New changes to come for Humber’s Athletic Centre

5 12 2008

Kara Bertrand and Zack Rhodes
Design Editor, The Daily Planet

Humber College is about to begin renovating its Athletic Centre, set for completion in January 2010. Athletics Director Doug Fox said the renovations will bring more than a new gym but an entire wellness wing for the whole school.

“Fitness has become a priority here,” said Fox. “It’s the main function of our area so we’ve got to make sure we look after them.”

The current gym is about 3,000 square feet while the new gym will be almost five times as big. Some of the programs that will occupy the wellness wing are the spa management program, the new massage therapy program, and the health centre. The lobby to the Athletics Centre will also be renovated.

The total cost of all renovations is $4.5 milion funded by Humber, HSF and the Athletics budget.

Daily Planet reporter Kara Bertrand has more.

TSX falls but students not concerned

5 12 2008

Compiled by Kara Bertrand, with files from @ Humber reporters Kelly Roche and Hameed Hussain
Published: October 9, 2008

The Toronto Stock Market fell 1,200 points on Monday Oct. 6, leaving traders and investors scrambling to save their failing stocks.

The market slid 401 points on Tuesday while Wednesday’s numbers jumped 200 points by end of day.

The TSX has lost about one-third of its value since June.

The markets have barely recovered from last week and Monday, but economists warn that we’re not yet out of rough waters.

“At this point, we all should be concerned,” Patricia Lovett-Reid, senior vice-president of TD Bank said. “I don’t think we’re at the catastrophic phase yet but we need to see a lot of liquidity coming back into the system, and the sooner the better.”

Lovett-Reid, who is also the host of Money Talk on the Business News Network, said there will be a global economic down-turn with sub-par growth globally.

Paul Piper, professor of economics at Humber, said because over three-quarters of our trade is with the United States, Canadians should be alarmed.

“If our American customers are in trouble, well then you and I better worry because we’re going to have a hard time selling to them,” he said. “And if we can’t sell to them, guess what, Canadian workers are going to get laid off.”

Job security was also an issue brought up by Lovett-Reid, especially pertaining to students and recent graduates.

“The problem with what’s going on right now is a crisis of confidence and a credit crisis,” she said. “What that means to the end user is that jobs will be lost because companies won’t be able to make payroll because they’re not going to be able to borrow from their financial institution.”

Students not concerned

Alex Popsor, 22, a first-year civil engineering student, said he was not concerned about the state of the economy.

“I’ll always have an easy time getting a job,” he said. “Before I came to Humber, I did a bit of research, and I went into civil because it has more options.”

Popsor wasn’t the only student not worried about the markets.

Ashley Jewers, 19, a general arts and sciences student, said her choice to enter culinary management next year will guarantee her a job out of college.

“I know what I’m doing and what I’m going for,” she said. “But I’ve got another few years of school before I’ll start thinking about the economy. Ask me in another three years.”

Although Humber students don’t appear to be worried about the economy, Lovett-Reid said investing wisely now and along the line would be beneficial for students.

“When you build a portfolio right from the start, you’re not looking for speculative investments, you’re looking for good quality,” she said. “Companies that have real earnings, that pay a dividend, that’s a good way to set your portfolios up when you’re starting. But in terms of the job market, we will get through this crisis.”

New transit plan announced by Metrolinx

5 12 2008

Compiled by Kara Bertrand, with files from Laura Leslie, a reporter for @Humber
Published: October 7, 2008

It’s Ontario’s Big Move. Metrolinx agency, formerly the Greater Toronto Transit Authority (GTTA), has released a plan to ease the gridlock on Toronto roads. The Regional Transport Plan calls for $50 billion to be spent over the next 25 years to improve transit and roads from Hamilton to Oshawa and throughout York region.

The GTTA was approved in legislation under the McGuinty government in April 2006. In December 2007, its business name changed to Metrolinx because it “links people to places.”

“It’s a $50 billion plan over the next 25 years, it’s about $2 billion a year,” Leslie Woo, manager of transportation policy and planning at Metrolinx, told @Humber. “We are calling it the big move so it outlines a series of very significant changes and transformational projects that will make this region more accessible and sort of a cleaner, greener, more well connected region for all of the residents and businesses.”

TTC riders agree that a more connected transit system would be beneficial for the city.

“In Toronto especially, our transit system doesn’t reach the low-income, high population areas – Rexdale, Jane and Finch – which is where people need it the most,” said Savannah Spears, 29, a regular TTC user.

Woo said the draft Regional Transport Plan, which will be before the board this week for consideration, was released along with a draft Investment Strategy.

“It lays out how we would begin to work from the strong foundation that the province has set out in its investments announced last year for MoveOntario 2020 of $17.5 billion to get us started so we’re well on our way,” she said.

Controversy has sparked throughout mainstream media regarding funding for the plan – as taxes and tolls will not be used as financing. At this point, only speculation exists on how the plan will be financially supported.

The plan includes:

  • Rapid transit service from Hamilton to Oshawa via Union station
  • Rapid transit service from Union station to Richmond Hill and Brampton
  • Expansions to the subway system from on the Spadina line to Vaughn corporate centre
  • Expansions to the subway system from on the Yonge line to Richmond Hill
  • “There is a proposal within the next 25 years to have what we refer to as the ‘Queen Relief Line,’ connecting and parallel to the Bloor/Danforth line,” said Woo.

    Metrolinx also highlighted a combination of light rapid transit, bus rapid transit or auto-guided transit along Dundas St. in Halton, on Highway 2 to Scarborough from Oshawa town centre, “Highway 7 connecting the airport all the way connecting Vaughn, Richmond Hill and Markham and then connecting down to Scarborough and Pickering,” said Woo.

    “It’s a very inclusive approach and the plan outlines the very significant changes that we can see within the next 25 years whether it’s relative to the reduction of travel time and commute time, the increasing number of trips on public transit, the expansion of our bike and pedestrian network and the reduction of greenhouse gases,” said Woo.

    Harper arts cuts spark controversy at college

    5 12 2008

    Kara Bertrand
    Design Editor, The Daily Planet
    Published: October 3, 2008

    In the midst of economic turmoil and a federal election on both sides of the border, even cultural and artistic matters are being brought to the fore by political leaders.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced a $45 million tax cut on the arts communities across Canada. Theatre professionals in Toronto say they saw this coming.

    “It’s interesting because we’ve seen a change in the landscape around us and we kind of knew that this was starting to happen,” said Diana Belshaw, head of acting in the theatre performance program at Humber. “Not the specifics, but that the world is no longer as easy a place to earn a living.”

    She said the theatre program at the Lakeshore Campus shifted six years ago to train students to create and produce their own work. This highlighted a community base for all productions. Belshaw said the arts cuts won’t be a large issue for Humber students at this point in their careers.

    “Clearly when they reach a certain level in their careers it becomes huge because at a certain point it would be nice to make a decent living,” she said.

    Belshaw recalled an example of a production called Goodness about genocide put on by a theatre company named Volcano. They were invited to Rwanda for a performance, but she said the Canadian government refused to fund the trip.

    “It’s a very successful company and has toured internationally before, so to have that company turned down was just kind of a shock to everyone,” she said.

    John Bourgeois, program co-ordinator of the acting for film and TV program also at Lakeshore Campus, pointed to a similar situation within the Canadian TV industry.

    He cited the CBC series MVP, The Secret Life of Hockey Wives, “a home grown TV series the New Yorker magazine hailed as fresh and original. Had the show been supported at the federal level, it would still be on the air, telling our stories with our artists,” he said.

    Bourgeois said he feared a film and TV industry without Canadian content.

    “There will be fewer – if that’s possible – Canadian stories on our screens, fewer actors, writers, directors working to tell our own stories and fewer producers willing to take the risk of funding a Canadian story,” he said.

    Belshaw said arts cuts are no new thing and something that happened under the Mike Harris government.

    “That really made it very difficult for theatre for young audiences which were going into schools and touring,” she said. “And they’re fundamental to the artistic life of the province. But, I don’t think we’ve seen cuts like this before.”

    Belshaw said when she started out in the theatre industry in the early 70s, the liberal government at the time gave out LIP grants, “local initiative project grants, which were used by little companies to start out.” She said there was a great deal of what was called ‘seed money’ at the time, but now that has disappeared.

    In a time of election, both Belshaw and Bourgeois said voting for a candidate who supports the arts is the only way to reverse the cuts that are happening.

    “Canadians must elect responsible governments that will address the cultural needs of all Canadians,” said Bourgeois.

    Humber ready for proposed coffee cup ban

    5 12 2008

    Kara Bertrand
    Design Editor, The Daily Planet
    Published: September 25, 2008


    Toronto’s solid waste department put forward several proposals to ban or tax coffee cups, take-out food containers and plastic bags, in a move toward diverting 70 per cent of its landfill waste by 2010.

    Humber College’s food services have moved to biodegradable cups, plates and cutlery at the beginning of this school year.

    “It’s obviously an issue that the government wants to undertake but it doesn’t really affect us at the moment,” said Kim Mantovani, director of food services.

    She said Humber began a gradual change in January 2008 whereby all Chartwells-run locations would use biodegradable cups, plates and cutlery.

    The college has now changed 100 per cent to use only biodegradable materials at the start of this school year. For instance, Mantovani said, the cutlery is made out of corn. She said they would begin to liaise with Harvey’s and Williams Coffee in University of Guelph-Humber further down the line to shift this process to these chains as well.

    Eliminating non-biodegradable materials from Toronto’s landfill system was included in the Target 70 Strategy outlined in June 2007, said Vincent Sferrezza, director of policy and planning of Toronto’s solid waste department.

    “This particular component is part of our strategy whereby looking at reducing in-store packaging, we would reduce about 10,000 tonnes of waste that would enter into our system and it would contribute to getting us to 70 per cent,” he said.

    According to Toronto’s website, over 367,000 metric tonnes of residential waste was diverted from landfill in 2007, which amounts to 42 per cent of all waste.

    Still, a city audit in 2007 found fast-food containers in 77 per cent of garbage bins in Toronto. The report stated that in 260 of the 480 bins, Tim Horton’s cups and lids were the top waste contributors.

    David Griffin, maintenance and operations manager at Humber, was not convinced the city’s proposals were good ideas.

    “How is the city helping people get to the point where they can be good stewards of the environment?” he said.

    Griffin said high-rise buildings and rental real estate add to the garbage problem, as residents cannot recycle in the same way as house dwellers.

    “Most only have one chute per floor and that’s for garbage,” he said.

    If the proposals don’t take effect in Toronto, Sferrezza said recycling programs would always be collecting material that takes up space in the landfill sites.

    “But we’re looking at reducing the materials before we even have to manage it,” he said.

    In the event of a total ban, Sferrezza offered options for retailers and consumers. Reusable bags and mugs are already available at grocery stores and coffee shops and he said this would become the norm in the event of a complete ban.

    “At Tim Horton’s, for instance, if you go there [with a reusable mug] they charge you 10 cents less,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know that and it makes a difference. Some of the options that exist are good and we’re trying to promote and encourage those.”