Mini-dumps pose no health hazard, says York prof

Nineteen locations across the city – from North Toronto to the Western Beaches to the Port Lands – have been turned into mini-dumps as the city struggles to cope with waste from its five-day-old strike [by outside workers], wrote the Toronto Star June 26.

Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, said the dump sites pose no immediate health threat. “A hard surface is probably better than on the ground but there will likely be some leaching and stuff may start to leak out,” he said.

Some of it will drain into sewers and some could run into surface waters such as the Don and Humber rivers. “The leaching could harm wildlife and might harm fish depending on what leaches out but the human health problem is more a nuisance issue around smell and vermin,” said Winfield. The immediate likelihood of runoff polluting drinking water is unlikely, he said.

Boring is good for Canada’s banking brand

In any other industry at any other time, trying to build an ad campaign around stability would send shudders through marketing mavens. But there has never been a better time to be a stodgy Canadian banker, wrote Reuters June 25 in a story about a new strategy by RBC Financial Group to use the bank’s full name, Royal Bank of Canada, in its marketing campaign.

“It’s about time,” said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “It’s very much a story of stability and growth…but why weren’t they doing this 30 or 40 years ago?”

Middleton noted with approval RBC’s move to reach out to readers in relatively upscale print media, rather than try to market to the masses on the street. “BusinessWeek, The Economist, Financial Times of London – I’ve never seen them be so aggressive before in an ad campaign,” Middleton said.

Strike gives York students chance to record CD

Jane’s Party saw this winter’s York University strike as a blessing in disguise, wrote the Barrie Advance June 25. The band members, all York music students, took the opportunity to record their debut album, The Garage Sessions.

“We said, ‘Let’s not just bum around. Let’s do something,’” explained member Zach Sutton. “We decided to get recording. It’s something we had been thinking about for a while.”

Jane’s Party will make their return to Barrie on July 3, performing at the Mansion Nightclub. The Toronto band of Jeff Giles, Devon Richardson, Tom Ionescu and Sutton is looking forward to hitting the road this summer for an eastern-Canada tour before heading back for a final year at York. “We all met in the music program just playing with various different people. We eventually got together and formed the group,” Sutton said.

Save the park, save the world

Erin Shapero (BES Hons. ’99) is sitting at the Town of Markham council table, eyeing the other politicians around her, wrote the Markham Economist & Sun June 25. She is the youngest person there – by quite a few years – and the only woman. The then 25-year-old hadn’t anticipated she would ever become a politician. She had never expected – even when she did run for office – that she would win.

But the Thornhill native wasn’t deterred. She was there – surrounded by all those men – with a mission: Save the park and green the Town of Markham. In her 20s, Shapero knew more about urban sprawl than most of her peers.

With a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and a six-month internship in Costa Rica witnessing the devastation of deforestation under her belt, Shapero was headed toward a life of environmental activism.

Giving brains a workout

Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) has put 100 people through the Cogmed Working Memory Training program and is tracking 20 learning-disabled students at York University that have used the program, aimed at improving memory and attention, as the result of a partnership with the school, wrote the Toronto Star June 26 in a story about neuroplasticity and its use in education to help students with learning disabilities, attention disorders and other problems that interfere with learning.

One Cogmed user, York student Kayzie Sutton, says her experience has given her a new confidence. Sutton, 30, was diagnosed with dyslexia and a learning disability related to working memory shortly after starting university. This year, the kinesiology & health sciences student was part of the Cogmed program funded by JVS. “Near the end I noticed I could remember phone numbers for the first time,” says Sutton. “I am sure my ability to remember patterns and sequencing has improved.”

Bunnett ready to embrace Saskatoon

Soprano saxophone musician Jane Bunnett finished piano studies but switched to the sax at York University, wrote The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, Sask.) June 26 in a story about her upcoming appearance at the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. She actually couldn’t afford the instrument, which cost something like $673. A broken ankle helped pay for it; Bunnett got a financial settlement from the University after slipping on some stairs. It’s the same sax she plays today. “Now don’t you go doing that, they cost a lot more now. It’s not worth it,” she laughs.

You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Ricky!

It’s Ricky Foley’s time, wrote Vancouver, BC’s The Province June 26 in a story about the former York Lions football player. With the departure of all-world defensive end Cam Wake to the National Football League, the fourth-year pass rusher from York University is going to get his chance to fill a rather large pair of shoes. Of all the veteran departures from last year’s team, Wake’s is biggest.

Said defensive line coach Mike Roach: “Things will be fine. Ricky’s obviously a different player than Cam. We have to change our approach to some of the things we’ll try and do this year…. But I feel very positive about it.”

So does young Foley, who was beginning to feel his development getting blunted by a lack of playing time and made his frustrations public last year. “I’m excited,” said Foley. “That’s my main feeling. It’s an opportunity to play. Coach Wally Buono and defensive coordinator Mike Benevides sat me down at camp and let me know their expectations of me were high. I’m not thinking about it as pressure, I’m thinking about it as an opportunity.”

Annex artist receives grant to help with studies at York

Though she is only 22, Elvina Rafi has done plenty to improve the lives of others, wrote the Annex Guardian June 25. The Bloor Street and Ossington Avenue area resident has managed to use one of her passions – art – to fuel a lifelong commitment to combating racial and sexual discrimination. The Pakistan-born Rafi said her community work came about naturally as an extension of her own wants and desires.

“All the work I’ve done has been because I was looking for more of a sense of community for myself,” she said. “I noticed there needed to be more space for queer people of colour and artists. That’s who I am – I’m queer and I definitely care about gender.”

For her efforts, Rafi was recently named one of the Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital People, receiving a $5,000 grant to go towards training and education. She will use the money to take fine arts courses at York University and video and editing courses at Trinity Square Video.

Central’s first inductees to Sports Hall of Fame

York grad Linda Garratt (BSc Spec. Hons. ’94) was among the first group of honoured members inducted last Friday into the Stratford Central Secondary School’s new Sports Hall of Fame, wrote the Stratford City Gazette June 25.

Garratt was a member of the "Triple Crown" Rams girls’ volleyball team which became the first high-school team to win three straight Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations titles. She went on to have tremendous success as a player at York University and as head coach at the University of Guelph.

Former York sprinter Williams is now coaching young athletes

Canadian track & field athlete Tabia Charles has been training vigorously with sprint coach and former York athlete Desai Williams, wrote the Pickering News Advertiser June 25.

Valedictory speakers walk the talk

“I think we’re just more confident now. In Grade 9, we didn’t know what to expect…. In high school, you find out who you are, who your friends are and what you are good at,” said Ian Campbell, Markham District High School’s valedictorian, in a story in the Markham Economist & Sun June 25. Campbell is planning on studying kinesiology at York University this fall.