Category Archives: news

How The Eglinton Avenue Re-Development Message Got Lost: It’s NOT About You!


This was a very troubling week for The Urban Daddy and our community.  An apparent sudden decision by the municipal government here in Toronto had thrust our neighbourhood into chaos and as citizens moved into action our efforts to seek the truth were suddenly derailed by the actions of one man – whom I will not mention by name, nor show his picture – who feels his 15 minutes of fame are far more important than the residents and taxpayers in this area.

It all started with a news report on CP24 alerting residents in Toronto that Toronto City Council was going to vote on the narrowing of Eglinton Avenue from Allen Road to Bathurst Street from 5 lanes, to just 2 lanes, so that the sidewalks could be widened, trees and artwork placed on the strip and bike lanes added.

All of this seems very nice, and very practical, and as a resident in Toronto, specifically someone who lives in between those streets and who is already impacted by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT / subway, this information came as quite a shock to me, and apparently to many of my neighbours.

This strip as it currently stands is terrible – construction aside – as a result of many one-way streets, and the absolute lack of traffic on the strip.  At night-time, the street is aglow with “MASSAGE” signs and very few people walk in this area at night because, frankly, there is nothing to walk to.  If the goal was to make this strip feel more “European”, then maybe Toronto City Council might want to think about the 3 months a year in which weather would comply with this drastic transformation.

In addition with St. Clair Avenue already being down to one lane in parts as a result of the transit right-of-way, doing the same to Eglinton Avenue, the next major road north, makes even less sense.  Eglinton is the end of Allen Road, an “expressway” of sorts which helps traffic flow north and south from Wilson Avenue without traffic lights, but with a lot of traffic.  People use Allen Road to head north to the 401 highway, and the delays have always been long and frustrating with or without construction, one could imagine it would only get much worse.

Let me at this point identify that I am pro every method of transportation.  Cars, bikes, walking, public transit are all great.  If I could take public transit everyone in Toronto, I would, where it makes financial sense.  If I could bike safely, I would, and my kids would too.  But we are not there yet, and don’t appear to be for quite a long time, so in the meantime, doing anything to slow down traffic does not make sense at all.  But that is my opinion…

So where is traffic going to go, if it cannot move along Eglinton Avenue, or St. Clair?  Well the side streets, of course.  We are already seeing a huge increase in traffic as a result of the construction, and in front of my house, for example, there is a stop street which very few cars actually stop at, some do not even try, and they fly through without even braking.  The “30km” traffic limit is always ignored, and speed bumps only cause a momentary delay as cars race off after passing them.  Even one-way streets are ignored, and it’s going to get worse.

But what about the kids?

This community, Cedarvale, which lies just north of Forest Hill, has a ton of children, and these children cannot safely walk in this community as it already stands.  Is Toronto city Council’s shortsighted view of the war on cars overlooking or ignoring the impact this re-development will have on the children in the community who are already scared to cross streets because vehicles travel very fast and do not follow the street signs when using Cedarvale as a short-cut to avoid the delays on Eglinton?

It would appear so.

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford came to speak to the community about this issue, a couple of says after his return from rehab, I met some community members who lived on the other side of Eglinton Avenue in the next phase of this narrowing of Eglinton were just as shocked as I was, and who had put together a traffic study, which can be found right here; (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjP4HWMeieo&feature=youtu.be)

Adding to this frustration is that we learned that the City Planner had approved high density building along this strip with the widening of the laneways behind these buildings (which would require residential houses to be removed) to accommodate the traffic from these buildings.

More construction.

More traffic chaos.

Has the city planner, or city council ever been to these neighbourhoods?  $700K bungalows, and $1.5 million houses are common place in Cedarvale, much higher south and east of here, and a lot of families reside here who are certainly not going to need the extra sidewalk to walk to a massage parlour, a Whole Foods maybe, but clearly no one asked the residents what they want or need.  To look at the map of the area and declare it ripe for additional density of short-sighted.  This is not the right community for that.

Mayor Ford came to speak to us, and his message was lost, because of the actions of man who ran across the street, through frustrated traffic, so he could take off his shirt, pull out signs from his garbage bag and stop the community from hearing the Mayor’s views on this proposal, or to allow us to ask questions of the Mayor about what he knows about this plan.

The media at the event helped even less, but asking questions of the Mayor with disdain, like “How is it that you don’t know about this vote?  Is it not your job to do so?” when members of the community also knew nothing about this proposal, and then by diverting the attention to the few who took off their shirts for their own 15-minutes of fame.

If you watched any of the footage on TV, you probably heard me, and several others yelling for these 3 protestors to “shut up” and “let the Mayor talk” and while we did get a very short moment of quiet from them, it was when the guy yelling “resign” over and over again elbowed the Mayor’s campaign leader in the head while trying to get right behind the Mayor with his sign.

To his credit, the Mayor’s staffers did not respond or get as annoyed as the members of the community did, although, the police stepped in which this protestor yelled “don’t assault me” to the Mayor’s staff after apparently being kicked (I did not see this – I was recording the events) but the police decided to not charge either person, and the protestor was allowed to return and annoy the mayor and the residents.

The result of his actions were that the message of this proposal got lost.  The community were livid, the Mayor frustrated and the only person who got any attention was the guy with the sign, who proceeded to tell his story to everyone and anyone about how the Mayor lied, and how he works in a flexible position where he can follow the Mayor around and yell at him.

I waited after almost everyone left, and listened to his story evolve and change.  It was not about Eglinton Avenue and the residents or about traffic, but about someone who wanted to talk about how his was kicked, and assaulted, and how much support he has.

“Me Me Me”.

But it’s not about him.

It never was about him.

I looked at my video and saw a different unfolding of events which threw some key details of his story into dispute, and I shared that with the media and with the other Mayoral candidates teams so that they can be aware of the true intent of this individual.  He’s taking a very serious situation of an unwell person struggling with an addiction problem, who took the time to enter rehab and is now back trying to do his job, and he made it about him.

At the end of the day, we all lose.

As for the proposal along Eglinton….  I have no idea.

My message to Toronto City Council, Councillor Joe Mihevc, and the guy with the signs who likes to take off his shirt and disrupt important discussions impacting people their families and their community, is this:  It’s not about you.  It’s not about your legacy or your vision.  Leave Eglinton alone.  Don’t force another St. Clair on us because you want to be on TV.

Toronto City Council, don’t waste your time looking to spend money you do not have.  Clean up the area instead.  Fix the sidewalks, make sure the lighting is working, that dogs are on leash near schools, that the intersections are clearly marked and are safe (Ava and Strathern, for example), step up safety in the area and PLEASE, get rid of the raccoons!

Make the area safe and people will use it.

But Leave Eglinton Avenue alone.

And if you have a problem with the Mayor, address it the way everyone else does… At the ballot box.

Canada’s Wonderland: DIMENSIONS – a Cirque Experience Preview.


An Urban Daddy exclusive peek into Canada Wonderland’s new show, DIMENSIONS – A Cirque Experience by Senior Event Correspondent Ryan Starkman.

 

Here I am reporting from Canada’s Wonderland on June 20th, 2014. A beautiful sunny day has us readying for a bit of a cool down and we are awaiting entrance into the Wonderland Theatre for a sneak preview of DIMENSIONS – A Cirque Experience.

Having just met Jill Aitchison (Digital Community & Events Specialist at Canada’s Wonderland), we were warmly greeted and entered the cozy 800 seat Wonderland theatre excited and ready to be entertained.

First come first serve seating gave us, the early birds, a chance to catch the worm so to speak. Sightlines from the middle two sections are good. As you move to the left or right flanks of the theatre, the angles are noticeable but still appropriate enough to view.

The theatre only runs 19 rows deep so you’re never really too far back and the first 3 rows have your eye level just below the stage. We decided to sit in the 4th row right off the centre aisle. About 20 minutes prior to showtime, a pair of theatrical veterans entertained the audience in Cirque-like fashion. For those that don’t know what this means, it just means you want to be seated by the time the pre-show begins.

Without introducing any spoilers as to the various acts, this is a fantastic 25 minute performance and the perfect way to break away from the bustle of the outside theme park. Having seen just about every show Wonderland has to offer the past 20+ something years, this ranks right up as one of the best.

The show keeps you entertained from start to finish with not a weak act in the bunch. Some comedic interludes help lighten this high energy performance. The skilled acrobats and performers are world class with the majority coming from Canada.

About 25% of the cast come from outside Canadian borders hailing from countries around the world including the United States and Cambodia.

The production company behind DIMENSIONS is Les Productions Haut-vol which stems from the collaborative efforts of Quebec natives Joel Norton and Hugues Aubrey. This masterful pair have an extensive background in performance and have brought to Canada’s Wonderland an amazing program.

Prior to the show beginning, I asked my 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter if they were excited to see the show. The nod of approval was given. Upon its conclusion, my son wanted to see it immediately again, especially one act in particular he thought was really cool. My daughter was nervous for the performers as some of the acts were quite thrilling but said she wanted to come back another day.

And the best part about that comment is with us being season pass holders, we definitely would.

In terms of ways to spend your time at Canada’s Wonderland, this show should rank as one of the best in terms of time invested vs. entertainment value. Having been to the park since 1981 and waiting in lines for rides, some longer than I ever want to think about again, DIMENSIONS will not disappoint. You get a Cirque Experience for 30 minutes that costs nothing more than your time.

This is a no brainer if you like that type of thing and just another way that Canada’s Wonderland is bringing new DIMENSIONS to overall park entertainment.

Canadian Living Likes The Urban Daddy too…


Father’s Day is a great time to check out some of the great Daddy bloggers on the Internet, especially the – ahem – Canadian ones.

I was thrilled when I received word from David Eddie who writes for Canadian Living saying he wanted to add my blog, The Urban Daddy, to his article titled; Daddy Blogs You Should Be Reading.

David, in case you were not already aware, has blogged under “Mack Daddy” and has written and published (is this not one in the same) a few parenting books;

  • Damage Control: How to Tip-Toe Away From the Smoking Wreckage of Your Latest Screw-Up With a Minimum of Harm to Your Reputation (2010)
  • Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad, (2003)
  • Chump Change (1999)

You can see more of David’s work, here.

Here is what David wrote; “Moms have ruled the blogosphere, but daddy bloggers are throwing their ball caps in the ring. Here are the daddy blogs you should be reading.

While women are naturals at communicating and forming communities, it’s tougher for us guys. I was a stay-at-home dad for many years—I even had a blog called Mack Daddy, which quixotically tried to make being an SAHD seem cool—and I know that, as a dad, you can feel isolated, like you’re the only guy in the world going through what you’re going through. Reading some other dude’s blog is one of the best cures. Dad bloggers offer a unique window into what men think about their lives in the wake of having children.

Maybe in some utopian future when we’re all riding around in hovercars, we will speak only of “parent bloggers,” making no distinction between male and female. Until then, dad blogs add a spicy flavour to the blogosphere. A flavour kind of like…barbecue.

Here are some of my go-to sites that let me know I’m not alone:

The Urban Daddy is the blog for products and practical tips, especially for things to do when your kids are driving you up the wall. Warren Orlans, the Toronto father behind the blog, says he’s “not your typical daddy,” and I’m not quite sure what he means by that. (What’s typical these days?) But, like me, he has a three-kid, two-career household. Also like me, he and his wife have the odds stacked against them: three to two. He’s very good on the topic of “juggling”—which is especially useful for readers who live in urban jungles. Don’t kid yourself: It is a jungle out there, and Urban Daddy is a great guide to avoiding the bear traps, vipers’ nests and poison darts.”

Please go read the entire article, here.

April Fools Day! Origins and Best Of…


So today is April 1st, or April Fools Day (this is true, not a joke).

April Fools’ Day, also referred to by some as “All Fools’ Day” is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1st. The day is not a national holiday in any country, however it is widely recognized as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools.

Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day – but not on the Internet, because we all know that everything on the Internet is 100% true, right?!?

Many believe that April Fools Day originated in In Iran, where jokes are played on the 13th day of the Persian new year (Nowruz), which falls on April 1 or April 2. This day, was celebrated as far back as 536 BC, and is referred to in Iran as “Sizdah Bedar”, making it the oldest prank-tradition in the world.

As far as April Fools Day pranks go – and many of us are already expecting there to be something so outrageous that it has to be a prank, but back in 1957, the BBC pulled a prank, known as the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest prank, where they broadcast a fake film of Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a prank on the news the next day.

While that was a clever prank, some people take April Fools Da a little too far, such as, “An Australian woman called emergency services to tell them her baby had fallen off the bed and stopped breathing. When the ambulances arrived, there was no sick baby. It was her idea of a hilarious April Fool”.

But some fairly common pranks to look out for, and some classic pranks which garnered world-wide attention include these;

On April 1, 1976 famed British astronomer and radio presenter Patrick Moore announced over the BBC that a rare alignment of the planets Pluto and Jupiter would occur at exactly 9:47 a.m. during which the effects of gravity would be nullified and everyone on earth would feel weightless for a brief moment. “At 9:47, Moore declared, ‘Jump now!'”

A minute passed, and then the BBC switchboard lit up with dozens of people calling in to report that the experiment had worked!

But it was all a complete prank.

In more recent years some of the best April Fools jokes have been perpetrated by the advertising industry, specifically in 1996, when Taco Bell ran a full-page ad in the New York Times announcing it had purchased the Liberty Bell and would rename it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”

In 1998, Burger King announced the rollout of its “Left-Handed Whopper”, there has been stories about glasses for dogs, canned pizza, and in 2002 a British supermarket chain called Tesco published an advertisement in the British newspaper “The Sun” announcing the successful development of a genetically modified ‘whistling carrot.’ The ad explained that the carrots had been specially engineered to grow with tapered air holes in their side, which, when fully cooked caused the carrot to whistle.

On the Internet, hoaxes are such standard fare that April Fools’ Day is barely distinguishable from any other, but this one keeps getting brought up year-in-year-out, and makes me laugh – the announcement to that every computer connected to the World Wide Web must be turned off and disconnected for Internet Cleaning Day, a 24-hour period during which useless “flotsam and jetsam” are flushed from the system.

What stories have you seen today?

Did you get fooled?

Did you pull a prank on your kids, or them on you?

We toyed with the idea of moving all the kids into each other’s beds in the middle of the night, but geez, we’re so darn tired, I just told them about it in the morning.

Olivia Chow + Mayor + Toronto = Terrible Weather + High Taxes + Out of Control Spending


I don’t think there is any coincidence whatsoever that the day MP Olivia Chow announces that she wishes to resign her seat with the Federal Government of Canada, to run for Mayor of Toronto that the beautiful weather here in Toronto went from 11 degrees above 0 to 25 degrees below zero.mayor candidates

Understanding that current Mayor Rob Ford is a bit of a… Where to start… Sideshow, to immediately think that his political views are no longer needed in Toronto would be a huge misrepresentation of the truth.

Considering candidate John Tory (a Liberal by affiliation, and fiscal conservative) said that Ford is correct that there is a lot of wasted spending which needs to be reeled in, it would therefore make reasonable sense that a typical left-wing mandate of spend, tax and spend more, would bankrupt this city.

As much as I like Karen Stintz, she can help the right-wing causes (she’s right of centre fiscally and left of centre socially) by taking aim at Chow right away. We already know how she feels about Ford and she worked on Tory’s campaign in the past.

There is also an 18-year-old running whom I saw on TV, and it’s great that the youth want to be included in the process, but Mayor is not a realistic goal when she appears to think the solution to transit woes, and high taxes and over-priced real estate is to ask – no demand – that the Provincial government and Federal government give Toronto more money.

Umm, that money is tax money and while I’m happy you earned some babysitting, if the other governments are going to give more to Toronto that means either raising taxes, or cutting spending.

My hand is up for cutting spending. Wasteful spending only please.  Please no one mention libraries or books, or Margaret Atwood, or she’ll register to run too…

Someone should also tell her that in fact everyone does pay property taxes, whether owning or renting, as it’s included in rent too.

But with all that being said, the most important thing to take out of this post, is that with this election coming and all the fuss about the Fords, there are elected representatives sitting in Toronto City council who run by their own agenda and are not accountable to you, the voter.

I found, then lost, a pie chart showing the voting patterns of City Councillors since Ford was elected and there are about 5 of them who voted against the Mayor on each and every issue without fail.

If in 3-years these councillors could not find one issue to side with the Mayor on, then who are clearly not serving you, who elected them. Other councillors found common ground, but without fail some councillors just see something brought forward by the Mayor and vote against it without giving it any further thought.

Imagine if they were Mayor, and council was on the right of centre politically and every time they brought forward a motion it was voted against without fail…

They would be crying to every paper possible about council not wanting to work with them, and about a hidden agenda.

Talk to your councillor now. Ask them for their citing record and see if they truly represent your views for the city of Toronto, or if it’s time for them to find another job.

Oh, and day 2 with Chow in the race… Still looking bleak. On all fronts.

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