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80 Beats (Andrew Moseman, Brett Israel)
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Acts of Minor Treason (Andrew Barton)
Andart (Anders Sandberg)
Alpha Sources (Claus Vistesen)
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Arnold Zwicky's Blog
Aufbau Ost (Melanie K.)
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Bow. James Bow.
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A (Budding) Sociologist's Commonplace Book (Dan Hirschman)
Gerry Canavan's blog
Castrovalva (Richard R.)
Centauri Dreams (Paul Gilster)
Charlie's Diary (Charlie Stross)
City of Brass (Aziz Poonawalla)
Crooked Timber
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Dangerous Minds
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Far Outliers (Joel)
The Fifteenth (Steve Roby)
A Fistful of Euros
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Global Sociology
The Great Grey Bridge, Honourary Canadian (Philip Turner)
Halfway Down the Danube (Douglas Muir et al.)
Hunting Monsters and inuit bikini scarlet carwash
In Media Res (Russell Arben Fox)
Inkless Wells (Paul Wells)
Intuitionistically Uncertain (Michel)
Itching for Eestimaa (Guistino)
Ivor Tossell on the Web
Jim's Occasional Journal of Sorts (Jim Rittenhouse)
Joe.My.God (Joe)
Johnny Pez's blog
Karl Schroeder's blog
Kieran Healy's Weblog
Language Hat
Language Log (Mark Liberman et al.)
Languages of the World (Asya Pereltsvaig)
Lawyers, Guns, and Money
LRB Blog (London Review of Books)
The Map Room (Jonathan Crowe)
Marginal Revolution (Tyler Cowen)
Marginalia (Peteris Cedrins)
Mark Simpson
Maximos' Blog (Russell Darnley)
More Words, Deeper Hole (James Nicoll)
The Naked Anthropologist (Laura Agustín)
New APPS blog (group blog)
No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) (Peter Watts)
The Numerati (Stephen Baker)
NYRB Daily (New York Review of Books)
Open the Future (Jamais Cascio)
Otto's Random Thoughts (J. Otto Pohl)
The Pagan Prattle (Feòrag)
Passing Strangeness (Paul Drye)
patrickcain.ca (Patrick Cain)
Personal Reflections (Jim Belshaw)
Photosapience Daily (Jerrold)
Pollotencheg (Ukrainian demography blog)
The Power and the Money (Noel Maurer)
Progressive Download (John Farrell)
Registan (group blog)
Rev Rachel Rambles (Rachel Kessler)
The Rose and Phoenix Inn (Victoria Goddard)
Russian Demographic Live Journal (Ba-ldei Aga)
A Rusty Little Box (Rebecca)
Savage Minds
The Search (Douglas Todd)
Shadow, Light and Colour (Elizabeth Beattie)
Sharp Blue (Richard Baker)
The Signal
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Steve Munro
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Sublime Oblivion (Anatoly Karlin)
Supernova Condensate
Tall Penguin
Technosociology (Zeynep Tufekci)
Towleroad (Andy Towle)
Understanding Society (Daniel Little)
Volokh Conspiracy
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Wave Without A Shore (C.J. Cherryh)
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Window on Eurasia (Paul Goble)
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Zero Geography (Mark Graham)

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Saturday, October 22nd, 2016
12:07 pm - [PHOTO] Four photos from the Honest Ed's signs sale, 22 October 2016
blogTO and CBC, among others, informed me that Honest Ed's was embarking on its last sign sale starting at 8 o'clock this morning. I woke up just after 9 and considered not going--I had heard of very long lines just to enter, hours long--but, encouraged by a Facebook missive, I went.

Among the signs, 1 #toronto #honesteds #signs

Among the signs, 2 #toronto #honesteds #signs

Among the signs, 3 #toronto #honesteds #signs

Signs of Honest Ed"s #toronto #honesteds #signs

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9:30 am - [PHOTO] Shakespeare, against a grey background
Shakespeare, against a grey background #toronto #shakespeare #cats #catsofinstagram #caturday

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Friday, October 21st, 2016
11:56 pm - [DM] "On the idea that the human life expectancy is limited to 115 years"
At Demography Matters, I blog about the idea that the human life expectancy might be limited to 115 years.

Even if this is the case for the foreseeable future, I argue that there's still much that can be done to make sure we reach this limit and that life to this limit is as healthy as possible.

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9:49 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Port Lands flood protection cost rises to $1.25 billion"
The Toronto Star's Jennifer Pagliaro describes a proposal for investment in the Port Lands' anti-flood infrastructure that is quite expensive. At least Lake Ontario is not threatened by sea level rise consequent to global warming.

The cost to flood-protect the Port Lands in eastern Toronto, transforming 715 acres into developable land, has risen from $975 million to $1.25 billion.

“Flood-protecting the Port Lands would unlock its great potential for development, for more parks, more public space and for providing room to support the city’s population and it’s job growth,” said Waterfront Toronto CEO Will Fleissig at a news conference Thursday. “This is a transformative opportunity for our city.”

The cost estimate was confirmed by a due diligence report from tri-government agency Waterfront Toronto released Thursday. The study found the probability of the actual cost being $1.25 billion or less is 90 per cent. It is very unlikely the project will costs less than $1 billion.

The increased cost is mostly due to the additional need for soil excavation, soil and groundwater treatment and issues related to flowing sand and compressible peat, which complicates soil excavation and how the land is filled for development.

The three levels of government have already been negotiating cost-sharing of the project, which was made a priority for the waterfront agency 14 years ago.

Neither the federal nor provincial government has committed to fund the flood protection of the largely government-owned land. All three governments did put up $83 million to redo the area around the old Essroc quay, which is a large part of the overall project.

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9:42 pm - [ISL] "Charlottetown waterfront study looks at future flooding"
CBC News' Nancy Russell reports on a study suggesting ways Charlottetown can adapt to relatively limited flooding. This sounds like an interesting study. Does anyone on the Island know if it is publically available?

A new study of the Charlottetown waterfront looks at what wind, waves and sea level rise could mean in the present and into the future.

The report, commissioned by the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation or CADC, proposes ways to protect against flooding while also improving public access to the waterfront.

Ottawa's Coldwater Consulting based the report on what it calls the "latest and most reliable climate change scenarios," predicting flood risk along the Charlottetown waterfront by 2045 and 2090.

[. . .]

The report examines the current state of waterfront infrastructure from the Hillsborough Bridge to the end of the boardwalk in Victoria Park.

"If there's a weak link in the chain, then it can affect far beyond where that's actually at," said Ron Waite, CADC general manager.

One of the options is a large floating breakwater near the Charlottetown Yacht Club, but Waite says potential ice damage makes that a challenge because of the size of the structure that would be needed.

The report also proposes extending the waterfront boardwalk, elevating it where needed, to form a "ring dyke" that could protect the downtown area from flooding.

While an expensive idea, the report highlights how the expanded boardwalk could also "enhance access to and enjoyment of the waterfront".

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9:34 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Climate Change Means Moving. Just Don't Say 'Retreat.'"
Bloomberg View's Christopher Flavelle interviews American sociologist Karen O'Neill to talk about some strategies that might get people to abandon coastal areas endangered by flooding.

Most Americans, to the degree that they think about climate-change adaptation, probably think of bigger sea walls, or maybe changing the kinds of houses we live in. You're looking at something different.

There's been an ongoing war that dates back at least 200 years between people who favor building engineered structures versus critics who say you're overpromising. That's the "protect" strategy -- it can be a wall, which is what most people are familiar with. Almost always, that’s the top preference; it sounds good.

The second strategy is to accommodate -- raising houses on stilts. Both the protect strategy and the accommodation strategy keep people in place.

The third one is, move. You just cannot protect your way out of the whole thing. Humans have always moved and retreated from shorelines. Archaeologists now are able to do underwater excavations; what they're telling us about long-term adaptation to the climate really has some lessons for us.

In a new paper, you write about one New Jersey town, Toms River, which includes both barrier islands and part of the mainland. You argue that creating new tourism attractions on the mainland, such as artificial lakes, might pull people in from the barrier islands.

The word "retreat" seems to indicate defeat. What we wanted to do is to think about the tourism economy. There are, it turns out, lots of sand mines that are near shore areas in the U.S. It's already a pit. So let's make it into an artificial lake.

You could develop resorts around this. You can create things that are like boardwalk attractions. You can have amusement parks. You could have condominiums along the water. And it's close enough to the estuaries that you could actually have access to saltwater as well.

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9:16 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Arctic Cities Crumble as Climate Change Thaws Permafrost"
Wired's Alec Luhn reports from Siberia, where global warming is wreaking havoc on cities' infrastructure. If there is going to be, as some predict, a population boom in the Arctic as global warming continues, there are going to be major infrastructure issues around.

At first, Yury Scherbakov thought the cracks appearing in a wall he had installed in his two-room flat were caused by shoddy workmanship. But then other walls started cracking, and then the floor started to incline. “We sat on the couch and could feel it tilt,” says his wife, Nadezhda, as they carry furniture out of the flat.

Yury wasn’t a poor craftsman, and Nadezhda wasn’t crazy: One corner of their five-story building at 59 Talnakhskaya Street in the northern Russian city of Norilsk was sinking as the permafrost underneath it thawed and the foundation slowly disintegrated. In March 2015, local authorities posted notices in the stairwells that the building was condemned.

Cracking and collapsing structures are a growing problem in cities like Norilsk—a nickel-producing centre of 177,000 people located 180 miles above the Arctic Circle—as climate change thaws the perennially frozen soil and increases precipitation. Valery Tereshkov, deputy head of the emergencies ministry in the Krasnoyarsk region, wrote in an article this year that almost 60 percent of all buildings in Norilsk have been deformed as a result of climate change shrinking the permafrost zone. Local engineers said more than 100 residential buildings, or one-tenth of the housing fund, have been vacated here due to damage from thawing permafrost.

In most cases, these are slow-motion wrecks that can be patched up or prevented by engineering solutions. But if a foundation shifts suddenly it can put lives at risk: cement slabs broke a doctor’s legs when the front steps and overhanging roof of a Norilsk blood bank collapsed in June 2015. Building and maintenance costs will have to be ramped up to keep cities in Russia’s resource-rich north running.

Engineers and geologists are careful to note that “technogenic factors” like sewer and building heat and chemical pollution are also warming the permafrost in places like Norilsk, the most polluted city in Russia. But climate change is deepening the thaw and speeding up the destruction, at the very same time that Russia is establishing new military bases and oil-drilling infrastructure across the Arctic. Greenpeace has warned that permafrost thawing has caused thousands of oil and gas pipeline breaks.

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9:12 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The New Urban Agenda: What Our Cities Can Be"
Nick Beresford and Ashekur Rahman write at the Inter Press Service about an impending effort to make sure that our world's urban future won't be a dystopian one.

The future is urban and nowhere is that more true than in Bangladesh. If current rates of urbanisation continue, the country’s urban population will double by 2035. Around the Bay of Bengal, a mega city would join Dhaka to Chittagong, creating one of the world’s largest conglomerations. Whether that process produces a congested toxic unlivable mess of concrete and steel, or whether it becomes a thriving, connected, wonderful city to live in, is almost entirely down to the political and policy choices we make.

This week a critical meeting in Quito, Ecuador, will look at those critical political and policy choices. The Habitat III conference to adopt a “New Urban Agenda” builds on the Habitat Agenda of Istanbul in 1996 (Habitat II).

The new agenda is intended to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation. The conference is expected to result in a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented outcome document on making cities and human settlements equitable, prosperous, sustainable, just, equal and safe until 2030. By the middle of the century, a majority of the world’s citizens —four out of five people — could be living in towns or cities. Indeed, in the time since the Habitat Agenda was adopted, the world has become majority urban, lending extra urgency to the New Urban Agenda.

Habitat III is one of the first major global conferences to be held after the adoption of two key agreements, last year. Agenda 2030, a new development plan for the world; and a new Climate Change agreement adopted in Paris. It offers a unique opportunity to discuss the important challenge of how cities, towns and villages are planned and managed in a sustainable manner, to meet the new global agenda and climate change goals.

The New Urban Agenda, agreed upon at Habitat III in Quito, will guide the efforts around urbanisation of a wide range of actors — nation states, city and regional leaders, international development funders, UN programmes and civil society — for the next 20 years. Inevitably, this agenda will also lay the groundwork for policies and approaches that will have long lasting impact.

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8:52 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "'Don't just stand there!': Honest Ed's hosting final sign sale"
CBC News' Laura Howells reports on a sale at Honest Ed's that I, of course, plan on attending.

Two months before permanently closing, Honest Ed's will start selling the last of its iconic, hand-painted signs this weekend.

Beginning Saturday, thousands of pun-heavy signs will be up for grabs, at a starting price of $1.

The signs are a defining feature of the discount Toronto department store, which will close on Dec. 31 after 68 years in business.

"Many of the signs bring back all sorts of memories for me," said owner David Mirvish, son of Edwin "Honest Ed" Mirvish.

"I didn't think I'd be quite so overwhelmed by it as I am today."

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8:33 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "A History of Bike Lanes in Toronto"
Nikhil Sharma's Torontoist article goes into some local history.

It’s been 18 years since the City of Toronto created the Shifting Gears plan for cycling policy.

While its vision—creating a cycling culture and building infrastructure to allow cyclists and drivers to share the same roads—may finally be coming to life, the challenge of maintaining safety is even greater today than it was back then.

[. . .]

In the 1890s, there was a cycling boom across Canada and the United States. Cyclists began to share the roads with pedestrians, horse-drawn vehicles, and electric streetcars.

Cars were something new at the time.

There were many bike paths on Toronto streets, and there was a growing debate among cyclists about whether they should fight for exclusive paths for themselves or safer roads for drivers and cyclists.

When automobiles began to dominate beginning in the 1920s, cycling was increasingly relegated to a recreational activity. However, deliveries by bike continued to be popular.

The number of cyclists per 1,000 people increased from 220 in 1950 to 350 in 1960 [PDF], and climbed to 480 by 1970.

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8:29 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "A nasty winter is in store for Toronto this year"
Bother. From blogTO:

The easy winter that Toronto experienced last year will not be repeated according the weather forecasts for 2016/2017. While there's some discrepancy in long term reports regarding whether or not southern Ontario will experience average or below average temperatures this winter, no one is calling for a mild season.

The Toronto region is expected to deal with high levels of snowfall thanks in part to the record setting heat we had this summer. While a warm summer doesn't typically have bearing on the winter temperature forecast, the above average temperatures of the Great Lakes means that lake effect snow will accompany the arrival of arctic air.

You can expect a lot of this type of snow during early winter in December and January.

As far as the general patterns go, climatologists predict a return to cold/classic winter temperatures partially because the strong El Niño event that influenced last year's weather is absent heading into this season.

"The current pattern has the look of a weak La Niña event, but it is unlikely to meet the criteria needed to be classified as such," writes Meteorologist Doug Gillham for the Weather Network. In fact, the current climatic patterns look more similar the ones that recently delivered us brutal winters rather than last year's balminess.

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5:03 pm - [BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Beyond the Beyond quotes a Vladimir Putin statement on geopolitics.

  • blogTO shares photos from Yorkdale's expansion.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at more evidence for Planet Nine.

  • Dead Things notes evidence that right-handedness has been predominant among hominins for some time.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on the discovery of three hot Jupiters.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the Philippines' shift towards China.

  • The Planetary Society Weblog looks at ExoMars' mission and the failure of the Schiaparelli lander.

  • Torontoist notes that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has bought Constellation Wineries, making some Canadian wineries Canadian-owned again.

  • Towleroad reports on a Europe-wide census of LGBT identities.

  • Whatever's John Scalzi notes that Hillary Clinton is winning because she puts work into it.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Putin's changing style of governance.

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12:46 pm - [PHOTO] Three photos taken at Rosedale TTC station late on a rainy fall afternoon
The Rosedale TTC station is open to the air above. In fall, in the wooded Rosedale neighbourhood, this can lend itself to some lovely scenes.

Looking across the tracks #toronto #fall #autumn #leaves #rosedale #ttc

South through the window #toronto #rosedale #ttc #fall #autumn #leaves

East above the platform #toronto #rosedale #ttc #fall #autumn #leaves #window

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Thursday, October 20th, 2016
11:43 pm - [MUSIC] Janet Jackson, "Nasty"
Janet Jackson's 1986 song "Nasty", saw, according to Engadget, its plays on Spotify surge substantially as a result of Donald Trump's misogynistic comment last night that Hillary Clinton was a "nasty woman".

This song's surge in recognition in the past day is kind of amazing. That this is a good song, and a meaningful song on its own terms and in the context of the week's events, makes it all the better. I own quite a few of Janet Jackson's albums, starting chronologically with the album Control that this song comes from, an album that marks the beginning of her modern artistic and commercial prime and has quite a few songs that, like "Nasty", combine musical verve with a thoughtful mind.

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1:57 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Proposal to licence Toronto rooming houses will face stiff opposition"
The Toronto Star's Betsy Powell shares some of the arguments being made against the recognition of Toronto rooming houses throughout the broader city. I am unimpressed with the claims of regulatory burdens: Allowing legal lacunae to persist, to the detriment of renters, is terrible.

City staff is proposing a zoning and licensing regime for rooming houses across Toronto, a contentious move certain to face stiff opposition in the suburbs where many operate illegally.

[. . .]

“It’s a litany of complaints, they don’t want these houses regulated, they want them to be abolished,” said Norm Kelly, (Ward 40, Scarborough-Agincourt.)

Kelly said anything that adds a regulatory burden and increases the costs for many rooming house operators will “work against a workable licensing system.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me in doing this that in the end you’re going to be getting more illegal (rooming houses) rather than under the proposed guidelines.”

Councillor Jim Karygiannis (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt), said he favors regulation to “guarantee (an) absolute safe environment for the tenants.”

But unless city inspectors can access properties and impose strict penalties, many operators will go underground.

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1:54 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Toronto city council takes first step towards regulating Airbnb-style rentals"
The Toronto Star's Tess Kalinowski looks at Toronto's tentative engagement with regulating Airbnb-style rentals.

A Toronto group pushing for the regulation of short-term, Airbnb-style rentals is welcoming a city staff proposal to evaluate the impacts of the rentals and consider what kind of restrictions should be imposed on the booming business.

Fairbnb, which is led by the hotel workers union, says the report is an important step in ensuring there are rules governing short-term rentals. But it doesn’t go far enough in looking at how online rental platforms such as Airbnb can be held to account when that doesn’t happen.

“Platform accountability is really where it’s at if we want to develop regulations that work,” said Fairbnb spokesman Thorben Wieditz.

The city report, before executive committee Wednesday, recommends public and stakeholder consultations be held early next year to look at how to protect the interests of neighbourhoods and property owners and the city’s stock of housing.

It’s a good first step according to Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who wishes it had come sooner as it will be at least another year before staff put specific regulation proposals before council.

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1:52 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "The slow fade of industry on Laird Drive"
blogTO's Derek Flack has a nice photo essay looking at the transformation of Leaside's post-industrial Laird Drive.

Heavy industry has mostly retreated from Toronto in the 21st century, though there remain little pockets around the city where its impact can be witnessed most obviously. The Port Lands fits this description, as does the area around Dupont St. beside the CPR tracks, and most especially Geary Avenue.

These places are so fascinating because unlike so much of the city, they're transitional. Their ties to the past are far more evident than you'll see in a place like West Queen West, where the industrial heritage of the neighbourhood has been effectively wiped clean, and the gentrification process has run its course.

The future has yet to be written in a precious few of Toronto's former industrial zones, and the ultimate character of the streets that comprise them is a process that's playing out before our eyes. You could be forgiven for thinking that you inherit the city in its developed form, but it's always in a state of becoming.

This is perhaps most obvious on a street like Laird Drive in Leaside. There's been enormous change here in the last decade, but there's even more to come as auto garages and remaining industrial tenants slowly give way to redevelopment schemes.

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1:50 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Condo creep finally arrives in Parkdale"
blogTO's Derek Flack shows how condos are starting to expand west of Dufferin into the heart of Parkdale.

A longstanding question for observers of Toronto's urban landscape has been how long Parkdale can remain a condo-free zone. With the profound amount of development taking place on the eastern side of the Queen Street Subway and the steady increase of popular restaurants and bars, it seems inevitable that condos will infiltrate the neighbourhood.

Concerns about gentrification have been circling for over a decade, and the Parkdale has steadily become an entertainment destination despite considerable efforts by local councillor Gord Perks to maintain a balance between the rise of new businesses and the established vibe of the neighbourhood.

In some sense, new condos (rather than loft conversions) have already breached the dividing line between West Queen West and Parkdale when Q Loft was build at the northwest corner of Queen and Dufferin in 2014, but the real question is when this trend will move further west.

Tentatively speaking, the answer is now. Block Developments has proposed a seven storey development at 57 Brock Avenue on the site currently occupied by the Beer Store. Residents weren't happy with the project at the pre-application meeting in the spring, but the project is proceeding through the various stages of planning.

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1:48 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Private donations for Don River Valley Park could be 'blueprint' for future parks"
CBC News' Chris Glover reports on the philantrophic donations set to create a megapark in the Don Valley. The park appeals, but I'm unsure as to the broader soundness of this method.

Mayor John Tory introduced six donors Tuesday who have given a combined $3.5 million to help the city develop the first phase of Don River Valley Park — a move the Toronto's mayor says could be a "big blueprint" for developing parks in the future.

Philanthropist Andy Chisholm — along with his wife Laurie — is investing in a public park for the first time, and he couldn't be prouder.

"My wife has always been a strong advocate, with myself, of these natural spaces and this felt like a good way to invest in that," Chisholm said.

The other major investments come from Frances and Tim Price, the Jackman Family, Judy and Wilmot Matthews, Senator Michael Meighen and his wife Kelly, and Trans Canada Trails.

[. . .]

The private money will help convert the largely untapped stretch of urban valley between Corktown Common and the Evergreen Brick Works into a seven-kilometre network of hiking and cycling trails.

The private donation drive could mark a shift in the way Toronto's wealthiest families donate.

Traditionally, hospitals and cultural and educational institutions have received the lion's share of private money.

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1:44 pm - [URBAN NOTE] "Mega-projects reshaping Mississauga sprawl"
San Grewal at the Toronto Star describes how Mississauga's transformation is starting to get attention outside of Canada.

At an international biotechnology conference in Philadelphia last year, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie heard that a Brazilian multinational pharmaceutical company was looking to set up an operation in New Jersey.

“So I pitched them on the GTA — Mississauga,” says Crombie, talking about her city’s growing confidence as a global player, while an unprecedented number of multibillion-dollar projects get set to launch in Canada’s sixth largest city.

Crombie went to Brazil and met with officials of the company, Biolab. “They rolled out the red carpet. Then they grilled me on Mississauga,” she says.

After hearing about the LRT project along Mississauga’s central commercial corridor, a new institute of management and innovation and a new medical research facility at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, as well as a number of large, vertical residential projects in the city, Biolab was sold. It is investing $56 million in a new Mississauga research and development facility.

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