Newest member of Team Jennifer Jones says she has ‘big shoes to fill’ heading into Scotties

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It’s a Thursday afternoon in early February, and inside the Granite Curling Club in Winnipeg, champion curler Jocelyn Peterman is perfecting her craft.

You might expect the pressure to be intense for Peterman heading into the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S., this weekend, as the new second for Team Jennifer Jones — taking over from Jill Officer, who announced last year she would be taking a step back from competitive curling. 

But the 25-year old from Red Deer, Alta., says the transition to Jones’s rink was a seamless one, and Officer — who will still be a part of the squad at the Scotties this year as the team’s alternate —has been especially supportive.

« Obviously, when Jill retired there were big shoes to fill. She’s such a great person and such a great teammate and such a consistently great player, » Peterman said.

« She’s been really great welcoming me to the team, and ensuring that there isn’t any pressure there. So it’s been really great and it’s nice to have her coming to the event as well. »

Returning champions

Following their win last year, Jones’s Manitoba-based rink is looking for a record-setting seventh national championship at the Scotties tournament, which begins Saturday, with lead Dawn McEwen, Peterman at second and third Kaitlyn Lawes.

The stakes are high — the winner returns as Team Canada at the Scotties next year, and also moves on to represent Canada at the women’s world curling championships in Denmark next month.

Jones’s rink won that championship last year.

« We’re just practising quite a bit and training in the gym, » said Peterman. « Mostly practising and taking some time to recover so that we’re healthy and feeling good heading into next week. »

Newest member of Team Jennifer Jones tell us what it takes to be a world class second. 1:54

Peterman knows what it takes to win a national championship.  She was the second with Alberta’s Team Chelsea Carey when they won the Scotties in 2016.

« Sweeping is kind of the main job of the second. Obviously, with the sweeping, you need to be physically fit — upper-body strength with the sweeping. »

Knowing the weight of throwing rocks is just as important, the Alberta native says.

« We throw a mix of shots, so light-touch weight shots and some big heavyweight takeouts as well. A little bit of both with the shots. »

At this practice, Peterman and teammate Lawes are taking turns throwing rocks and sweeping together.

There are also moments in the two-hour practice for the teammates to work on their own on separate sheets.

Peterman hopes to add another Scotties crown to her long list of curling titles, and says she would love to do it with her new teammates. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Peterman was skip throughout most of her junior career. This will be her fifth season playing team second, and she says she enjoys the combination of skills needed in the role.

« I do like that it’s a combination of shots and I do like that you get a good mix of sweeping in there as well. And when you’re needed you can contribute to the strategy as well. »

From competitor to teammate

Peterman says she was approached early last year by her new teammates to take over from Officer.

The decision to join the Olympic gold medal-winning squad was an easy one, Peterman says.

« The girls are all so good and so accomplished in the sport. I was honoured to be asked to be a part of their team and to be in such good company. »

She says she’s excited for the opportunity to play with one of the world’s best teams — and one she’d previously faced as a competitor.

« I’ve competed against them for a long time. But I didn’t know them too well on a personal level, » Peterman said.

Peterman says the Jennifer Jones rink has formed a strong bond ahead of the Scotties. ‘I’ve competed against them for a long time. But I didn’t know them too well on a personal level’ before joining the team, she says. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

« I just knew that they were so accomplished and such good curlers. I didn’t know them well, but it’s been nice getting to know them this season. »

Peterman feels a strong bond has formed between the rink during the very busy curling season that began last fall, and included a win earlier this month at the TSN All-Star Curling Skins game in Banff.

« So that was exciting. And yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. »

The second says she would like to add another Scotties crown to her long list of curling titles, and she would love to do it with her new teammates.

« It would be so exciting. It would be a pretty amazing opportunity with this team. »

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How to Spend a Big Fat Weekend in Oakland, California

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I was born and raised in Oakland, went to college nearby, and moved to New York only a couple of years ago. Still, I never stop talking about how much I love the city I hail from. Growing up, my family taught me that our home was the birthplace of the Black Panther Party, whose activism shaped a strong and resilient community, one where Black folks always supported and uplifted each other.

This permeated the feeling of the city and my life in it. All the weekends spent meandering around Lake Merritt, taking in the sailboats, drum circles, and slackliners balancing between oak trees. Morning hikes on the Redwood trails. Sunset views of giant cranes (we call them dinosaurs) in the port, with San Francisco peeking through the fog. Evening drives with the windows down, hyphy hits from Mistah F.A.B., Mac Dre, and E40 bumping so hard that the CD skips. Dinners at Taqueria Sinaloa; midnight runs to Colonial for doughnuts straight from the fryer.

While my routine hasn’t changed over the years, it’s clear how much the city has. Silicon Valley’s tech boom has reached all the way to Oakland, displacing long-time residents and businesses. That’s why I spend most of my time in Black-owned establishments. Some are old-school spots that have managed to hang on, others are newer ones reclaiming power through the spaces they occupy, the people they hire, and the messages they promote. Here are a few of my favorite places to visit whenever I’m home.

ryan oakland

Photo Courtesy of Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

V excited about the caffeine in my cup.

Located in Fruitvale, Hasta Muerte is a persons-of-color, worker-owned coffee shop serving great coffee and fresh pastries daily. I particularly loved the vegan donut and the mushroom and cheese empanada. It’s a cozy spot for finding peace of mind, or getting some work done.

Situated in Old Oakland’s Swan’s Marketplace, the first Super Juiced opened in 2012 by Emanne Desouky and Rana Halpern, two hard working mamas that believe eating organic fruits and vegetables is neither a luxury nor a privilege, but a human right. They prioritize hiring queer youth of color and paying their employees above minimum wage. The Emerald Moon smoothie, a blend of housemade coconut milk, mango, kale, spinach, medjool dates, coconut chips, and cinnamon, was so good that my dad asked me for a “sip,” and ended up finishing the entire thing.

lois pie queen oakland

Photo by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

Cherry pie to the left, pumpkin to the right.

Lois the Pie Queen

Lois Davis and her husband opened their Oakland diner in 1973, and have been deemed local royalty ever since. Just look to the crowd of loyal regulars, and the signed photos of customers like Donald Glover, Daveed Diggs, and Steph and Ayesha Curry. (Angela Davis and Queen Latifah have been known to stop by too.) Though Lois herself passed away about 20 years ago, her legendary restaurant continues to flourish under the ownership of her son Chris King. It is a great place for a classic breakfast or a late-afternoon cup of coffee with a slice of sweet potato pie (my favorite). A Golden State Warrior might even drop in for a bite.

owl n wood oakland

Photo by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

Lovingly made by locals.

If you’re looking for authentically Oakland souvenirs, Rachel Konte’s apparel boutique Owl N Wood is the spot. I copped my favorite “heart Oakland” crewneck here that I wear all the time.

Lake Merritt

You may notice a giant body of water in the middle of the city; it’s about three miles in circumference and surrounded by lots of flora and fauna. It’s called Lake Merritt, and it is one of the most beautiful places to be in Oakland, especially in the spring and summer. You’re guaranteed to spot sailboats, community BBQs, and late night drumming circles. On Saturday mornings, I like to carve out a few hours for a visit to the farmers’ market and a movie at the Grand Lake Theatre. Even if you don’t see a film, catch a peek at the marquee—there’s always a witty and relevant message on display.

miss ollies oakland

Photo by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

That sweet potato butter is next level.

Come for the Caribbean soul food (don’t miss the Plantain Plate with spicy pinto beans, garlic plantains, and tostones, or the skillet-fried chicken and waffles, topped with creamy sweet potato butter); stay for the vibes. Located on a charming corner in Old Oakland, the scene is all Harry Belafonte records, colorful art, and a community altar that patrons can add their own notes, flowers, and photographs to. It’s exactly where you want to be on a Friday night, dancing the two-step with a rum punch in hand.

Oeste oakland

Photo by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

Day or night this place is bumping.

This spot from Bay Area natives Sandra Davis, Lea Redmond, and Anna Villalobos (also a co-owner over at Miss Ollie’s!) is so dope, I went twice in less than 24 hours—first for a drink, then for brunch the next morning. We ordered the shrimp and grits (topped with bacon bits and chives) to split, but I ended up devouring the whole thing. Luckily there were flaky biscuits and gravy, loaded with fennel seeds and ground pork, to smooth things over. Next time I’m in Oakland, odds are good you’ll find me at Oeste.

Oakland, California: The proud home of Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders. Three years ago, the running back launched his Beastmode brand and apparel shop, where new- and old-school hip-hop hits play over speakers and photos of prominent black athletes cover the walls. I bought Lynch’s Beastmode button-down jersey for my step-dad, and he has not taken it off since.

red bay coffee oakland

Photo by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

The Africana—equal parts coffee and milk (and chic ceramics).

Keba Konte, the entrepreneurial force behind Red Bay Coffee, cares deeply about maintaining an authentic relationship with the local community and prioritizes diversity in his employment practices. He has two Oakland locations—one, an old Fruitvale warehouse that’s been turned into a roastery and cafe, and the other, a smaller spot with cozy outdoor seating off of Broadway in Downtown. I went to the latter, which was decorated with photographs of revolutionaries James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. I especially enjoyed sipping on the Africana, made of two ounces of espresso cut with two ounces of milk served in a speckled, two-tone ceramic tumbler.

Walking into E14th Gallery is a breath of fresh air. The exhibition space and gallery store focuses on the work of local artists, activists, and Freedom Fighters. I love the works on view and recently purchased two afrocentric prints, one of the iconic Angela Davis and another of the beautiful Lauryn Hill. They also have a variety of handmade goods from Oakland artisans.

everett jones oakland

Photo by Ryan Walker-Hartshorn

All this was devoured in about, uhhh, three minutes.

You absolutely cannot visit Oakland without a stop at Everett and Jones BBQ. Located in Jack London Square, and with the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop, E&J has the best BBQ in town. Go with a large group on Saturday night to hear live Blues as you pass around heaping orders of sliced beef brisket, smoked pork ribs, collard greens, candied yams, and macaroni and cheese. Be prepared to get your hands dirty.

Souley Vegan gives me old-school diner vibes to the tune of Maxwell, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu. They serve all the soul food staples—gumbo, grits, casseroles—but with a vegan twist. The Southern fried tofu burger is super crispy and the black eyed peas were so good, they reminded me of my grandmother’s.

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Young families scrimp to own homes in Canada’s big cities, report finds

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Young families in Canada’s big cities believe houses and condos will be a good investment over the next five years, and they are sacrificing their privacy, time and small pleasures to buy them, according to a report by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

The study is based on a survey of 1,743 families headed by adults aged 20 to 45. It found that millennials and generation Xers are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes, with 78 per cent expecting homes to match or outperform other financial investments over the next five years. In Toronto, that number rises to 83 per cent.

A new study found that young families in Canada are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes.
A new study found that young families in Canada are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

But the biggest barrier to buying, cited by 33 per cent of families, is the expense of day-to-day living — groceries, rent and utilities. That’s a “concerning” trend, said Sotheby’s CEO Brad Henderson.

“Increasingly, it is the essentials in life that are absorbing most of everyone’s income,” Henderson said. “It speaks to trying to find more higher-paying jobs, more knowledge worker jobs that are able to afford, not just the necessities of life, but some of the things that make life even that much more pleasurable, like a home with multiple bedrooms for a growing family.”

The report is the second in a series of three based on a survey of families in which the adults were aged 20 to 45. Market research firm Mustel Group found 57 per cent of those households in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal were couples with at least one child, 35 per cent had no children, and 8 per cent were single-parent families.

Thakar shares an apartment with a cousin to save on rent, has a side job to earn income in his off-time and has refinanced a student loan. It will take him longer to pay off that debt, but he figures home prices are rising so quickly that it’s important to stash his cash now.

“If you’re not earning money, you’re spending money,” said Thakar, who owns a car but takes transit to his job downtown and questions the expense of a vehicle he doesn’t use much.

“I feel like being prudent at this time might set me up down the road.”

But Thakar expects he might need help from his family to afford a home and, even though he likes his privacy, he would consider a house with a rental unit to help carry the cost.

Among survey respondents, 51 per cent said they saved by cutting down on dining out, 45 per cent reduced their travel and vacation expenses, and 20 per cent delayed retirement savings.

Toronto families were most likely to reduce their car ownership (16 per cent), to freelance or pick up extra work (16 per cent) or to delay having children (15 per cent). Thirteen per cent of Toronto respondents moved in with family to save money, compared to only 5 per cent in Calgary and Montreal.

Henderson says the findings put the lie to the idea that millennials and generation X adults are “live-in-the-moment” people.

“We’re finding they’re acting not too dissimilar to the generations that came before them and forgoing the trips and eating out and all of the things that require additional money, in favour of buying a home for their family to live in,” he said.

When it comes to putting money down on a home, the survey found 71 per cent used personal savings and cash for a down payment. Although 52 per cent of the families relied on a gift or inheritance, those funds accounted for less than 30 per cent of their down payments. Thirty-one per cent borrowed from their registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs).

Young adults have always saved and scrimped to buy homes but a greater proportion of income now goes to paying rent, leaving little for savings, said mortgage broker James Laird of CanWise Financial and online mortgage site Ratehub. It’s why so many young adults end up moving back in with parents.

“We’re seeing a decline in the percentage of young people able to purchase homes versus previous generations,” he said. But the desire hasn’t waned.

“Millennials could be the largest voter base in the federal election and this is the issue we all care about,” said Laird, 34.

He thinks longer amortizations — from 25 years to 30 for buyers with down payments of less than 20 per cent — would provide relief. “It’s a beautiful solution because they qualify for about 10 per cent more mortgage but their payment doesn’t change so they’re no more financially strapped,” said Laird.

Those who borrow from their RRSP still have to pay that money back. Laird said Ottawa should create a homebuyers plan that behaves the same — allowing first-time buyers to access $25,000 of their savings — without the requirement to repay the funds.

The Mustel survey was conducted online in August and September. A random sample of 1,743 is considered accurate within 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski

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Big Batch Chicken Thighs Recipe

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Place racks in upper third and middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Whisk garlic, red pepper flakes, honey, and 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil in a large bowl. Season chicken thighs with 2½ tsp. salt and toss to coat in marinade. Arrange, skin side up, on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet; let sit at room temperature while you prepare the vegetables.

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Big retailer will test reusable packaging to replace throwaway plastic in Canada

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Canadian efforts to reduce single-use plastic will get a boost this year when a major retailer is slated to launch a test of reusable packaging in the most populated part of the country.

The chain’s identity is expected to be unveiled this spring, with online operations starting by year end, says the founder of recycler TerraCycle’s Loop.

« I say this as a Canadian, I’m super excited about getting Loop to Canada. I think it will resonate really well with the public there, » says Tom Szaky, who grew up in Toronto.

Residents within a 200- to 300-kilometre radius of Canada’s largest city will be able to purchase hundreds of products in reusable packaging made by some of the world’s leading brands, including Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Nestle.

Goods ranging from Haagen-Dazs ice cream to shampoo, toothbrushes and laundry detergent packaged in specially designed reusable containers will be ordered online from the retailer’s e-commerce site and delivered along with other store purchases. In-store purchases are expected to follow about six months later.

Cold-pressed juice startup Greenhouse Juice Co. will also participate in the project, demonstrating it’s not just suitable for « big behemoths, » he said.

The system is akin to the old milkman delivery service that was ubiquitous in the 1950s and 1960s.

« Loop is very much a reboot of an old idea but done in a very modern setting, » said Szaky.

A deposit will be charged for the container and it will be refunded when the unwashed vessel is returned at the next delivery or at the store.

The recycling effort is being launched as corporations — including large retailers, airlines and fast-food chains — have joined a global bandwagon aimed at reducing single-use plastics. The material has attracted negative attention from images of a floating garbage island in the Pacific Ocean and tangled ocean wildlife.

Other retail solutions

Retailers including Ikea, Walmart, KFC, A&W, Starbucks and Subway have promised to eliminate plastic straws and are looking for plastic alternatives for lids and cutlery. Air Canada says it will replace millions of plastic stir sticks with wood on all flights starting this summer. Tim Hortons’ parent company says it will unveil efforts to tackle the issue in the coming months, begin testing a new strawless lid this year and increase the amount of recycled content in packaging.

Loop would do away with disposable containers for some name-brand products, such as Clorox wipes, above, some shampoos and laundry detergents. Instead, those products would be delivered in sleek, reusable containers that will be picked up at your door, washed and refilled. (Dara Rackley/TerraCycle via AP)

Retailers, suppliers, consumer goods companies and governments are taking action after research has disclosed the size of the challenge, says Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart Inc.

The world’s largest retailer has promised in Canada to further reduce checkout plastic bags, replace plastic straws with paper and eliminate « hard-to-recycle » PVC, expanded polystyrene and unnecessary plastic packaging in all its own private brand products.

McLaughlin denies Walmart is merely engaging in a public-relations exercise.

« No, this is real action, » she said in an interview. « We are trying to change the way that people produce and consume products. »

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. says it is looking for solutions both to plastic and food waste, and has taken action to reduce plastic checkout bags, increase recyclable packaging and eliminate synthetic microbeads in its private-label products.

« The challenge of plastics won’t be solved by one-off actions. It requires the work of industry, government and consumers — and a system built to address the environmental, social and business opportunities and risks associated with waste, » spokesperson Kevin Groh wrote in an email.

Metro Inc. expects to unveil its approach to reducing waste, including plastic by mid-year. Sobey’s says it agrees with customers who complain there is too much plastic packaging. It said it is working with suppliers and industry partners to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging and other products.

‘Whole lifecycle’ costs?

While agreeing plastic waste is unacceptable, the Canadian plastics industry pushes back against attacks on a lightweight, cost-efficient product that extends the life of produce and supports food safety.

« I don’t think these companies are fully looking at the science, » said Joe Hruska, vice-president of sustainability at the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. « They are like any company, reacting to consumer pressure and the consumers just don’t know the facts. »

He points to a 2016 study by Trucost, an environmental data and risk analysis firm, that concludes replacing plastics with alternative materials would almost quadruple environmental costs because less plastic material is used « throughout the whole lifecycle » of the products.

Lesieur’s stainless steel vegetable oils and mayonnaise containers are designed for use with Loop. A major retailer is slated to launch a Canadian test of the reusable packaging system in the Toronto area this year. (Team Créatif/Lesieur/TerraCycle via AP)

Canadians generate about 3.25 million tonnes of plastic waste, or about 140,000 garbage trucks’ worth, each year, according to Greenpeace Canada.

Sarah King, head of an oceans and plastics campaign for the environmental group, says there’s too much reliance on improving the recyclability or increasing recycled content even though just 10 to 12 per cent of goods are recycled in Canada.

For too long, the onus has been unfairly placed on consumers to recycle better and dispose of things properly instead of requiring major corporations that produce the packaging to find alternatives, said King.

« We want to go back to a model that is more holistic and is more not so disposal-centric. »

Paris, New York debut 

Szaky said Loop puts the ownership of the containers back to manufacturers who will then be motivated to make packaging durable.

The system will launch in New York and Paris this spring.

Additional Canadian cities, likely starting in western provinces, will be added as a distribution network is built.

Loop is just one of many strategies that have to be implemented to tackle the problem, says Tony Walker, assistant professor at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University.

« There’s no one answer to this problem. It’s a very complex environmental challenge so there’s no one silver bullet. We just have to hit it with many solutions. »

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Pot brownies in Canada could be 10 times weaker than in several U.S. states. Here’s why some people think that could be a big problem

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CALGARY—Very few businesses long to be regulated. Baked Edibles is one of them.

For the last three years, the Victoria, B.C.-based company has supplied edibles and topicals — such as salves and massage oils — to around 500 businesses across Canada. It remains an underground operation; these popular products were not legalized along with cannabis flower and oils last October.

Sean Bird, Baked Edibles’ general manager, says the business is ready to adapt and submit to the federal government’s coming regulations once they’re finalized. But he warned that the current section on edibles, as it currently stands, only allows a very conservative dose of THC — the main psychoactive component found in cannabis.

He believes the proposed limit of 10 milligrams per package of edibles, small even for novice users, will keep customers returning to the black market. Alternatively, consumers can cook up stronger edibles at home with relative ease.

“They will find other methods. Perhaps these methods will not be regulated,” Bird said. “As we’ve seen in the past, the black market will fill any holes it can. It will remain strong if there’s demand.”

California, Colorado and Washington states allow a single package of edibles — containing multiple gummies, brownies, cookies or other treats — to contain up to 100 milligrams of THC. Oregon’s regulations are somewhat stricter at 50 milligrams.

Despite its draft regulations allowing just a fifth of Oregon’s limit, Health Canada said it looked to U.S. states for inspiration and cited the U.S. experience as proof that legalization does erode the black market’s staying power.

“Experience in the U.S. has clearly shown that the legalization and regulation of cannabis in several U.S. states has led to a significant displacement of the illegal market, over time, in those jurisdictions,” said Health Canada in a statement.

Part of Canada’s cautiousness comes from fears of overconsumption. Unlike smoking a joint or vaping cannabis oil, edibles have a delay between consumption and when a user starts to experience its effects. Novice users might eat an edible, not feel anything, and then eat several more under the assumption that they haven’t had enough.

While cannabis overconsumption — colloquially referred to as “greening out” — can be acutely unpleasant and may mean a trip to a hospital’s emergency room, it isn’t fatal.

Rebecca Haines-Saah, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s department of community health sciences, agreed a 10-milligram THC limit is a very low dose. For most users, it would mean a relatively mellow high, although she noted that edibles produce a different experience than smoking or vaping.

“I imagine that putting out the draft regulations with a very, very low dose is meant to respond to this general concern among public health authorities,” she said.

Haines-Saah said it’s worth paying attention to the issue of overconsumption but said recent statistics suggesting an increase in hospital visits need to be taken in context. Before cannabis was legalized in Canada and certain U.S. states, bringing a child to the ER because they accidentally ate a special brownie could also mean a visit from child-welfare authorities. Now, she argued, parents in those jurisdictions are more likely to come forward.

“It’s a really tricky issue to figure out,” Haines-Saah said.

Parliament is expected to approve the regulations, in some form, no later than Oct. 17. Consultations continue between Health Canada, cannabis industry players, provincial and territorial governments, First Nations and other members of the public.

However they turn out, the final rules will have a big impact. Edibles are likely to be a significant part of Canada’s recreational cannabis scene going forward, according to Mitchell Osak, managing director of business consulting and technology services at Grant Thornton LLP, who advises companies in the Canadian cannabis industry.

Between January and July of 2018, he said, the demand for edibles in California and Colorado made up about 43 per cent of the total market for weed. Many potential consumers in Canada are staying out of pot shops because they’re waiting for edibles to arrive.

“That’s how they want to experience cannabis,” Osak said.

And the new rules will almost certainly mean major changes for underground producers. According to Bird, breaking into the legal market will mean shuttering Baked Edibles as it currently exists, pulling out of arrangements with black market sellers and, it seems, discontinuing the potent edibles it currently sells.

Nonetheless, Bird said this was always the plan.

“We want to be regulated and we want to offer a safe and reliable product, and we want to work within the confines of the law,” he said.

Brennan Doherty is a work and wealth reporter with StarMetro Calgary. Follow him on Twitter: @bren_doherty

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Big city mayors seek new relationship with Ottawa amid provincial-federal tensions

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OTTAWA—The mayors of Canada’s big cities have launched an election-year appeal for a new relationship with the federal government in the face of rising tensions between Ottawa and some provinces, a reality that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admits has created “challenges.”

The big city mayors’ caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities met with Trudeau and three key cabinet ministers Monday in Ottawa to lay out requests for the coming federal budget.

On the list was a call for an enhanced relationship meant, in part, as an insurance policy against municipal needs getting lost in provincial-federal tensions, something that Trudeau suggested may already be happening.

“We all serve the same citizens. We need to be doing it in a smart, strategic way,” he said.

“I think we all know how the political context is changing right now. We’re having sometimes certain challenges with the provinces in various ways,” Trudeau said at the start of the meeting.

Trudeau’s Liberals are odds with several provinces, including Ontario, notably on the issue of its climate change strategy. Municipal leaders fear those tensions could impair progress on initiatives, such as refugee settlement, that require discussions among all three levels of government.

“We need to be also thinking about scenarios where provinces are not co-operating. Unfortunately we’re seeing more of that than we’d like,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, chair of the mayors’ caucus.

That’s why the mayors want the next federal budget — the Liberals’ last before the October election — to announce a “clear federal intention and timeline” to create an intergovernmental forum for federal-municipal discussions that would also be open to provincial and territorial leaders.

The mayors say the forum would recognize that the issues facing cities, such as refugees, opioid addictions, are increasingly complex.

“When it comes to almost everyone of these issues, transit, community safety, housing, the people who deliver the actual product … are cities. They’re just not at these tables where these kind of decisions are being discussed,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory, who was at the meeting.

The appeal for a new relationship stirs memories of former prime minister Paul Martin’s “new deal for cities,” which sought to give cities better funding and a better relationship with Ottawa.

Yet federal politicians have generally been reluctant to formalize relations with municipalities, which under the Constitution are the direct responsibility of the provinces, a concern the mayors are trying to put to rest.

“This does not require a constitutional amendment,” Iveson said. “This is just common sense and it requires political will,” .

But the mayors’ proposal for a new forum got a decidedly cool reception in the private meetings with ministers and later in public.

“I think we have to be respectful of the provinces and the reality that provinces do work directly with municipalities,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters after his meeting with municipal leaders.

And Dominic Leblanc, the minister of intergovernmental affairs, refused to speak to reporters at all about the municipal requests.

The mayors might have better luck with their other budget demands. Those include a request to make permanent federal funding for public transit, beyond the existing 10-year, $3.4-billion commitment that began in 2016. The promise of funding would facilitate planning for these long-term projects, the mayors say. In the meeting with Trudeau, Tory said he cited the example of plans for a new relief subway line — on accelerated time line, it would be finished in 2029, two years after the current federal funding expires.

Also on the wish list is $2 billion more to help municipalities adapt to climate change.

Trudeau struck a more hopeful note on the topic of infrastructure spending.

“From our particular perspective, investing in infrastructure in our big cities is one of the best ways to create jobs in the short term but also meaningful growth and support for our citizens in the long-term,” he said.

Tory used the session with Trudeau to add another priority to the list — federal funding to build new housing across the country to support people with mental illness and addictions.

The failure to provide adequate support now is taking a heavy social and financial toll, Tory said, estimating that it costs each Toronto resident $50 a year.

“That is for the cost of emergency services, policing, homeless shelters that are trying to cope with people,” he said.

“That’s just the monetary side. The other side of it is that these people who are suffering from these illnesses are not getting proper care,” Tory told the Star in an interview.

A city-led survey of some 2,000 people who have been homeless found that 32 per cent reported a mental health issue and 27 said they had an addiction issue.

Last year, Toronto city council asked the federal and provincial governments to fund up to 1,800 new units of supportive housing a year for 10 years. “We have to be looking at that kind of ambition on this,” Tory said.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

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Rapport du BIG: un entrepreneur montréalais demandait une cotisation à ses sous-traitants

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Le Bureau de l’inspecteur général (BIG) a découvert que l’entrepreneur qui a obtenu le contrat d’agrandissement de la bibliothèque de Pierrefonds avait imposé à ses sous-traitants une cotisation de 5 à 15 % chaque fois qu’une directive de changement (ou « extra ») était donnée.

Le BIG entend transmettre ce dossier à l’Unité permanente anticorruption (UPAC) et à l’Autorité des marchés publics (AMP).

Au printemps 2017, l’entreprise Les Constructions Lavacon inc. avait décroché le contrat de 20,4 millions pour l’agrandissement et le réaménagement de la bibliothèque de Pierrefonds. Les travaux se sont terminés l’automne dernier.

Une trentaine de sous-traitants ont travaillé sur ce projet sous la responsabilité de Lavacon et le BIG en a rencontré 10. Dans le cadre de son enquête, le BIG a constaté que Lavacon exigeait de ses sous-traitants qu’ils prennent l’engagement de lui accorder un rabais (« cote ») de 5 à 15 % chaque fois qu’un changement était apporté au contrat initial.

Les sous-traitants envoyaient une soumission à Lavacon qui leur retournait un bon de commande amputé de la part convenue pour le rabais. Par la suite, Lavacon présentait la facture à la Ville. À titre d’exemple, selon ce que rapporte le BIG, un sous-traitant a fait parvenir à Lavacon une estimation totalisant 13 500 $. Le même jour, Lavacon a soumis à la Ville l’estimation du sous-traitant en ajoutant 12 % de « frais d’administration » au nom du sous-traitant pour un total de 15 120 $.

Plusieurs des sous-traitants interrogés dans le cadre de cette enquête du BIG ont ainsi admis avoir haussé le prix de leurs estimations afin de tenir compte du rabais.

« Manipuler un sous-entrepreneur à verser une “cote” pour pouvoir œuvrer dans un projet est déjà inadmissible en soi », écrit l’inspectrice générale Brigitte Bishop dans son rapport déposé lundi au conseil municipal de Montréal. « À cela s’ajoute aussi la conséquence sur les sommes inscrites aux directives de changement. Les actes de Lavacon ont privé la Ville de Montréal d’obtenir le juste prix pour les directives de changement. »

Les gestes commis par Lavacon constituent une « manœuvre frauduleuse » en vertu du Règlement de gestion contractuelle, souligne Me Bishop qui recommande que l’entreprise soit inscrite dans le Registre des personnes inadmissibles et ne puisse obtenir de contrats pour une période de 5 ans.

L’inspectrice recommande aussi d’outiller davantage les employés de la Ville afin qu’ils puissent mieux contrer de tels stratagèmes. Elle croit d’ailleurs que Lavacon n’est pas la seule à utiliser cette tactique et prône l’adoption de mesures de contrôle supplémentaires à la Ville de Montréal.

L’UPAC et l’AMP ont déjà été alertées et le BIG entend leur transmettre le dossier.

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Big city mayors call for emergency federal funding to deal with housing crunch

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The mayors of Canada’s largest cities are ramping up pressure on the Trudeau government to deliver a major cash infusion to cope with a housing shortage they say has been driven in part by refugees.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities ‘Big City Mayors’ caucus was to gather in Ottawa today before meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and delivering its election year wish list for the 2019 federal budget — the last of the Liberal government’s current mandate.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said his city had to absorb roughly $5.7 million in additional housing costs in 2017 related to a spike in asylum seekers crossing the border from the United States. He said he expects the city took a similar hit in 2018.

« What often happens is a government will make a decision at a senior level and the consequences trickle down to us, » Watson said.

« Toronto received $11 million in July to deal with refugee claimants. Our city has received nothing. »

Share the burden, mayors say

The mayors don’t appear to have a specific sum in mind for emergency federal housing money. In late 2017, the Trudeau government rolled out a 10-year, $40-billion national housing strategy meant in part to address a severe shortage of affordable housing units in major cities, but the mayors appear to be looking for more near-term funding.

The RCMP intercepted 19,411 asylum seekers outside official border points in 2018, down from 20,593 in 2017.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he agrees with Watson that the federal government ought to do more to share the burden of settling refugees outside of Toronto.

« [The federal government] makes the decisions about what happens at the border and Toronto is very supportive, for example, of admitting refugees, » he said. « We’ve had a historically compassionate approach in this country which we support. But the federal government, who admits refugees to the country, also has to take a hand in helping to house and settle them. »

Watson also said the federal government’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana use is ramping up the cost of police drug enforcement in his city.

« In our case we’re going to receive about $2 million for all enforcement inspections … and our staff estimate it’s more of a cost of $8 million so we’re going to have to absorb $6 million in costs, » he said.

« It’s almost like, you know, when the federal and provincial governments sneeze, we end up getting a cold. »

But the major ask from Canada’s largest cities is likely to be for federal transit funding. The mayors are looking for $34 billion over 10 years starting in 2028 for public transit services. Under their proposal, $30 billion of that would be distributed to cities based on ridership — $29 billion going to transit systems with a ridership over a certain threshold and the remaining $1 billion to smaller transit systems.

The other $4 billion would go to boosting ridership and to rural transit systems. The mayors also want the funding made permanent.

Political clout

« That allows Toronto to think about its next major subway expansion, it allows Halifax to start thinking about bus rapid transit and allows Edmonton to think about where light rail will go next, » said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson​, chairman of the big city mayors’ caucus.

Iveson said he and his other large city mayors swing considerable political clout in a federal election year.

« These 22 mayors represent more than half the country’s population and two-thirds of its economy. So you know we have an opportunity to influence the course of the country. »

Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne said his government has already invested billions in transit.

« There have been repairs and upgrades of more than 2,000 kilometres of roads and highways, more than 170 kilometres of new highway, and more than 70 new bridges, » he said in an email. « Public transit across the country has seen improvements, including more than 3,000 new buses purchased, 3,700 buses repaired and refurbished, nearly 15,000 bus stops and shelters been upgraded, and more than 200 transit stations built or upgraded. »

Along with Trudeau, the mayors are expected to meet today with Champagne, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc and Bill Blair, the minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.

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Big Mamma met le cap sur Londres

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Le groupe de trattorias italiennes ouvrira Gloria, un restaurant de 550m2 sur deux étages, le 22 février prochain à Shoreditch, dans l’Est de la capitale britannique. Avant un second lieu déjà prévu à Fitzrovia.

Même pas peur du Brexit. «On ouvre à Londres, parce que c’est un rêve de gosse». Ainsi démarre le communiqué annonçant l’ouverture, le 22 février prochain, de Gloria, la toute dernière trattoria du groupe Big Mamma à Shoreditch, quartier branché de l’Est londonien. Après sept adresses à Paris – dont La Felicità (XIIIe), le food court géant installé à Station F -, et une à Lille, le duo d’anciens étudiants en école de commerce Victor Lugger et Tigrane Seydoux continue son impressionnante expansion en s’exportant dans la capitale britannique.

Au programme, «un fat resto sur deux étages décoré par le Studio Kiki (le studio de design de Big Mamma). Grosse ambiance Capri 1972, et sous-sol italodisco jusqu’à 2h du mat». Comprendre une table sur deux étages de 550m2, avec 160 couverts, 32 enceintes et une déco soignée dans les moindres détails. Côté carte, la maison annonce une lasagne «queen size» de 10 étages, un risotto au homard dans sa casserole à partager, une pasta fresca cacio e pepe dans sa meule de pecorino et une sélection de cuvées italiennes, dont 50 références de Barolo, à déguster directement caché dans la cave à vin du resto.

Gloria (qui remplace Red’s True Barbecue) ne se situera qu’à cinq minutes à pied d’une autre pizzeria courue du quartier: Pizza East. Arrivera-t-elle à la concurrencer?

«Le lieu le plus dingue»

Victor Lugger, l’un des deux fondateurs explique: «On va à Londres car cette ville nous a inspiré depuis nos débuts, ses restos au design de dingue et au service super attentif. On y va avec les bras chargés de produits italiens de tout petits producteurs et une team chanmée de 70 italiens dopés à la sauce arrabbiata».

«C’est sans aucun doute le lieu le plus dingue que l’on n’ait jamais conçu et la carte à la fois la plus dirty dirty love et la plus authentique» conclut le communiqué. Cela suffira-t-il à séduire les Londoniens? Le duo Big Mamma semble en tous cas y croire puisqu’il a déjà acquis un second local à Fitzrovia, dans le centre de Londres, comme le rapporte le site Eater .

Gloria. 54-56, Great Eastern Street. Londres, Shoreditch. Ouverture le 22 février 2019.

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