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Cranes Installed as Forming Begins at Pinnacle One Yonge Site

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A wave of tall towers will soon reshape the skyline of Toronto’s central waterfront, the tallest of which is being planned at the foot of Yonge Street. Pinnacle International‘s Pinnacle One Yonge will bring a five Hariri Pontarini Architects-designed towers to Yonge and Queens Quay, including a 95-storey, 1,007 foot-tall centrepiece tower set to become one of Canada’s tallest.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, Pinnacle International, Hariri PontariniPinnacle One Yonge site, image by Forum contributor Full Metal Junkie

With the community’s tallest tower still some time away, the first phase to begin construction is a 65-storey condo tower known as The Prestige. The project has been underway since April 2018, when a portion of the surface parking lot north of Toronto Star Building was fenced off. By June, excavation had begun for the site’s six-level underground garage. It bottomed out in September. The project crossed a few significant construction milestones this month, including the installation of a tower crane early in the month, and the start of forming for the underground parking levels.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, Pinnacle International, Hariri PontariniUnderground levels taking shape at site of The Prestige, image by Forum contributor drum118

Most recently, a second tower crane was installed at grade, just north of the excavated pit. These cranes will work together to form the underground and podium levels of the new building.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, Pinnacle International, Hariri PontariniTwo cranes installed for The Prestige, image by Forum contributor cc46

The assembly of the second tower crane was captured by Forum contributor cc46, who snapped photos of workers appearing precariously positioned—though we assume safely secured—at the end of the crane’s jib arm during the final stages of getting it working. (Closer-up shots can be found in the Forum thread!)

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, Pinnacle International, Hariri PontariniWorkers at the end of the second crane’s jib arm, image by Forum contributor cc46

The Prestige will create a residential foothold on the site with the community’s first 497 condominium units. The project also includes 1,148  of retail space, as well as a new 4,772  community centre to serve residents of the local area.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, Pinnacle International, Hariri PontariniThe Prestige at Pinnacle One Yonge, image via submission to City of Toronto

Additional information and images can be found in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

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For the love of eel: N.L. company developing new product for international market

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For years North Atlantic Aquaponics has been shipping live eels to markets in Korea and Ontario, but now they’re working to take their products to a tasty new level. 

The company, which started on the west coast community of Robinsons, is collaborating with the Functional Foods Laboratory at MUN’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook to test and develop a new recipe for kabayaki eel. 

“Kabayaki is just barbecued or grilled eel with a specific type of sauce,” said facilities manager Justin Stacey. 

“We’re doing different testing and analytics of the eel itself to find the best way to keep and maintain the most nutritional value that we can. On top of that, we’re trying to find the best tasting, best esthetically pleasing, all the variables that go into developing a product like this. And with MUN’s facility, we got it all here.”

Justin Stacey, facilities manager with North Atlantic Aquaponics, was on hand at Grenfell to oversee product testing. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

There is a stigma attached to it, so when you approach a market in Newfoundland or in Canada in general, we kind of have to calibrate our approach.– Justin Stacey

The Functional Foods Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. Raymond Thomas, allows students from a variety to backgrounds to test, analyze and develop food products.

This week the public was asked to take part in a tasting experiment that got them to rate and rank four different kabayaki samples based on things like appearance, flavour and texture.

Graduate student Melissa Hamilton is overseeing the project. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

The survey involved groups of people, 10 at a time, given sample plates through a small door and then asked to answer questions on the computer in front of them. 

Science meets product development

Graduate student Melissa Hamilton is leading the project, which she says incorporates elements of both psychology and chemical analysis, as well as real-world practicality. Once the consumer testing is complete, they’ll be able to provide North Atlantic Aquaponics with information to help them develop their product. 

The lab can accommodate 10 testers at a time, each with their own computers to answer survey questions. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

“Let’s say that the consumers say the product is a bit too salty, then we’ll have to make an adjustment in that regard. Or say they like a certain packaging, because that’s one of the options as well, then we’ll use the one our participants are leaning towards,” said Hamilton.

She said the lab is ideal Corner Brook’s campus attracts people from different demographics.

“So it’s the ideal place to conduct this type of survey to get people from all over the world and get their perception of the food we’re trying to develop.”

Changing attitudes

If everything goes according to plan, Stacey said, they hope to soon be shipping their new kabayaki product to markets in Korea and Ontario. 

One of the biggest obstables, however, is attitudes about the product here at home. 

Grenfell’s Functional Foods Sensory Laboratory is designed in such a way that test participants can be served food straight from the test kitchen through a small door. (Jennifer Grudic/CBC)

“I know my grandfather fished and ate eel. It was part of the culture and part of his lifestyle. Now, to talk to my friends and people my age, there are very few that have eaten eel,” said Stacey.

“There is a stigma attached to it, so when you approach a market in Newfoundland or in Canada in general, we kind of have to calibrate our approach.” 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Throwback Thursday: CIBC Square | Urban Toronto

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This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back over a year and a half for a view of the future location of a major Downtown Toronto office tower. Back in May of 2017, a large surface parking lot at Bay and Lake Shore—across from what was then the Air Canada Centre—had just been closed to make way for construction of phase 1 of CIBC Square from Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines.

Throwback Thursday, CIBC Square, TorontoFormer surface parking lot closes to make way for CIBC Square, May 2017, image by Forum contributor Michael62

The same vantage point in January 2019 shows the rising 49-storey first phase of the WilkinsonEyre-designed office complex across from what is now the Scotiabank Arena. The tower’s central concrete core recently surpassed the 25-storey mark, while steel structural work is forming the tower’s shape down below. Once complete in 2020, the project will bring 1,300,000 ft² of office space to the site, while the opening of its new GO bus terminal will free up space for the second phase tower just across the rail corridor to the north.

Throwback Thursday, CIBC Square, TorontoCIBC Square’s south tower rising, January 2019, image by Forum contributor Gizmo

We will return next week with another look at the changing face of Toronto!

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Canada Post union pitches low-income bank, greener tech. But critics ask, who pays the bill?

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As arbitration grinds on at Canada Post following back-to-work legislation passed in November, the union has made a series of proposals beyond standard contract negotiations on wages and benefits: they want the Crown corporation to open a new bank for low-income people and turn the post office into a hub for green technology

With one of the country’s largest vehicle fleets that could be converted from gas to electric power, 6,000 distribution outlets where electric car-charging stations for consumers could be built, and old buildings ready to be retrofitted with solar panels, the post office is well positioned to help Canada transition to a greener economy, said the union’s president.

There’s one major problem with the ambitious proposal, according to critics: Who’s going to pay for it?

Debates over how institutions should reduce their carbon footprint — and how the changes should be financed —  are playing out across the public and private sectors as leading scientists warn the world has just 12 years to drastically reduce emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. 

“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity,” Mike Palecek, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said in an interview. “We have to address it … Canada Post is the biggest piece of federal infrastructure, it has the largest vehicle fleet in the country, it would be a good place to start.”

He couldn’t say how much the proposals would cost.

Canada Post declined to comment on demands for a postal bank and the green retrofit. “With the arbitration process now underway, it would be inappropriate to comment on specific negotiations issues,” a spokesperson told CBC News by email. “We are committed to the process and are fully engaged with the union and the arbitrator.”    

A government-appointed arbitrator is expected to announce a deal for a new contract in March, after workers on rotating strikes were legislated back to work in late November amid long delays for packages amid the Christmas delivery rush.

Banking on change

The proposed postal bank is aimed at rural residents, including First Nations, who often don’t have easy access to a bank branch, said John Anderson, researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a think-tank whose advocacy areas include reducing income inequality. It would also benefit low-income Canadians, including pensioners and the working poor who often depend on payday lenders for loans, cheque cashing and other financial services.

Popular in France, the U.K., Italy and other countries, postal banking in Canada would almost certainly be profitable, he said, citing a 2016 survey that suggested three million Canadians and about one-third of businesses would use financial services from the post office.

Management at Canada Post — including president and CEO Jessica McDonald, at the podium, and CFO Wayne Cheeseman, left — has not been receptive to demands for a green retrofit or postal banking, the union says. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The post office already handles financial transactions, and the federal government runs other successful banking organizations, such as the Export Bank of Canada and Farm Credit Canada, Anderson added.

Canada’s federal pension plan even invested in China’s postal bank, he said, indicating that such plans are financially viable. 

“The federal government — through its ownership of Canada Post —  is the only body that could bring modern financial services to every community in Canada,” Anderson said. “That would be great competition for the big banks, which are profitable partially because of the high service fees they charge compared to other banks worldwide.”

Taxpayer interests

Canada Post hasn’t been receptive to demands for the green retrofit or the postal bank, according to CUPW’s president.

That’s a good thing, said Alex Whalen, vice-president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a Halifax-based think-tank that supports reducing government spending.

“I don’t think taxpayer interests would be served by those proposals,” Whalen said. “The concern has to be that there are public dollars involved.”

As a Crown corporation, Canada Post is required to be financially self-sustaining. With more than 60,000 employees, the company made a pre-tax profit of $74 million in 2017, largely due to increased parcel delivery thanks to Amazon, according to its financial statements. Investing in projects outside of its core mandate of delivering mail could jeopordize its profitability, Whalen said.

“If there were good returns in this kind of business, the private sector would already be doing it,” Whalen said of the proposed postal bank. “If the union thinks this is a great idea, are they going to be an investor in the bank?”

Pension financing?

To finance the union’s proposals, there is one obvious source of funds outside of asking taxpayers or the company: workers’ pensions.

With about $25 billion under management, stocks in the big Canadian banks and oil companies — some of the very industries the union’s proposals are trying to tackle — make up some of the largest investments for postal workers’ pensions, according to 2017 financial statements

The workers, however, have no say over how their pensions are invested, Paleck said. “We have no decision-making power whatsoever.”

Canada Post workers seen here during the last hours on the picket line in Montreal on Nov. 27, 2018, before returning to work, ordered by the government to end their rotating strike. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press )

That situation isn’t unusual for Canadian workers, said Tessa Hebb, a researcher at Carleton University’s Centre for Community Innovation who specializes in responsible investing.

“Some representation from employees would be really beneficial, both for the positive components for adjusting to a low-carbon economy and also for the basic protections for workers,” from bad decisions by pension fund managers, she said.

However, she cautions against the idea of using pension funds from CUPW to finance new initiatives at Canada Post like the postal bank or green retrofit.

“You don’t want the pension funds to be constrained in investing in their own business,” Hebb said. “The legal term for that is self-dealing.”

Such moves have often hurt workers when the companies themselves face financial trouble and look to their employees’ pension funds as a source of capital, she said, citing the examples of Sears and Nortel Networks.

In the U.S., pensions under union control — or funds jointly managed by workers and management — have made a series of profitable investments in green technologies or urban renewal projects like affordable housing, she said. And there’s no reason why similar successes couldn’t be replicated in Canada. 

“Ten years ago, if you were a pension fund in California and you were an early investor in Tesla, you certainly made your money back and then some,” Hebb said. “The shift to a low-carbon economy is going to bring forward some really interesting investment opportunities.”

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