The public consultation at the Balmy Beach Club on February 13th confirmed that ALL our fears were TRUE: 1- Secret meetings at our local councilor’s office with developers. 2- Phony “grass-roots” citizens groups (astro-turfing) pretending to represent Beachers’ best interests. 3- No intention of complying with long-held or very recent building guidelines by any of these parties. The sham of a meeting began with an anemic speech by the mousy Ward 32 councilor (what the heck was her name again?) We used to view her as laughable, but we’re not laughing now. Your Ward 32 News naively believed that our local councilor was merely inept, but we’ve since learned that she’s more than willing and capable of destroying our beloved neighborhood. We apologize for ‘going light’ on her. The conniving councilor introduced the crowd of 200-plus to Senior Planner Leontine Major (cool name) whose monotone delivery was mildly disturbing yet effective. When confronted as to how a single meeting could effectively address the concerns about the developments at the north-east and north-west corners of Queen and Woodbine, it became clear to educated Beachers that this tactic was to ‘muddy the water’. After all, they are two entirely different developments by two separate building firms. So City Senior Planner Leontine Major simply repeated her quote that appeared in the Beach Metro Community News: “AT THIS POINT IN TIME BOTH OF THEM HAVE INDICATED THAT THEY’RE NOT WILLING TO MAKE THE MODIFICATIONS TO MAKE IT COMPLY WITH THE NEW DESIGN GUIDELINES”. It is also now clear that the height restrictions are a ‘red herring’, rife with newly-created terms like ‘PERCEPTION LINES’ and ‘ANGULAR PLANES’. This gibberish, concocted by developers, is designed to distract from the ‘Assault on a Queen’ and the ecological horror planned for the Beach. We might add that the word ‘AVENUE’ now officially means ‘DESIGNATED FOR GROWTH’ in this new language created by those determined to profit by destroying our neighborhood. The slew of ‘astro-turf’ organizations with names like the B.I.A. (Business Improvement Association), the Triangle Residents Association and the Jane Jacobs Committee are not acting in the best interest of our future. A rep from the B.I.A. stated that Big Box-type stores are the way to go for the Beach. When asked if he’d like to retract his statement he seemed like a deer caught in the headlights. Ward 32 News investigative journalist J.J. then went on the attack. The developers of the property where the Shell Station had been were asked a simple question: “WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL BODY THAT WILL DETERMINE WHEN THE LOCATION WILL BE SAFE FOR HUMANS TO INHABIT?” The developer indicated that the tanks had been removed and that the situation had been remediated. They then said that communication was ongoing with the Ministry of Environment to assure compliance. When asked to be precise in their answer, they were anything but precise in assuring the audience that the location was not still toxic. Our councilor showed no concern about the cancer-causing benzene and chemical soup that remains at the location. There’s just one more question that we all have to ask Ward 32 Councilor Mary-Margaret McMahon: Would she grow tomatoes at this toxic location or allow her beloved Farmer’s Market to move on to this poisonous property? Ask her yourself by phone – (416)392-1376 or email – councilor_mcmahon@toronto.ca

In October of 2007, I met Ashley Smith, the tragic nineteen year old girl who killed herself in prison while prison guards stood by watching the whole thing. Not only did I meet and know Ashley for four days prior to her death, but I was in the prison cell next door to her on the day that she died. My first impression of Ashley was that she was an oppositionally defiant child. She took great pleasure in ordering the prison guards around, and in refusing to follow the direction of staff. Over the span of four days, I would constantly hear the Prison Guards saying “Ashley, stop that,” and Ashley would immediately reply “No!” in a stubborn tone of voice. The poor child was on a constant suicide watch, which meant that she was permitted to have absolutely nothing in her cell, not even a drinking cup for water, and she was not allowed to wear normal clothing- she had to constantly wear something called a ‘suicide gown’ which is a dress made of an oven-mitt like fire resistant material, often referred to by the inmates as an ‘oven mitt’ or a ‘dolly gown’. She had a guard seated on a chair right outside of her cell door 24 hours a day, constantly keeping an eye on Ashley and what she was doing. The fact that in such incredibly restrictive conditions, Ashley could still manage to kill herself is unspeakable and very, very sad. The fact that the guards stood at her door that morning, watching her strangle herself through the cell door window and doing absolutely nothing to stop her, is even more unspeakable, and quite horrifying. There are many, many folks who’ve got troubled teenage children, children who might think it amusing to throw a crab apple at a Postman. For all of her troubles, Ashley was nothing more than a defiant child. Depressed and troubled, certainly; Ashley was an adopted child, and MANY adopted children, including myself, are troubled. Surely there is no mystery in the fact that a child who grows up feeling unwanted might experience emotional problems. The real mystery is that some adopted children grow up experiencing only minimal problems. Ashley, however, was one of the severely troubled ones, and she needed help desperately, help that she never received. Some will say that prison Guards are not social workers or counselors, so they had no real duty to Ashley, but the truth is that at Grand valley Institution for women, the Prison Guards ARE suppose to be somewhat skilled in counseling. When Kingston Prison for women was closed in the late 90’s after the notorious prison for women riots and the infamous media videos of female inmates being strip searched by male Correctional Officers, the chief justice in charge of that case, Madame Louise Arbour, actually ruled that an institution that was sensitive to troubled women should be opened, and staffed with guards who were schooled in handling troubled inmates. That institution was built, staffed, and opened; Grand valley Institution for women in Kitchener. When Ashley died, the prison had been open for less than seven years. In October 2007, I had been returned to prison for smoking marijuana. I was only incarcerated for less than three months, actually being released less than a week after Ashley died. In the last week of my incarceration, I was so upset by my personal problems that I requested to be placed in Grand valley’s segregation unit for a ’break’ from general population, so I was brought down to seg and placed in cell number two, next door to Ashley Smith, who was in cell number one. When I have been incarcerated in the past, like many, many other inmates, I would sometimes sing to myself in segregation, because I had no television or radio to keep me company, and I missed music. I was down there on a Monday evening, singing some Guns N Roses tunes to myself, and Ashley could hear me. “SHUT UP!” she yelled. I told HER to shut up herself, and then we argued back and forth for a little while, and then we called a truce and became friends. Ashley did one of the funniest things I have ever seen done in a prison, on the eve of her death. I have already mentioned that she was on a suicide watch, dressed in a suicide gown, with a guard sitting on a chair outside of her cell door. Well, on the Wednesday evening before she died, the guard assigned to watch her had taken off her Correctional Officer uniform sweater, and set it down on the chair, and then vacated her post briefly to speak with someone. Ashley reached through the meal slot of her cell door and grabbed the guard’s sweater off of the chair, and pulled it into her cell. She knocked on the wall between our cells, and yelled “Michelle, I stole the guard’s sweater!” and she laughed hysterically. I laughed along with her for ten minutes, especially when the guard assigned to watch her came back and discovered her sweater was missing. For the next twenty minutes, a group of Grand valley Correctional officers banged on Ashley’s door, screamed at her, threatened her, and called her names, demanding that the sweater be given back. Through it all, Ashley remained obstinate. “NO!” she would snap. “Ashley, give us the sweater.”, “NO!”, “Ashley, don’t make me come in there, you little bitch!” I was so concerned with the threatening behavior of one Correctional Officer in particular, the one who called Ashley a little bitch, that I immediately stopped laughing, and posted myself at my cell door so that I could be a witness for Ashley if the Correctional Officers became more abusive. Finally, I capitulated. “Ashley, just give them the sweater” I called to her. She answered me back immediately. “No!” Shortly afterward, the guards entered Ashley’s cell and forcibly removed the sweater from her. I could hear the scuffle, and the sound of rubber soles squeaking on the floor as they held Ashley down and took the sweater from her. I knocked on the wall to see if she was okay, and I called “Ashley, are you okay?” and she answered me back in a tired voice. “I’m okay, Michelle, I just want to go to sleep”. That was the last thing Ashley would ever say to me or anyone else. The very next morning, I was awakened at around 5:30 am, by the sound of guards outside of Ashley’s cell door, kicking her door. Now, we all know now that Ashley was strangling herself and the guards were yelling at her to stop it, but at the moment, I had no idea WHY they were kicking her door, and I thought that the guards were picking on my friend, so I hollered “ Leave her alone!” and one of the guards came over to my door and opened the window (which had been shut by sliding a cover over the glass) and said to me “ We don’t need to hear from you right now.” Right at that moment, Ashley was dying. Something that I know that the media has yet to discover since the videotape of Ashley killing herself has not yet been shown at the inquest is that as she was dying, Ashley turned her purple face toward the guards and looked at them imploringly, as if wondering why they wouldn’t come in. Those of us who are close to the case believe that at this point, Ashley wanted to take the ligature off of her neck but couldn’t get it off. Correctional officers are required to videotape any incidents which require a ‘use of force’ and the guards were videotaping Ashley because they probably expected to have to intervene at some point. Unfortunately, they waited too long. By the time they went in to the cell, Ashley was dead. What I remember most about Ashley was how cute she was. Even while being obstinate and defiant, she sounded sweet. Just like a typical teenage girl, she had chatted with me about her favorite band (Nickelback) and her favorite actor (Leonardo Dicaprio) and how much she loved to shop. The day before her death, Ashley and I had been discussing plans to go shopping together when Ashley was released in a month’s time. Ashley Smith will never go shopping again. She’ll never listen to Nickelback, and she’ll never see the latest Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Her life is gone, because those in charge of preventing her death failed. Ashley’s mother is now childless. Her mother has lost a child whose worst crime was throwing a crab apple at a Postman. Obviously, something went wrong, and I pray that a similar event never happens again.

 

Did you know… there is no HST on resale purchases of homes or condominiums but there is HST on real estate commissions, legal fees, surveys, appraisal assistance. Let’s thank our lucky stars that mortgages payments and interest on mortgages are HST exempt. If you purchase new construction; a new condo or new house, HST applies but there are applications for new housing rebates and generally the builders will handle the paperwork and submit them on your behalf but beware, cover yourself and make sure you ask questions. New condominiums as an investment? If you purchased a unit in a condominium; you must take occupancy when your floor is complete. Occupancy involves an occupancy fee payable to the builder every month at a rate as determined by the builder. It could be 3 months, it could be 6 months. The lower the floor the longer the period of time. The occupancy period allows the builder to obtain monthly fees for completed floors of the building. Chances are when you took occupancy of your 8th floor unit, the builder is still completing the floors above you. As the whole builder becomes completed under occupancy it takes approx.. 30 -60 for the condominium to pass all inspections and once cleared the condominium building can be registered as a Condo Corporation. During occupancy you don’t own the unit therefore you cannot rent or sell it without the permission of the builder is the common process. It all depends on your documents so please read your Purchase and Sale documents! Investors Beware – If you list your property on the Real Estate Market during occupancy you may be in violation of your Agreement. If you rent your property during this term, you are identified as an investor and a full HST will be charged to you on your registration and closing of your deal which is when your mortgages etc kick in. So be prepared to have the additional funds or you will not be able to close your deal. You do have the option of filing specific paperwork to the government to request a refund of the HST but that is only after you have paid it in full. Condominiums are definitely feeling an intense heat in maintenance fee expense. Maintenance Fees – Just consider how expensive your maintenance fee is under normal inflationary increases plus sub-metering energy efficiency costs and topping up your reserve funds; some buildings are hit hard. Sure interest rates are down, but who wants their maintenance fee to cost them more money than their mortgage per month. Many older condominiums are facing that now and new condominiums especially those only 1-2 years old have an even larger problem because the builder estimates the maintenance fees before the building cuts ground! A few years ago the HST hit hard and Condo owners were faced with an additional 7% increase on their maintenance fee on all related service. Originally there was only 5% GST related service contracts for Property Management, Security, Cleaning, Private Waste Disposal (exempt on City contracts), utilities (excluding water), Snow Removal, Landscaping, Window and Underground Washing and the list goes on…. 13% HST was hard to swallow. I have seen so many changes over the past 33 years I have been selling real estate. First-time buyer exemptions come and go; they increase; they decrease and they did disappear once but the public put out an APB and they came back. It’s a revolving door, a turn cycle of confusion. As the Founder and President of the Condo Owners Association (COA) (www.COAontario.com) which is a non-profit Association I started in March 2010 to represent and advocate for Condo Owners. Did you know there are over 1.3 million condo owners and over 567,000 condo units in the Province of Ontario and the numbers continue to grow because over ½ of construction is all Condominiums. In June 2012 with a strong push from COA, our McGuinty government decided to review the Condo Act to which is the provincial legislation for the operations of Condominiums. No different from the Traffic Act, Health & Safety Act etc. which must be enforced however there is no governance in the Condominium Act and it has not been updated in 14 years yet we have had massive construction everywhere. If you are an owner of a semi-detach or detach home; you may believe you don’t have to be concerned with the condominium market. That’s not true! If condominiums are not protected with good governance and accountability and better mandates for Board of Directors and Corporations there is a domino effect on the whole real estate market. Remember, most people who sell condos then buy homes. If their condo market value drops they cannot afford the home. I recently launched a Radio Show called the “Condo Xpert” on the HazeFm (www.thehazefm.ca). You can learn about a series of important information relating to condominiums, mortgages, insurance, the economy etc. I am thrilled to have prominent Guests to elaborate important issues of their profession. The show is podcasted so all shows will be posted to listen at any time. Real Estate is all about awareness. It is important to know the facts and work with someone you can trust !! LINDA PINIZZOTTO Realtor ® 416-561-7373 Linda@LindaPinizzotto.com Sutton Group Quantum Realty.

In Canada’s quote “Economic Action Plan” unquote, the Government of Canada announced the elimination of the penny from Canada’s coinage system. However, the penny will retain its value indefinitely and can continue to be used in payments. The Royal Canadian Mint has stopped manufacturing new pennies, and has already begun melting them for scrap. The hope is that since pennies have been withdrawn from circulation, the price of cash transactions will be rounded… Pennies are rounded, but as most Beach residents noticed; it’s not in their favor. The Royal Canadian Mint put’s it down to retailer confusion; our readers put it down to posturing, poaching, and penny-pinching! Let me give you an example, one Kingston Road convenience store refuses to give pennies back as change, will never round down two cents, and don’t think about taking a penny out of the tray as they will not accept them. No matter what you buy, be prepared to cough up a nickel for the change and another nickel for the privilege of not having to stuff your winter coat’s pockets with purchases for the cold walk home. While mooching our change seems to be the norm now in our franchised world, some store owners still stick to the community based general store motto. The customer is our family is what the owner of Ce-Bon Variety says, right across the road on Kingston. When Larry’s at his cash register plastic bags are always included and if you are a little short with the grocery bill, you can always square up the next time you drop in. The federal budget announcement of 2012 eliminating the penny quoted the cost of producing a cent at 1.6 cents. The final penny was pressed in the mint’s Winnipeg plant last May. And don’t think of saving ‘em for anything other then your coin collection, the Canadian Currency Act says that “a payment in coins … is a legal tender for no more than … 25 cents if the denomination is one cent.” In other words, the penny is still legal tender so long as you don’t spend more then a quarter’s worth at one time. Why is Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance so concerned about saving half a penny when they budget an ungodly sum every year to the Royal Canadian Mint to redesign and engrave new quarters and loonies? Is celebrating Indian culture, some French sailing ship or the Saskatchewan Roughriders really worth it so our tax dollars can get jammed in vending machines? The Department of Finance requested I remind you that they continue to consult with Canadian citizens on all aspects related to the elimination of the penny… They just don’t care what we have to say!

Ontario Disability Support Program writes a monthly cheque of $1075 for income support, and includes community housing, free prescription drug coverage, free taxi rides, child payments and an extra $100 a month if you can convince your worker you are “volunteering” in the community… up until a few moths ago for good measure those eating taxpayer handouts also collected an extra $799-$1,500 every two years from ODSP just for the hell of it! Add this to the fact federal tax season has now come along the Canadian government dishes out a one time $15,000 payment, and it’s obvious local bums cash in more tax free then most hard working Torontonians can aspire to, even without a debilitating recession! Let’s just remind ourselves these poor unfortunate souls, trapped with their emotional disabilities can not function in a full time job. That’s why we see them on our once beautiful Beaches, using their pets as bait to drum up some more good will from us working and retired folk. Just because they have two working legs, two working arms, and a strong back from carrying around their knapsack hoard all day does not mean we shouldn’t open our purse, wallet or cigarette pack… right? My fellow neighbours must learn the “prison politics” of ALL street panhandlers in our city. Just like the pitbulls and rottweilers protecting these squatters; everything is about territory! You may ask yourself why it is always the same bunch everyday for years working our community? The answer is an ongoing territorial war for street dominance, preventing non-profits and the legitimate homeless from asking for handouts in our block of Queen Street East. I have personally talked to one worker for a non-profit organization who mentioned she was aggressively harassed while collecting donations. The non-profit organization has since changed their policy requiring a team of no less then five people to protect each other while canvassing. Trust me as a Winnipegger, the community supported housing in our area will disastrously turn one of the best wards in the city into a gangland ghetto quicker then you may think. Our readers are right in questioning why across the city most territorial street urchins crowd around the liquor store. Despite spending their young lives in front of the same businesses on our street the excuses are still the same… I am not eligible for social assistance because I don’t have any identification, I can’t get a job because there is no one to look after my dog, I won’t do any day labour because I’m considered “disabled”. The British Columbia government had a great idea shipping welfare recipients up north for much needed labour in the commodity industry. Full work hours, good pay, learning a trade, and a bunk to sleep in for the season. Yet the bleeding hart NDPers found that a violation of human rights, ironically liking it to a Soviet work camp. Getting those unmotivated punks off their ass and in a pair of work boots is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

On the Sunday just before family Day, the Beaches was a truly happening place, with multiple events coinciding along Queen Street East. I had an interview scheduled with Amy Occhipinti, the owner of the charming new shop called ‘Amy’s place’, which is located at Beech street and Queen. As myself and another member of the Your Ward News staff made our way to Amy’s place, we were inundated with offers of free yellow tulips and yellow bandannas, as well as the chance to enter our name into a contest where we might win a fabulous prize. After finally passing the gauntlet of charitable events, we made it to Amy’s place, where Amy had a white tent set up and was painting a beautiful mural to donate to the Beaches Public Library. Amy was assisted by at least two other fellow artists in the painting of the mural, and she was so busy that a real interview with her was virtually impossible. Myself and fellow Your Ward News staffer Robert James were able to tour the Amy’s Place shop, and were impressed by how quaint and delicate the shop was. Candles everywhere, jewellery and wooden greeting cards are just a few of the beautiful little items on sale in Amy’s place. Stepping into Amy’s place was almost like stepping into a room located in Heaven, with it’s plush white carpeting and glorious items on display. After touring the shop, we went outside to see if we could have a quick chat with Amy, and were fortunate to catch her taking a break from painting the mural and conversing with admirers. During our brief but heartfelt discussion, we learned that Amy’s Place had only recently just opened in the beaches in December 2012. As Robert James and I conversed with Amy, a member of the BIA showed up late to the event and attempted to hone in on the interview. It is no small wonder that Amy’s Place was the subject of so much attention, given that it is truly a unique and awe inspiring little shop. Since Amy’s Place is only in its incipiency, I know that Your Ward News readers have likely not had a chance to experience this eclectic little shop, and I must say that it would be a real loss if our readers did not rush out to see Amy’s Place for themselves. Naturally, the Beaches is the perfect location for a shop like this, as many of the businesses located here are conducive to a small-town ideal. Every small town has a shop like Amy’s, with handmade jewellery and contributions from local artists, and prior to December 2012, the Beaches was missing a shop like that. Not anymore. Amy’s Place is open for business and just waiting to be discovered by all of you.

We the people call upon you, as a representative of the People, to uphold the recent BC Liberals policy paper on the legalization of cannabis. This is a clear view of the issues and their impact upon Canada as a democratic society based upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The future is clear. We have written a public petition to the Governor General to call a national referendum, similar to the referendum of 1898 on alcohol prohibition, a vote of all citizens. This is a matter of national concern. Up to 64% of Canadians are in favour of legalization and we require a democratic reply to our concerns. We shall submit our petition to the government in 2013 to the House of Commons as per the provisions of the Canadian Constitution of 1982. As a failed policy, prohibition is a war upon our own citizens. Prohibition creates far more harm to our society via criminal sanctions. Penalties which are not approved by the People. The legal fiction of “decriminalization” serves no purpose and does not solve any of the problems associated with prohibition and the inherent corruption associated with this failed policy. Our position is based upon the LeDain Commission of 1972 and the Senate Report of 2002 which concluded that legalization was the final solution. We call upon the government to honour the will of the People and put an end to this travesty which impacts the lives of each and every citizen. As each man, woman and child pays up to $1000 per year in taxes to support this social disaster, the burden upon the taxpayers is unsustainable. Since the Senate Report was published over $30 Billion dollars have been wasted in ongoing costs at all levels of government over the past ten years. Cannabis use has not declined and public opinion has shifted. The truth is obvious to the general public, regardless of their political affiliations or personal views. The war on drugs is a failure in “good governance” ~ in the words of the Senate. Legalize cannabis, repeal prohibition. No other solution is acceptable. Finally I would predict that your clear position on the legalization of cannabis will catapult the Liberals to a majority government under your leadership. We would invite you to introduce our petition to The Clerk of Petitions in the House of Commons. http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/parliament-of-canada-legalize-cannabis Sincerely, B. Ryan, The Beaches, Toronto, Ontario.