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News stories from the Star you should know about on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023


Good morning. This is the Thursday, Jan. 5 edition of First Up, the Star’s daily morning digest. Sign up to get it earlier each day, in your inbox.

Here’s the latest on

DON’T MISS:

A plan to boost TTC fares and security is drawing fire from critics

A day after John Tory said he plans to increase Toronto police’s $1.1 billion budget by another $48.3 million, the mayor announced the TTC will see fare prices rise by 10 cents and would get a $53 million subsidy increase to hire 50 more special constables. The move — which comes as the service wrestles with a spike in violent crime — is being criticized for its reliance on force, Alyshah Hasham and David Rider report. Here’s what other plans are in the works for the TTC and what alternative methods critics say would help people feel safe on transit.

  • Go deeper: “We can’t keep thinking that if we have these reactive responses or a punitive policy approach, we’ll have better health outcomes, greater public safety and a wider sense of well-being,” said Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of population health and social medicine at the University Health Network.
  • Another angle: A spokesperson for transit user group TTC Riders said that instead of hiking fares, the agency should focus on attracting riders back to the service.
  • More: Under the plan, 10 more Streets to Homes outreach staff would be hired to work with people who are homeless. Monthly pass costs for seniors would be frozen and 50,000 more users would be added to the low-income discount program.

Even fast-rising mortgage rates couldn’t stop the rise of Toronto real estate prices in 2022

GTA home prices rose 8.6 per cent in 2022 compared to 2021 — averaging $1.19 million — according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board. Although the central bank’s rising interest rates slowed activity and caused prices to dip, it didn’t immediately reduce prices on a year-over-year basis, the real estate board’s chief market analyst Jason Mercer explained. The red-hot market that saw prices peak at $1.33 million last January and February played a big role in keeping the yearly average high, Tess Kalinowski reports. Take a look at how prices fluctuated over the year across neighbourhoods and types of homes.

  • Watch for: This year’s housing market will be determined by heavy demand for housing, fed by rising immigration and higher interest rates that temper buyer activity, Mercer said.

Why are so many places talking about ditching the RCMP?

From British Columbia to Nova Scotia, several jurisdictions across the country have been having discussions about replacing, transforming or defunding the RCMP. While it’s sometimes seen as a political discussion — as is the case in Alberta — factors such as transparency and accountability are at play, too. Surrey, B.C., for one, is now caught up in a years-long drama over a bid to replace the national police force with one of its own, Kieran Leavitt writes. Here’s a closer look at the challenges the municipality is facing.

  • Context: Surrey, which has a large South Asian population, is likely better served by officers who can speak the languages and connect with the community, said Curt Griffiths, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University in B.C., adding it’s easier for the city service to hire people from that background who are likely to stay and give back to the community in other ways.
  • By the numbers: Sticking with the RCMP in Surrey would save it $235 million over five years, although Griffiths noted there are also costs to RCMP “just passing through” the community.

WHAT ELSE:

ICYMI:

Eight provinces saw more COVID-19 deaths this year than in any other year, including Ontario

Here’s how 2022 became COVID’s deadliest year in Ontario and Canada.

CLOSE-UP:

A man watches as a biker competes during the fourth stage of the 2023 Dakar rally around Ha'il in Saudi Arabia on January 4, 2023.

SAUDI ARABIA: A man watches as a biker competes during the fourth stage of the 2023 Dakar rally around Ha’il province on Wednesday.

Before I go: we’re still keen on seeing what plans you have for this year. Are they to try a new sport or instrument? Snap a photo of you in action — let’s see that gym selfie or the home-improvement project you’re starting — and send it to us at firstup@thestar.ca. We may feature you in an upcoming edition.

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