Hot condo market is revving a new economy

Since 1996, an extended condo boom has pulled more than 41,000 people into the city core, reported the Toronto Star Nov. 10. And a city report earlier this year estimates that nearly 40,000 condo units in 155 projects are in the pipeline for the core, indicating that downtown’s attractiveness may still be on the upswing. The greater population density has helped create lots of new services, such as 24-hour grocery stores, food delivery and cleaning services specifically for condos.  

James McKellar, a professor of real property at York University’s Schulich School of Business, says people are moving into city cores across North America. "People are not just returning to the city. It’s a lifestyle and we’re just at the start of the trend. There are 52 metro areas in the United States and all but two have seen inner city populations increase." McKellar also expects the urban boom to further fuel growth in high-tech jobs such as small graphic, biotechnology and software firms. "Twenty-five per cent of the highest paying jobs in the Greater Toronto Area are downtown," he says. "And jobs always follow people."  

Students send message to Pakstani president

Around 70 people gathered on the front lawn of Queen’s Park to call for an end to martial law in Pakistan and the restoration of its constitution, reported The Toronto Sun Nov. 11. Organizer Somia Sadiq, 24, said the crowd, composed largely of university students, was showing their support for the large number of university students in Pakistan who have joined the protests against the state of emergency imposed by Musharraf. The York University student said the event contrasts the liberties students have in Canada. Here the students gathered freely for the public protest without interference from police, something that wouldn’t happen in Pakistan, Sadiq said. "It lets people know they’re being heard and supported," she said. 

Retire part-time an attractive option for many

Odds are many Canadian Baby Boomers won’t actually stop working when they reach retirement age, reported the National Post Nov. 10. Instead, they may merely move from employment to self-employment. With life expectancies on the rise, many people may be retired for 30 or 40 years, a fact Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, noted recently. Whether it is to fill the time or to supplement their pensions, self-employment will become increasingly popular for retirees.  

Cleaning up Hamilton harbour worth $1 billion: study

Observers say cleaning up Hamilton’s image will be the ultimate benefit of the $30-million Canadian Environment Minister John Baird is pledging toward the $90-million cost of cleaning up Randle Reef, reported the Hamilton Spectator Nov. 10. John Shaw is a retired Environment Canada official who, said the harbour restoration will serve as an international model for pollution cleanup, "but the other important aspect is its potential to change how Hamilton is seen from the outside." His view is backed by a York University study that says polishing the city’s image by cleaning up the harbour is worth at least $1 billion. York’s computer model predicts the Randle Reef project will generate a direct economic gain of $126 million for the port, industry and tourism, but the big payoff – more than $900 million – will come when that work leads to the International Joint Commission taking the harbour off its list of Great Lakes pollution hot spots, helping to change the picture of Hamilton as a dirty, polluted place.  

Bruce Powe’s meditation on the non-political side of Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Elliott Trudeau might well be talking to us – again – through the words of B.W. Powe whose latest book, Mystic Trudeau: The Fire and the Rose, comes in the thick of heated debates on reasonable accommodation and on proposed legislation by PQ leader Pauline Marois and her party to create Quebec citizenship, wrote a book reviewer in Montreal’s Gazette Nov. 10. "Open up the borders, our people are suffocating to death," he wrote in 1961.

Mystic Trudeau intertwines myth, speculation, fiction and poetry to help illuminate the man who vehemently fought for a just society, a man whose life embodied the spirit of contrariness and of "going beyond." This is the beauty of Powe’s book, wrote the reviewer. Less chronology and history, more mystical biography, this book is a meditation on the more private, spiritual side of Trudeau and an exploration of some of the reasons why, even after all these years, he continues to haunt us.

An English lecturer in the Faculty of Arts at York University, Powe is also a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, and it is precisely this combination of thinker and artist that allows him to explore one of Canada’s most important public figures (and our first true media-imaged leader) as an "evolutionary soul – who appeared during his lifetime in many guises, cloaks."  

24-7 bombardment leads to loss of balance and focus

A combination of doing more with less because of cutbacks, plus generally doing more, more, more in a 24-7 on-line work environment has produced an epidemic of stress that is costing the economy billions in lost productivity and mistakes, wrote Carleton University Prof. Heather Menzies, in an opinion piece in the Ottawa Citizen Nov. 10. The public discussion on stress has only recently shifted from how stress makes individuals sick to how it makes organizations sick and dysfunctional. One study documented a 10-point drop in employees’ IQ due to so many e-mail interruptions. Some research that a colleague, York sociology Prof. Janice Newson, and I did in 2001 shines a deeper light on this, said Menzies. It’s a study of academics’ time in a wired campus environment, and through a combination of survey questions and interviews, it uncovered a disturbing trend toward connection without presence and engagement. Fifty-eight per cent reported that their ability to stay focused on their work had decreased, 51 per cent said they no longer had enough chunks of free time in which to think, and nearly 30 per cent identified with the phrases "I can’t slow down enough to be in touch with my innermost thoughts" and "everybody I know is too busy to just talk."  

Translation prof’s book shortlisted for prize

Former Peterborough woman Agnes Whitfield continues to get acclaim for her work, reported the Peterborough Examiner Nov. 12. The York University translation professor’s work is short listed for the Scholarly Book Prize awarded by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Services for "the best federation-supported books published in the humanities and social sciences.” She can write and edit in English and French. She graduated at Queen’s University, Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne and Université Laval. Her book, naturally, looks at literary translators.  

Foursome are Ontario Aussie Rules Football champs

Aussie Rules Football hasn’t quite been the same since being invaded by the Brampton foursome of Kevin Minaker, Matthew Lowden, Tasos Dimackos and Aaron Falcioni, reported the Brampton Guardian Nov. 11. Most Canadians know very little about the sport from down under even though the Ontario Australian Football League is one of the largest of its kind outside of Australia. There are nine teams in the league with over 270 players all vying for the Ontario Championship. This year the best in the province were the Toronto Eagles. All four Brampton boys play for the Eagles. Falcioni is vice-captain of the Eagles and of Northwind, and is the only player to have represented Canada in every one of its international matches. "I think the Aussies show us a lot of respect because they’re surprised and glad that their sport is so well taken to in other countries," says the York University geography student.  

Capers beat Lions for women’s soccer title

It took the Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s soccer championship game coming to Cape Breton University for the Capers to claim their first national title, reported Canadian Press Nov. 12. Nicole Stewart scored for the Capers and York University had an own goal Sunday in New Waterford, N.S., as Cape Breton edged the Lions 2-1. It was the first national championship in any sport for CBU.  

On air

  • Carl James, York education professor, discussed the Toronto school board’s proposal to set up black-focused schools as a means to reduce the drop-out rate, in an interview aired on CBC Newsworld Nov. 9. James said one problem is people are uncomfortable with differences related to race.