• Depending on your level of cynicism, the story of 60 West Cordova is a testament to good intentions that carried unintended consequences or an object lesson in greed.

    Located on the edge of Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside, 60 West Cordova is an attempt to provide low-income residents of the neighbourhood with an affordable entry into Vancouver's high-priced real estate market.

    The 10-storey condominium contains 12 non-market apartments and another 96 affordable units earmarked for low-income buyers who must live and work in the area and must also help with the building's maintenance.

    Prices for the one- and two-bedroom units between 531 and 785 square feet started at $219,000, with most selling for under $300,000 – a screaming deal by Vancouver standards.

    The project's numerous partners included the developer Westbank and architect firm Henriquez Partners, both of which have a track record of innovating developments in the troubled district.

    Launched in 2010, the building was

    Read More »from Vancouver experiment in affordable home ownership succumbs to the market
  • Screencap of NTFW.ca, an interactive map identifying companies employing temporary foreign workers.

    If the Temporary Foreign Worker's debate is getting too complicated for you, there's a new website trying to help sort things out – by mapping every company in Alberta and British Columbia that has used the embattled employment program.

    More than 1,000 companies have been pegged to an online map available at NTFW.ca – a site operating with the slogan, "Support Canadian businesses employing Canadian workers."

    The site has taken data about Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program in B.C. and Alberta during 2012, which is available through the federal Human Resources and Skills Development ministry.

    That data has been placed on a map and can be sorted by category, location and other factors. The few companies outed as “abusers” of the program have been marked with a red pin, while any other company that used the program, properly or improperly, is marked with a yellow pin.

    [ Related: How a little Alberta union helps foreign workers become Canadian ]

    While only two provinces are

    Read More »from Wondering which companies have used Temporary Foreign Workers? There's a map for that
  • It's not an excuse, but it is hard for Canadians to understand.

    It's hard for us to even wrap our heads around what has happened – and is happening – in Nigeria. The idea that armed militants kidnap hundreds of young girls, seemingly intent on selling them into marriage, is universally ghastly. But from 8,700 kilometres away it seems like a problem from another world.

    We have more pressing issues. There are troubles in the Senate, elections being called and campaigns being run, there is outrage over unemployment, problems paying the rent.

    Plus, it's spring. It finally feels like summer will come again this year. Our country's only professional basketball team, the Toronto Raptors, just finished a magical season. And that's something worth basking over.

    So Nigeria? Kidnapped children? Boko Haram? For some, it is difficult to conceptualize the horror.

    Which is why what Masai Ujiri, general manager of those Toronto Raptors, did on Thursday was so powerful. Ujiri, a proud Nigerian,

    Read More »from Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri asks Canada to help ‘save Nigeria’s daughters’
  • The death of two rare blue whales that washed up on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador last month is inarguably disappointing, but the process has begun to form a silver lining around those dark clouds.

    Scientists from the Royal Ontario Museum's biodiversity crew have arrived on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and have embarked on a multi-year mission to preserve the carcasses for study and display.

    The two massive blue whales were among nine that were crushed in an ice field off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador late last month.

    When they first washed up on shore, locals were told removal of the carcasses would be their problem. After some outrage, and international exposure, that problem made was for possibility.

    [ Related: Whale carcass caught in tug of war between Newfoundland town and ROM ]

    A conclusion was finally reached last week after the Royal Ontario Museum expressed interest in obtaining the two whale carcasses for scientific study.

    The recovery efforts began in

    Read More »from Royal Ontario Museum’s recovery efforts of two Newfoundland whale carcasses begin in earnest
  • Vancouver is a town that doesn't mind hewing to stereotypes. It doesn't worry if people think it's all beaches, mountains, golfing and skiing. The whole laid-back vibe.

    So no one's going to blink when they hear the city has what's being touted as Canada's first marijuana vending machine.

    Now, before anyone hightails it west to buy pot the same way you buy a can of Coke, we hasten to point out that this is for medical marijuana. You can't just plug in a few toonies for a baggy and then hit another machine for a couple much-needed bags of Doritos.

    The machine is located at the B.C. Pain Society, a licensed dispensary that also previewed a gumball-style unit at last month's 4/20 event in Vancouver. This new machine, similar to those that offer candy bars and chips, spits out half an ounce of what the society calls high-grade medical pot for $50.

    The vending machine's debut made international news, with Britain's Independent noting its similarity to one recently introduced in Colorado,

    Read More »from Marijuana vending machine debuts in Vancouver, naturally
  • Trinity Western University's quest to set up its own law school remains mired in legal troubles over the B.C. Christian institution's so-called community covenant, which has been condemned as anti-gay.

    Its use of the covenant could end up before the Supreme Court of Canada for the second time in 13 years.

    The university, located in the Vancouver suburb of Langley, says it's going to court to fight law societies in Nova Scotia and Ontario that say they won't recognize law degrees from TWU because the covenant is seen as discriminatory.

    The pledge, which all TWU students must sign as a prerequisite to admission, requires them to abstain from sex outside marriage.

    It also defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, and in a footnote references biblical condemnation of homosexuality. Critics say it means the university won't recognize perfectly legal same-sex marriages, effectively barring gays from attending.

    In a news releaseon its web site, TWU said it will challenge the Nova

    Read More »from Trinity Western University takes its use of ‘anti-gay’ pledge back to court
  • Police in Winnipeg have launched an internal investigation after a late-night 911 call from a nightclub was cancelled shortly before a man was fatally shot, and the results could paint an ugly picture about the pressure placed on urban police forces at closing time.

    Chief Devon Clunis announced his intentions to investigate the lapsed distress call this week, confirming it had been cancelled internally. The incident occurred in the early hours of May 4, just moments before Rustom Vito Paclipan was fatally shot outside the Opera Ultralounge.

    "This event is currently being investigated, as you know, by our homicide unit. But I've taken the additional steps of ordering an internal investigation to examine the circumstances surrounding the first call of service," Clunis told a news conference.

    Here is the timeline that has been offered by Winnipeg police:

    • 1:39 a.m.: staff at the nightclub called police about a fight outside the bar. They were concerned the situation may get worse.
    • 1:42
    Read More »from Winnipeg police investigate cancelled weekend distress call that preceded homicide
  • If you went through the Canadian school system, you were sure to have had a Farley Mowat book, maybe more than one on your English class reading list.

    The prolific, often provocative storyteller, died Tuesday less than a week before his 93rd birthday. The death was announced on the author's web site.

    Mowat, who wrote more than 40 books that sold an estimated 17 million copies worldwide, introduced generations of Canadians to the wilds of their country and its natural wonders.

    Never Cry Wolf, Lost in the Barrens, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, Owls in the Family (my childhood copy is still on my bookshelf), The Snow Walker. They were titles that earned Mowat the "beloved author" label.

    But he was also a passionate environmentalist whose works attacked the wilful damage humanity was causing. He channelled the anger that

    Read More »from Author Farley Mowat, who has died at age 92, was a provocative Canadian must-read
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has taken a temporary leave of absence from city hall amid fresh reports of drunken boorishness, offensive comments and alleged drug use, but that hasn’t stopped him from making headlines.

    Since Ford announced he would seek treatment for an addiction to alcohol last week, he has been turned around at the U.S. border, faced questions about the veracity of his rehab stint and is now doing interviews explaining how “amazing” rehab actually is.

    On top of that, his brother Doug is doing his best to fan speculation that he will launch his own mayoral campaign. Clearly, Ford’s presence is still being felt in Toronto.

    His shadow, however, is not darkening any doorways at city hall. And this has created a bit of an identity crisis for a group of Torontonians dedicated to seeing Ford leave office. The Rob Ford Must Go campaign has been holding an ongoing sit-in outside the mayor’s office for the past 85 days.

    [ Related: Rob Ford making calls in exile, says 'rehab is

    Read More »from 'Rob Ford Must Go' campaign continues protest despite mayor's absence
  • Torontonians are sure to be overcome with joy starting next month, when the city unveils a line of branded condoms celebrating safe sex in the city.

    That’s right. Toronto-brand condoms. Toronto the Good is about to become Toronto the Good Times.

    Get your best CN Tower jokes out of the way now people, because soon every conversation in Toronto will be about exactly how phallic that ridiculous concrete shaft actually is.

    Toronto Public Health announced the release of an official line of condoms on Tuesday in a bid to promote safe sex. The "limited-edition" condoms will be released on June 4 and made available in bars, clubs, hotels and gyms (not to mention health clinics) across the city after that.

    The city has made available a map of locations where the condoms are currently expected to be available, which are mostly bars, restaurants and other downtown businesses near Yonge and Church streets, where World Pride Festival will be held in late June.

    The program follows the

    Read More »from Toronto-brand condoms? Toronto the Good is about to feel great

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