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    0 0

    It's been roughly nine months since one of Uber's futuristic, self-driving vehicles famously struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona—enough time, it would seem, to start testing them again some 2,235 miles away in Toronto. 

    Don't freak out, though — the robo-cars will be manned by actual humans this time. At least in Canada. 

    Uber Technologies Inc. has announced that its autonomous vehicles will be back on local roads beginning today, Thursday, December 20, with trained "mission specialists" behind the wheel plus a second person in the passenger seat.

    These "manual driving tests," set to resume this morning in both Toronto and San Francisco, will help the company map out data while they move throughout each region in preparation for the real thing.

    "Manual driving introduces new scenarios that our system will encounter and allows us to recreate them in a virtual world or on the test track to improve system performance," said Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) on Thursday.

    "This is an important step towards self-driving," he notes. "We will only pursue a return to road for self-driving in these cities in coordination with federal, state, and local authorities."

    Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, Uber will performing actual "on-road testing of self-driving operations" with the blessing of Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation.  

    This will be the first time Uber is testing autonomous vehicles on any public roads in North America since March, when 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg died after being hit by one while walking her bike across the street in Tempe, Arizona.

    "Over the past nine months, we've made safety core to everything we do," says Meyhofer. "We announced our first set of safeguards in July, completed comprehensive internal and external safety reviews, and released our Safety Report in November... This required a lot of introspection and took some time. Now we are ready to move forward."

    Toronto may not see autonomous vehicles whipping around on their own anytime soon, but the city remains a key part of Uber's plan to develop safe, reliable, and trustworthy self-driving technologies.

    The ridesharing giant announced in September that it would be spending at least $200 million in Toronto over the next five years through the expansion of its existing local ATG and the creation of a new engineering lab.

    Uber ATG chief scientist Raquel Urtasun said this week that the company expects to have about 100 people working on self-driving car research in Toronto alone over the next year.

    Let's hope they're all great behind the wheel of a driverless car.

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    Ready your eating mouths, Toronto food fans: The ultra-popular Waterfront Night Market celebrates its tenth year in existence this summer and, to celebrate the occasion, it's expanding. Huge time.

    The annual Pan-Asian festival of food, drink, dessert and lifestyle will be taking over Ontario Place this summer for not one but two full weekends.

    This will only be the festival's second summer at Ontario Place's West Island (previously, it took place in the Port Lands), but patrons appear to have loved the change so much that organizers are literally doubling the event.

    The first festival will run from June 7-9, with a repeat taking place from August 9-11.

    "Two hungry night markets coming in 2019!" reads a preliminary announcement from the creators of Toronto's Waterfront Night Market. "The ultimate festival of festivals just got tastier!"

    Few details have been released at this point, but Ontario Place remains listed as home base for the event series. Keep tabs on their website for future updates about vendors, tickets and performers.

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    Weekend events in Toronto offer a nice lead up to the height of the holidays. The Bentway's skating trail opens for the season and there's a celebration of winter in Kensington. It's also the last weekend to check out the Chrismas Market and get any last minute shopping done.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Kensington Market Winter Solstice (December 21 @ Kensington Market)
    The longest night of the year gets a big celebration with this annual parade and party. Expect a huge fire show, costumes, performances and more.
    The Bentway Skate Trail Opening Weekend (December 21-23 @ The Bentway)
    One of the city's newest public spaces is back for the skating with an opening weekend celebration featuring bonfires, blankets, cider and more.
    Close Encounters (December 21 - January 10 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    The films of Steven Spielberg are getting a retrospective this holiday with screenings of classics like E.T., Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park and more.
    DJ Skate Nights (December 22 @ Natrel Rink)
    Dance, twist, slide and shimmy it out on the ice to all the hottest funk, hip-hop, R&B and house courtesy of 1 LOVE T.O.'s DJ Dlux.
    12 Beers of Christmas (December 22 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    Grab your signature ugly sweater and a brewski, ale or sour and drink to all the things that make the holidays so special at this annual beer festival.
    CATL (December 21 @ Monarch Tavern)
    Local garage rockers catl are ready to get the weekend started with a night of tunes alongside All Seeing Eyes and Patrick McCormack.
    Dimension (December 21 @ Velvet Underground)
    All the way from London comes an electro master with hot mixes to make you sweat played alongside Culture Shock and 1991.
    School Damage (December 22 @ Bovine Sex Club)
    Toronto's own punk rockers are screaming it out and ready to party with a night of tunes on the eve of their Hello Cruel World album release.
    Best F(r)iends (December 21 @ The Royal Cinema)
    A one-night only screenings of Tommy Wiseau's newest work, Best F(r)iends volumes 1 and 2, is on, while co-star Greg Sestero stops by for a chat.
    Little Terrors (December 21 @ Eyesore Cinema)
    A night of horrific holiday cheer is on at this monthly showcase of short horror flicks to get you into the festive spirit.
    Black Christmas (December 22 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    All the Christmas cheer of any classic combined with all the cheer of a horror thriller makes up director Bob Clark's Toronto-shot Black Christmas.
    Home Alone Quote-Along (December 23 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    All the filthy animals are coming out for this Christmas quote-along to this holiday favourite featuring a perpetually stunned MaCaulay Culkin.
    Afro Haus (December 21 @ Luanda House)
    Get down to all the best and newest music out of Sub-Saharan Africa and her diaspora with dancehall, soca, Afrobeats and more playing all night.
    Neighborhood Holiday Party (December 22 @ The Great Hall)
    West Queen West is celebrating the holiday with a big party featuring drinks, food, music and makers form the Trinity Bellwoods Flea.
    Prophecy (December 22 @ Round)
    Post-goth, electro, industrial and random, obscure beats are on at this dance party with special guest San Francisco's DJ Zazou on deck.
    Fashion Santa’s Not So Silent Night (December 23 @ 192 Adelaide St W)
    Fashion Santa is back for the holidays, but not at Yorkdale. This time he's throwing huge bash of his own with tunes, drinks, a fashion show and more.
    Addams Family Christmas Bazaar (December 21-22 @ 334 Dundas St W)
    Local odd crafts, fashion and other accessories. Food and drinks will also be offered in addition to a Christmas in Halloween theme.
    Etsy Street Team Christmas Marketplace (December 22 @ Church of St. Stephen in-the-Fields)
    There's still time to shop local this holiday as Etsy makers from across the city gather for a day of handmade goodies, snacks and lots more.
    With Us Vintage Pop-Up (December 22-23 @ Vivorosa)
    Sustainable fashion courtesy of With Us Vintage arrives for a pop-up featuring a curated selection of vintage, up-cycled and reworked clothing.
    Toronto Christmas Market (November 15 - December 23 @ The Distillery District)
    It's the last weekend to take in the sights and sounds of a traditional Christmas Market in the heart of the city with lots of goodies to be had.
    Holiday Fair In Nathan Phillips Square (December 1-23 @ Nathan Phillips Square)
    There's still a few days left to check out the holiday celebration happening in the heart of downtown with skating, rides, food, drinks and a market.

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    Another case of measles has been confirmed in the Greater Toronto Area, prompting health officials to issue a warning  for anyone who may have visited the same places as the adult patient over the past week.

    The Halton Region Health Department announced on Wednesday that it's investigating the case of an adult from Burlington whose illness "led to potential exposures in public settings" during the period between December 13 and 17.

    Five key locations are listed in the health department's warning, most of them in and around the Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel in Burlington.

    One popular Toronto spot does appear on the list, however: Amsterdam BrewHouse next to Lake Ontario.

    Those who happened to visit the massive waterfront establishment on Queens Quay West between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. this past Sunday, December 16, are encouraged to check their immunization records for two doses of the measles vaccine or contact their nearest public health unit.

    Infants, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems should contact their health care providers regardless, if they were in the area, as measles — which is highly contagious and spreads by air — can be dangerous, if not deadly in certain demographics.

    "Watch for symptoms of measles until 21 days after exposure," reads the notice. "These include a high fever, cold-like symptoms (cough/runny nose); sore eyes or sensitivity to light; small spots with a white centre on the inside of the mouth; and a red rash lasting four to seven days."

    Other locations in which people may have been exposed to measles include the Longos at 3455 Wyecroft Road in Oakville, a Cogeco store at 950 Syscon Road in Burlington, and the Outlet Collection at Niagara in the Niagara-on-the-lake.

    Measles, while potentially dangerous, remains rare in the province of Ontario, though there have been other lab-confirmed cases reported in Toronto this year.

    The Canadian government says on its website that twenty-eight cases of measles have been reported across the country in 2018 so far, but that "there are large measles outbreaks reported across Europe which have affected a large number of countries."

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    Market Village is officially no more. The 28-year-old shopping centre in Markham has been almost entirely torn down, leaving nothing but a pile of rubble. 

    The corner of Kennedy and Steeles now looks like a complete wasteland, with only remnants of the mall still intact. 

    Demolition teams have been working away at the plaza—which opened in 1990—since October. It seems the west wing has been completely torn down, but it looks like it'll take a couple more months until the building is destroyed in full. 

    Say goodbye to the 325,000-square-foot property that once housed a bustling food court, Sam's Congee, Lucky Aquarium, and at one point, a stable with live horses. 

    The old building, which has been completely vacant since March 1, has long been slated to become The Remington Centre: a contemporary new 800,000 square-foot mall that will feature a night market. 

    According to developers, the new building will also feature an indoor walkway that'll connect to its younger sister PMall—which is nice since people have had to walk outside to get between the buildings up until this point. 

    It's unclear when the Remington Centre will be completed, or whether the old businesses that once occupied Market Village will re-open there. 

    In the meantime, those who used to hit up Ginger and Onion for dim sum will have to hit up other restaurants in Markham for their Chinese food fix. 

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    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the five-O, City of Toronto! 

    The Toronto Police Service just announced that its Parking Enforcement Unit will not be enforcing most major on-street parking bylaws this  December 25, December 26 or January 1, 2019.

    In other words, you can park for free all over the city on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years Day — but only in regular, pay-and-display metered areas.

    Bylaws pertaining to "rush-hour routes" and all "posted signs indicating Monday to Friday regulations" will be ignored on the dates in question, according to police, though "all other areas and parking offences will continue to be enforced." 

    So don't go blocking a driveway or pulling your truck into Nathan Phillips Square or anything.

    The cops may be loosening up the rules for street parking on three days, but they don't joke around about issuing tickets any other time. Or drinking and driving. Don't do that either.

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    The people of Toronto may one day be able to buy their drugs at the nearest Coffee Time—something that, surely, has never been possible before.

    Medical marijuana producer FSD Pharma Inc. just announced its investment of $1.3 million into the local retail cannabis brand Huge Shops, which in turn has formed a partnership with the coffee chain's parent company, Chairman's Brands.

    Thanks to this investment, FSD says that Huge Shops can now "acquire a minimum of ten retail locations under Chairman's umbrella of properties," with the option to "purchase additional Coffee Time sites" in the future.

    These ten Coffee Time locations are said to be located in key locations across Ontario, though it might take a while to open them all with the PC government's recent decision to issue only 25 retail cannabis licenses in the province for April 1.

    Huge Shops will file expressions of interest with the AGCO nonetheless, according to a release, in an effort to obtain at least one of those coveted licenses from Ontario's first batch.

    FSD, which has been converting the old Kraft plant in Corburg, Ontario into the world's largest hydroponic indoor cannabis facility, says that Huge Shops eventually plans to open the legal maximum of 75 locations across the province.

    Once open, the Huge Shops will be branded and operated independently of Coffee Time, but still have access to the company's retail management team and commercial real estate portfolio.

    Whether the companies have a license on April 1, when brick-and-mortar cannabis stores are finally legal in Ontario, remains to be seen.

    For now, Torontonians have the sole option of legally buying weed through the government's own, problem-plagued online pot dispensary... unless they're spooked by the idea of foreign law enforcement officials refusing them at the border.

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    Weed edibles and the rules around them just got clarified. 

    Health Canada announced on Thursday that, after extensive consultations with law enforcement, health and safety experts, the federal government has come up with draft regulations governing "additional cannabis products" — namely "edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals."

    Cannabis-infused foods, lotions, sublingual strips, candies and other treats will be permitted for legal sale in Canada under the Cannabis Act "no later than" October 17, 2019.

    This means that, if all goes as planned, you'll be able to celebrate the first anniversary of legalization (safely and with the approval of Justin Trudeau) while working up a nice, cookie-induced body buzz.

    Of course, like smokeable pot, edible cannabis products will be highly regulated — which is important, given how much dosages can vary and cause confusion among inexperienced users.

    "The Government of Canada's top priority is the health and safety of Canadians," said Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction (slash former City of Toronto police chief) Bill Blair on Thursday.

    "By establishing a strict regulatory framework for these new cannabis products we are keeping profits away from criminals and organized crime. I encourage all interested Canadians to share their views on the proposed regulations."

    Like the federal government's long-awaited air passenger bill of rights, announced on Monday, the draft regulations aren't yet available to read online.

    They'll be published in full, however, on the government's own website this Saturday, December 22.

    Consultations will be open for the next 60 days if you'd care to weigh in on the government's plan to legalize things like THC gummy bears and weed-infused beer.

    The government is still seeking ideas and recommendations in regards to how much THC should be allowed in any product, how to control the quality of edibles, and rules surrounding the packaging and labelling of products that, in the past, have proven nearly indistinguishable from those marketed toward kids.

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    It's the Friday before the holidays and events in Toronto today are so ready as The Bentway kicks off a season of skating. It's also officially the first day of winter and the Kensington Winter Solstice is on. A vegan potluck, Steven Spielberg festival and Christmas bazaar are all on as well.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Kensington Market Winter Solstice (December 21 @ Kensington Market)
    The longest night of the year gets a big celebration with this annual parade and party. Expect a huge fire show, costumes, performances and more.
    CATL (December 21 @ Monarch Tavern)
    Local garage rockers catl are ready to get the weekend started with a night of tunes alongside All Seeing Eyes and Patrick McCormack.
    Dimension (December 21 @ Velvet Underground)
    All the way from London comes an electro master with hot mixes to make you sweat played alongside Culture Shock and 1991.
    Best F(r)iends (December 21 @ The Royal Cinema)
    A one-night only screenings of Tommy Wiseau's newest work, Best F(r)iends volumes 1 and 2, is on, while co-star Greg Sestero stops by for a chat.
    BUMP Personals (December 21 @ XPACE (Lansdowne))
    Toronto's online access television programme BUMP TV is ready to help two lucky folks look for love, 80's-dating video style.
    Vegan Christmas Potluck (December 21 @ Ralph Thornton Community Centre)
    Gather your best vegan goodies and festive outfit for this huge potluck with a focus on cruelty-free food with a warm community.
    Winsome: I Rise (December 21 @ Art Gallery of Ontario)
    The GO is celebrating two new installations that reflect Afrocentric spiritually, making and unmasking by Canadian and Maroon artist Winsom.
    Addams Family Christmas Bazaar (December 21-22 @ 334 Dundas St W)
    Local odd crafts, fashion and other accessories. Food and drinks will also be offered in addition to a Christmas in Halloween theme.
    The Bentway Skate Trail Opening Weekend (December 21-23 @ The Bentway)
    One of the city's newest public spaces is back for the skating with an opening weekend celebration featuring bonfires, blankets, cider and more.
    Close Encounters (December 21 - January 10 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    The films of Steven Spielberg are getting a retrospective this holiday with screenings of classics like E.T., Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park and more.

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    This is one of those houses that requires you to look past the atrocious wallpaper, or you’ll never see the true value. The home was owned by the same family for 60 years, and from the looks of the photos, they haven’t done much to it in at least 30.78 Summerhill Ave TorontoThe house is nestled in between the Summerhill and Rosedale neighbourhoods, and it sits on a decent plot of land, making it ideally suited to some hardcore renovations.

    78 Summerhill Ave TorontoThere are five bedrooms and two bathrooms. The bedrooms are spacious enough and the master bedroom has a lovely bay window.

    78 Summerhill Ave TorontoThe kitchen is a galley kitchen with plenty of storage space.

    78 Summerhill Ave TorontoThe backyard is large and surrounded by mature trees. With a little landscaping, it would be the perfect summer oasis.  

    The Essentials
    • Address: 78 Summerhill Avenue
    • Type: House
    • Bedrooms: 5
    • Bathrooms: 2
    • Size: 25 x 130 feet
    • Realtor: Sotheby's International Realty
    • Hit the market at: $1,999,000
    • Sold for: $2,361,50078 Summerhill Ave Toronto
    Why it sold for what it did?

    Location, location, location. This neighbourhood is home to many a fancy house, and while this one is definitely a gut job, the land it’s sitting on is worth something.78 Summerhill Ave Toronto

    Was it worth it?

    Personally this place seems like a lot of work but that being said, nicely renovated houses in this neighbourhood have been known to go for over $3 million, so there’s a good chance you’ll make a return on your investment.78 Summerhill Ave Toronto

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    What's open on Christmas Day in Toronto for 2018 is vital information to navigate the city when it seems like everything is closed. December 25 is one of the few days of the year where most the city shuts its doors. There are, however, a number of exceptions.

    Here's what's open and closed on Christmas Day in Toronto for 2018.

    • Government office and banks
    • Libraries
    • Mail delivery
    • Banks
    • The TTC will run on a Sunday service schedule.

    Christmas Day Toronto

    Popbox MicroMrkt will be one of the few grocery stores open for business. Photo by Jesse Milns.

    Food and Drink
    • Most major grocery chains will be closed on Christmas Day with a few confirmed exceptions listed below.
    • The Beer Store
    • LCBO

    Christmas Day Toronto

    Pacific Mall will be the only mall to visit on Christmas Day. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    • Bayview Village Shops
    • CF Fairview Mall
    • CF Markville
    • CF Sherway Gardens
    • CF Toronto Eaton Centre
    • Dufferin Mall
    • Hillcrest Mall
    • Promenade
    • Scarborough Town Centre
    • Square One Shopping Centre
    • Toronto Premium Outlets
    • Vaughan Mills
    • Yorkdale Shopping Centre
    • Yorkville Village

    Christmas Day Toronto

    Unlike previous years, the CN Tower will be open on December 25. Photo by Hector Vasquez.

    • Art Gallery of Ontario
    • Bata Shoe Museum
    • Canada's Wonderland
    • Gardiner Museum
    • Hockey Hall of Fame
    • Ontario Science Centre
    • Royal Ontario Museum
    • Toronto Zoo

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    New Chinese restaurants in Toronto are the latest arrivals bringing their own takes on traditional dishes to the city. Here you can find the newest in hand-pulled noodles, crispy baos, and AYCE hot pot. 

    Here are my picks for the top new Chinese restaurants in Toronto.

    Wu Jian Dao

    Golden-crusted, soupy Shanghainese-style baos are the main order at this restaurant on McNicoll Ave. It's the chain's first store outside of China, where it already has over 57 locations. 

    Sang-Ji Fried Bao

    This store on Byng is teeny tiny but the Shanghainese-style baos it serves are delightfully plump. You'll have to wait about 15 minutes for your order, but these pan-fried shengjian bao are totally worth it. 

    Green Tea Restaurant

    Lineups can get long at this elegant eatery off Highway 7, and for good reason. The menu here consists of Southern style Chinese dishes, predominantly from the Zhejiang region, offering delicious gourmet dishes that are extra tasty when you're seated in comfy booths.

    Omni Palace

    The art of the hand-pulled noodle has been perfected at Omni, which consistently smacks and twists out the ultimate noods. The best part of this restaurant on Consumers Road is watching the pros in the back working the dough to chewy perfection. 

    GoGo Chicken Pot

    Chicken hot pot has long been all the rage in Hong Kong, but it's only just catching on in Toronto. If you haven't tried this style of marinated chicken yet, get an unlimited taste test at this Richmond Hill AYCE spot on Bayview. 

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    The best late night falafel and shawarma in Toronto are garlic sauce-filled wraps that are available well past midnight. Satisfy your cravings for sandwiches or plates filled with deep-fried chickpea balls or juicy chicken—or both—at these nocturnal joints.

    Here’s the best late night falafel and shawarma in Toronto.

    3 - Chamsine on St. Clair

    Open until 3 a.m. daily, this humble spot right by St. Clair West station offers fresh and huge portions for really good prices. Their shawarma wraps and platters are especially massive, and they have a great garlic sauce too.
    7 - Osmow's on Queen

    If you're hankering for a mess of hot and garlic sauce piled atop shawarma, fries, or falafel, order anything 'on the rocks' at this spot near Queen and Bathurst. It’s open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
    10 - Zaad

    While definitely casual, this restaurant right outside of Spadina station is far from grimey. Find it open until 2 a.m. daily, serving up satisfying meals of chicken shawarma platters and wraps with a tiny touch of class for a fast food spot.
    11 - Laziza

    Open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 a.m. every other day, this takeout spot right off Ossington on Bloor does juicy, tender shawarmas and killer falafel. These crispy balls use tons of parsley, giving it a green hue that’s a sight for sore eyes at the end of a long day.
    4 - Taste of Shawarma

    Sitting right at Dufferin and Castlefield, this lowkey spot has some of the best late night shawarma fries in town. You can grab a large styrofoam box-full and an order of falafel until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
    5 - Ghazale

    There’s a number of Ghazales around the city, but this location wins for being conveniently located near Bathurst station and being open until 3 a.m. every day. You can grab some freshly squeezed juice with your falafel order while you’re at it.
    6 - Lebanon Express

    Operating until 4 a.m. on every day except Sunday, this counter right at Yonge and College always has daily deals on wraps. Their combos are always big too, and you can always depend on a great Arabic music video playing on their TV while you eat.
    8 - Alexandria Falafel

    The earliest this spot ever closes is 2:30 a.m., meaning on most days you can grab cheap sandwiches and plates until 4 a.m. This spot also has a reputation for friendly staff, which is great incentive to head over to Queen and Dufferin for a snack.
    9 - Istanbul Shawarma

    Located right at College and Bathurst, this chill eatery stays open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and until 3 a.m. on Thursday. There’s plenty of booth seats to devour your shawarma in after a night of partying at Sneaky Dees across the street.

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    Hogtown. The Big Smoke. T-O. The 6ix. "Way too cold." Hollywood North. The freaking Town of York.

    Toronto has been called a lot of things by a lot people over the past two centuries, but "Maple Valley" isn't one of them. And, judging by the sheer volume of hilarious clapbacks to a bylineless piece in the Economist this week, it never, ever will be.

    The prestigious British news magazine published an article on Wednesday detailing the mass exodus of Indian tech workers from the U.S. to Canada in light of new immigrant visa restrictions.

    "What would induce a software developer to quit a good job in Silicon Valley and trade California’s sunshine for Toronto's wintry skies?" starts the piece, raising a valid (and slightly painful) question.

    The answer, of course, is a country that champions diversity, an immigration system that rewards highly skilled workers, and a booming tech sector, where job vacancies are forecast to reach 200,000 by 2020.

    Aside from being tagged with "migrating nerds," the story is relatively inoffensive — until the very last paragraph:

    "It is one thing for Canada to attract disaffected immigrant tech workers from Silicon Valley," it reads. "Now Maple Valley, as some call it, must make it worth their while to stay."

    Maple Valley? As some call it? What are we to you, Economist writers? A cereal brand? Discount outerwear for dads who like to fish? A type of granola bar?

    "Maple Valley" does exist in Ontario. Several times over, in fact: As horse ranch, a landscaping firm, an RV park and even some land in cottage country.

    "Maple Valley, Ontario is the name of two communities in SimcoeCounty,Ontario," reads a freshly-updated Wikipedia entry for the latter. "It in no way refers to Toronto as a whole, nor to the tech sector of Toronto."

    Indeed, save for one 2017 news mention—also in The Economist—nobody has referred, on record, referred to Canada's version of Silicon Valley as "Maple Valley." Ever.

    Take it from locals who are straight up eviscerating the 175-year-old London-based weekly right now on Twitter.

    "Maple Valley, as some now call Toronto, is attracting disaffected tech workers from America," reads the Economist's now-viral tweet, which was published on Thursday.

    "In my 46 years here, it's never been called Maple Valley," replied one Torontonian. "In whatever time I have left I will fight with sticks and stones to make sure it's never called Maple Valley."

    "Did you know that people in Maple Valley call The Economist 'The Red Rectangle'?" joked another.

    GIFs from the film Mean Girls are popping up all over The Economist's replies, and not even because the film was shot in Toronto.

    In the words of 'Maple Valley' native Rachel Mcadams at the 2003 North Shore High School Winter Talent Show, stop trying to make "Maple Valley" happen, Economist. It's not going to happen.

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    One of Canada's biggest (and most recentlycontroversial) charitable foundations is looking to expand upon its work in Toronto by opening a massive "Social Entrepreneurship Centre" for people between the ages of 18 and 35.

    WE, founded as 'Free The Children' in 1995 by 12-year-old wunderkin Craig Kielburger, has grown over the past 23 years into a massive organization with about 500 staff members at its headquarters building in Toronto alone.

    The multi-pronged organization's financial structure may be complicated, as Canadaland revealed after a four-month long investigation in October, and serious allegations have been raised about the group's affiliations with corporations such as Hershey's, Unilever and Kellogg's, which are known to use child and slave labour in their supply chains.

    Still, WE has done a lot of great work internationally, delivering food, clean water, healthcare, entrepreneurship and education programs to millions in Kenya, India, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Haiti, Sierra Leone, rural China and Ethiopia.

    Young people have raised more than $120 million for both local and international causes over the past two decades, according to Kielburger, through the organization's WE Schools Initiative, with over four million volunteer hours logged last year alone.

    With the opening of a new, $30 million social entrepreneurship hub here at home, Kielburger hopes to, as The Star puts it, "groom the fledgling concepts of socially conscious young entrepreneurs."

    The new centre is slated to be built right next door to WE's current, 43,000-square-foot home base near the corner of Queen and Parliament. At a proposed 41,000 square feet, the new building will nearly double WE's footprint in downtown Toronto.

    Kielburger inititally wanted to open the new centre in time for his charity's 25th anniversary, in 2020, but told The Star that he's settled for a more realistic timeline with an end date in 2021.

    The goal is to offer young entrepreneurs mentorship, work space, technology, access to seed funding and free training programs "all while rejuvenating the underserved Regent Park and Moss Park neighbourhood."

    "Our charity grew up in this area," said Kielburger to the Star in a piece published Thursday. "We don’t want communities forced out as Toronto changes. Our dream is to make this whole neighbourhood a hub of social entrepreneurship."

    0 0

    The end is near for TTC tokens as Toronto moves ever closer to phasing them (and every other possible form of fare payment) out in favour of Presto.

    The once annoyingly-small and dirty little coins have taken on a new meaning since the transit commission announced they'd no longer be accepted by the end of next year.

    Soon, the TTC token will be a rare memento of times gone by. A hard-to-find and essentially purposeless bit of Toronto history, one that can no longer be exchanged for access to the subway, bus or streetcar but once cost you $3 so why would you throw it away?

    ttc token necklaceToronto based jewellery designer and goldsmith Samantha McAdams has come up with a brilliant way to both preserve the token's legacy, and repurpose all that soon-to-be useless metal in a meaningful way.

    "Showing the TTC some love as these iconic tokens are on their way out," she wrote on Instagram this week when sharing photos her latest creation: A custom, handmade, sterling silver necklace with a token as its pendant.

    ttc token necklace McAdams, who specializes in custom, antique-style heirloom jewellery, isn't mass producing or selling her token pieces online just yet.

    The artist is, however, currently taking orders for more custom TTC jewellery. Interested parties can contact her directly, and should probably do so ASAP before everyone in the city starts banging down her digital door.

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    New Year's Eve parties in Toronto are happening in nearly ever corner of the city, from the clubs in the Entertainment District to cozy spots along Dundas West. With the TTC free all night, there's no limit to the places you can go to watch the ball drop.

    Here's a round-up of some of the top New Year's eve parties in Toronto by neighbourhood.


    Live tunes are on at the Tranzac with a stellar lineup of performances by Luge, Moon King, Luna Li, Bizzarh, Persons and lots more playing all night long.

    Avenue and Lawrence

    Get funked this New Years at Drum N Flats with big band Atomic Hustle playing all the best funk, R&B, disco and pop live alongside food, dancing and drinks.


    Beam Me Up is ready to get down at The Piston with a night of disco, funk and soul to get you boogieing into the new year. 

    Brockton Village

    The Baby G is ready to get spacey at this psychedelic rock party with Montreal's garage rock Bloodshot Bill playing live and a champagne toast.


    Toronto musical collective party band Dwayne Gretzky is on hand to ring in the new year at the Danforth Music Hall with a night of tunes and dancing.

    Dundas West

    All the hottest dance hits played in chronological order are on at The Garrison's annual New Year's Eve extravaganza.

    Entertainment District

    Dublin Calling is ready to party with a night of glitz and glamour, Irish-style. Dancing, drinks and hot hits are all ready to bring you into the new year.

    Financial District

    Head into the new year at the famed Royal York Hotel as it hosts a night of fun over three rooms with food, drinks, live performances and lots more


    Party for a good cause at this glamorous end-of-year soiree at Boxcar Social with costumes, drinks, dancing and a portion of the ticket sales going to SickKids.


    The first ever Fit New Year's party is on at Round with huge hits playing from three DJs, drinks, go-go dancers and bubbles at midnight.

    King East

    Nerd it up this New Years as Power Up is ready to party with a night of drinks, dancing and gaming to blast you into the new year.

    King West

    Have some splashy fun this year at Lavelle with a huge throwdown featuring dancing, drinks, DJs and dinner in support of charity.


    Wayla Bar is spreading the New Years celebrations out over two rooms with four DJs spinning all the best disco, house and club anthems into the morning.

    Little Italy

    Dance it out at the Mod Club to all the classics played live at this huge New Year's celebration with a full band of over 30 members ready to play into the night.


    DJ Adverb and friends are on deck at Painted Lady to spin all the best dance tracks to ring in the new year among bartop burlesque, cocktails, snacks and lots more.


    All the rock, soul, pop, disco, funk and more can be found Stones Place this New Years with loads of champagne, balloons and dancing to boot.

    Port Lands

    Rebel is throwing it down all night in celebration of New Years with DJs in every room spinning the hottest tracks to ring in the new year.

    Queen West

    Rock out at the Bovine Sex Club this New Years with a banger of a show featuring Organ Thieves, Future Now, Ship Of Fools and The Anti Queens.


    It's the tenth anniversary of this New Years party featuring the best of Toronto's underground DJ scene spinning the tunes all night at The Opera House.

    West Queen West

    Viva Las Vegastone this New Years as The Gladstone recreates Las Vegas with all its class and trash, dancing, drinks and even a wedding chapel.

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    Hundreds of Indigenous Rights activists are gathered in Yonge Dundas Square this afternoon among throngs of last-minute holiday shoppers to protest the first draft of Canada's long-promised Indigeous Rights Framework.

    Idle No More Toronto is leading up the protest, which has taken the form of a traditional round dance, in an effort to "remind the Canadian government that Indigenous Rights are recognized and affirmed" as per section 35 of the Constitution.

    Indigenous communities have been waiting on the federal government's "Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework," since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised it would be coming back in February.

    This framework would "enshrine" section 35, as CBC Indigenous puts it, creating a code that would restrict Canada from infringing on Indigenous rights.

    First Nations leaders aren't pleased, however, with what they've seen of the proposed framework so far, nor with the government's lack of consultation in composing it.

    Others present at the protest today are demanding additional measures from both the federal and provincial governments, such as a sufficient plan for combatting climate change.

    "Honour the Treaties and our Nation to Nation agreements, no top down approach from the government, and no partnership with Canadian government," reads an invitation to today's protest on Facebook.

    "We must be consulted. We will exercise self-detemination and self government," it continues. "Pass Bill C-262 The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Indigenous Sovereignty!"

    This is the second year in a row that activists have blocked off Yonge Dundas Square on December 21, which falls exactly six months before and after National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.

    Last year, roughly 150 people showed up to participate in the round dance, which marked the five-year anniversary of the Idle No More movement in Toronto.

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    The Bentway Skate Trail is officially open today for the winter season, so it's time to take out the skates and head to Toronto's coolest public rink. 

    The 1.75-kilometre skating trail underneath the Gardiner is back until Feb. 18, and this year you can expect a bigger winter village by the rink with fire pits, warming lounges and blankets. 

    According to The Bentway, more than 50,000 people visited the figure eight-shaped trail in its inaugural year (during one of the coldest winters ever). 

    Like last time, there will be skate rentals and skating lessons available. There'll also be snacks and drinks for sale most days. 

    The Bentway Skate Trail is open daily from noon to 9 p.m. or later until Jan. 6. After that, it opens at noon on weekends and at 5 p.m. every other day.

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    The one time of year when people actually wish for snow is shaping up to be mild as a marshmallow in Southern Ontario.

    Temperatures reached a pleasant 6 C in Toronto today with not a drop of precipitation in sight, which was unexpected given this winter's atypically cold and early start.

    But hey, that's the weather, and it never stays one way for very long around these parts. November was freezing, December was comparatively balmy, and January is expected to be... well, even colder than November.

    This back-and-forth pattern might suggest a warmer than usual February... if weather forecasts were poems and not rooted in the science of meteorology.

    Sadly for those of us who don't look good with blue lips, the second half of winter is expected to be "severely cold" with lower than normal temperatures in both January and February.

    "December has featured periods of milder weather and little snow across most of this region," wrote Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham in a 2019 forecast update this week. "However, this does not mean that we are going to get easy after all this year."

    "As we look back at history, a couple years really stand out as being similar to what we have seen this year, both in terms of the global pattern and in our local weather," explained Gillham, pointing to the winter of 2014-2015 (when the dreaded Polar Vortex hit.)

    "That does not mean that the rest of this winter will necessarily be as severe as February 2015, but this does highlight why one should not judge the winter just based on December."

    The air might be colder than usual over the next few months, but the people of Toronto can at the very least look forward to minimal amounts of snow.

    "An abundance of lake effect snow is expected for the traditional snow belts east and southeast of the Great Lakes due to frequent shots of arctic air," writes Gillham. "However, areas outside of the snow belts, including the Greater Toronto Area, could fall short of normal snowfall as the dominant storm track will typically be south and east of the region."

    Nice. I guess.

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