Gas plant fiasco is just the beginning

“The unfolding saga of the Liberal government’s decision to cancel, at an apparent cost approaching $600 million, two natural gas-fired power plants in Mississauga and Oakville is opening a series of questions about the province’s approach to planning and managing its electricity system,” wrote York University environmental studies Professor Mark Winfield in the Ottawa Citizen May 13. “The government of McGuinty’s successor, Kathleen Wynne, says it wants to make sure something like the gas-plant fiasco doesn’t happen again. At the same time it seems lost in terms of what to actually do, beyond requiring the Ontario Power Authority to engage in more effective public consultation before siting decisions about power generation facilities are made.” Read full story.

Bangladesh retail pact prompts hope for real change
On Monday, clothiers such as H&M, Primark, Inditex and C&A put their names on a five-year pledge that requires them to conduct safety inspections, be more transparent about work conditions and promise to pay for regular repairs and maintenance at Bangladeshi factories that supply them with garments….York University Professor Ananya Mukherjee-Reed is optimistic that this time real changes might be in the offing. That’s because the presence of major influential retailers is an encouraging sign. “It’s a very good development to ensure this is actually put into place and is monitored in a way that is real,” she said in CBC News May 14.  Read full story.

Kaneff donates $5 million to York U engineering school
As an immigrant from Bulgaria who arrived in Canada with little schooling and even less money before building a real estate and development empire, Ignat Kaneff has always valued education. And he clearly has a soft spot for York University, reported the North York Mirror May 13. On Thursday, May 9, Kaneff was back at the university to announce his latest gift, a $5-million donation to the Lassonde School of Engineering. With a new building opening in 2015, York is undertaking a massive expansion of its engineering program. Read full story.

Slaying dragons
After The Lord of the Rings was published in the ’50s, the copycats descended in droves. “Writers were trying to evoke a sense of the exotic, a sense of wonder,” explained York University Professor Allan Weiss in The Walrus June 2013 issue. “You would provoke your reader’s imagination by providing a sense of an other land, and then you would do the same with the past.” Setting fantasy in a medieval context evoked the romance we associated with the Middle Ages, though authors tended to cherry-pick what they wanted to romanticize (the pristine landscapes, the simplified religious beliefs, the monarchical social structure) and what they wanted to discard (plagues, religious crusades, and torture devices). Read full story.

Windsor teen gets her hands dirty with composting program
Fed up with the lack of a city composting program, 18-year-old Lina Chaker began biking around her neighbourhood, picking up organic waste from residents and composting it in her own backyard. The composted soil was handed over to community gardens, and Green Machine Composting was born….Having received funding from York University’s Engaging Girls, Changing Communities project, Chaker is looking to recruit more volunteers and is in the process of starting a community garden, reported Metro May 13. Read full story.

Ritchies Auctioneers will pay royalty to artists, a first in Canada
Ritchies Auctioneers has announced that it will start paying royalties to artists on works sold at its auctions, beginning with its new contemporary art auction May 29. The voluntary royalty payment, which will be a percentage of the sale price paid directly to the artist or the artist’s estate, is the first of its kind in Canada, reported the Toronto Star May 13. Despite auction royalty payments in place in as many as 70 countries worldwide, no auction in Canada pays royalties to artists….A 2009 study from York University found that artists in Canada average about $20,000 in annual income, well below the national average. Read full story.

Westward extension of Sheppard subway deemed a priority by council
Three years after he was elected promising to persuade council to build a subway connection along Sheppard Avenue between Downsview Station and Yonge-Sheppard, York West Councillor James Pasternak can claim a kind of victory….“Toronto City Council has sent a clear message that as the province embarks on funding and building transit, the unconstructed missing link between Downsview station and Yonge and Sheppard is a priority,” Pasternak said in the North York Mirror May 13. “This is an exciting opportunity for hundreds of thousands of residents who require an east-west subway option north of Bloor Street. It will take the pressure off the Yonge Street line and facilitate the mobility of students to and from York University, with reduced transfers.” Read full story.