Spadina subway extension escapes premier’s budget axe

Yes, the $2.6-billion extension of the Spadina subway line through York University is proceeding and is due to open in 2015, wrote The Globe and Mail March 26. And, yes, the Sheppard light rail transit (LRT) line, already under construction, seems to have escaped Premier Dalton McGuinty’s budget axe. But who knows what will happen now to the rest of the scheme, from the Finch and Eglinton LRT lines to the replacement of the Scarborough rapid transit line?

  • Projects likely to proceed include the Union-Pearson/Georgetown GO Transit link, the Sheppard LRT line and the Spadina subway line through York University, wrote the Toronto Star March 26, citing city officials.

But the austerity moves could affect five planned projects: rapid transit lines for Finch Avenue West, Sheppard Avenue East and the Scarborough RT, along with the Eglinton Avenue crosstown line and an expansion of York region’s Viva service.

York student’s shadfly flick spreads its wings at Hot Docs

The shadfly is about to go international, wrote the North Bay Nugget March 26. Thanks to the efforts of North Bay native and York student Jake Chirico, the much-maligned prehistoric insect which swarms our city every summer is the subject of The Freshwater Plague, a short documentary which will be shown as part of Hot Docs, a Canadian international documentary film festival in Toronto at the end of April.

“I was blown away,” said the 22-year-old documentarian, who now calls Toronto home. “I had no idea I would actually get in. I thought it was worth a shot. I guess the programmers liked it and I got this opportunity.”

Now pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree at York, Chirico will use his film festival exposure to make contacts to further his career.

‘Too easy’ for universities to hide behind security costs, says lawyer

Universities should pay for extra security so controversial speakers like right-wing US pundit Ann Coulter can be heard, said Nathalie Des Rosiers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association general counsel, wrote The Windsor Star March 26 in a story about comments made to the newspaper’s editorial board after Coulter’s planned speech at the University of Ottawa was cancelled.

Des Rosiers said the issue the event raises is how to manage security concerns at universities while respecting the right to hear controversial voices. She gave the example of a York University event that was cancelled after a University student group was told it would have to pay for extra security. She said the extra costs for controversial topics should be shouldered by the universities even if it’s pricey. “Otherwise it’s going to be too easy to hide behind the security costs.”

Security was increased for [Coulter’s] University of Calgary speech but news reports said the extra costs are being paid by the organizers. The university is providing a larger venue for the event but is not hosting it, said the Star.

Future women hockey stars are ready for world U18 championship

“What I’m most excited about is the blend we have between skill and what I called sandpaper, the ability to play in the gritty areas on the ice and play physical and tough and be strong,” said Dan Church, head coach of Canada’s women’s under-18 team who also coaches the York University women’s team, in a story in The Canadian Press March 25 about the upcoming world championship.

Olympic team coach Melody Davidson sounded warning bells over a year ago about the superior individual skills the American under-18 teams were displaying. Church says more time was spent on skill development last summer in Canada’s camp.

“In Canada, we’re really good at tactics and the Xs and Os of the game, positional play, forechecking and defensive zone coverage. Sometimes we spend a little bit more time on that than we do the individual skills,” Church explained. “We really looked at helping the players in their individual skill development."

Sony executive VP visits York to talk about illegal downloading

Frances Seghers, executive vice-president, worldwide government affairs, Sony Pictures Entertainment, is on a mission, wrote the entertainment industry publication Playback March 22. It’s her job to encourage the world’s governments to update copyright laws and join international efforts to protect the incomes of media producers from pirates.

Lately, Canada has been in her sights. She spoke to Playback a day after a presentation to students at York University and shortly after the Throne Speech indicated Canadian copyright laws were to be overhauled.

How was your reception at York? Playback asked.

“It wasn’t the best evening…this is the generation that thinks [illegal] downloading is a right and not a wrong,” said Seghers. “I’m trying to explain that it’s not a victimless crime. Students think, ‘It’s out there, so I should be allowed to have it,’ but really it’s like money laundering. Students have more time than money, so they are more prone to copy than others, but our focus is not just on them."

York student’s blackboard messaging helped online promotion

Just how much of an effect can social media marketing have on retail sales? asked the Edmonton Journal March 26 in a story about an online contest sponsored by Yorkdale Shopping Centre . According to a recent case study, the resulting “influencers” helped generate 49 per cent more retail sales during each of their visits than an average mall shopper.

Among the more engaged entrants was a York University student who wrote on every classroom blackboard on campus to vote for him.

Dr. Norman Bethune remembered as ‘son of Toronto’

He’s revered in China and remembered in Montreal, but more than 60 years after his death Dr. Norman Bethune is finally being commemorated in Toronto, wrote the Scarborough Mirror March 25 in a story about plans to build a new memorial to him in downtown Toronto.

The doctor and humanitarian lived in the city and studied medicine at the University of Toronto, but all that stood to honour him is a plaque and his name on Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute and Norman Bethune College at York University.

On air

  • Mark Winfield, professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, took part in a panel discussion about the provincial budget, on TVO’s “The Agenda” March 25.