Tracking Olivia Chow’s First 100 Days as Toronto Mayor

Tracking Olivia Chow’s First 100 Days as Toronto Mayor

In Olivia Chow, Toronto has its first progressive mayor in 12 years. How will she tackle the city’s many critical issues? Will City Council’s power balance shift? My new column for The Local tracks Chow’s first 100 days. In the first installment, I look at how the mayor—and organizers on the ground—addressed the asylum seeker crisis that unfolded at 129 Peter St. Plus, a few key items from this week’s Council meeting.

How to Choose a Mastodon/Fediverse Server

Featured image by, via Wikimedia.

In a previous blog post, I recommended some Mastodon servers for people moving to the Fediverse. Since then, the great migration of November 2022 happened, and an awful lot of those servers turned out to be horrifically ill-equipped for the increase in users. I don’t mean in terms of technical infrastructure, but governance and moderation.

So instead, I’m going to talk about what to look for in a server, rather than recommending any particular ones. Continue reading How to Choose a Mastodon/Fediverse Server

The Local: How Toronto’s Mayoral Candidates Plan to Address the Housing Crisis

How Toronto’s Mayoral Candidates Plan to Address the Housing Crisis

Yet another municipal election is nigh. In my new piece for The Local, I analyze six top mayoral candidates’ housing platforms, which range from ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to an ambitious return to the days of government-built mixed-income social housing on a large scale.

Just the numbers (this table is in the article, too):

AMR = Average Market Rent. In 2023, AMR in Toronto is $1,538 for a one-bedroom and $1,811 for a two-bedroom unit.
Saunders Bradford Bailão Chow Hunter Matlow
Total cost Unspecified Unspecified $49M $404M $1B $407M
Source Not taxes Not taxes City Building Fund (existing) City Building Fund increase Property tax increase, reserve funds Cancelling Gardiner East, freezing police bucget
Units Unspecified At least 16,000 (as in original Housing Now plan) HousingTO targets, provincial mandate of 285,000 10,000–25,000 22,700 15,000
Affordability At least some units in developments on city-owned land 33% of housing on under-utilized city-owned land, 20% in office conversions 40,000 affordable rentals and 4,000 affordable ownership by 2030 At least 7,500 at 80% AMR, 2,500 at 30% AMR 5,660 at AMR, 3,468 at 80% AMR, 2,108 at 40% AMR, 6,135 affordable ownership 45% affordable rental (30% at AMR, 10% at 80% AMR, 5% rent geared to income, or at 30-40% AMR); subject to consultations

The Local: Candidate Tracker

Candidate Tracker 2022

The municipal election is nigh. I’ve been working behind the scenes, contributing research for The Local’s Candidate Tracker. Check it out—you can read up on Council candidates’ backgrounds, see where they stand on issues like shelter, affordable housing, and police funding, and compare them to incumbent councillors’ voting records.

Field journal: Spiders of the Oculus

Yesterday afternoon, after the rain stopped, I made a quick trip to the Oculus—the long-abandoned space-age modernist pavilion near the foot of the Humber Trail. And within a minute’s walk along the trail in either direction, I found more spider diversity than I ever find in my usual sites! Continue reading Field journal: Spiders of the Oculus

Know Your Little Red Mites: A Guide

Infographic with illustrations and descriptions of four common red-coloured mites
The infographic version. Click for a full-sized image.

To the casual observer, many mites are just mysterious little red dots. Gardeners and farmers will be familiar with the spider mite family, Tetranychidae. These mites are plant-eaters, and many are major agricultural pests worldwide.

But there are so many other kinds of mites—more than you know. More than I know! More than even acarologists (mite scientists) know. They have described about 50,000 species, but they think there are probably at least a million in total.1 If you take a closer look at the little red dots running around, you can find many different kinds, occupying many different ecological niches, all unique and delightful to watch. Continue reading Know Your Little Red Mites: A Guide

Some Mastodon server recommendations

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Note: This post is very old. I don’t recommend many of these servers any more, and many new ones have sprung up, too many to keep track of. Instead, read my new post on how to choose a Mastodon/Fediverse server.

(Expanding on this viral post and this thread.)

So an obnoxious billionaire just bought Twitter, and a lot of people are signing up (or reviving their accounts) on the “flagship” servers, or But you have more options! Continue reading Some Mastodon server recommendations