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The politicians who want to extend the Yonge subway should try riding it during rush hour

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The Yonge subway line is full.

There are statistics that demonstrate this, of course: the capacity of the Yonge subway line is 28,000 riders in one direction per hour, and according to the TTC during the peak hour there are more riders than that.

But often when some stats geek in the sports world starts talking about analytics, someone shouts “just watch the games.” In this case, you can skip the math if you just ride the trains.

Say you go out to Bloor subway at 8:30 a.m. You may find, on the platform, that you are in danger of being alternately trampled or shoved off the edge of the platform. When trains arrive, they will be too full to allow anyone to board. Two trains, three trains, four trains, more trains may pass before you are able to get on. And when you do manage to squeeze on, you may soon wish you hadn’t, positioned as you are in aggressively intimate contact with your fellow citizens — cheek-to-cheek, elbow-to-stomach, nose-to-armpit for the rattling, lurching ride to work.

You can repeat the experiment further north — at Eglinton or often even at Sheppard, and still find the trains overcrowded on arrival.

The Yonge subway line is full.

If and when the signal improvements that could add up to 28 per cent more capacity are implemented (they’re on hold and may not work out as planned), all of that new space will likely be absorbed pretty much right away by latent demand now kept away by overcrowding and by the riders being funnelled into the system by new lines soon. The Eglinton Crosstown, for instance, will open in the early 2020s, and funnel riders from across the city onto Line 1. The Bloor extension in Scarborough, which council and the province seem determined to build, is justified on the premise that it will attract thousands of new riders, very many of whom will be looking to transfer to the Yonge line.

Still, a certain kind of politician has seemingly no transit ideas except to try to feed still more riders onto the line.

The city councillors of north Scarborough, forever trying to revive a Sheppard subway extension further east that would feed more riders onto Yonge.

Premier Doug Ford, who loves that Sheppard idea and also suggests to crowds in Pickering that one day the Bloor line might come out to serve them.

And then there are the politicians in Vaughan and Richmond Hill and Markham, clamouring to have the Yonge line itself extended up north into the 905.

Most recently it was Frank Scarpitti of Markham, urging the province forward last week.

Now, this extension may make sense in the future. But that future has to include a completed relief line — so called because it would relieve the congestion on the Yonge line. The most recent versions of a plan for it run from the downtown core along Queen St. to east of the Don River, where it would head north around Pape and continue up to at least the Danforth. The smart versions of the plan continue up to Eglinton, through Don Mills, until it meets the Sheppard subway line.

You build that, and it will be a route into downtown for many of those currently coming from the east who could transfer at Pape instead of Yonge — not just from the Danforth line, but at Eglinton and points north, too.

Then we can talk about extending the existing lines further.

Scarpitti said he didn’t necessarily think the relief line would be necessary. “If they have some issues with the relief line, we don’t want that to stall the Yonge subway,” he told the Star.

See, the thing is, the issue most likely to stall the relief line is that the premier decides a new line into downtown Toronto sounds too elite for his liking and decides to build “905 subways” for the people first.

In the morning, of course, any riders up in the 905 boarding the new extension would be the first ones on, so perhaps they and their political representatives don’t care that once they were seated and the trains rolled south, the cars would be too full to fit Toronto commuters onto them. The TTC has in fact modelled a scenario where the Yonge line is extended before SmartTrack and the relief line are built and it shows almost 9,000 fewer riders transferring onto the Yonge line at Bloor than do today because “these passengers have been driven away by overcrowding.”

You can imagine that would be part of the appeal to certain supporters of Doug Ford — all those elites downtown can’t get on the subway! Let them ride their bikes that they love so much, suckers!

But of course an overwhelming percentage of those trying to transfer at Bloor are coming in across the city from Scarborough and other alleged points of Ford Nation.

The relief line is necessary, as soon as it can be built. It won’t somehow serve downtowners — or won’t primarily do so. Instead it will provide a faster, more comfortable ride into the city for thousands of daily riders from the north and east of the city, and at the same time allow us to consider ways to better serve further-flung riders by making it possible to contemplate extending the lines we have now.

I think this is clear enough if you look at the reports and research and analysis. But if you just ride the trains, it’s obvious. Unfortunately, too few of the politicians holding sway ride our trains. Which is fine, because the trains are full without them.

But that’s why it’s all the more important for Toronto’s politicians to be loud and clear about what our priorities are.

Edward Keenan is a columnist based in Toronto covering urban affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @thekeenanwire

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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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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Anglais

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

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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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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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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.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

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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