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    Events in Toronto this week hope to make you pause and consider the thought and hard work that went into your bean bag chair with Come Up to My Room, IDS Toronto and DesignTO all happening this week. Elsewhere, art, film and music are all on, alongside lots of free stuff.

    Events you might want to check out:

    TechTO (January 14 @ RBC WaterPark Place)
    Toronto's tech crowd is coming out for the first TechTO of the year and night of drinks, eats, and networking, plus speakers and special presentations.
    Martha Wainwright (January 15 @ The Great Hall)
    Folk singer-songerwriter Martha Wainwright's musical family roots shine through as she arrives to play some of her most hauntingly beautiful songs.
    How to Breathe Forever (January 16 @ Onsite Gallery)
    A group of local artists take on the challenge of explaining the interconnectedness of all life on earth, and how we humans play a vital role in our world.
    Daughters of the Dust (January 16-19 @ Art Gallery of Ontario)
    The difficulty and importance of maintaining cultural heritage takes on the focus in a series of spherical screenings of Julie Dash's 1991 film.
    Come Up to My Room (January 17-20 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    The Gladstone is about to be transformed into a multi-storey, interactive art and design playground with 20 projects spread around the space.
    IDS Toronto (January 17-20 @ Metro Toronto Convention Centre)
    One of the biggest interior design shows of the year arrives for four-days of exhibitions, panels, presentations and special guests.
    I Hate Models (January 18-19 @ 500 Keele St)
    There's still a handful of tickets left for this late-night event featuring warehouse techno DJ I Hate Models on deck alongside Liu Chang.
    Saddle Up! (January 18 @ Owl's Club)
    Saddle Up! returns for a night of hootin' and hollerin' with all the classic country hits and a special celebration of Dolly Parton for her birthday.
    The Greatest Showman (January 18-20 @ Cinesphere)
    A movie, a musical, a Huge Jackman world-wide tour: The Greatest Showman tells the story of show business and the imaginative world of P.T. Barnum.
    DesignTO (January 18-27 @ Multiple Venues)
    All around the city, all things design are happening as part of this big design festival that includes installations, exhibits, talks and more.
    Ossington Record Sale (January 19 @ 45 Ossington Ave)
    Everyone is welcome to drop by and buy, sell, trade and talk vinyl. Feel free to bring your own because there's no dealers or shop owners, just music.
    Small Ball Mini Cask Fest (January 19 @ Left Field Brewery)
    Back again is this all-day mini cask festival to warm you up with ten casks, food by Dover Boys Fish and Chips and special glassware. Admission is free!
    Something Strange Sideshow Festival (January 19 @ Mod Club)
    The strange and unusual takes centre stage at this annual showcase of human marvels and freaks with bizarre acts coming in from all over the world.
    Blue Jays Winter Fest (January 19-20 @ Rogers Centre)
    The Toronto Blue Jays are ready to welcome fans with weekend of festivities for everyone, including player appearances, activities, entertainnment and more.
    Gladstone Hotel Marketplace (January 20 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    Get your New Years resolutions off to a good start with local markers coming out to feature the newest in décor, giftware, jewellery, fashion and lots more.

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    After a long-awaited lottery draw, the 25 people who've been awarded licenses for physical cannabis retail shops have been announced. Five of them are in Toronto. 

    No known companies were announced as winners in Toronto's regional picks, but rather, names of individuals. The winners of Toronto's five licenses are Colin Campbell, Heather Conlon, Hunny Gawri, Dana Michele Kendal, and Syedarash Seyedameri. 

    The Ontario government announced last month that the lottery system would be put into effect to limit the amount of licenses granted in the province due to a national cannabis shortage. 

    Those with a license are expected to open their stores by April 1. The province says more licenses will become available when the supply of cannabis increases. 

    The proprietors selected must turn in their applications with a $6,000 fee and a $50,000 letter of credit by the end of this week.


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    The deafening sound of high-pitched screaming filled the halls of Square One Shopping Centre this Saturday in a moment people had been waiting for all week: a glimpse of makeup guru James Charles. 

    Thousands of fans (mostly teens) swarmed the first and second floors of the Mississauga mall to see the 19-year-old Youtube and Instagram star, who came to Toronto on the weekend for the grand opening ceremony of the cosmetic store Morphe

    Armed with a pair of giant scissors, the first male CoverGirl ambassador in history marked the occasion with a ribbon-cutting as a sea of people collectively lost their minds. 

    According to a Tweet from Charles after the event, more than 10,000 "sisters" showed up for his event, setting a new record for the makeup ingenue, who only started his makeup journey in 2016 but already has his own Morphe palette and brush set. 

    The official meet and greet started at 11 a.m., but people queued up way before then to snag a spot in the line. 

    The mall doesn't even open until 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, but the dedicated were there well before that.

    Even the lucky winners of the wristband contest had to wait hours to see him. 

    It was so packed, there was barely enough room to walk. Anyone who happened to be perusing in the mall on Saturday chose a bad day to shop.

    It's safe to say people were beyond sister shook.


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    Ontario Place is on the cusp of big change. The publicly-owned piece of land on Toronto's west waterfront has made some strides the last few years toward becoming the public green space our city needs, but if the Ford government stays its course, it might instead be home to a slew of commercialized mega projects. We can do better than that, Toronto.

    Here are some ideas for what could go in Ontario Place instead of a casino.

    Organic food garden

    It's possible to grow food in urban areas, in fact, many cities around the world are already doing just that. Look at Grignon Energie Positive in Paris, or the Biostädte in German cities: Ontario Place has more than enough acreage to do the same thing. 

    Transit museum

    The Toronto Transit Museum Association has been trying for years to find a permanent place for their historic TTC relics. With the 100th anniversary of the TTC coming up in 2021, there's space for us to take our love-hate relationship with the transit system to the next level.

    Wild bee sanctuary

    There's already been a push for more bee sanctuaries in the city thanks to the David Suzuki Foundation's BIMBY Project, so why not turn a part of Ontario Place into an apiary? We can educate the kids about bees, save pollinator populations, and get some honey while we're at it.  

    Giant greenhouse

    You only need a few acres to fit some giant biomes in what could potentially be one of largest greenhouses in the world. Just like the Eden Project in Cornwall, our piece of land could potentially house thousands of plant species, with massive enclosures simulating rainforest and Mediterranean-climate environments, plus an outdoor garden.

    Environmental education centre

    Let's look to the Robert Bateman Centre in Victoria for inspiration on a building dedicated to educating and researching our native ecosystems. Using art as a way to inform the public about nature could help boost Toronto's number of art galleries too.

    Yard games park

    Among the other attractions that could go in Ontario Place, an area to play popular outdoor games like bocce (it's made a comeback), badminton, and cricket (maybe revive the idea of the GTA Cricket Stadium) could be a way to bring people the the waterfront. 

    Restaurant row

    There isn't much by way of food at Ontario Place right now other than the Vista Eatery, meaning it's hard to make the renovated Cinesphere a proper dinner-and-a-movie destination. Some restaurants and cafes on the East Island could be a good idea—maybe Vegandale could move here instead.

    Arena theatre

    The Budweiser Stage and Echo Beach bring music lovers to this part of the waterfront to see their favourite musicians, so why not give local acts a place to play too? The old Forum was an intimate theatre in the round experience that could be revived to a degree; Toronto needs the venues.

    Outdoor roller derby

    Remember when Ontario Place was a place that both kids and adults actually wanted to go to? An outdoor skate park could be a nice addition to the year-round ice skating rink that exists there already. Just imagine: skate rentals, DJ nights, and that amazing skyline view—I'd go there.

    Shipping container market

    They're flexible, they're fun, and they don't have to stick around forever. Modular shipping container markets like the one coming to Front and Bathurst this summer are great incubators for small businesses, and with the help of local artists, can look really cool.


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    The most anticipated restaurant openings in Toronto for 2019 showcase all the city has to offer. From new ventures by staple names to re-imagined concepts, these new spots are sure to be buzzed about heavily as their opening date nears.

    Here are my picks for the most hotly anticipated restaurant openings in Toronto this year.

    Adelina

    Sergeui Kourokhtine, previously the owner of Le Notre on Harbord Street at Manning, has decided to shut down his French Bistro and replace it with a modern Russian restaurant. The concept sounds intriguing (yes, there will be vodka) and it should be making its debut very soon.

    Aviator

    Toronto catering company Cinq Foods is finally opening its own brick-and-mortar restaurant, and it will be located on Danforth East, between Greenwood and Coxwell. Judging from this preview, its interior looks as beautiful as the food will likely taste.

    Eataly

    Three years after first announcing its intention to open a Toronto location, this gi-normous Italian marketplace should be making its grand entrance at the Manulife Centre in Yorkville this fall. There will be sit-down restaurants, casual eateries and a brewery. Get excited.

    Lov

    One of Montreal's most popular vegetarian and vegan restaurants will be coming to King and Portland this spring, with plans to open its first Toronto outpost in May. Expect tasty vegan burgers, tacos and weekend brunch along with botanical cocktails and natural wine and beer.

    Maison Selby

    Oliver & Bonacini will soon be opening this all-day dining spot in the historic C.H. Gooderham House at Sherbourne and Selby. It will feature a lower-level speakeasy and a garden patio in addition to three distinct main-floor rooms that will also serve weekend brunch.

    Planta Queen

    Vegan restaurants are on the rise. Chef David Lee and the Chase Hospitality Group will be transforming what was formerly Nota Bene into a new Planta concept with Asian-influences that's set to open in this Queen West space this spring. 

    Stackt

    As early as this spring, a huge market constructed from around 120 shipping containers should be opening in a vacant plot of land at Front and Bathurst. Businesses will include restaurants and bars, and it sounds like a larger, possibly more fascinating version of Market 707.

    Steam Whistle Biergarten

    Hometown brewer Steam Whistle is opening a German-style beer garden this spring in its downtown space at Roundhouse Park. Look forward to German food hall classics like Wurst, schnitzel and fried potatoes, plus plant-based options for vegans. And, of course, there will be beer.

    Tora

    Opening this winter at Yorkdale is this new Japanese restaurant by the same team behind Miku. It plans to serve quality aburi and traditional-style sushi in a more casual and fast-paced setting that will somehow incorporate state-of-the-art technology.

    Waska

    Chef Elias Salazar (Kay Pacha) will soon be opening this new Peruvian spot in a yet-to-be-announced location in the city. The restaurant will include Chifa (Chinese Cantonese-Peruvian), Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese) and Italo-Peruvian dishes along with classics like ceviche (and of course, Pisco).


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    An 18-year-old Saudi teen whose harrowing, real-time account of escape from death at the hands of her own family that has captured the world's attention is now safe and sound in Toronto.

    Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun shot to fame early last week after fleeing her family while visiting Kuwait, flying to Bangkok alone, and barricading herself in an airport hotel room to ask for help using social media.

    "I'm the girl who [ran] away from Kuwait to Thailand," she said in English va Twitter while at Bangok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on January 5. "I'm in real danger because the Saudi embassy trying to forcing me to go back to Saudi Arabia, while I'm at the airport waiting for my second flight."

    "I'm afraid," she continued. "My family WILL kill me."

    Alqunun proceeded to live-tweet the events of her attempted escape after Saudi Arabian embassy officials confiscated her passport, prohibiting her from continuing on to Australia, where she had hoped to be granted asylum.

    "Based on the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, I'm Rahaf Mohmed, formally seeking a refugee status to any country that would protect me from getting harmed or killed due to leaving my religion and torture from my family," she wrote on January 6 as Saudi officials prepared to forcibly deport her back to Kuwait.

    "I forgot to mention that the Saudi Arabia's embassy also said to the Bangkok airport if they don't flee me back to Kuwait they will literally KIDNAP me."

    The young woman's desperate pleas for help did not go unanswered, as concerned Twitter users from around the world translated and shared her messages widely.

    By the time her father, a governor in Saudi Arabia, had arrived to Bangkok, Alqunun was in contact with legal experts and aid organizations who encouraged her not to leave the hotel room in Thailand.

    Alqunun proceeded to remain barricaded in the room and demanded to speak with The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), even as guards allegedly threatened her and said she "can't ask for UN protection."

    Early on the morning of January 7, UN officials arrived to the Bangkok airport and made contact with the terrified teen on Twitter.

    From that point on, it was all uphill for the 18-year-old refugee claimant.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the UN High Commissioner for Refugees' request to allow Alqunun to settle in this country, saying that he was pleased to do so as Canada "understands how important it is to stand up for human rights, to stand up for women’s rights around the world."

    It wasn't long before she was on a plane bound for Toronto.

    Alqunun finally arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Saturday, where she was greeted by supporters, reporters and Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.

    "Canada was glad we were able to act quickly and to offer refuge to a refugee at the request of UNHCR," said Freeland to reporters at the airport. "And to offer refuge to a person whose life was in danger."

    Alqunun herself is now exploring the beautiful city of Toronto, according to her Twitter feed.

    "I would like to thank you people for supporting me and saving my life," she wrote of those who helped spread her message using the social media platform.

    "Truly I have never dreamed of this love and support. You are the spark that would motivate me to be a better person."


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    Weather, weather, weather. It's the hot topic in winter, but that's the only way it's hot. That's because this weekend is going to be absolutely frigid. 

    This coming Saturday, temperatures are going to drop to -10 C, but will feel much colder at -17 C. If that's not cold enough for you, Sunday is going to feel like -26 C. toronto weather

    The Weather Network is happy to let us know how miserable we are all going to be. Image from the Weather Network.

    And, if even that temperature isn't enough for you, there are also concerns about a large snow storm heading our way.

    According to the Weather Network, temperatures this week are about 15 C below what they would normally be at this time of year. 

    The weather experts have been telling us to bundle up for weeks, but it seems like now you really have to. 


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    This week on DineSafe we learn that two locations of a popular burrito joint got busted by Toronto health inspectors. Fat Bastard Burrito in Liberty Village and Bloor West Village both landed conditional passes last week. 

    Discover what other local spots got busted by city health inspectors this week on DineSafe.

    Aroma (500 Bloor St. West)
    • Inspected on: January 7, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 6 (Minor: 2, Significant: 3, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Failed to protect food from contamination or adulteration.
    Fat Bastard Burrito (2400 Bloor St. West)
    • Inspected on: January 7, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 2 (Minor: 1, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Failed to process food in manner safe to eat.
    McDonald's (6344 Yonge St.)
    • Inspected on: January 7, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 1 (Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Caldense Bakery (337 Symington Ave.)
    • Inspected on: January 8, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 1 (Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Gale's Snack Bar (539 Eastern Ave.)
    • Inspected on: January 8, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 5 (Minor: 2, Significant: 2, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Failed to protect food from contamination or adulteration.
    Jack Astor's (1090 Don Mills Rd.)
    • Inspected on: January 8, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 1 (Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Yeah Yeahs Pizza (1210 Yonge St.)
    • Inspected on: January 8, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 5 (Minor: 1, Significant: 4)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    The Captain's Boil (2655 Yonge St.)
    • Inspected on: January 9, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 7 (Minor: 3, Significant: 2, Crucial: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: Food premise maintained in manner permitting adverse effect on food and stored ice in unsanitary manner.
    Don Don Izakaya (130 Dundas St. West)
    • Inspected on: January 9, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 9 (Minor: 6, Significant: 2, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Stored potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60°C.
    Fat Bastard Burrito (126 Atlantic Ave.)
    • Inspected on: January 9, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 2 (Significant: 1, Crucial: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: Hot-holding potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature below 60°C.
    Owl of Minerva (5324 Yonge St.)
    • Inspected on: January 9, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 3 (Minor: 2, Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Pancho's Bakery (1015 Dufferin St.)
    • Inspected on: January 9, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 3 (Significant: 3)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Tim Horton's (176 Front St. East)
    • Inspected on: January 9, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 3 (Minor: 1, Significant: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A
    Avenue Open Kitchen (7 Camden St.)
    • Inspected on: January 10, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 4 (Minor: 1, Significant: 1, Crucial: 2)
    • Crucial infractions include: Maintained potentially hazardous foods at internal temperature between 4°C and 60° and failed to protect food from contamination or adulteration.
    Subway (67 Richmond St. West)
    • Inspected on: January 10, 2019
    • Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional)
    • Number of infractions: 1 (Significant: 1)
    • Crucial infractions include: N/A

    Note: The above businesses each received infractions from DineSafe as originally reported on the DineSafe site. This does not imply that any of these businesses have not subsequently corrected the issue and received a passing grade by DineSafe inspectors. For the latest status for each of the mentioned businesses, including details on any subsequent inspections, please be sure to check the DineSafe site.


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    Heads up, people who think they can get away with texting and driving because the cops can't see the phones in their laps: Literally, keep your heads up and your eyes on the road if you want to avoid some very steep fines.

    Starting today, Toronto Police will be conducting a two-week-long traffic blitz aimed squarely at distracted drivers, and they'll be getting tricky to catch offenders in the act.

    "To drivers who think that they can hide their use of a hand-held device by simply holding it down or out of plain sight from police, we have a message," reads a TPS media release. "Officers will be utilizing all types of vehicles and tactics during this campaign to look for distracted drivers."

    One of those tactics includes police officers riding TTC buses and streetcars to creep on drivers from above.

    Police will also be hunting for offenders in their patrol cars, in unmarked vehicles, on bicycles, on foot and, while they don't specifically mention in the release, perhaps on horseback too.

    This "aggressive, zero tolerance enforcement and awareness campaign" coincides with new, tougher distracted driving penalties that came into effect on January 1 across the province. 

    Fines for using a phone behind the wheel in Ontario more than doubled at the beginning of 2019 to $1,000 for your first conviction. In some cases, using a handheld device while driving could lead to fines of up to $3,000 and the complete cancellation of your licence.

    "We know that road safety and distracted driving is not something that enforcement alone can solve," reads the TPS release.

    "Distracted Driving is a behaviour issue and can only improve when we collectively make changes to how we drive."

    The campaign will run until January 20, but it's for the best to just keep your phone out of reach forever moving forward. No phone call, text, or rare Pokémon is worth six demerit points (or crashing into a building.) Not even a legendary Pokémon.


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    An unusual looking townhome complex in North York is coming ever-closer to fruition, as suggested by newly-revealed design plans from Toronto's own Metroview Developments.

    It won't be massive, but it will be unlike anything seen before in this part of the city—or any other part of the city, for that matter.

    Check out the "dynamic retro-modern" style of the 15-unit residential development slated for 276 Finch Avenue East near Bayview.

    A rezoning application was submitted to the city in July of 2018. Image via Metroview Developments.

    Plans submitted to the City of Toronto at the end of December show a series of 15 consecutive, three-storey luxury townhomes that, together, look a bit like something humanoid: An old-school robot, perhaps, or an 8-bit video game character. 

    Whatever one sees when looking at the homes, we can all agree they're unique for Toronto. Some might even go so far as to say the row of buildings is kind of cute.

    robot townhouses toronto

    The new townhome complex is slated for a block of Finch Avenue East between Manorcrest Drive and Winlock Park. Image via Metroview Developments.

    The 15 freehold townhomes, designed by Northgrave Architects, will replace four existing standalone homes on the property if all goes as planned.

    Each unit is expected to have direct laneway access from both of the side streets adjacent to the complex (Manorcrest Drive and Winlock Park), will feature either three or four bedrooms, and have second-floor rear decks as well as third-floor corner balconies.

    robot townhouses toronto

    Toronto's Northgrave Architects are behind the modern-retro design, while Strybos Barron King is handling landscape and outdoor public spaces. Image via Metroview Developments.

    Nothing has yet been revealed about how much it'll cost to live in one of these blanched rock 'em sock 'em robo-houses, or even when they'll be ready for occupancy. The project is still in the pre-construction phase and Metroview's website simply lists it as "coming soon."

    Realtors, however, say that a VIP sales period will launch this spring.


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    The best new fashion stores in Toronto have you covered style-wise from head to toe, with a nice mix of men’s and women’s clothing stores. Whether you’re looking for an affordable look or high-end ensembles, these stores have your closet covered.

    Here are the best new fashion stores in Toronto.

    6 - Coffee and Clothing

    Part cafe and part vintage store, this cozy Leslieville shop offers a really good selection of pre-loved clothing. Denim and oldschool pieces from Calvin Klein are all on the racks here, with lots of unisex looks that anyone can rock.
    5 - AREA+001

    It’s all about exclusive looks at this menswear store. Find rare pieces from international designers like Y/Project and Undecorated. Make sure to come with a sizeable budget, especially if you’re shopping at the back of the store from brands like Archivio J.M. Ribot.
    3 - Milk Toronto

    <a href="https://www.sneakertub.com/">SNEAKERTUB</a> founder Kamaj Silva has brought his curated collection of sneakers and streetwear to the Junction Triangle with this milk-themed store. Stuff is actually really affordable here, and though it’s mostly men’s stuff, there is a small selection of womenswear too.
    4 - Uncle Otis

    Yorkville staple Uncle Otis is faring well in its new location in Chinatown. As usual, this contemporary menswear store is a one-stop shop for high-end brands from the U.K. and Japan. Shop whole looks from their racks, which are conveniently sorted by colour blocks.
    7 - Pink Canary

    Basically the only non-vintage clothing store in Kensington, this fun L.A.-inspired store is all about on-trend looks. New items come in weekly, so there’s no end of new women’s essentials, cocktail dresses, and jeans to peruse for obsessed fashionista.
    8 - Unika Swim

    Considering how stretchy swimsuits are supposed to be, it’s hard to find one that fits perfectly. Luckily this swimwear brand in Yorkville provides bathing suits that can be customized down to the print, with over 150 options for all body types.
    9 - The Latest Scoop

    It’s all about the hottest seasonal styles at this spacious Ossington store. It’s all-in-one kind of store: you’ll find everything here: shoes, accessories, jeans, and even birthday cards. They refresh their stock every single Thursday, so expect new finds weekly.
    10 - The Feral

    If moody, all-black looks are your thing, this popular store on West Queen West is for you. Pieces from designer Zakariah Milana include their signature parachute utility-themed looks, accessories from Blackbones Jewelery and backpacks from Pangolin.
    11 - Nevada Rose

    This Little Portugal store deals in super sensual women’s fits designed only for certified sexpots, from bodysuits to flirty tanks and sheer crops. Not sure if they intended to name themselves after the Marc McAndrews book about brothels in Nevada, but either way, I’m into it.

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    Cities are wonderful creatures to study, each unique in their own way but also sharing several commonalities. One of the most interesting facets to compare is public transit and how each city prices its use.

    While there is a huge spectrum in the size of different public transit systems, their bus/rail modal splits and their ridership, they do share many similarities and, to their passengers, all perform the similar function of getting you from A to B for a price.

    As it can be helpful to occasionally look outside of the bubble that is the Centre of the Universe (™), I first started looking at transit fares in Toronto vs other US and Canadian cities back in 2011.  

    At that time, Toronto was clearly at the top of the charts for single fares, senior fares and monthly passes. Things improved slightly in 2013,  2014 and 2016 as other cities passed fare increases, but Toronto remained a relatively expensive city for transit riders, especially for frequent riders buying passes.  

    This status did not go unnoticed. The CBC in 2017 called out the costly Metropass as the 5th most expensive in the world, while Montreal’s transit agency made sure to highlight how costly TTC passes were in their 2016 fare increase press release. Ouch. Is this still the case in 2019?

    Meanwhile, when the Union Pearson Express came on the scene, many also looked at its predicted and then actual fares and found it to be the most expensive airport rail link in North America.  

    The intense backlash and low ridership led to a slashing of pricing, and the line has been popular ever since. As the dust settled on UPX, many other cities have completed airport rail links of some kind (and more are coming), so how does UPX compare today?  

    Some will discount these comparisons as being unfair and oversimplified, since cities and their transit systems are so different.  

    After all, is it really fair to compare a super-integrated high-ridership system like the TTC (2.8M riders per day) to Hampton Roads Transit  in Virginia (49,000 riders per day)? Or a small subway like Toronto (77 km) to huge systems like Chicago (165 km) or New York (394 km)?  

    Or a city where light rail is still mostly streetcars (83 km) operating in mixed-traffic vs the modern ROW light rail systems in Dallas (150 km) or Denver (76 km)? Or Hogtown’s transit infrastructure, mostly more than 50 years old, vs brand-spanking new lines in places like Vancouver?  

    It’s probably not fair at a micro level. But at a macro level, there are some parallels and interesting trends in transit fares that should be noted and may even help predict where the TTC is headed next.  

    For example, past comparisons pointed out how expensive “discounted” (child/senior) fares were in Toronto. While Toronto is still oddly expensive for seniors (offering only 33% off instead of the usual 50%), it is now one of a growing number of cities where children under 12 ride free.

    And as noted above, UPX was so grossly overpriced that its later price adjustment was not surprising. A 2014 comparison highlighted Toronto’s lack of 2-hour all-direction transfers, something that finally came to Toronto in 2018.  

    This 2019 comparison will look at these four categories of common and useful fares: Single-trip fares, day passes, monthly passes, and airport rail links.ttc price comparison

    The TTC has announced that tokens will be discontinued and replaced with Presto cards. Photo by Jefferson Photography.

    Single-Trip Fares

    In past years this was largely the cash fare, but as of 2019 almost all cities now use smartcards for their lowest-cost base fares. For this study I show the cheapest single ride (usually the smartcard fare), the smartcard fare plus a transfer, and a cash fare plus a transfer. 

    ttc price comparisonAs you can see above, the complexity of base fares and transfers can make this comparison difficult but the TTC is clearly still one of the more expensive fares. The TTC’s historic advantage of including transfers is no longer very distinctive, although several cities have surpassed TTC base fares since the 2011 study.  

    ttc price comparisonIf the Canadian dollar is factored in, the TTC is around the middle of the pack, but adding that discount is controversial since most TTC passengers are not U.S. tourists but earn Canadian dollars that are not inflated to match currency fluctuations. As U.S. minimum wages rise (New York State is now USD$15/hr) the difference may be even less.  

    ttc price comparison

    While day passes aren't always the cheapest, they are useable by multiple people on weekends. Photo from Jennifer Hollett.

    Day Pass 

    Once a rarity, day passes are now found in nearly every city, often in innovative ways. Phoenix includes no free transfers in its $2 base fare, but offers day passes at the low cost of $4 for frequent users.

    Portland’s HOP card caps at $5 for any given day, acting as an automatic day pass if you ride more than twice. Among large cities, only NYC offers no day pass, having dropped theirs in 2010 due to (and this is so very New York) too much abuse by scammers selling swipes to tourists.

    ttc price comparisonIn the above chart, the results are quite clear. Toronto is one of the most expensive cities for day passes, much more costly than the U.S./Canada average of about $7.  

    Even discounting for the Canadian dollar (which, again, may really not be appropriate), the TTC would still be 5th most expensive out of the 37 cities studied. On a positive note, this cost is softened somewhat by a Red Rocket day pass being good for entire families on weekends.

    ttc price comparison

    The Metropass has been discontinued and replaced with a monthly pass on Presto. Image by @popcorns_views.

    Monthly Pass

    The monthly pass is the gold standard of the cost of transit for frequent users, and as of 2019 are now offered by every large city except Houston (where perhaps it is not needed due to the low, low day pass cost of $3).  

    While a monthly pass may provide more value in a city with a larger rapid-transit network and more frequent bus service, it’s still the closest thing to an apples-to-apples comparison we have.

    ttc price comparisonOnce again, the TTC is by all measures atrociously expensive, the $146.25 pass being 70 per cent more costly than the average pass cost of $87. This is the cost on Presto's system, with a discontinued Metropass at the end of 2018.

    Academically applying the discount for the weak Canadian dollar, the TTC would still be the 3rd most expensive in the US and Canada.  And that’s for a pass that is bizarrely and awkwardly tied to calendar months rather than just be 30 or 31 days from activation.  

    ttc price comparisonAdding insult to injury, the TTC continues to make monthly passes unappealing by charging the equivalent of an astounding 49 trips/transfers per pass (trip index).

    The vast majority of systems hover in the 30 to 44 trip index band which is considered favourable to encouraging riders to buy passes (since the typical commuter takes two trips plus two transfers per day, 22 working days per month).

    Only New York, Toronto and LA dare charge more than 44 trips for a monthly pass.

    New York has a vastly larger 24-hour system that is more likely to be used on weekends and nights, while LA has a suddenly high trip index due to recently allowing free transfers in a system with a very low fare ($1.75) that historically charged a fare for each boarding. What is the TTC’s excuse?

    ttc price comparison

    The UP Express received a serious price cut after many complained it was overpriced. Photo by Rick Radell via Union Pearson Express.

    Airport Rail Link 

    Since so many large North American cities now have a rail connection to their airports, they've been folded into the rail transit fare to the airport in this study.

    While there are certainly differences in terms of the quality of experience in riding a plush express train like UPX versus a multi-stop commuter train in Denver, or a sleek light rail in Minneapolis, or a crowded subway in Chicago, they're included here since, at the end of the day, these air-rail links are public transit that gets you from a city’s downtown to its airport with low cost and frequent service.  

    ttc price comparison

    Here, Toronto is once more near the top of the table. Only NYC’s Airtrain to Newark is more expensive.

    Discounting for the Canadian dollar makes this look a little better, and perhaps this is the one transit mode where worldly tourists may find that exchange rate to be advantageous, but then again they will likely be paying the $12.35 standard fare and not the $9.25 Presto fare.

    At least the comfy environs of the UPX and its limited number of stops add some value to that high fare.

    In conclusion, while there are many assumptions that can be challenged, and endless details to differentiate over, these charts do show a continuing disappointing standing by the TTC in 2019.  

    On the whole this comparison suggests Toronto continues to have one of the most expensive transit systems in the United States or Canada.  

    Perhaps the TTC will work around the margins to improve matters by, say, untethering monthly passes from the calendar. And of course, the Crosstown Line is under construction, adding more value to those expensive fares.  

    But with subway uploading on the horizon and underfunding a chronic issue, it may be a while before the TTC fares compare better to their peers.


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    Design Week in Toronto for 2019 is back with a huge array of exhibits, talks, shows, screenings and parties. Designers from all over the world are here to check out the lastest in design innovation and mix and mingle at events happening all over the city.

    Here's a roundup of some must-attend events for Design Week in Toronto.

    Events you might want to check out:

    IDS Toronto (January 17-20 @ Metro Toronto Convention Centre)
    One of the biggest interior design shows of the year arrives for four days of exhibitions, panels, presentations and special guests.
    Come Up to My Room (January 17-20 @ Gladstone Hotel)
    The Gladstone is about to be transformed into a multi-storey, interactive art and design playground with 20 projects spread around the space.
    DesignTO Launch Party (January 18 @ St. Lawrence Hall)
    Design Week festivities open with a party of members of Toronto's design community together for a night of drinks, music and more.
    One Who Protects a Sibling (January 18 @ BAND Gallery and Cultural Centre)
    Indigenous and Black makers take the spotlight with mediated objects that reflect dialogue, identities, aesthetics and relations to the land.
    Elbow Room (January 19 @ Blush and Bloom Flower Studio)
    This event includes idiosyncratic, domestic and kinetic objects, all explored by 14 indie markers, devoted to an exploration of the grey areas of design.
    Light Cage Duo (January 21 @ Bulthaup Toronto)
    Busting with life plants, this light cage by Luvère Studio looks to create a greater awareness to plants, nature and the living environment.
    Uncovering Canadian Design (January 22 @ EQ3)
    Canadian designers specializing in modern furniture and decor are here to discuss the process they use that is unique to them.
    Sheridan Furniture (January 22 @ Milk Glass Gallery)
    The 2019 class of Sheridan design students are ready to showcase their creations and reflect on the individual and shared journey that lay ahead.
    Work/Life (January 23 @ Umbra)
    With over half the wold's population squeezing into urban areas, new designs explore the changing boundaries between work, home and “life.”
    Nest (January 26 @ Brothers Dressler Studio)
    Designers Jason and Lars Dressler's unique and original pieces made from repurposed and local wood and metal are featured in a nod to sustainable design.

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    Liquor thieves are becoming increasingly brazen (and busy) in the city of Toronto as word spreads that there isn't much LCBO employees can do to stop them.

    An investigation published a few weeks ago by the Toronto Star revealed that 9,000 shoplifting incidents had been confirmed at LCBO stores in the city between January of 2014 and June of 2018—"the most for any one retail chain during that time period."

    This week, in a follow-up piece, the newspaper says that liquor store looting has "spiralled to epidemic proportions" in Ontario with police data showing that the LCBO now accounts for almost half of all shoplifting incidents at the city's most frequently hit retail outlets.

    And that's only when factoring in the most-recent available numbers.

    "The summer of 2018, where the police data ends, saw a rash of a new and ever more brazen heists at several Toronto LCBOs, involving groups of thieves bypassing the display shelves altogether and instead plundering employee-only warehouse areas, where they helped themselves to entire sealed cases of premium liquors," reads The Star's report.

    "The repeated raids on LCBO backrooms came as a shock to many anxiety-ridden frontline workers, five of whom told the Star they now fear what they may encounter as they go about what once was the simple, safe task of restocking shelves."

    A threefold increase in Toronto LCBO theft cases over just five years seems crazy, especially given the crown corporation's efforts to deter thieves with bottle locks, among other measures.

    Store workers, customers and loss-prevention experts, however, say officials aren't doing nearly enough.

    Some are also blaming Toronto Police for allowing such a problem to fester and grow.

    "The LCBO's 'hands-off' instruction to staff never to intervene with thieves while they are in the building, coupled with the Toronto Police Service’s policy to rarely, if ever, dispatch officers to a low-priority theft scene after the thieves have left has opened a pathway to friction-free larceny," wrote Canadian author Tom Crinstam in response to the Star's first story.

    "Govt. must return stores to set up from 70s," suggested the GTA's Browne Law Office on Twitter. "Lock all product behind counter. Or get out of the business and privatize."

    Others have been chirping the LCBO directly as news of their costly stealing problem spreads.

    As for the provincially-owned liquor company itself: they told the Star they have no comment.


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    Mouthwatering is the operative term for events in Toronto today as Chef Nick Liu serves up a Singapore hawker market-style feast and there's a Somali buffet. Comedians take on Shakespeare and choir singers take on Britney Spears. 

    Events you might want to check out:

    Martha Wainwright (January 15 @ The Great Hall)
    Folk singer-songerwriter Martha Wainwright's musical family roots shine through as she arrives to play some of her most hauntingly beautiful songs.
    Somali Cuisine Buffet and Market (January 15 @ 555 Dundas St E)
    Traditional Somali food is on with a huge buffet stacked with all the sabayad, lahoh, xalwo and sambuusa there is, plus a local makers market.
    Choir! Choir! Choir! (January 15 @ Clinton's Tavern)
    It's Britney, b*itch! Choir! Choir! Choir! is back with local singers performing rousing renditions by the legend herself: Britney Spears.
    Seeing Double (January 15 @ Comedy Bar)
    Comedy duo Seeing Double returns to the stage to create one world and play within it using all the improv skills they can muster.
    Career Chat with Iris Ng (January 15 @ TIFF Bell Lightbox)
    Award-winning cinematographer Iris Ng of Making a Murderer, A Better Man, and Kim's Convenience is on hand to talk process, experience and industry tidbits.
    Uneasy Panoramas (January 15 @ Art Gallery of Ontario)
    Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival hosting a special screening of this film that looks at British Columbia's lush and so far untouched landscape.
    Ides of January (January 15 @ Social Capital Theatre)
    A night of Longford comedy is on with local comedians and performers bringing their own nuanced takes of Julius Caesar to the stage.
    Indie Night (January 15 @ The Piston)
    Toronto's indie scene is alive and well and you can catch three bands—P r w l, Fainting and V&CO—without cover/PWYC and $5.75 Steamies.
    Singapore Hawker Market (January 15-16 @ Assembly Chef's Hall)
    Like those Hawker food markets found in Singapore, Chef Nick Liu recreates the taste with a communal dinner with pork, chicken, crab, jackfruit and more.
    Hot Breath Karaoke (January 15 - February 27 @ Handlebar)
    You're the star, baby, at this weekly karaoke/gameshow mashup set inside a Wheel of Fortune-style set and with lots of prizes to be won.

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    This house looks less like a house and more like an embassy for some European country, or at least from the outside.99 old colony road toronto

    Inside is no less opulent. Everything from the fairytale staircase, to the gleaming marble and the intricate crown mouldings that are featured in almost every room, screams decadence.

    99 old colony road torontoProbably the most stunning room in the house is the foyer which leads right into the grand inner foyer, with the grand piano smack in the middle of it. The entire thing looks like it’s staged for a film and I’m here for it.

    99 old colony road torontoThe other principal rooms in the house are exactly how you’d imagine any European-style mansion, filled with antique furniture with a large chandelier and more.

    99 old colony road torontoThe kitchen is huge and has all the prerequisite top-of-the-line appliances for, I’m assuming, a personal chef to cook in.

    99 old colony road torontoThe study is cozy with rich built-in wood bookshelves and a fireplace.

    99 old colony road torontoThe home has five bedrooms, all of which are kind of uninspiring as far as mansion bedrooms go. There’s nothing spectacular about them and they almost seem too big for furniture to fill.

    99 old colony road torontoBut bedroom disappointment aside, there’s tons of luxury perks to this house including an indoor swimming pool and your very own private tennis court.  99 old colony road toronto

    Specs
    • Address: 99 Old Colony Road
    • Price: $10,500,000
    • Lot Size: 101 x 296 feet
    • Bedrooms: 5 + 1
    • Bathrooms: 9
    • Parking: 8
    • Walk Score: 21
    • Transit Score: 65
    • Listing agent: Fran Bennett
    • Listing ID: C427691299 old colony road toronto
    Good For

    That country club lifestyle. You’re already two staples down, now all you need is like a putting green and you have your very own private country club.99 old colony road toronto

    Move On If

    You aren’t fussed about a tennis court, indoor swimming pools or European-style architecture.99 old colony road toronto


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    Toronto's transit system has a lot of dream projects, and some that are more realistic. But now, many are up in the air as the province moves to start managing much of it from Queen's Park. 

    One of the projects currently up for questioning is the Scarborough Subway Extension. While the project has been contentious from the jump, the Ontario government is now proposing a privately-funded model to cover the massive cost. 

    The $3.35 billion project has drawn the ire of many for since it was approved, due to its seemingly small expansion (it's just one stop) and hefty price tag

    To cover the funding gap, the PC provincial government hopes to leverage the private sector, promising air rights and deals to developers. 

    The province also hopes to scrap the one-stop plan approved by Toronto City Council and replace it with the three-stop plan that was predicted to cost more than $4.5 billion. 

    With the long extension, construction for the Scarborough subway could be pushed further than its current estimate of 2026. The currently-fading SRT is at the end of its service life, and being basically held together to make it to the originally-planned 2026 completion date. 

    With an extended construction time, the project could leave Scarborough residents without rail transit completely. 


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    Restaurants that suit a keto diet in Toronto don’t all have to have specific ketogenic menus or items, but these ones do! These places cater to the health craze by providing options that adhere to the diet’s recommendations, which tend to involve drastically reducing your intake of carbs and sugar.

    Here are my picks for restaurants for your keto diet in Toronto.

    Station

    This Bloorcourt restaurant, cafe and bar has a whole menu of keto choices including pub faves like burgers on salad or keto buns, butter chicken, wings, poutine, and breakfasts like avocado toasts and omelettes.

    Burger’s Priest

    This burger chain with multiple locations throughout Toronto got even more popular when it introduced gluten-free, low-carb keto buns to its menu.

    Rouge Juicery

    A juice bar on Port Union in Scarborough, this place does keto meals like BLTs, grilled cheese, meatballs, shepherd’s pie and pizza, plus snacks like cookies and sausage pinwheels with all the nutrition info readily available.

    Simple Kitchen

    Keto boxes, salads and bowls as well as breakfasts of scrambles and waffles can be found at this health-focused spot in Roncesvalles Village.

    Prohibition Gastrohouse

    Locations of this pub in Leslieville and at Yonge and Eglinton have a keto symbol next to items like Cobb salad and beef tartare tostadas so you know exactly what sticks to your diet. It’s also easy to make substitutions like cauliflower crust, chicken skin chips or sugar-free sauce here.


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    Juice company Greenhouse has been harnessing the power of plants to promote wellness in the form of cold-pressed beverages for years now, so it should come as little surprise that they want to incorporate the non-psychoactive component of cannabis in a new line of drinks.

    “CBD shows evidence-based promise as a functional wellness ingredient. Through new product innovation, we’re excited to explore the potential of a plant whose health-giving properties have long been overshadowed by its flashier psychotropic ones,” says co-founder Emma Knight.

    One of Toronto’s best juice bars with multiple locations, Greenhouse also already makes nut milks, kombuchas, shakes and booster shots.

    Apparently they dismissed the idea of juicing cannabis (valued for its high anti-inflammatory potential) years back, but returned to the concept post-legalization. 

    A strategic partnership with cannabis and wellness investment and operating platform Canopy Rivers including $9 million in financing aims to get the line off the ground.

    No date has been given on when the products will be available. But, other plans for Greenhouse involve continuing to expand beyond Ontario.


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    The Toronto Police Service has opened an investigation into two of its officers after video footage surfaced of them getting silly with some women at a Queen West bar (and then later in their cruiser) while on duty on Sunday night.

    Seven video clips and one photo from the evening were conveniently rounded up and posted to a brand new Instagram account called citizen.to on Monday morning, all of them with the hashtag #torontopolice.

    In the first video, a uniformed police officer can be seen handcuffing a young woman inside the Queen St. Warehouse while his partner looks on. Another woman stands next to the group with handcuffs around her wrists and appears to be posing for a photo.

    "Officer, I didn't know being basic was a crime?" reads a block of text over the next clip, which ends with a closeup of one officer's uniform.

    The person who posted the clips to Instagram told Global News that the unidentified women were celebrating a birthday party when they met the officers, who were later identified as 52 Division Constables Jian Liang and Aaron Isaac.

    Isaac said in a separate interview with CTV that the officers were "executing positive community policing" at the time and that they regularly stop into bars and clubs downtown "to make sure everything is okay."

    Fair enough, but does positive community policing include driving people from bar to bar while bumping YouTube videos in your cruiser? If so, I'd like to get in on that.

    "Typically they have to take me by force," reads the text overlay on another video later in the night. "Uber's here!" shouts one of the women as she gets into the back of a TPS cruiser.

    In another video with the caption "I know my rights!!!" the woman filming asks the cops for a cheese sandwich.

    Last but not least, the camera-person zooms in on the police cruiser's computer display, which appears to show a YouTube playlist.

    "Thank you @TorontoPolice for the safe ride to the bar tonight," reads the text overlay on that clip.

    Toronto Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray says the force's professional standards unit is investigating the videos and that, if misconduct is determined, the "officers will be disciplined appropriately."

    "We are always concerned when videos like this come up and thankfully it doesn't happen often," she said in a statement. "But when it does, we refer the matter to our professional standards section and they conduct a thorough investigation."


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