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    0 0

    Today in "IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!" Presto just finally dropped the beta version of its long-awaited mobile app for both Apple and Android devices.

    The move allows TTC riders to (test out what it will be like to) auto-load their cards, check their balances, see their fare payment histories and receive service alerts right in the palms of their hands after years of being forced to either do these things in person, or use the fare payment system's website.

    It might not sounds like a huge deal, but the ability to load funds onto one's card via NFC—the technology that powers contactless tap payments such as Interac FLASH debit, Apple Pay and Google Pay—will make life significantly more convenient for everyday riders who constantly need to top up their balances.

    And it's a good thing, too, with the TTC phasing out its own Metropass at the end of this month (and most other forms of payment by the end of next year).

    "With the official beta Presto app you can manage your card anytime, anywhere," reads an announcement on the new standard fare payment system's website. "Loading your Presto card has never been easier."

    The site explains that, in addition to a more convenient method of putting money on one's card, the app also sends out low balance and pass expiry notifications, generates email receipts for fare purchases and even lets you manage up to 10 different Presto cards using one account.

    Of course, the app is still in beta, which means it may still be "unstable," as Google puts it.

    Those testing it out are nonetheless impressed so far, on the whole. 

    "I've already loaded my first funds on the app. My friend was standing in line waiting to load his card at the machine and I jokingly stood beside him and click, click and bam," joked one tester in a reply to Presto Executive Vice President Annalise Czerny on Twitter. "Loaded my card. I didn't tell him about the app till now haha."

    No word yet on when the mobile app will be ready for the public, but interested parties with eligible devices can sign up to test it out for themselves right now.


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    Weekend events in Toronto are about to get laced up and hit the ice for some hot hits as DJ Skate Nights returns to Harbourfront Centre. A score of Christmas flicks are screenings for free and Cirque du Soleil continues with a weekend of high-flying, acrobatic fun.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Cirque du Soleil (December 12-16 @ Scotiabank Arena)
    Corteo tells the story of "a festive parade imagined by a clown" and includes its signature acrobatic marvels and mind-bending contortion.
    Hot Docs for the Holidays (December 14-31 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    Catch all the Christmas classics at this donation-based special series that kicks off with Love Actually, White Christmas and A Christmas Story.
    DJ Skate Nights (December 15 @ Natrel Rink)
    DJ Skate Nights kicks off a season of free ice skating parties by the waterfront with a night of hot Latin hits at La Rumba Buena.
    Rupi Kaur (December 15 @ Sony Centre for the Performing Arts)
    Known across the world for her Insta-famous poems, Brampton's own Rupi Kaur is home to chat about her short and sweet works of art.
    Holiday Mixtape Exchange (December 15 @ The Dupe Shop)
    Give the gift of music at this holiday mixtape exchange. Don't have a tape? The Dupe Shop can whip one up for you on the spot.
    Creed Bratton (December 16 @ Velvet Underground)
    Arguably one of the most iconic characters from the U.S version of The Office, comedian and musician Creed Bratton is here for a night of tunes and laughs.
    The Goodtimes Die Hard For Christmas (December 16 @ Revival Bar)
    It's the 30th anniversary of Christmas classic Die Hard and The Goodtimes comedy troupe are honouring the film with a festive comedy showcase.
    The Fifth Element (December 14-16 @ Cinesphere)
    Another Bruce Willis classic, this futurist sci-fi thriller centres around good and evil in a world beyond the stars.
    Tuition (December 15 @ Fox Theatre)
    Director Kelvin Omori is set to premiere his new indie film that follows a struggling student and the lengths she'll go to support her education.
    Batman Returns (December 16 @ The Royal Cinema)
    A drunken screening of this questionable classic is on with a star-studded cast accompanied by drag, drunken festivities and debauchery.
    Jessica Moss (December 14 @ Burdock)
    Montreal's Jessica Moss has taken her talent solo to present a new body of work that incorporates classical violin elements with electro sounds.
    Lil Berete (December 14 @ Daniels Spectrum)
    Toronto rapper Lil Berete is up and coming in the scene and making a name for himself, earning acclaim from The Fader, Hypebeast and Complex.
    Jennifer Castle and Jeremy Dutcher (December 15 @ The Danforth Music Hall)
    Folk rocker Jennifer Castle and the classically trained singer Jeremy Dutcher are coming together for a night of powerful and uplifting tunes.
    Lawrence (December 15 @ Adelaide Hall)
    New York soul pop duo Lawrence has been steadily creating a fresh sound that mixes R&B with funk and rock—all headed by Gracie's cutesy vocals.
    Toronto R&B Sounds (December 16 @ Nightowl)
    Just in time for the holidays is around round of up-and-coming and established R&B singers pooled of Toronto's thriving scene.
    Showdown (December 14 @ Lee's Palace)
    Six party games and five burlesque performers make up this show that's a burlesque show within a gameshow within a burlesque show.
    Cherry Bomb (December 15 @ Round)
    Back again is this queer-friendly dance party that's ready to celebrate the holidays with a night of hits and featuring special guest LL Cool Wei.
    Pump Up the Volume (December 15 @ Remix Lounge)
    The 90's are literally now and you can grab your Jnco jeans and hit the floor at this video dance party with lots of retro dance, house and electro on deck.
    Divas Only (December 15 @ Glad Day Bookshop (Church))
    Calling all divas! A huge celebration of the queens of pop is happening with a special spotlight on the all-time purveyors of girl-power: the Spice Girls.
    Withrow's Winter Market (December 14-15 @ Crow's Theatre)
    Two days of local shopping is on at the Crowsnest featuring handcrafted goods, artisanal foods and farmers themselves, plus food, drink and music.
    Artscape Daniels Launchpad Holiday Market (December 14-15 @ Artscape Daniels Launchpad)
    This huge, brand new space is opening up for a makers market with over 30 vendors selling all kinds of handmade goods over two days.
    Caribbean Christmas Market (December 15 @ Ralph Thornton Community Centre)
    All kinds of traditional Caribbean goodies are on at this holiday market with food and huge local makers market with gifts and accessories.
    The Bazaar of the Bizarre (December 15 @ 6 Noble St)
    Weird and strange goodies can be found at this non-traditional holiday market, featuring a ton of local makers specializing in the macabre.
    Xpace Holiday Zine and Maker Fair (December 15 @ XPACE (Lansdowne))
    Artists from all over the city are selling their works, including a huge selection of zines, comics, prints, t-shirts, tote bags, jewellery, ceramics and crafts.
    Liberty Village Holiday Market (December 16 @ Dead End Studio)
    Over 50 local artisans are coming out for this huge market with tons of unique works by craft-makers, photographers, designers and foodies.
    The Trinity Bellwoods Flea (December 16 @ The Great Hall)
    A big selection of makers are on hand for a day of shopping with vintage items, handmade goodies and local art for sale.
    Venus Fest Winter Market (December 16 @ Lula Lounge)
    Toronto's annual feminists' musical showcase Venus Fest is hosting a holiday market with lots of handmade goodies by women and non-binary artists.
    Garrison Holiday Flea (December 16 @ Garrison)
    Back again is the holiday version of this flea/day party featuring local makers, food and drink specials and even a photobooth with Santa.

    0 0

    Winterlicious has announced its 2019 restaurant list.

    Running from February 25 to January 7, 2019, the event includes a Culinary Event Series and Prix Fixe Promotion. Tickets for the Culinary Event Series go on sale today, but you’ll have to wait until January 10 to start making prix fixe reservations.

    Almost 200 restaurants will be serving lunch and dinner prix fixe menus for Winterlicious. Lunch menus will be priced at $23, $28 and $33, dinner menus priced at $33, $43 and $53.

    The full list of participating restaurants is available on the Winterlicious website, where they can easily be sorted by category, neighbourhood, dietary preferences and price range.

    We may have to trade Birks for Blundstones when cold weather hits, but at least Toronto’s Winterlicious festival is just as good as Summerlicious.


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    The owners of Toronto's spectacularly renovated Broadview Hotel have decided to shake things up a bit—though not quite so much as when they transformed Jilly's strip club into what many now refer to as the east side's own Gladstone or Drake.

    Les Mallins, president of Streetcar Developments, told The Star this week that the roughly 125-year-old boutique hotel his company painstakingly made over just a few years back has come under new management.

    "We were, quite honestly, struggling just to do the basics," he said of his development firm. "We never really got into the cultural programming element, some different things regarding our food and beverage offering (and) deeper engagement with the local community."

    So, in an effort to deliver better customer service and a more cohesive food and beverage program, Streetcar has hired American operations chain Crescent Hotels & Resorts.

    broadview hotel toronto

    The building best known for housing Jilly's strip club, built in 1893, now boasts one of Toronto's hottest rooftop patio bars. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    Crescent already maintains an impressive portfolio of hotels across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, including numerous Marriott, Hilton, Delta and Sheraton properties.

    The Virginia-based firm took over operations of the Broadview Hotel earlier this month.

    Mallins told The Star that, while Streetcar has no intention of selling the 58-room boutique hotel, the company needed to outsource its day-to-day operations in order to "fulfill the full promise that was made at the outset."

    "We... realize it needs a certain level of attention and expertise," he said of running the Broadview, which reopened in July of 2017.

    "It's popular and it's done really well. We want that to be the case for the next 25 years, not the next six months."


    0 0

    One local beer brand is promising big things to come in 2019, including North America’s first foil top beer cans.

    The design, which tops beer cans with a shiny foil tearaway seal, has already been adopted by some brands around the world like Estrella Jalisco

    It clearly makes the packaging stand out visually, with the benefit of ensuring your precious can of beer is uncontaminated.  

    Of course, not everyone is a fan.

    Now, Steam Whistle says they'll be bringing foil top cans to the Canadian market for the first time, starting around late January or early February.

    When you imagine what the average beer can goes through on the way to your lips, it actually seems pretty phenomenal it’s taken this long for this practice to come to Canada.

    Other plans for Steam Whistle for the new year include expanding the brand’s reach into Quebec and partnering with a US craft beer brand.


    0 0

    Corteo by Cirque du Soleil has arrived at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Opening night on Wednesday played to a packed house who witnessed a different type of show from the world famous entertainment company.

    While past shows like Luzia and Volta featured elaborate bike and ball tricks, this latest edition keeps the acrobatics more streamlined favouring a series of aerial and trampoline sequences.

    It's all packaged around a dream like funeral narrative with angels, helium balloons and carnival type characters. 

    The unique setting, this year at the former ACC instead of under the tents in the Port Lands, sees a circular stage with the audience seated on either side so it feels like a reflection.


    0 0

    The year-long transit experiment that threw Toronto into a veritable tizzy last winter is, well, no longer a year-long pilot project.

    Toronto City Council voted 19-3 on Thursday to extend the King Street Pilot Project, which essentially prioritizes public transit users over motorists, until July 31, 2019.

    This will give council sufficient time to "consider the findings" of the pilot before deciding on whether or not to make all of the changes to King Street permanent.

    It will also save the many public art installations and outdoor cafes that have popped up in King Street's curb lanes (at least until the end of next summer.)

    The vote should come as welcome news to the some 80,000 commuters who now take the King streetcar line to and from work every weekday.

    Business along restaurant row may have a bone to pick (even if it's just an imaginary one) but residents of downtown Toronto are, on the whole, experiencing faster, more reliable commutes now that car traffic is restricted between Bathurst and Jarvis Streets.

    It remains to be seen if and how traffic rules will change, should the transit priority corridor become permanent, but for now, cars should carefully heed all the no parking, no left turns and mandatory right turn arrows.

    People who ignore the transit pilot's rules (and trust me, they still exist) continue to risk $110 fines, two demerit points per incident, and getting screamed at by pedestrians for blocking entire intersections with their "forgetfulness."

    Yeah, we see you.


    0 0

    Christmas lights and holiday displays are one of the best parts of the season. There's nothing better about Toronto's winter landscape than seeing all the shiny lights from decked out houses and towering Christmas trees. 

    Here's a roundup of some of the prettiest Christmas lights you'll find around Toronto, complete with a map for planning your festive tour of the city. 

    Nathan Phillips Square

    With huge Toronto sign, the ice rink and the massive Holiday Fair happening almost every day until Dec. 23, City Hall is a guaranteed festive hotspot this holiday season. 

    Toronto Christmas Market

    Naturally this yearly market at the Distillery District is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. As usual, you'll find tons of shining displays, the giant Christmas tree, and the tunnel made up of one trillion lights.

    Ontario Place

    Back for another year is Winter at Ontario Place: a twinkling extravaganza of lights that features 18 shining exhibits from local artists.

    Eastern Beaches

    The boardwalk of the beaches is aglow again for DeClute Light Up The Beach. About 20,000 feet of this sandy strip will light up from the 80,000 LED bulbs that hang up high. 

    Casa Loma

    Toronto's favourite castle has become a winter wonderland, transforming the grounds with a flurry of holiday decor, light displays, and even a twinkling tunnel that leads you to Santa's Workshop.

    Eaton Centre

    The towering 100-foot Christmas tree now stands tall and proud at one of the busiest malls in the entire city. Catch it and a few other festive displays while getting jostled around by the holiday crowds. 

    Yorkville

    There's a beautiful set up of light displays and decorations in the heart of Toronto's fanciest neighbourhood. Head to the Village of Yorkville Park (near the giant rock) to catch the hanging ornaments and tunnel of lights.

    Christie Pits

    As usual, the Korea Town BIA have lit up Baekho: the glowing jungle cat in Christie Pits. You can find this tiger right across from Christie subway station, where it'll stay until spring. 

    Shops at Don Mills

    Those willing to brave the cold to shop at this outdoor mall will be rewarded with a smattering of light installations like the twinkling domed tunnel and massive star-tropped Christmas tree.

    Financial District

    Even after the nine to fivers have all gone home, the Christmas trees and sensible yet festive lights at Brookfield Place, TD Centre, and First Canadian Place continue to shine all night long. 

    Kringlewood

    The residents of this Moore Park neighbourhood have busted out their 14-foot inflatable santas for yet another year. There's now over 40 of these guys lining the street of Inglewood Drive., a.k.a. Kringlewood.

    Brenyon Way

    This street just off of Sheppard Ave and Morningside is officially a holiday lights staple. The McKenzies and Pattersons have decked out their property with a slew of inflatable cuties including an automated hugging bear.

    188 Brock Ave.

    This house is positively dripping with Christmas lights. As usual, the D'Elia family has gone all out by decking out their home with lights which come to life after dusk. 

    165 Benjamin Boake Trail

    You'll see over 50,000 LEDs light up the night sky courtesy of the DeSario family, who decorate their home in support of Sick Kids Hospital every winter.

    6 Holmesdale Crescent

    It's been over 30 years and she's not stopping now. Mary Genua has bedazzled her home by Dufferin and Eglinton with a beautiful lights display for yet another year.

    Wild Cherry Lane

    It's been nine years, but the epic displays of Lindsay Lights have returned. The Lindsay brothers (who have engineering backgrounds) have moved the show from 4 Rosea Court, and this year's show will be smaller—if 20,000 LEDs and 150 computerized displays count as small.

    27 Glenlake Ave

    This house stays winning with their Halloween display and it's here for the Christmas holiday award too. Homeowners Trevor Walker and Karin Martin never skimp out on the epic lights.

    37 Bertmount Ave

    This epic Doll House in Leslieville never fails to impress, even off-season, but during the holiday it takes on more festive vibe with added lights and decorations.

    473 Clinton St.

    The Wood Cake House is decorated with more than 330,000 corks on screws, and during the holidays the owner Albino adds lights too.


    0 0

    A settlement agreement between the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the City of Mississauga is being hailed today as a victory for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across the country.

    Brad Grallant, a Mississauga resident of Mi'kmaq ancestry, first filed a complaint against his city in 2015 over its subsidization of youth sports teams with Indigenous names and logos.

    The resulting case caught the attention of Ontario's Human Rights Commission, which called the logos in question "insensitive to the ancestry of Indigenous people" and further worked to highlight the impacts of racism and cultural appropriation on Indigenous youth through the case.

    Five hockey organizations in particular were named by Gallant, whose children play hockey, in his complaint: The Mississauga Braves, the Mississauga Chiefs, the Mississaugua Reps, Lorne Park Ojibwa and the Meadowvale Mohawks (which now go more simply by 'The Hawks').

    At the time, there were at least 40 youth teams in Ontario with mascots derived from Indigenous culture.

    "Despite some of the progress we have made as a society, the reality is that every single day in this country, Indigenous people face discrimination," said Gallant in a statement this week announcing that the case had been resolved.

    "We need to work to tear down the structures of discrimination, and we can start with the continued use of Indigenous peoples as
    mascots for sports teams," he continued. "These types of images and mascots are harmful and have a negative effect on both Indigenous and non-Indigenous kids."

    Thanks to his efforts, the City of Mississauga has agreed to strip all sports facilities of any Indigenous-themed "mascots, symbols, names and imagery related to non-Indigenous sports organizations."

    The city has also pledged to expand its diversity training to address reconciliation and develop a policy related to the use of Indigenous images and themes at its sports facilities.

    Further to this, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board school board has agreed to "end the use of Indigenous logos and mascots at its schools" as a result of Gallant's complaint.

    The School Board is also amending its dress codes to prohibit students from wearing Indigenous mascots on clothing or bags both at school and when attending school-related events.

    "I want to make sure that my daughters and other Indigenous kids won't have to be confronted by these hurtful images and logos when they go to school," said Gallant in a press release today.

    "In time, I hope that together these commitments by Mississauga's institutions can play a small role in helping Canadians reconcile themselves with our culture's tolerance of Indigenous racism, and seek to change."


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    It's currently more expensive to rent an apartment or condo in Toronto than anywhere else in Canada. Who'd havethought?

    The apartment hunting website Padmapper released its monthly cross-country rent analysis for December, 2018 on Thursday and, much to the delight of Vancouver, probably, the 6ix still reigns supreme as "most likely to eat your entire paycheque."

    One bedroom units are now going for $2,260, on average in the City of Toronto, up 1.8 per cent over the month previous.

    Two bedrooms are hanging at $2,850, which is only 0.7 per cent more expensive than what we saw in October, but a startling 15.9 per cent up over the same period of time last year.

    For comparison's sake, consider the cost-per-month of a two-bedroom place in Canada's fourth most-expensive city for renters, Montreal: $1,780.

    A one bedroom will run you $1,450 on average in that city, kind of like it would have in Toronto ten years ago.

    Here's Padmapper's full list of average rental prices across the country right now. Is Saskatoon nice? Asking for a friend...padmapper december 2018


    0 0

    The deadline to opt out of retail cannabis stores is fast approaching in Ontario, and Toronto just made a decision. 

    Unlike Mississauga, Markham, and potentially more to come, Toronto has decided to allow physical cannabis retail stores within the city's borders. 

    The provincial government gave a short, one-time deadline to municipalities to say "no" to cannabis stores. That deadline is January 22, mere months before the sale of weed at brick-and-mortar retail stores is legalized in April.

    Presently, customers can only legally purchase marijuana from the Ontario Cannabis Store website. 

    Today, Toronto City Council voted 20-4 to opt in. The result comes as Mayor John Tory says municipalities should have greater control over where stores are placed. City council also plans to push for that control.

    One city councillor asked that wards be able to make their own decisions separate from the city, but council gave a resounding "no." 

    So, whether municipalities gain more control is a debate for further down the road, but for now, at least, Torontonians will soon be able to buy their weed in peace without shipping delay headaches

    Sorry, Mississauga.


    0 0

    Friday is here and there's more than a few great things happening during events in Toronto today. A stellar group of DJs are spinning tracks at Rejuvenated Frequencies, while a free screening of Love Actually is on and the city's newest arts hub is hosting a market.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Love Actually (December 14 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    Hot Docs for the Holidays kicks off a month of free flicks with a screening of romantic comedy Love Actually. Don't forget to bring a donation!
    Hernan Cattaneo (December 14 @ The Opera House)
    Get ready for a night of Argentinian progressive house beats courtesy of ‘El Maestro' Hernan Cattaneo to get you into the groove for the weekend.
    Rejuvenated Frequencies (December 14 @ Music Gallery)
    Get to know the women leading Toronto's new music scene with a night of tunes by VHVL, Korea Town Acid, YourHomieNaomi and curated by Obuxum.
    Jessica Moss (December 14 @ Burdock)
    Montreal's Jessica Moss has taken her talent solo to present a new body of work that incorporates classical violin elements with electro sounds.
    Slay Belles (December 14 @ The Rec Room)
    A holiday slay is in order with Drag Race's Phi Phi O'Hara arriving to host an epic night of fierce hits, hot dance, and drag performances all night long.
    A Very Superkick'd Christmas Special (December 14 @ The Great Hall)
    Christmas is for wrestling and this show is jam-packed with sweaty slams from Santa, Luchadores and even Krampus all wrapped up into one.
    Showdown (December 14 @ Lee's Palace)
    Six party games and five burlesque performers make up this show that's a burlesque show within a gameshow within a burlesque show.
    Withrow's Winter Market (December 14-15 @ Crow's Theatre)
    Two days of local shopping is on at the Crowsnest featuring handcrafted goods, artisanal foods and farmers themselves, plus food, drink and music.
    Artscape Daniels Launchpad Holiday Market (December 14-15 @ Artscape Daniels Launchpad)
    This huge, brand new space is opening up for a makers market with over 30 vendors selling all kinds of handmade goods over two days.
    The Fifth Element (December 14-16 @ Cinesphere)
    Another Bruce Willis classic, this futurist sci-fi thriller centres around good and evil in a world beyond the stars.

    0 0

    This award-winning home is stunning. The New-York style semi-detached Victorian townhouse offers big rooms, high ceilings and luxurious details.

    41 heath street w torontoAs is typical with old Victorian homes, the living, dining and kitchen areas are all on the main floor. They’re beautiful with marble columns and a cozy fireplace.

    41 heath street w torontoOff the living room is a sunny solarium with French doors that walk out into the private yard. The yard is a stone patio and there’s lots of shrubbery, which I’m sure come summer is lovely.

    41 heath street w torontoBack inside, the kitchen has been renovated and, while narrow, has enough room to be an eat-in kitchen. The big windows at the back give tons of natural light.

    41 heath street w torontoMy favourite room in the entire house is on the second floor and is a library built into a bedroom. It reminds me of old university study rooms in Europe with the dark wood, custom bookshelves and old windows.

    41 heath street w torontoThe master bedroom is bright, airy and has a gas fireplace.

    41 heath street w torontoThe master suite also has a spectacular 6-piece en suite bathroom with high ceilings and skylights which let natural light flood the room.

    41 heath street w torontoOn the third floor there’s a family room and another bedroom.41 heath street w toronto

    The Essentials
    Why it sold for what it did?

    The size of the property, combined with the locale, renovations and luxurious details. This home is on the same level as some of the Rosedale homes.  41 heath street w toronto

    Was it worth it?

    While I have feeling that the art in the house is worth more than the actual home, I still think the house is worth it. The place is cozy, bright and beautiful. It’s also in a great neighbourhood, next to some pretty prestigious schools.41 heath street w toronto


    0 0

    Food events in Toronto this week bring on the festive cheer with a gingerbread making competition and Caribbean Christmas Market. A traditional rijsttafel is on and there's a stout, cider and beer festival to look forward to this winter.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Coffee Cupping (December 14 @ Tucana Coffee)
    Coffee and its many nuances gets explored during this tasting session with brews from all over the world and talks on their unique attributes.
    Caribbean Christmas Market (December 15 @ Ralph Thornton Community Centre)
    All kinds of traditional Caribbean goodies are on at this holiday market with food and huge local makers market with gifts and accessories.
    Extreme Home Makeover Gingerbread Edition (December 15 @ Big Rock Brewery)
    Try out your gingerbread house making skills at this building competition with prizes for the winners and a beer included in the ticket price.
    Babes Who Brunch (December 15 @ Joe Bird)
    Boss babes are gathering for two-course brunch and inspiring speakers on hand from including fitness owner Sarah Taylor.
    Champagne Christmas (December 15 @ Spaces Queen West)
    A stylish Christmas affair is going down during this annual champagne party featuring drinks, activities, entertainment and gorgeous rooftop views.
    Hogtown Holiday Party (December 15 @ People's Pint Brewing Company)
    A gift exchange, nerdy fun and a whole lotta craft beer are all part of this holiday party at this DIY brewery.
    December Rijsttafel (December 16 @ Borrel)
    Dutch-Indonesian food and lots of it are on at this monthly feast, with a rice table filled with different kinds of traditional flavours, meats and veggies.
    Holiday Fundraiser and Brunch (December 16 @ Dominion Pub & Kitchen)
    A huge holiday party is on in support of Red Door Family Shelter with tons of festivities including food, drinks, activities and lots more.
    Festival of Stouts (December 21 @ Indie Alehouse Barrel House)
    Stout lovers can have a taste of tons of different stouts from all over Ontario (and one from Quebec) during this festival dedicated to the strong brew.
    Robbie Burns Dinner (January 25 @ The National Club)
    Famed Scottish poet Robbie Burns is once again celebrated with a day in his honour with food, drinks and traditional festivities.
    Lady Beer Fest Winter Warm Up (February 9 @ Henderson Brewery Parking Lot)
    The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies is celebrating five years of beer with a festival featuring drinks, women-owned food vendors and a marketplace.
    Wassail Cider Festival (February 9 @ Brickworks Ciderhouse)
    Ten local Ontario cideries will be on hand for this festival with a day of samples, food, a toasting of the trees, live music and more festive fun.
    Recipe for Change (February 21 @ The Globe and Mail Centre)
    A celebration of women chefs is on with a huge feast with over 30 chefs serving up food, drinks and challenging barriers in the industry.

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    Toronto seems to constantly be at war with the provincial government, and today is no different. 

    While opting in to allowing cannabis stores in Toronto, City Council also moved a motion to demand more control over them from the province. 

    Currently, one of the only location rules for cannabis shops is that they must be a minimum of 150 metres from the nearest school. 

    But, according to the city council vote, and Mayor John Tory's comments earlier this week, that's not enough. 

    "While today's vote on cannabis will see Toronto become a part of a regulatory regime and allow cannabis retail stores, I do not believe it provides adequate ability for the City of Toronto to protect people and neighbourhoods," Tory said in a statement on Thursday. 

    Other councillors expressed support for the regulation of cannabis store locations, especially where it concerns preventing them from popping up near sensitive neighbouring institutions.

    Councillor Mike Colle voiced worry over dispensaries opening near libraries, playgrounds, mental health facilities, and other locations where they may be damaging.

    Meanwhile, Councillor Jim Karygiannis made an attempt to pass a motion to allow individual wards to opt out of the stores. 

    The physical locations of cannabis stores are set to open April, 2019. However, that has now changed to a lottery system, where only 25 stores can open at first, with more in the future. 

    I'm sure one day all of this mess will settle. Maybe. 


    0 0

    Last night, less than one hour after Toronto voted in favour of allowing physical pot shops within city limits, Doug Ford's PC government announced yet another surprise change to the rules: There can only be 25.

    Yes, only 25 recreational Cannabis retail stores will now be allowed to open on April 1, 2019, according to Ontario finance minister Vic Fedeli, on account of "national supply shortages."

    That's not 25 stores in Toronto, mind you—it's 25 stores across the entire province, each to be chosen by the AGCO in a lottery system next month.

    Previous to this, Ontario had promised there would be no cap on the number of licenses issued to businesses that wished to sell marijuana when brick-and-mortar cannabis stores became legal in April (though any one operator could only have 75 locations accross the province, maximum).

    "It is the federal government's responsibility to oversee cannabis production and to provide a viable alternative to the illegal market by ensuring there is sufficient supply to meet consumer demand," reads a statement from Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney issued Thursday night.

    "Yet, we continue to see severe supply shortages across the country in legal, licensed recreational cannabis stores," it continues.

    Thus, says the government, it "cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licences to businesses in the face of such shortages."

    Fedeli and Mulroney blame the federal government for failing "to provide certainty around future supply" and say that the issue "demands an immediate response from Justin Trudeau."

    Once Ford's government is certain that supply levels are adequate, it will "communicate next steps for additional private retail stores."

    No expected date for that to happen is given, but the government does assure that its lottery for issuing a private retail licence is a "temporary model."

    In the meantime, Torontonians can still legally purchase weed online from the government's own Ontario Cannabis Store... or, you know, purchase it from whoever has already been supplying the country in spades for decades. 


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    The Toronto area is losing another spot for cheap buys, as Bobby's Liquidation Outlet in Markham has announced that it is closing. 

    The huge warehouse on Steeles Avenue announced today that it will be having a gigantic store closing sale, with huge discounts on everything in stock—some of it by as much as 80 per cent. 

    After the liquidation outlet, well, liquidates, it will close on January 20. The owner, Ari Starr, plans to shutter the warehouse and redevelop it. What will become of it is not currently known. 

    Bobby's has everything, from furniture, to clothing, to large appliances, and more. So, if you're looking for that post-Christmas purchase of whatever you wanted but didn't receive, this could be the time to buy it.


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    New cheap eats in the Annex have lots to contend with. A student hub, it’s one of Toronto’s capitals for a quick and reasonably priced nosh. These new places, however, are already making their mark in the neighbourhood.

    Here are my picks for the top new cheap eats in the Annex.

    Zaad

    Shawarma made the way it is back in the Middle East, cooked on a rotating spit with lamb fat, now has a home at Spadina and Bloor. Ali Baba’s, meet your maker. 

    Bang Bang Burrito

    Late night poutine burritos are now on offer at this place conveniently located near Spadina, steps from St. George station and the U of T campus.

    Santouka

    Ramen is always good for a low-priced filling meal, and now the area has this new spot for the Japanese noodle soup near Bathurst.

    Miya Bhai

    Indian meets Chipotle at this spot on Bathurst just north of Bloor that puts the emphasis on customization, with items like vegan butter chicken tacos and tandoori salmon salad. 

    Bombay Roti

    It’s impossible to be hungry after a meal of roti, and this new place on Bloor near Bathurst is serving it up on the cheap.


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    One of Toronto's popular seafood joints is closing.

    It's only been two years since Lbs., the sustainable seafood restaurant pronounced "Pounds', moved into the ground floor of the office building at Yonge and Adelaide. 

    Lobster lovers have until the end of this year to order the restaurant's massive Poseidon seafood tower with wine pairings until they close forever.

    According to Lbs.'s Chef Jonathan Jonathan Williams, their New Year's Eve service will be the last dinner. No details on why the restaurant is closing have been given. 


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    For every one dollar of disposable income, the average Toronto resident now owes $2.08 to the bank, mortgage lender, credit card company or wherever else they've been borrowing from (*cough* OSAP). 

    This, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, puts the debt-to-income ratio for those living in Toronto at a whopping 208 per cent—the highest recorded ratio in the city during the same time period since 2015.

    The CMHC, a federal crown corporation which assists in affordable housing development, just released its quarterly national report on Mortgage and Consumer Credit Trends for the second quarter of 2018.

    Overall, the picture isn't terrible, with a mortgages accounting for the lion's share of debt nation wide (though "growth in outstanding credit card balances" did accelerate to its highest level in seven years during Q2).

    The rising debt-to-income ratio in Canada has slowed down, according to the CMHC, but "remains near a record high" at around 170 per cent. Vancouver is the only city with a higher debt-to-income ratio than Toronto at approximately 242 per cent.

    debt to income toronto

    Data from Equifax, Statistics Canada and the Conference Board of Canada suggests that mortgages make up more than two thirds of all debt across the country. Image via CMHC.

    What concerns the CMHC is how vulnerable people living in both of Canada's biggest cities are to increasing interest rates.

    "With interest rates on the rise, highly indebted households could see their increased required payments exceed their budgets," reads a report released by the agency on Thursday.

    "The increased debt payment burden may come at the cost of reduced consumption, decreased savings or opting to make lower repayments on principal amounts."

    "Some households might even default on their loans if their incomes are not sufficient to cover higher expenses and credit charges," it warns, noting that such a trend could negatively impact other areas of the economy.

    It's a scary picture, given that the Bank of Canada has already raised its key interest rate five times since last July. Another hike is expected in 2019, says the Canadian Press, which will only make existing debts even harder to pay off.


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