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Mayoral forum on affordable housing derailed by gate-crashing candidates, shouting

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What was meant to be a mayoral forum on affordable housing briefly descended into chaos Monday night as crowd members stood and chanted and uninvited mayoral candidates either dominated or refused to leave the stage.

The forum, in the auditorium at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, was planned as a night for candidates to present their platforms on affordable housing.

Police clear disruptive audience members at a mayoral forum on affordable housing at the University of Toronto on Monday.
Police clear disruptive audience members at a mayoral forum on affordable housing at the University of Toronto on Monday.  (Emily Mathieu/Toronto Star)

Moderator Angela Robertson, executive director of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, started the event in a thoughtful tone and throughout and after the chaos somehow managed to keep the night moving.

“We need a mayor and candidates who will say yes to housing in my backyard. They must believe that cities must be a home” that belongs to all of us, said Robertson, at the start of the night.

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The disruption began a few minutes after the candidates took the stage when some in the audience shouted in support of allowing white nationalist candidate Faith Goldy to debate.

The chaos escalated when mayoral candidate Kevin Clarke — who had joined the speakers on stage — began loudly shouting he would debate Goldy, given the chance.

The invited candidates then left the stage as police escorted some of most disruptive members of the audience out, including Clarke.

Uninvited candidate D!ONNE Renée — who planted herself on stage at the start of the night — remained on stage throughout the disruption.

After the disruption, Robertson resumed control of the stage and invited Gebresellassi back, where she slammed Tory for not attending and Keesmaat for not returning to the stage.

That decision to leave “should tell each and every one of us that this is no progressive champion for us.”

Campaign spokesperson Beth Clarkson sent a short emailed statement in response to a question from the Star about why Keesmaat left.

“Jennifer left the stage when it seemed there was no longer an opportunity for open discussion. It’s unfortunate tonight’s event was so chaotically disrupted and she hopes no one was injured,” said Clarkson.

Climenhaga next called for raising property taxes or finding additional funding streams for more housing. “The only way we will have housing is if we fund it.”

Renée lambasting the media for not covering her campaign, which she called the most progressive of all the candidates. “If we say we are about centring issues of housing and homelessness that is what we need to do.”

Outside of the occasional bout of shouting — from one straggler screaming in support of Goldy and some animated audience members — the rest of the evening remained mostly on track, thanks largely to calm direction from moderator Robertson.

Once the invited candidates were called up to share more information about their platforms, Robertson encouraged any other candidates in the audience to speak and then opened up the talk for audience questions. She closed out by thanked everybody who stayed and organizers for pivoting.

“When we are working for social change we need to be prepared for messes,” she said.

The night was organized by about 60 agencies who created an affordable housing pledge, that was sent to all candidates for mayor and city council in late September.

Included in the proposed steps: “No more homeless deaths, financial stability for Toronto Community Housing, make ‘affordable housing’ truly affordable, ensure new residential development includes everyone (and) mobilize Toronto’s resources to build more affordable housing.”

Keesmaat, Gebresellassi and Climenhaga have signed. Tory has not, but sent the group a letter on Monday detailing his actions on and commitments to the issues.

Tory and leading contender Keesmaat have both pledged to boost affordable rental housing stock across the city, promising to create 40,000 new units in 12 years and 100,000 over 10, respectively. Both have also pledged to repair and protect ailing social housing stock, which includes Toronto Community Housing.

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter covering affordable and precarious housing. Follow her on Twitter: @emathieustar

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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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