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Beaches—East York sees shifting allegiances after cut to wards




The Star identified several “Wards to Watch” in a 47-ward election. Now that new legislation has made it a 25-ward election, we have determined all of the wards are worth watching. This is one in a series of articles. The election is Oct. 22. Advance voting begins Oct. 10.

“I’m still standing,” Diane Dyson declared Thursday after Councillor Janet Davis, who had enthusiastically endorsed Dyson to replace her when it was a 47-ward election, threw her support behind a rival candidate in the new 25-ward contest.

Diane Dyson is running for council in Beaches—East York, Ward 19.
Diane Dyson is running for council in Beaches—East York, Ward 19.  (

“This doesn’t deter me,” Dyson said, from staying in the new Beaches—East York race against 15 rivals including former NDP MP Matthew Kellway — who picked up Davis’s endorsement — and City of Toronto urban planner Brad Bradford, endorsed by Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.

Dyson is a tenants rights activist and anti-poverty researcher who was called an “exceptionally qualified and experienced candidate” by Davis in June when the retiring councillor endorsed her in what was then Ward 35.

Davis, a New Democrat, says it was a tough decision to shift allegiance from Dyson to Kellway, who represented the area in Parliament from 2011 to 2015 and was running in Ward 37 before Premier Doug Ford forced a cut in the size of council that saw the two areas melded into one big ward, now Ward 19.

“Bigger wards are going to be challenging and it’s important we have a progressive voice at city hall with a depth of experience and a good understanding of the full ward,” Davis said. “Matthew served us very well as an MP and, with an election only weeks away, we need somebody who can win.”

The new ward includes Leslieville, the Beach and Parkview Hills in East York. Thanks to the retirement from politics of both Davis and McMahon, it is one of only two races with no incumbent, in a city suddenly full of council veterans fighting each other for a spot on the smaller council.

Beaches—East York neighbourhoods range from stately lakefront homes south of Queen St. to highrises on Dawes Rd. and bustling Danforth Ave. from Coxwell Ave. to the Scarborough border.

Dyson, on leave from her job as research and public policy director for WoodGreen Community Services, said the new ward has some of the highest levels of inequality in Toronto but “is still a ward where people care and want everyone to have a fair chance.”

She is campaigning on issues including working to boost child-care spots and ways to make housing more affordable, including creating “co-housing” options for seniors who want to live communally in houses without running afoul of the city’s rooming-house regulations.

“I know this ward, because it cares, will have a progressive voice, but it will have to decide who it wants to add to a new council that will likely have, by my count, at least 16 straight able-bodied white males,” she says. “That’s not the Toronto that we know.”

Dyson confirmed “a few” of her campaign volunteers have also migrated to Kellway’s camp.

Former NDP MP Matthew Kellway is hoping to make a political comeback, running for city council in Ward 19, Beaches—East York.
Former NDP MP Matthew Kellway is hoping to make a political comeback, running for city council in Ward 19, Beaches—East York.  (David Rider/Toronto Star)

Kellway said he is familiar with the new ward that matches his previous riding’s boundaries and at doorsteps is hearing concerns about development issues, traffic around the new Woodbine bike lanes and empty storefronts on Queen St. E.

As councillor, he said, he would push for co-ordinated planning including community centres and other infrastructure needed for residents of new buildings, and for design changes around the bike lanes to stem the flow of vehicles onto neighbouring residential streets while ensuring cyclist safety.

McMahon, finishing two terms representing Ward 32, says transit and affordable housing are hot local concerns but “road safety is what we hear about the most.

“Pedestrian and cyclist safety is a huge concern for people here,” said McMahon, a cyclist and strong advocate of “Vision Zero” efforts to protect vulnerable road users.

Development pressures around Danforth and Main St. are also a concern, she says.

McMahon is endorsing Bradford, on leave from his community engagement job in the office of chief planner Gregg Lintern, because “he’s young, he knows planning which is a huge benefit, he’s tenacious as hell, he’s independent and non-partisan, and he’s a term-limit guy.”

Bradford says that, like McMahon, he believes politicians should be forced to retire after two terms at city hall, where political parties don’t exist but have an unofficial influence on alliances.

“In the 25-ward model term limits are increasingly important,” he said, “because it’s going to be harder to unseat incumbents from a ward the size of a federal riding. If you don’t have the resources of a political party it’s harder to get elected, and that will amplify the influence of party politics.”

Brad Bradford, a public servant, is running for council in Ward 19 Beaches-East York. He's been endorsed by Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.
Brad Bradford, a public servant, is running for council in Ward 19 Beaches-East York. He’s been endorsed by Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon.  (Jennifer Pagliaro/Toronto Star)

He is vowing if elected to work on improving road safety, using data and his planning skills to make collision-prone intersections safer while pushing for photo radar in school zones and police enforcement of traffic rules after a year with a record number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

The Star interviewed other Ward 19 candidates including:

  • David Del Grande, a product manager with a strong interest in urban planning who as councillor would back only transit projects that “make sense” including the subway relief line. Del Grande would also welcome more housing density along Queen St. E. and the Danforth even if unpopular with some residents. “It’s a question of doing what’s right versus electability,” he says.
  • Brenda MacDonald, who ran unsuccessfully against Davis in the past two civic elections and says she would work to alleviate flooding and sewer backup problems plaguing parts of the ward and fight for “creative” solutions including laneway homes to increase affordable housing in the ward.
  • Joshua Makuch, a former soldier who served in Afghanistan and later became a management consultant after earning his MBA. As councillor, he says, he would champion a new tax on vacant storefronts to incentivize owners to either rent them out or sell them.
  • Valérie Maltais, an environmental scientist campaigning on helping struggling small businesses by changing the mandate of local “BIA” merchant groups; improving transit options; and “inclusionary zoning” that would force developers to include affordable housing in their plans.

Also running are: Norval Bryant; Paul Bura; Dragan Cimesa; Donald Lamoreux; Frank Marra; Paul Murton; Morley Rosenberg; Adam Smith; and Veronica Stephen.

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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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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