Blue box battle brewing
Forget the kerfuffle over the city's recent purchase of a landfill near London. Council's plan to step up the pace of recycling with bigger blue bins may prove a weightier issue come election time.
Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 president Brian Cochrane warns that workers will be instructed not to pick up recyclables if the city pushes ahead with plans to replace the city's blue boxes with wheeled carts with four to six times greater capacity.
"It's not consistent with the rules," says Cochrane.
Right now, the maximum weight trash workers are supposed to lift on their rounds is 20 kilos (44 pounds). Adds union solid waste chair Colin MacDonald , "There's always a concern about injuries."
The city's solid waste management director, Geoff Rathbone, agrees that the weight limit is there to protect the health of workers. But he argues that lifting the taller carts will be easier -- they'll be hoisted by a mechanical lift -- than the bending presently required to pick up blue boxes.
"It will take longer to load, but you're also emptying a larger quantity," Rathbone contends.
Rathbone says the city can't move ahead with plans to expand recycling to include styrofoam and other materials without the larger blue bins.
But Sierra Club waste diversion campaigner Rod Muir doubts the larger boxes will encourage more recycling.
"Whether people choose to walk those extra steps to recycle will have nothing to do with that $50 shiny new blue bin on their property," he says. "What will motivate people is advertising and promotion of recycling."
Adam Beck gets blinged
The lifelike statue at Queen and University of Ontario Hydro founder Adam Beck has, to its art critics, been a bit of a joke. "Most people don't know who Adam Beck was. It's just this large statue that represents large, male power," says Ontario College of Art and Design public art professor Eldon Garnet .
But graffiti artist Specter, of Montreal's Kops Krew, says he wasn't trying to make a statement one way or another when he draped a big-ass necklace with dollar-sign pendant around the figure, much to the delight of passersby a couple of weeks back.
"It's never that specific, but it could be," says Specter, who previously hung a giant Tiffany-style heart locket on the John Fluevog Shoes building on Queen West. "I like dressing things, giving them personality."
Rumour has it that city staff had a helluva time removing the chain, but Specter says he didn't want to glue or weld the bling to the sculpture, because "that's someone's art."
Garnet views Specter's intervention as funny compared to the regular defacing of statues outside police headquarters or the stealing of plaques from Garnet's own Memorial To Commemorate The Chinese Railway Workers, at Spadina and Front. He says the act actually brought Beck's statue back to life -- albeit for a short time.
Black gays boycott Tango
Tango may be the place to get down with drag kings, but it's not always hospitable to those who like the beats of Sean Paul. Some 40 patrons of the popular Church Street lesbian hangout staged a walkout earlier this month to protest a policy change banning the playing of reggae, soca, dancehall and reggaeton music.
Management isn't commenting on the controversy, declining to return more than a half a dozen calls from NOW, but has since put the music back on the playlist.
"Crews & Tango directly caters to the queer community," says Sabastien Cognito, a performer at Tango who helped organize the walkout. "Your business is in an oppressed group, which means that you need to be more community-minded."
Black Queer Youth Initiative facilitator and former Tango bartender Karene Brown claims that on several occasions members of BQY have been asked upfront by staff whether they intended to buy drinks and, if they didn't, were told they'd have to vamoose.
Dan Lavoie , social columnist and club writer for gay biweekly Xtra, worries that bars in the Church Street area aren't catering to a diverse enough clientele.
"A lot of queers have made a conscious decision not to hang out in the village, as it does nothing for them -- because of the music, the people and the overt restrictions," he says. "I don't think most places have such [explicit] policies, but [they're] implied. You can feel it."