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    0 0

    If you thought today's dusting of snow on the ground made for a messy morning commute, well... you're not wrong—but, in the words of a very old Canadian rock song, "you ain't seen nothing yet."

    Meteorologists are calling for roughly 10 cm of snow to fall between Sunday night and Monday morning in Toronto as temperatures dip,  wind gusts swell, and the probability of precipitation rockets just in time for a new work week. 

    "At this point, it seems snow is likely at the start for the GTA followed by a period of freezing rain before changing over to rain," said Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham on Thursday. "However, towards cottage country, eastern Ontario and southern Quebec, snow and ice will dominate."

    Fortunately, the city will be hit with one more wave of spring-like temperatures before actual winter takes hold of our lives.

    Friday and Saturday are expected to be sunny and mild with respective highs of 5 and 6 degrees, which should melt whatever is on the ground now.

    So get outside this weekend if you can. Winter may have been warmer than usual this time around so far, but that doesn't mean it won't get bad.

    "The coldest weather compared to normal is expected during late January and into February," notes Gillham. "So, we still expect an extended period of frigid weather this winter."


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    Weekend events in Toronto offer the chance to take one last stroll through Casa Loma's winter wonderland before it wraps up for the season. Elsewhere, Long Winter returns for a night of good vibes and the Class of 2019 concert series kicks off around the city.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Long Winter (January 4 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    Long Winter returns for a post-New Year's celebration featuring the best of Toronto's underground music, art and performance scene.
    Class of 2019 (January 4-26 @ Multiple Venues)
    The new music of tomorrow takes the stage at spots all over the city during this concert series taking place alongside gigs across the country.
    DJ Skate Nights (January 5 @ Natrel Rink)
    Skate it out to all the hottest house, funk, bass, electro, hip-hop and dancehall brought to you by Cherry Bomb DJs Cozmic Cat and Denise Benson.
    Shade Two Year Anniversary (January 5 @ The Great Hall)
    Comedians of colour, women and comedians from the LGBTQ2S+ celebrate two years of Shade with a night of comedy, dance, drag and improv.
    New Year, Who Dis? (January 5 @ Bunda Lounge)
    Highlighting local talent at this arts party, The CoMPound is throwing it down with music, fashion, visual arts and food to celebrate the new year.
    Wildlife (January 4 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    Director Paul Dano brings together Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal to tell a story of family and purpose during uncertain times.
    What is Democracy? (January 4-10 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    Taking a look at different societies around the world, this documentary explores the changing nature of democracy when it seems under attack.
    The Double Life of Veronique (January 5 @ The Royal Cinema)
    Toronto's Polish Film Festival is hosting a special presentation of Krzysztof Kieślowski's trippy classic about love and identity.
    Work in Progress x Discwoman (January 5 @ 500 Keele St)
    Sweat it out as Work in Progress and Discwoman join forces to bring you some of the best of electro tunes by female-identifying artists.
    Crack Baby (January 6 @ The Boat)
    Lo-fi, indie hardcore rockers Crack Baby are performing their new album "Footsteps on the Ceiling" alongside Toronto's own Josh Dillon.
    Y2Gay (January 5 @ Round)
    Take a trip back to a time when the new millennium was upon us with a night of 90s and early 2000s hits to get you sweating off the cold.
    Empire Records (January 5 @ Sneaky Dee's)
    All the best rock, pop, indie, hip-hop and more is on at this 90's dance party featuring the best tunes inspired by the classic flick Empire Records.
    Vintage Patch Pop-Up Sale (January 4-6 @ 438 Queen St W)
    Over 1,000 original, authentic, vintage and embroidered patches of all shapes and sizes are for sale during this three-day pop-up.
    Really Really Free Market (January 5 @ Campbell Park)
    Leave your wallet at home as this really, really free market kicks off another year of new-to-you gems available totally free of charge.
    A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle (December 1 - January 6 @ Casa Loma)
    It's the last weekend to take a stroll through Casa Loma's winter wonderland with outdoor displays, performances, food, drinks and more.

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    Hope your resolution this year wasn't to wear more J. Crew, because one of the brand’s most popular stores in Toronto is closing this weekend.

    On January 6, the 8,000-plus square foot store on the Eaton Centre's bustling third floor will close for good. Until then, there are discounts on the store's remaining stock of high-end comfort wear.

    The only store in Toronto to sell the brand's men's line, this closure follows on the heels of other stores in the GTA closing at CF Fairview and CF Markville.

    Other stores in Canada, such as those in Calgary and Edmonton, have closed recently too, and Retail Insider speculates the brand may pull out of Canada entirely. 

    Though the Eaton Centre store was said to be profitable, other stores in Canada haven't been too successful. Apparently, there were complaints that prices were too high compared to American stores when the first Canadian J. Crew opened in Yorkdale in 2011. 


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     This past summer, Toronto was equal parts scandalized and fascinated by the news that North America's "first sex doll brothel" was set to open in our city.

    Aura Dolls, a business that charges people to spend time with life-sized, anatomically correct, TPE silicon-based women by the half hour, was meant to start operating out of a former tanning salon in North York on September 8.

    Instead, roughly one week before opening day, the City of Toronto stepped in to inform both the business and property owner that their proposed use of the old tanning salon was illegal.

    Councillor John Filion announced to his constituents that Aura's lease had been cancelled as the result of a motion he himself had introduced restricting adult entertainment parlours in North York some 20 years ago and that, rest assured, those dolls wouldn't be servicing anyone in Willowdale.

    Aura Dolls removed the physical address from its website in response and has been quiet ever since, at least in terms of advertising, but the business didn't go away. 

    On the contrary: North America's second doll brothel (after Toronto's own KinkySdollS, which was relatively unheard of prior to this summer's scandal) appears to have opened sometime this fall, though nobody, save for clients, can say exactly where.

    C. Brian Smith, a writer for the LA-based men's magazine MEL, reported on his own (NSFW) experience visiting Aura Dolls in a piece published December 13.

    He describes the location as a "remote, empty industrial park 30 miles north of Toronto." The actual brothel, which he likens to an abandoned orthodontist office, is said to be housed inside a long, two-story building with an "odd variety of 12 seemingly customer-less businesses."

    As promised in the company's initial marketing push, all communication was conducted via text message and no staff were visible on site—though, one would hope, someone was nearby to "thoroughly sanitize" each fake lady before and after the, um, visits.

    "Despite being two hours early, I make a futile attempt to enter. As the email explained, 'The unit is #12, with glass double doors and no sign.' The door, though, is locked," wrote Smith of arriving.

    "I'm comically underdressed for Canadian winter, so I opt to seek refuge at a chicken-wing catering kitchen next door."

    The owner of that restaurant reportedly told Smith that unit #12 had been empty for months. "The new tenants just moved in, but I'm not sure what kind of business it is," he told the writer. "Landlord says it has something to do with robotics."

    Yeah... something like that.

    American freelance writer Susan Shain similarly visited Aura Dolls in October for a feature story in Playboy, though she described the neighbourhood a lot differently. 

    "On a quiet street in northern Toronto, among well-kept yards, luxury cars and a small Christian-owned business, sits a five-bedroom stone house." she wrote.

    "A neatly coiffed woman drives by in a Mercedes, likely unaware of the home’s inhabitants: six bare Barbie-proportioned life-size silicone dolls available for rent."

    It sounds like the business may have moved since then, or maybe there's more than one, or maybe the dolls move around? Twitter suggests there's definitely a market for sex doll "out calls" in Toronto right now.

    It's hard to say what's up for certain. Right now, the address listed on Aura's website simply reads "Markham/Richmond Hill... Announced upon booking."

    The owners of the business insist upon remaining anonymous, but Aura Dolls marketing director Claire Lee did tell Smith that they were in the process of adding male dolls to their roster—so it stands to reason the business is doing well. 


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    The Bentway is back for the season, baby, and you can glide around Toronto's coolest figure-eight to your heart's content without paying a dime this winter—even if you need to rent skates.

    The popular year-round community gathering spot under Toronto's Gardiner Expressway, just east of Strachan, has once again gone full winter wonderland after a successful opening last year.

    Starting Monday, holiday hours end and The Bentway opens its skate trail and rental services (along with food, drink and warming stations) to the public from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. between Monday and Thursday, 12 p.m. - 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. - 9 p.m. on Sundays.

    Thursdays are your best best, however, if you're trying to save cash.

    "Free skate Thursdays" continue tonight, January 3, and will run until February 14. The event series features free skate rentals from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m., every Thursday, courtesy of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

    Better still, you can take free drop-in skating lessons from The West Toronto Skating Club. Kids aged 6-12 can learn to skate for free between 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. while adult lessons are scheduled for between 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. on a first come, first serve basis.

    Have fun!


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    The weekend is here and events in Toronto today include a showcase of the city's local arts, music and performance scene at this month's edition of Long Winter. Class of 2019 kicks off a month of new music and there's a vintage patch pop-up sale.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Long Winter (January 4 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    Long Winter returns for a post New Year's celebration featuring the best of Toronto's underground music, art and performance scene.
    Millennial Falcon (January 4 @ The Boat)
    Shake your booty to all the best hits from the age of heavy lip gloss and Juicy Couture sweatsuits courtesy of DJs Shandy and Keith.
    Wildlife (January 4 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    Director Paul Dano brings together Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal to tell a story of family and purpose during uncertain times.
    Back To Revival (January 4 @ Revival)
    DJ Amita and DJ Vikk are keeping the New Years celebrations going with a huge Bollywood-style dance party.
    The 3 Künstmen (January 4 @ The Beaver)
    Queer expression and lots of it are on tonight as the Künst Kids club collective hosts a night of drag, music, art and performances.
    Comedy Against Humanity (January 4 @ Social Capital Theatre)
    The infamous card game comes to life with local comedians performing sets of risqué content with the help of the audience.
    Vintage Patch Pop-Up Sale (January 4-6 @ 438 Queen St W)
    Over 1,000 original, authentic, vintage and embroidered patches of all shapes and sizes are for sale during this three-day pop-up.
    What is Democracy? (January 4-10 @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema)
    Taking a look at different societies around the world, this documentary explores the changing nature of democracy when it seems under attack.
    Class of 2019 (January 4-26 @ Multiple Venues)
    The new music of tomorrow takes the stage at spots all over the city during this concert series taking place alongside gigs across the country.
    Globehead (January 4-26 @ Bad Dog Comedy Theatre)
    The annual Globehead tournament returns this month with 24 teams of improvisers competing for glory, honour and a ridiculous trophy.

    0 0

    Hard lofts are rare in this city. Nice ones are even harder to come by. So it’s no surprise this one went for over asking and sold in under two weeks.

    955 queen st w torontoThe space has all the things you could want from a hard loft: loads of exposed brick, soaring ceilings, exposed ducts and beams. It’s also a corner unit with huge windows so there’s lots of natural light.

    955 queen st w torontoThe unit is mostly open concept with the kitchen, living and dining area all being in one big space.

    955 queen st w torontoThere are two bedrooms. The master bedroom is spacious and bright and has a decent sized walk-in closet.

    955 queen st w torontoThe second bedroom is big enough to fit a double bed but anyone with OCD is going to be twitching over the mismatched bricks.

    955 queen st w torontoThe only huge downside to this place is the lack of outdoor space, but there are Juliette balconies and Trinity Bellwoods park is across the street if you’re craving grass.

    The Essentials
    • Address: #319 – 995 Queen St. W
    • Type: Condo
    • Bedrooms: 2
    • Bathrooms: 2
    • Size: 1000-1199 square feet
    • Realtor: Daniel Greenbaum, Forest Hill Real Estate 
    • Hit the market at: $999,999
    • Sold for: $1,089,000955 queen st w toronto
    Why it sold for what it did?

    It has exposed brick and wood beams. That’s like catnip for hipster millennials.955 queen st w toronto

    Was it worth it?

    I get that this is one of the trendiest hoods in Toronto and hard lofts are really trendy right now, but is a 1,000 square-foot condo with virtually no outdoor space worth more than $1 million? I’m not so sure.955 queen st w toronto


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    Food events in Toronto this week celebrate all things fried chicken and smoked meat. Elsewhere, a Keto menu is launching and there's a pitha and vegan festival to look forward to, plus the return of Sugar Shack down by the water.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Gdous Juicy Chicken House Grand Opening (January 4-6 @ Gdous Juicy Chicken House)
    Lovers of all things fried chicken can get their fill at the grand opening of Gdous' second location on Bloor Street and enjoy some free chicken goodies.
    Beach Hill Smokehouse One Year Anniversary (January 5 @ Beach Hill Smokehouse)
    Beach Hill is celebrating one year of smoking meats and treats with a day-long celebration featuring live music, raffles and free sandwiches.
    Bootcamp and Beer (January 6 @ Junction Craft Brewing)
    Sweat it out inside of Junction Craft Brewery as Camp Fuel hosts a one hour, full-body workout followed by a fresh pint of locally brewed beer.
    War on Carbs (January 9 @ Station Cafe & Kitchen)
    The Keto diet is all the rage and Station Cafe is throwing a bash to launch its speciality menu taking aim at all things carbohydrate.
    Beer and Cheese Pairing (January 10 @ Rorschach Brewing Co.)
    Usually it's wine and cheese, but The Art Of Cheese and Rorschach are teaming up to show you how beer can be just as much of a yummy pal.
    Annual Pitha Festival (January 20 @ Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mandir)
    All things pitha are being celebrated at this annual festival dedicated to the traditional rice cake with tons of varieties on hand for the tasting.
    Galette des Rois (January 23 @ Thompson Hotel Toronto)
    Calling all kings and queens for this French traditional that involves eating a slice of King's Cake and a ceramic figurine that unlocks more goodies.
    Toronto Black Vegan Festival (February 17 @ Artscape Wychwood Barns)
    New this year is a festival dedicated to plant-based African and Caribbean foods, health and wellness information, guest speakers and cooking demos.
    Sugar Shack TO (March 9-10 @ Sherbourne Common)
    Back again is this two-day festival centred on sugary treats served up alongside live tunes, ice activities and games, food, drinks, shopping and more.

    0 0

    Less and less people are buying houses in the GTA, according to analysts, thanks to higher interest rates, stricter mortgage rules and a general lack of affordable homes on the market.

    Newly-released data from the Toronto Real Estate Board shows that the number of residences sold in and around the city declined by 16.1 per cent last year, from a total of 92,263 sales in 2017 to just 77,426 in 2018.

    This marks the worst year for sales in the Toronto region since 2008, as Bloomberg points out, with detached houses showing the sharpest dip at 18.7 per cent less sold than in 2017.

    Overall home prices, on the other hand, were up very slightly in the City of Toronto itself, largely on account of condos.

    TREB says that condos "performed better from a pricing perspective than the detached market segment," with an average increase of about 7.8 per cent year-over-year across the GTA.

    Still, the average selling price for all home types combined dipped by 4.3 per cent in 2018 to an average of $787,300. New listings were down over the same period of time by 12.7 per cent.

    "In many neighbourhoods, despite fewer sales from a historic perspective, some buyers still struggled to find a home meeting their needs," said TREB's Director of Market Analysis, Jason Mercer, on Friday.

    "Price growth was strongest for less-expensive home types, as many home buyers sought more affordable home ownership options."

    Like renting condos.

    TREB president Garry Bhaura, like most real estate experts, blames the home sales decline, at least in part, on "higher borrowing costs coupled with the new mortgage stress test."

    "With this said," he added, "It is important to note that market conditions were improved in the second half of the year, both from a sales and pricing standpoint."


    0 0

    It was only days ago that Toronto's club-hopping contingent bid a fond farewell to Uniun after six solid years of serving beats in a massive old King West warehouse space.

    Now, the company behind said megaclub, INK Entertainment, is moving on. 

    Introducing Toybox: A new "nightlife and entertainment venue" opening sometime this year in the space previously occupied (as in like, three days ago) by Uniun. 

    "Guests can be sure Toybox will join the ranks of INK Entertainment’s other coveted nightlife destinations," reads an announcement from the company, which also owns Rebel, Cabana Pool Bar and Cube Nightclub.

    "With a two room, two sound format, weekly events include the city’s biggest dance night on Fridays, a Top 40 open format music party on Saturdays, and opportunities for live music performances every night of the week."

    And that's literally all we know, aside from what the spot's neon pink teddy bear logo looks like and the fact that they're hiring.

    High volume bartenders, servers, barbacks, bottle service attendants and "brand ambassadors" (which I'm pretty sure is just another term for promoters) can apply here.

    Coming Soon. 🐻

    A post shared by Toybox (@toyboxtoronto) on

    An actual opening date has yet to be announced, but INK encourages interested patrons to follow the brand on Instagram for deets as they're unveiled. 

    If you were already following Uniun, that should be easy. The handle for the old venue has simply been switched over to @toyboxtoronto, which begs the question: How much different from Uniun will this place actually be?

    I guess we'll find out when it opens.


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    The best catering companies in Toronto ensure guests at events big and small across the city aren’t just staving off hunger, they’re feasting. Some of the folks behind the finest grocery stores and restaurants in town will make sure there’s something for everyone, no matter the function.

    Here are the best catering companies in Toronto.

    Food Dudes

    The people behind restaurants Sara, Rasa and Omaw can bring an experience on par with their brick and mortars to your doorstep. They have a specific BBQ catering division, their own food truck, and connections with some of the hottest event venues around.

    Daniel et Daniel

    In business for around 40 years, there are over 1600 items on this company’s collection of seasonal menus designed specifically for a range of occasions from weddings to corporate lunches, family-style buffets and cocktail receptions.

    Barque Smokehouse

    If barbecue suits your event, look no further than this company that will load up all attendees with racks of ribs. 

    McEwan

    Celeb chef Mark McEwan is behind this company that can cater spreads of brunch buffets, sandwich platters, charcuterie, and much more.

    10tation Event Catering

    This company can hook your event up with celebrity chefs from some of your favourite TV shows and local restaurants, and they’ll provide lighting, music and decor in addition to the food.

    Tita Flips

    Those looking to celebrate Filipino-style can order platters of seafood, pork, noodles, spring rolls, chicken, rice and dessert from this company also behind Kanto.

    Drake Catering

    A formidable sprawl of restaurants run by this company rules the city’s food scene, and you can get their recognizable scratch dishes like brisket, smoked salmon, bagels and meatballs catered to your event.

    Marigolds & Onions

    This sustainable caterer has been doing their thing for over 25 years, and they’re comfortable with, a wide range of event styles and cuisines like Greek, Indian and Portuguese. 

    Yorkshire Pudding

    Brunch, dinner and h’ors d’oeuvres are all catered by this company that puts elegant presentation first with options like on-site sushi and oyster bars and build-your-own mac n’ cheese.

    Elle Cuisine

    With the ability to cater corporate and private functions as well as weddings, let your imagination run wild with creative, ever-changing menus of lobster, paella, risotto, barbecue and oysters from this company.

    Toben Food by Design

    Emphasizing fresh, local and artisan elements, this company can bring their very own food truck to your event, with lots of vegetarian options to make everyone happy.

    Kiss the Cook

    If you want to be catered to completely, look no further than this company that can even handle the decor and entertainment for almost any event. They can even pull off “Garden Party” and “Southern Comfort” themes.


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    There's nothing like a group of angry, screaming protesters to drive people out of an enclosed space—which is exactly the point behind a demonstration at Toronto's flagship Winners location today.

    Local animal rights activist Len Goldberg, famous for his involvement in actions against IKEA, Antler restaurant, and Ryding Regency Meat Packers (among others) says that members of a Toronto anti-fur group just "ambushed" the inside of the Winners at Yonge Dundas Square.

    The demonstration was just one in what he describes as an "escalating campaign that has now ambushed the insides of dozens of Winners in Toronto and across Canada."

    Goldberg and his fellow activists are calling upon TJX Canada, which owns Winners, HomeSense and Marshalls, to go fur-free, and not just for kicks.

    The company's parent brand, TJX global, already has a no-fur policy for its stores in the U.S., UK, Europe and Australia. Protesters are simply pushing the company to extend this policy into its Canadian locations as well.

    "We began by reaching out cordially to TJX, and were met by two TJX executives," said Goldberg on Friday. "But subsequently TJX has for now decided to ignore its global ethical approach and instead peddle a growing number of disgusting new fur products."

    These products include blankets and full fur coats made from what protesters allege were "live-skinned rabbits tortured and murdered on Chinese fur farms."

    "We will continue escalating with disruptions inside Winners locations across Canada, protests outside Winners, phone call and email campaigns, and online shaming of TJX/Winners," says Goldberg, "for torturing and murdering bunnies, foxes, raccoon dogs and coyotes for evil fur fashion."


    0 0

    The first day of January is always rough, which left a lot of Toronto Hydro customers wondering why they were being kicked while they were down.

    On January 1, 2019, rates rose by an average of $6.33 (5.4%) before tax for typical residential users. The reasoning behind the changes is a hodgepodge of distribution, transmission and generation costs, as well as grid investments approved by the Ontario Energy Board.

    Apparently all of this affects that obscure "delivery charge" portion of your Toronto Hydro bill, and people are not happy about it.

    Worst of all, the increase leaves many Doug Ford voters feeling betrayed by another broken promise.

    While we do have a few pathetic end-caps of Cool Lager for a buck in the LCBO, these higher hydro rates fly directly in the face of Ford’s promises to lower them.

    Toronto Hydro raising rates to light and heat homes in the middle of cold, dark winter after everyone’s splashed out on presents, food and booze in December does come off as pretty Grinch-like.

    Maybe they’re hoping Torontonians’ wallets will grow three sizes?


    0 0

    If you're a longtime subway rider, you're probably privy to the art of swiftly manoeuvring around the human trap that is the TTC. 

    But a local cartographer has just unlocked the ultimate key to commuter efficiency.

    Illustrator and urban geographer Daniel Rotsztain has just released two maps that show you which subway car you should ride to be closest to the main exit of every station on Lines 1 and 2. 

    ttc exits torontosubway exits toronto

    Cartographer Daniel Rotsztain has created maps that show which subway cars are closest to the main exits of stations on Lines 1 and 2. Photo courtesy of Daniel Rotsztain.

    Getting off at Finch station? Make sure to ride the first car for quick access to the exit when you arrive.

    If you're heading, say, eastbound on Line 2 to Greenwood, find a seat on the second last car. 

    Rotsztain (who's working on an accessibility elevator map next) says he compiled the data for his map using his own personal knowledge (he's an avid TTC rider) and the TTC website, which actually provides information on exit locations in relation to subway cars. 

    Apparently he's not the first person to make an illustrated map: Rotsztain's map is well-preceded by the 2005 TTC Subway Rider Efficiency Guide by Toronto transit enthusiast Sean Lerner.

    Download the PDFs for quick access, bypass the massive lineups during rush hour, and be on the escalator up before the next ding-dang-dong.


    0 0

    It's been six months since a huge two-alarm blaze broke out during last year's Taste of Little Italy, but it looks like the Fish Store & YuNes' Sandwiches has arisen from the ashes once more. 

    The popular shop has been back for several weeks with new signs and its same menu on the corner of fish sandwiches.

    It was one of three businesses at the corner of College and Grace Streets severely damaged by a fire that could be seen all the way from West Humber Bay Park last summer.

    Fish Store is the only business to re-open after the blaze, which engulfed the second-storey apartments connecting it to neighbouring Ghazale and nearby Italian restaurant Vivoli

    It appears Ghazale got the brunt of the damage (it's reported the fire started on its second floor), as there are still no signs of the Mediterranean takeout spot re-opening.

    And according to Vivoli's voicemail, they'll also be for closed until further notice while they renovate their severely damaged rooftop patio.


    0 0

    Toronto is getting even more options for craft beer as a well-known pub stands poised to rebrand entirely.

    Pour Boy, open for four and a half years in little Italy, is turning into a Beerocracy, a concept which the owners have found success with in Ottawa for two years now.

    The rebranding means the bar will now have fifteen continuously rotating craft beers on tap as opposed to their current two. A wider range of beers, ciders will be available as well as popular craft brands brought over from Ottawa like Small Pony.

    Owner Graham Marko says they’re changing up the brand to reflect the more upscale businesses that are taking root in the neighbourhood.

    These changes include not only the wider net they've cast for beverage options but also more expensive entrees. They'll still have pub food, but the menu will become identical to that of the Ottawa Beerocracy.

    No more scrounging for toonies to pay for it, though, as thankfully these changes also including abandoning a notorious cash only policy.

    Some aesthetic renovations will involve replacing the old bar top with a granite one, which should stand out in the wood-filled space. By January 15th all changes should be firmly in place. For now, the Pour Boy on Manning remains untouched.


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    Police shouldn't be able to stop, question and document the identities of random citizens for no apparent reason — not even if their "Spidey sense" tells them something's amiss.

    This is why Ontario strengthened its regulations against arbitrary street checks at the beginning of 2017, and why, according to Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch, the practice of "carding" should be banned altogether.

    It's a conversation that never seems to end in Toronto, which suspended street checks in 2015, but one that's important to follow right now, in particular, as Premier Doug Ford's PC government once again reconsiders whether police can or can't demand a person's ID based on their race or presence in a high-crime neighbourhood.

    Earlier this week, Tulloch and his team released a more than 300-page-long independent review of the previous Liberal government's regulations on carding, which were brought in after years of opposition to ensure that police-public interactions be conducted "without bias or discrimination."

    The Independent Street Checks Review took approximately 18 months to compile, with input from more than 2,200 people, including representatives from 34 different police services.

    In it, Tulloch explains that there is little evidence to show that "random, unfocused collection of identifying information"actually reduces crime — and certainly not enough to "outweigh the social cost of the practice.

    "The negative impact of random carding, particularly on Indigenous, black and other racialized communities, combined with the limited evidence that it is an effective police tool, brings me to only one logical conclusion and that is that random carding should end," said Tulloch during a news conference in Toronto on Friday.

    If the practice does continue in any form, Tullich reccomends tightening the regulations even more so that police "must have objective and credible grounds" to justify stopping someone and taking down their information.

    A recent surge in gun violence around the City of Toronto has prompted some to call for return of restrictionless carding privileges for police.

    Tulloch refutes these suggestions in his report, writing that random street checks actually appear to exacerbate gang activity, which police say was responsible for up to 90 per cent of gun violence in Toronto as of July 2018.

    "There is a strong link between a sense of social alienation due to discrimination and young people joining gangs," the report reads."There is also evidence that a substantial number of these young people who are experiencing or perpetrating youth violence are being regularly subjected to police stops."

    As it stands now, regulated interactions must involve an officer telling anyone who is stopped in the process of "looking into suspicious activities" or "gathering intelligence" or "investigating general criminal activity in the community" that their participation is voluntary.

    People stopped for these reasons must also be told why they're being asked for ID, that any information they provide may be recorded, and that if they do chose to provide information, "some of the identifying information that may be requested, such as the person’s religion, is being requested by law to help eliminate systemic racism."

    These rules do not apply to police officers during traffic stops, when executing a warrant, when investigating a specific crime or when arresting or detaining someone.

    Doug Ford's government is set to introduce its own police reform bill this year, according to The Star, but they do plan to take Tulloch's report into consideration. 

    Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Sylvia Jones released a statement on New Year's Eve in which she wrote that "Justice Tulloch's report will inform our work as we fix Ontario's policing legislation."

    It's hard to say what the end result will look like, though it's of note that Ford, in his July Throne Speech, promised to "free" Ontario's police services from any "onerous restrictions that treat those in uniform as subjects of suspicion and scorn" and give them "the tools, support and resources they need to enforce the law."


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    Prepare to take out salads, boxes and wraps rather than chicken and porchetta sandwiches from one Toronto spot.

    Carver at Peter and Adelaide is being replaced by a Salus Fresh Foods. The sandwich shop was the brainchild of Rob Bragagnolo (Labora, Marben) and Sergio Fiorino.

    The reasoning behind the replacement is simple and drama-free: the partners want to focus on their own individual projects more. Labora recently converted from a food hall to a full-on restaurant newly doing brunch service, and Fiorino oversees four businesses in Blue Mountain Village.

    According to Bragagnolo, they had a few offers on the space over the past year and decided to take one of them. "Carver may reappear, but for now it's on a little vacation," he says.

    Just as much as loaded baked potatoes and crispy cracklings, the bold design of the space, including an Insta-worthy wall devoted to A Tribe Called Quest lyrics, will be missed.


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    Saturday—let's celebrate! If we took the events in Toronto and we're back from the holidays, you'll find there's a market on where everything is totally free. The first show of Class of 2019 is happening and there's another edition of DJ Skate Nights.

    Events you might want to check out:

    Orville Peck (January 5 @ Monarch Tavern)
    Class of 2019 kicks off in Toronto with a performance by new-era, mask-wearing country singer Orville Peck as he puts a hipster spin on the genre.
    DJ Skate Nights (January 5 @ Natrel Rink)
    Skate it out to all the hottest house, funk, bass, electro, hip-hop and dancehall brought to you by Cherry Bomb DJs Cozmic Cat and Denise Benson.
    Really Really Free Market (January 5 @ Campbell Park)
    Leave your wallet at home as this really, really free market kicks off another year of new-to-you gems available totally free of charge.
    Shade Two Year Anniversary (January 5 @ The Great Hall)
    Comedians of colour, women and comedians from the LGBTQ2S+ celebrate two years of Shade with a night of comedy, dance, drag and improv.
    Mitchell F. Chan and Rhiannon Vogl Artists Talk (January 5 @ Angell Gallery (Dupont))
    Add Inches To Your Wang!!! is Mitchell F. Chan's solo exhibit and he's on hand to talk about in technology, culture and the body alongside Rhiannon Vogl.
    New Year, Who Dis? (January 5 @ Bunda Lounge)
    Highlighting local talent at this arts party, The CoMPound is throwing it down with music, fashion, visual arts and food to celebrate the new year.
    The Double Life of Veronique (January 5 @ The Royal Cinema)
    Toronto's Polish Film Festival is hosting a special presentation of Krzysztof Kieślowski's trippy classic about love and identity.
    Empire Records (January 5 @ Sneaky Dee's)
    All the best rock, pop, indie, hip-hop and more is on at this 90's dance party featuring the best tunes inspired by the classic flick Empire Records.
    Toronto Poetry Slam (January 5 @ The Drake Hotel)
    Spend your Saturday soaking up the local slam poetry scene as poets compete in the semifinals edition of the slam featuring veteran artist Regie Cabico.
    Y2Gay (January 5 @ Round)
    Take a trip back to a time when the new millennium was upon us with a night of 90s and early 2000s hits to get you sweating off the cold.

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    A giraffe's spots are beautiful, but if you frequent a busy Toronto transit hub, you might be sick of seeing them by now.

    What was once an eye-catching development centre for Giraffe condos has become an eyesore over years of neglect, but renderings have surfaced from the latest group to take over the property, Trinity

    giraffe condo building

    The abandoned Giraffe Condos sales centre is hard to miss and impossible to forget once you've seen it at Dundas and Bloor. Image via Google Maps.

    Giraffe never came to be because of pushback from the community and height concerns, as well as something called FAR: Floor-Area ratio. Basically, it's the ratio of a development's footprint to its total usable floorspace. This typically depends on where a development is, allowing for more dense projects in certain areas.

    The new 27-storey development is slated to contain 236 residential units and over 29,000 square feet of retail space on the first and second floor. Trinity Group paid $35 million for the Giraffe site and three other adjacent properties in March 2018. Opening is planned for 2023.

    trinity group renderings

    A new mixed use tower at Bloor and Dundas is set to replace the area's infamous 'giraffe building'. Image via Trinity Group.

    These renderings are just a small part of a whack of transformations coming to the area set to change Bloor and Dundas as we know it.

    A hub for the UP Express with dedicated service to Union and Pearson has brought a huge increase in traffic and popularity to the intersection.


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