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Council will consider rebuild of ‘iconic’ Toronto sign

It could be done for the new year.

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File photo via Wikimedia.

It may be an unofficial requirement of every Torontonian’s social media, but the “iconic” Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square may be replaced by a more permanent version.

The sign was first constructed as a temporary structure but it remained due to its landmark status. Since 2015, it has cost the city $400,000 in maintenance.

Municipal staff are next week submitting a request for proposal to look into getting a brand new and “more durable” sign to replace the current, worn out edition.

City spokesperson Brad Ross told The Star that the cost of the refresh has not yet been determined, a number that will come after the request is approved, but that “it’ll definitely be worth it”.

Tourism Toronto ranks it among the top three most visited attractions in the city and some 122 million social media impressions were tracked within the first six months of its existence.

“It is consistently ranked as one of the most instagrammable spots in the city,” tourism executive Andrew Weir told The Star. City planners are more and more often seeking “instagrammable” features in their design.

As for how long it will take to get the sign up and ready to go for thousands of phone cameras, staff said that they aim to have the new sign installed by the end of the year ahead of the New Year’s celebrations. ■

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Toronto

Ryerson University cuts ties with RSU

Administration terminates agreement with scandal-embroiled student union.

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Ryerson University has terminated its agreement with the student government after it failed to follow terms set out in January 2019. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

In a dramatic move on Friday, Ryerson University said it no longer recognized the Ryerson Students’ Union as “the official student government” after it failed to meet conditions set out by the university following a credit card scandal uncovered last January.

BREAKING UPDATE: Ryerson Students’ Union sends out this update:

“The university has lost confidence in the RSU’s ability to represent students with good governance and to supply the services that students pay for,” Vice Provost Jen McMillen said in a statement, adding the administration has terminated its 1986 Operating Agreement with the RSU.

The RSU is a separate entity from the university, with its own Board of Directors elected from among the students on a yearly basis.

The Canadian Federation of Students Ontario called the termination as an “attack on student democracy”.

The development comes just days after the RSU asked Toronto Police to investigate alleged financial mismanagement by its former executives after completing a forensic audit.

The scandal was first unveiled a year ago, when an RSU credit card bill with approximately $250,000 in unusual spending was revealed by The Eyeopener.

At this time, the university said it would no longer pass along fees students paid to the RSU until three conditions were met. The university asked for a forensic audit that would be shared with its administration and a new operating budget negotiated between the RSU and Ryerson.

“Despite the university’s best efforts to be an accommodating and collaborative partner, the RSU has failed to meet the conditions set out in January 2019,” McMillen said.

The vice provost said the university was further concerned by the recent impeachments and resignations by student leadership over the past two months, though they are unrelated to the credit card affair.

The recent turnovers have largely been due to executive failures to work full 40-hour weeks and for alleged harassment, according to reports from The Eyeopener.

Since Dec. 10, four out of six executives that were on the Refresh slate have left office with the vice-president equityvice-president marketing and vice-president education resigning and the vice-president operations being impeached.

Vice President of Operations James Fotak told The Eyeopener that the RSU has “no comment right now.” The Avro Post has reached out for comment from President Vanessa Henry.

Decision undermines ‘democratic rights’: CFS

The Canadian Federation of Students’ provincial division said Ryerson University’s decision “undermines the democratic rights of students and student organizations that represent them”.

In a more formal statement released on Friday evening, CFS argued that autonomy was key for a student union to “effectively represent their membership”.

“Internal challenges are best addressed through the democratic structures that exist within students’ unions because they are the processes agreed upon by the union’s membership,” the organization said.

They added that the RSU has demonstrated it took the allegations of financial mismanagement “seriously” and had taken several actions to address the problems.

The statement did not mention the university’s statement that the student union did not follow through the three demands set out by the administration.

The CFS went on to argue that there are mechanisms in place internally so that the greater student body can hold student organizations accountable, explaining that students are empowered by elections, general meeting and referendum to solve issues that arise.

“Ryerson University’s move to terminate their agreement with the Ryerson Students’ Union is a paternalistic overreach that undermines these democratic mechanisms,” the press release says.

With files from The Eyeopener/Canadian University Press. ■

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French-language university supported by feds, province

A full turn-about by the Ford government.

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STORY VIA THE FULCRUM

(CUP) — The provincial and federal governments announced Wednesday that they reached an agreement to jointly fund a French-language university in Toronto.

Both levels of government will invest a total of $126 million toward the project over a period of eight years. The federal government will invest $63 million over five years which will be matched by the provincial government. 

This morning announcement follows the September 2019 memorandum of understanding which saw both levels of government agree on the need for a francophone university in Toronto.

“The Université de l’Ontario français is an important and long awaited-for project, critical to future generations of Franco-Ontarians,” said Ontario Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney in a press release. 

The Ford government had previously announced plans to scrap the project in November 2018. At the time, Ford said the project was an irresponsible promise made by the former Liberal government days before the 2018 election.

The former Liberal government had promised and began planning for a francophone university to open in Toronto all the way back in 2017.

“We are delighted to achieve this historic milestone and to welcome, as planned, the first cohorts in the fall 2021,” said Dyane Adam, chair of the board of governors for Université de l’Ontario français, in the press release.

It is still unclear where the university will be located in Toronto. The original project planned on sharing offices and classrooms with College Boreal’s Toronto campus but nothing has been confirmed as of now.  

Francophones delighted 

Many influential French-Canadian figures and organizations took to Twitter on Wednesday to show their enthusiasm for the project. 

“We celebrate the signature of the Canada-Ontario agreement with @universiteON!@uOttawa will continue to work with you and thanks Melanie Joly, Caroline Mulroneyand Ross Romano for continuing to develop post-secondary education in French!” tweeted University of Ottawa president Jacques Frémont.

“This is a historic day for Franco-Ontarians,” tweeted federal Official Languages Minister Mélanie Joly. ”A project that unites Francophones from all parts of our country and an unprecedented measure that will give thousands of Canadians the opportunity to pursue their education in French in Ontario.” ■

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Raptors hold on for victory in Atlanta

The Toronto Raptors defeated the Atlanta Hawks 122-117 on Tuesday.

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The Toronto Raptors defeated the Atlanta Hawks 122-117 on Tuesday.

A number of NBA teams played afternoon games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day All teams wore special warm-up tops to commemorate the civil rights icon.

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Norman Powell led Raptors scorers with 27 points in 25 minutes of action off the bench. Fred VanVleet scored 20.

Pascal Siakam had 18 points and six rebounds. Marc Gasol had 14 points. Terence Davis scored 12 points. Kyle Lowry had 10 points and seven assists.

Trae Young recorded a double-double, he scored 42 points and had 15 assists. John Collins also recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards.

De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish scored 13 points apiece. Bruno Fernando scored 12 points.

Here are some Raptors highlights against the Hawks (which includes a number of three-pointers):

The Raptors host Atlantic division rival Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.


Featured photo from John Amis/Associated Press. ■

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