Folks, don’t ask me “how,” because I don’t know, but apparently during Saturday’s balloon launch, when nobody was looking, someone stole one of the balloons!
Never mind saying people will steal anything that’s not tied down, because this thing WAS tied down!
Toronto’s undoubtedly a city of characters: Downtown-dwellers love to celebrate the unicycle guy. Annex residents know that a Dance Cave night isn’t complete without a cameo from the dude in pajamas. And those of us who live in Brockton Village love few characters more than Kathleen Byers, the 65-year-old best known as the dancing crossing guard.
The fun-loving Byers, in fact, was so beloved that west-end indie rock outfit Born Ruffians made her the star of their video for “Oh Cecilia.”

Yesterday, however, a sad bit of news emerged: “Oh Cecilia” might’ve cost Byers her job, after Global News announced that the crossing guard had suspended her without pay. The reason?
“The allegations are [that] you wore your police-issued equipment for a purpose other than prescribed in the Toronto Police Service rules and procedures,” Byers said, reading the notice the police served.” In other words: She lost her job because she wore her uniform in a Born Ruffians video.
In the story issued by Global News, many of the area’s residents—us included—were dismayed to hear that Byers was gone. At times, residents said, the crossing was left unattended.
Born Ruffians, naturally, felt terrible about the situation. The band, in a series of tweets, says they weren’t aware that they were breaking any rules with the “Oh Cecilia” video.
The new desire to live — and work — downtown is overwhelming the transit systems of major cities across North America, says a new report by commercial brokerage Cushman & Wakefield.
“Toronto isn’t alone,” says Michael Caplice, senior managing director of Toronto office leasing for the global real estate firm.
In a 10-city study released Monday, Cushman finds that the explosion of new offices and condos in downtown cores is taking place from Mexico City to New York, Chicago and Washington, driven largely by millennials keen to live close to their work.
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“These are challenges that are now in many ways global,” added Caplice, pointing to the “sweeping transformation” of urban cores that has also taken place over the last decade in China and India’s biggest cities.
“As more people, including empty nesters, heed the siren call of downtown living, city governments, developers and businesses will continue to be pressured by the need to reduce commute times to support the fight for talent, improve productivity and enhance the overall experience of urban life,” says the report.
“Those (cities) that manage their growing pains the best will strengthen their positions as world-class cities.”
Mexico City, not surprisingly, remains the most nerve-fraying for commuting workers, struggling to move 22 million people a day in the face of 25 per cent economic growth in the last decade, says the report, titled Urban Development: Faster Greener Commutes Key to Sustained City Growth.
While Toronto is well down the gridlock list, at No. 9 in terms of the most congested cities in the Americas, there is still a lot of talk and not as much action when it comes to getting promised transit improvements in place, the report notes.
Developers in virtually all 10 cities studied — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Mexico City and Toronto — have moved to respond to these demographics demands, building new offices and condos close to transit lines and hubs.
But they remain almost universally challenged by aging or insufficient infrastructure, red tape, lack of funding and NIMBYism among residents who may not want new transit lines in their backyards, says the report.
“Developers and governments must find ways to work together to overcome challenges and support continued growth,” says Caplice.
“We’ve seen a migration of new workers, tenants and residents into the downtown core. Now we need the infrastructure to support that added population.”
The rapid pace of urban renewal in North America’s major cities is being driven, for the most part, by the same factor — millennials born between the early 1980s and late 1990s who, as young working adults, have flocked downtown from their suburban family homes.
In Toronto, downtown-dwelling millennials now make up close to half the population.
They have also largely abandoned cars, which in Toronto has fuelled the explosion of new office and condo development downtown, with some 5.1 million in new office space and more than 46,000 condos under construction right now.
While developers have shown enthusiasm for building work and live spaces close to transit hubs, the critical transit improvements needed in most of the world’s cities are being hobbled by red tape, too many impact studies and lack of funding, the report says.
The GTA’s $50 billion, 25-year Big Move program, for instance, has a number of projects underway, but just $16 billion of the total has been funded since its creation in 2008, notes the report.
And arguments continue over the proper funding formula, the report says

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