Subway extension could benefit from Toronto Hydro windfall

Faced with the prospect of $980 million flowing into Toronto’s coffers from Toronto Hydro, city councillors could dream of more than enough ways to spend it, reported the Toronto Star July 26.

Formerly a not-for-profit cooperative owned by its customers, Toronto Hydro was handed over to the city in 1998. The city in turn decided to structure its new profit-making corporation as a regular business, holding about 40 per cent of its capital as shares, and 60 per cent – or $980 million – as debt owed by Toronto Hydro to the city. Now, the city wants the debt paid out in cash – which likely means Toronto Hydro will raise the money from other lenders on public debt markets by issuing bonds or debentures.

That raises the thorny question: How do you spend a billion dollars?

Joe Pennachetti, the city’s chief financial officer, urged councillors yesterday to put the money into a reserve account earmarked for big infrastructure projects being carried out in partnership with the federal and provincial governments. Under those rules, the $980 million is likely to be swallowed up by two projects already on the drawing board. The city has committed $500 million for waterfront renewal, a project that Ottawa and Queen’s Park are committed to joining. Pennachetti estimates the city will spend up to $400 million extending the Spadina subway line to York University. The money from Toronto Hydro is likely to flow to the city in instalments over a period of years, with the final instalment as late as 2013 and the first coming some time in 2007.

In related coverage, “Studio Aperto” on CFMT-TV and the Cantonese edition of “OMNI News” on OMNI.2  reported that Toronto has approved the Spadina subway extension to York University and Vaughan, July 26.

Dusk does it his way

Matt Dusk still remembers the day he went in to audition for the music program at York University, reported The Globe and Mail July 26. “I was listening to Sinatra and Tony Bennett and Harry Connick. Those are my biggest influences, for sure,” he says. So, like any aspiring crooner, he wanted to show the York faculty how well he knew the masters. “I basically sang these two Sinatra songs verbatim, with every ‘koo-koo’ and all of that,” he says. “I was snapping my fingers on one and three, and doing all the wrong things.” He laughs. “I look back now, and – how embarrassing! To walk into a bunch of educated people, and sing that to them? But the teacher said, ‘We think you’ve got a great voice. You can’t sing jazz’ – You can’t sing jazz worth s***, was the exact quotation – ‘but we’re going to teach you to be a singer.’ “

True to their word, his teachers did just that, and four years later Dusk (BFA ’02)  has a gold record under his belt (for the 2004 release Two Shots), and is touring behind his fourth album, Back in Town. True, there’s still a touch of Frank Sinatra about him, from his suit-and-tie wardrobe to the ease with which his satiny baritone switches from punchy swing phrasing to limpid balladry. But at 27, Dusk is clearly his own man, and much rather do it his way.

Burlington players pitch in to help Canada win World Cup

Two Burlington women are expected to play key roles for Canada in its attempt to capture baseball’s World Cup, reported the Hamilton Spectator July 26. Samantha Magalas and Kate Psota are members of the Canadian women’s baseball team looking for gold in Taipei. Both Magalas, 23, who graduated from York in 2005 with a BA in psychology, and Psota, 20, now attending Wilfrid Laurier University, are two of nine returning players from the 2004 Canadian team. “It’s exciting but it will be a lot better once we get there,” said Magalas, while waiting for the team flight from Vancouver to Taipei. “We’re all looking forward to it. It’s going to be tough but we believe we have a chance. We’re aiming for gold. Definitely to medal.” Canada opens the seven-team, round-robin tournament on Monday against defending champion USA. Canada, USA, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Cuba make up the World Cup field.

1911 axe murder inspires film

Sergio Navarretta felt like he’d uncovered buried treasure as he followed the thin thread left by Angelina Napolitano, reported The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) July 26 in a feature about the filmmaker’s new film Looking for Angelina. For such a raucous trial that garnered international outrage back in 1911 after the young Italian immigrant was sentenced to hang for killing her husband with an axe in their newly adopted town of Sault Ste. Marie, Angelina practically fell off the planet when she was released from prison 11 years later. But the more Navarretta discovered about the unassuming 28-year-old, whose abusive husband Pietro pushed her to commit the heinous crime, the more he realized this wasn’t just a meaty, dramatic trial story that could translate well on screen. ”It speaks to our history as immigrants in Canada,” the 36-year-old film director said in an interview earlier this week. “History had been whitewashed. This story was internationally known but it had been buried in Canada for almost 100 years.” Navarretta studied social sciences at York in 1990-1991.

On air

  • In the wake of 41 charges being laid against Hamilton’s mayor under the Municipal Elections Act, Robert MacDermid, a political science professor and author of a paper on campaign finances in the 2003 Ontario Municipal Election, discussed how rare it is for a private citizen to wage war on city hall. He also noted how common questionable campaign donations are, mainly from developers, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” July 25.