“Nishtown” for Christie Pits?

Toronto, the ancestral territory of the Ojibway, the Anishnawbe and the Mississaugas of the New Credit, is often touted as one of the world’s most multicultural cities, with dozens of ethnically evocative neighbourhoods. Yet none are dedicated to our first residents.

City councillors and community organizations want to change that by creating an Indigenous business district, but perspectives differ on how and where.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam explains that the Indigenous business district would not only be a destination similar to other cultural neighbourhoods. Rather, an “Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship” could be the seed that helps grow the area by offering programming, mentorship and co-op space to nascent businesses. Wong-Tam believes she’s found the prime location, at 200 Dundas East, a space the city will take over in 2019.

“The main thing we want to see is a community that’s safe for Indigenous people of the GTA,” says Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, a spokesperson for TIBA and the owner and chef of the Annex’s NishDish restaurant.

Read the rest in NOW Magazine.

City brandishes court order to threaten remaining dispensaries

At a spartan Queen West storefront on a sunny afternoon, more than 20 people sit shoulder to shoulder, waiting to be served by one of several busy employees. Eden, the Bellwoods-adjacent marijuana dispensary, is already seeing some of the overflow effects of last week’s court ruling that shut down a group of Toronto dispensaries for violating zoning bylaws.

The Ontario Superior Court granted the City’s request last week to close operations at Toronto’s remaining Canna Clinics—a chain of marijuana dispensaries—while the matter remains before the courts. For the City, the court order means another way to fight illegal marijuana dispensaries in what has become a costly game of whack-a-mole. For other Toronto dispensaries, it means more business, at least in the immediate future.

Read the rest at Torontoist.com.

There’s a $1 Million Subsidy for Toronto’s Top Water Polluters

Council keeps voting for a subsidy that gives an incentive to the city’s water polluters. Why?

Torontonians pay more than $1 million annually to subsidize wastewater pollution from over 100 companies. Every year, Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) moves to end this subsidy so that these companies pay the City the cost to treat their pollution. And every year, council votes down this motion.

A majority of councillors believe the economic incentive is part of the price to keep thousands of jobs in town; previous staff reports provided by the City state that prices in surrounding municipalities are higher, and there’s room to move to a cost-recovery model. Environmental advocates and a minority of city councillors call the cost absorption unfair and unproductive to curbing pollution. As part of the rate-supported budget, City Council will vote today on whether to charge companies the full cost of treating the pollutants they release into Toronto sewers.

Under the current program, private companies that release excess pollutants into the public wastewater system are charged only for the pollutant that they emit the most of. This means that anyone who pays for water in Toronto is also paying to treat private companies’ pollutants at an annual cost of around $1.6 million.

Read the rest at Torontoist.com.

Ontario’s Pit Bull Politics Still Howling a Decade After Breed Ban

Last weekend, a small group of people and their canine companions gathered in Queens Park to protest Ontario’s Pit Bull Ban. Ten years after the law was enacted, the number of protestors has diminished, but the number of pit bulls and dog bites in the province raise questions over the law’s effectiveness. What’s clear is that supporters and opponents of the ban remain firmly pitted against each other in the debate.

According to data from Toronto Animal Services (TAS), the total number of dog bites in Toronto has fluctuated throughout the decade, ranging from around 400 to 650 bites annually. While fatalities in Canada due to dogs are relatively rare, they do occur, and reports of serious injuries and mauling by vicious dogs are by any count tragic.

Read the rest at Torontoist.com.