for a full day of chill vibes by the pool, with Toronto's own Manzone & Strong.
    Pop-Up at the Barns (August 18 @ Artscape Wychwood Barns)
    This community market is stacked with local sellers bringing forth a huge array of local art, collectibles, vinyl, jewelry, home and lifestyle goods and more.
    Toronto Flower Market (August 18 @ CAMH)
    Stop and smell the roses—literally—at this month's TFM with stunning flowers and custom bouquets sourced from local and regional growers.
    The Trinity Bellwoods Flea (August 19 @ The Great Hall)
    "Local everything" is the name of the game at this big monthly market, with sellers on-hand to show off their hand-crafted goods and speciality items.
    Manifesto (August 9-19 @ Multiple Venues)
    Manifesto comes to an end with a weekend of events including a free concert, two-day community gathering, basketball tournament and more.

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    The CNE is back in Toronto for 2018, on from August 17 to September 3. And what would summer be without the outrageous food and classic rides? Take in the sights and sounds that embody the season before it's back to work once again.

    Here are my picks for the top things to do at the CNE this year.

    Browse through an Asian market

    New this year is a big Asian market in the style of those found all over the world. For a week of the CNE, you can eat food, explore vendors, try out activities and see the entertainment offered during the market.

    See a concert

    Every year, musicians make their way to the CNE to perform at Bandshell Park. Look forward to Marianas Trench, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Men Without Hats, Birds of Bellwoods and lots more. Best of all, show prices are included in the park admission fee.

    cne 2018

    The Lantern Festival is a new addition to this year's CNE. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Be amazed at the Lantern Festival

    Another new addition this year, take a tour through a wonderland of giant silk lanterns in the shapes of different animals and figures during the Legends of Silk Road Come to Light lantern festival.

    Take a spin on the rides

    Rides are a staple of the CNE, from the 91 year-old tilt-a-whirl to the iconic Sky Ride. There's lots of adult and kids' rides to enjoy throughout the park, alongside the many old-school carnival games.

    Check out the outrageous new foods

    The CNE is known for its, erm, innovative food creations and this year is no different. Gold burgers, rainbow crepes, Korean fried frog legs and more are just some of the over-the-top, Insta-worthy offerings this year. Carpe diem, right?

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    Visit the IKEA Monkey butter sculpture

    Sculpting with butter is art in its purist form, and many iconic characters have been captured in the fatty spread, including the IKEA Monkey and Justin Trudeau holding pandas. Other exhibits include a gnomes, sand sculptures, flowers and photography. 

    Drink beer and eat from food trucks

    Both staples of the CNE, the Craft Beer Festival and Food Truck Frenzy offer brews and bites from 11 local and regional breweries and 23 food trucks, including Muskoka Brewery, Bacon NationEva’s and more.

    Keep your eyes on the skies during the Air Show

    Some people love it, some people don't. Either way, each year, the Air Show takes off around the city with sky-high displays to demonstrate the feats of aeronautical ingenuity. Even if you aren't at the CNE, you might still catch a Snowbird flying over the city.

    cne 2018

    Despite the noise, the annual air show at the CNE is always a highlight. Photo by Li Feng.

    Shop til' you drop

    If you don't win a giant teddy bear, you can still leave the CNE with lots of goodies as it is host to several pavilions full of sales that include home and beauty products, arts and crafts and outdoor markets.

    Hit up a kitchen party

    All the tunes, food, drink, and dance of the Maritimes come to Toronto for a giant, two-day kitchen party, including beer and wine producers, traditional activities and live performances.

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    New data released this week by the City of Toronto shows that, despite any amount of street hockey and middle finger protests, closing off King Street between Bathurst and Jarvis was a great idea — and not just for commuters.

    More people are riding the streetcar than ever before, according to the latest stats from Toronto's controversial King Street Transit Pilot Project, which launched in November to mixed (and that's putting it softly) reviews.

    Transit ridership spiked by a full 35 per cent in May and June during the morning commute along King Street, according to the city, with the evening commute boasting a similarly impressive increase of 27 per cent.

    On average, all-day ridership jumped 11 per cent to roughly 80,000 boardings per day.

    king street pilot

    The King Street Transit Pilot, which restricts car traffic on one of Toronto's busiest downtown streets, has proven a boon to TTC ridership numbers. Image via City of Toronto.

    Riders continue to report shorter, more reliable journeys on the once-unbearable King lines, pedestrian volumes are up, and businesses aren't suffering one bit.

    In fact, most are now well-positioned to benefit from the changes.

    "Customer spending on King Street since the pilot began has seen slight growth (0.3%) from the average rate of spending over the same months from the year before," reads the city's latest update on the project.

    "Average year-over-year growth in the same period was 5.7% for the area surrounding the pilot and 3.8% for the City overall."

    Blaming the pilot project for poor sales is getting to be a less and less viable option for local restaurants and bars, it seems.

    king street pilot

    Pedestrian traffic is also way up along King and Queen Street, though the weather doubtlessly has something to do with this particular metric. Image via City of Toronto.

    The pilot project, which restricts car traffic and eliminates parking along Toronto's busiest surface transit route, has also cut the slowest streetcar travel time by four to five minutes.

    Other highlights from the May and June report include consistently faster car travel times and the news that Toronto's downtown traffic network "has been largely able to absorb and respond to the changes in routing that drivers have made."

    Eighty-five per cent of all streetcars are also now arriving within four minutes of each other during the westbound morning commute.

    "The King Street Transit Pilot demonstrates that we can move a larger number of people on the City’s busiest surface route, quickly and reliably, while managing the impact on drivers and local businesses," said Mayor John Tory in a release announcing the data on Wednesday.

    "The City will continue to carefully measure this pilot to make sure that it works for more than 80,000 daily riders of the King Street streetcar and everyone who enjoys this vibrant part of our city."

    Police are still having trouble enforcing some of the new road rules, but that wasn't entirely unexpected. Bad drivers are part of the rich tapestry that makes Toronto's streets what they are — and some things never change.

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    Canada's most iconic coffee chain is finally shaking things up when it comes to product packaging, allowing customers to also shake things up — or at least move a little bit — while carrying one of their beverages.

    Tim Hortons executives confirmed to the Canadian Press on Thursday that new lids are in store for the fast food giant's coffee cups after 20 years of the same ugly, leaky, brown plastic discs.

    Tim Hortons customers are subsequently running around in circles and screaming "IT'S ABOUT DANG TIME!" on Twitter.

    Company president Alex Macedo admitted to the Canadian Press that Tim Hortons had "fallen behind the competition with its packaging" despite years upon years of complaints from customers.

    He said that the chain dragged its heels on the leaky lids because they had a lock on the coffee space in Canada. Many franchisees, he noted, felt that a redesign wasn't worth the effort.

    Some thirty six million white shirts disagree.

    Tim Hortons is currently piloting "more environmentally-friendly packaging" at six locations across the country, according to Macedo.

    This includes new hot beverage lids that will sport a maple leaf design and, at long last, will properly close.

    Unfortunately for the company, it's too little too late for some Canadian coffee drinkers who say they've already switched over to competitors like McDonald's, Second Cup and Starbucks.

    Burn my hand once, shame on you. Burn my hand twice, shame on your useless coffee lids.

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    Toronto's annual Halloween-themed run, Monster Dash, is returning to Sunnybrook Park in Leaside this October. If you're looking to get in on the action this year, we're giving away a family prize pack, including four passes to the event and some Miles the Monster swag.

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