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Google vision for Port Lands a no-go with Ontario government, source says

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Google’s expansive vision to plan and build communities and transit across Toronto’s east waterfront — in exchange for a cut of property tax and development revenues — is a non-starter, the Ontario government says.

At Queen’s Park, a senior government official told the Star’s Robert Benzie that Google sister company Sidewalk Labs’s plans — revealed by the Star’s Marco Chown Oved on Thursday — is a non-starter.

“There is no way on God’s green earth that Premier Doug Ford would ever sign off on handing away nearly 500 acres of prime waterfront property to a foreign multinational company that has been unable to reassure citizens their privacy and data would be protected,” confided the high-ranking Progressive Conservative insider.

The Ford confidant spoke to the Star on condition of anonymity due to the province’s contractual obligations to negotiate in good faith with Sidewalk Labs.

A Sidewalk Labs presentation, prepared for Google last fall, show that Waterfront Toronto’s preferred development partner for the 12-acre Quayside district at Queens Quay and Parliament St. has bigger ambitions, for redevelopment on 350 acres in the Port Lands area — an area almost 30 times larger than Quayside — by financing underground infrastructure and a light rail line.

These future revenues, based on the anticipated increase in land value once homes and offices are built on the derelict Port Lands, are estimated to be $6 billion over the next 30 years. Even a small portion of this could amount to a large, recurring revenue stream diverted from the city into private hands.

Reaction to the secret plan was swift and negative from several councillors when the Star broke the news Thursday evening.

Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents downtown Ward 13 Toronto Centre, tweeted: “A tech giant never having built transit + city infrastructure anywhere, or even pitched a dime for the $1.25B for Port Lands flood protection, has the audacity to stake claim for future land value, property taxes + development charges on land they don’t own.”

Councillor Paula Fletcher, whose Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth encompasses the Port Lands, tweeted: “Suspicions confirmed. Sidewalk Labs really wants control of Toronto’s PortLands.”

Ward 4 Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks took aim at Sidewalk Labs for hiring Keerthana Rang, a former communications staffer in Mayor John Tory’s office, and then former city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who retired from politics last fall, as “director of community” to explain and sell the Quayside vision to Torontonians.

“A $700 billion corporation is paying a former communications staffer for the Mayor and a former City Councillor to tell us what we want,” Perks tweeted.

Waterfront Toronto, comprised of federal, provincial and city representatives, is spending at least $1.25 billion in public money to flood-proof the Port Lands and make it available for development.

The vast majority of the Port Lands — 78 per cent — is owned by the city, according to a staff report from March 2018. Only 11 per cent is privately held, while another 11 per cent is owned by the province.

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering Toronto politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider



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A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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