By Alan Broadbent Opinion Sun., Sept. 2, 2018 Can community councils, the underfed underdogs of municipal government, save the city of Toronto? In the current crisis facing the city, it is worth considering. The arbitrary and precipitous cut of Toronto City Council to 25 members has affronted many, for many reasons. Some see it as vengeful; others as antidemocratic, particularly coming in the middle of an election campaign. Still others focus on the overly large municipal wards in the new electoral map. By going to the federal/provincial electoral boundaries, the average ward size will encompass about 110,000 people, nearly twice the old size of 60,000. At the municipal level, which deals with day-to-day service delivery and where the local councillor is a primary conduit for resident concerns and wishes, this is too large. This was recognized more than 20 years ago when the province amalgamated six cities into the so-called megacity. Community councils were set up … [Read more...] about Community councils could be answer to Toronto’s slashed municipal wards
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By Jennifer Pagliaro City Hall Bureau Mon., March 19, 2018 Mayor John Tory’s executive committee has ignored pleas to bring a key report on the city’s long-term financial future before council. The long-awaited report from outgoing City Manager Peter Wallace explains the pitfalls ahead — including a $1.42-billion gap in the operating budget in just five years — and a partial roadmap for the way out. After it was delayed by a year, the report was presented to executive committee with a recommendation that the new city manager come back with an actionable vision. But despite members of the public and outside councillors asking it be considered by council as a whole — and promises from staff in December 2016 that it would be considered by council “well in advance of 2018 budget decisions” — executive committee members voted to support a motion from Tory that will see staff returning with a plan in 2019. It is … [Read more...] about Toronto council’s executive committee pushes off controversial report that points to future fiscal problems
By Armina Ligaya The Canadian Press Thu., March 15, 2018 The Bank of Montreal is taking a first step toward artificial-intelligence powered customer service by launching chatbots that can field questions via Facebook Messenger and Twitter. The deployment of such technology is the latest move by a Canadian bank to beef up its digital capabilities as customers increasingly conduct their banking on mobile phones and computers, rather than over the phone or in a brick-and-mortar branch. BMO developed the Facebook chatbot in partnership with Vancouver-based Finn.ai and the Twitter one with Toronto-based Massively. Read more: Canada’s household debt rises to $1.8 trillion, increasing risk to banking system Article Continued Below TD Bank buys Layer 6, a Toronto-based artificial intelligence startup Toys “R” Us will go down as retail’s cautionary tale They will only answer customer questions such as how to view their account balances or … [Read more...] about BMO launches AI chatbots to answer customer questions on Facebook and Twitter
By Kenyon Wallace Investigative Reporter Fri., March 9, 2018 This article is part of the Star’s trust initiative, where, every week, we take readers behind the scenes of our journalism. This week, we look at how the Star spent more than two years attempting to confirm that Toronto police use the controversial Stingray cellphone data-catching device. Two and a half years ago, an adjudicator for the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario upheld a decision by the Toronto Police Services Board to neither confirm nor deny that the force had acquired cellphone data-capturing devices known as IMSI catchers, or Stingrays. That decision came following a Freedom-of-Information request made by an unidentified citizen in an attempt to find out if the police had purchased the technology. In his ruling, Information and Privacy Commissioner adjudicator Donald Hale wrote the disclosure of this information “could reasonably be expected to reveal … [Read more...] about How the Star finally learned Toronto police used cellphone data-catching devices
In an open letter to the City of Toronto’s general manager for children’s services, a group of 32 activist organizations are drawing attention to another failure in Toronto’s much-lauded Sanctuary City policy.Early last fall, No One Is Illegal, the migrant rights group, learned from parents who are international students that their child-care subsidies were being withdrawn. Because they lacked permanent status — either through permanent residency or citizenship — they would no longer receive support from the city on the basis of their immigration status.One parent, a single mother and an international student, found herself scrambling to find answers. At the annual review meeting where parental contribution is assessed, she was told her status as an international student meant she would be dropped from the child-care subsidy program. Without the city subsidy, child care for her two children totalled around $4,000.“That’s more than my pay. It … [Read more...] about Is Toronto living up to Sanctuary City pledge?