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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 1 August 2018

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Numbers game

Toronto’s new premier isn’t afraid to make changes but cutting councillor numbers may prove one contentious step too far.

How many councillors does a city need? This question is being debated in Toronto as Doug Ford, Ontario’s newly minted premier (brother of Toronto's late, crack-smoking former mayor, Rob) attempts to slash the number of councillors from 47 to 25. In a city of about three million people, that would mean each councillor in North America’s fourth-largest city would represent about 100,000 people, which according to critics would dramatically dilute the councillor’s ability to carry out his or her job. A lawsuit against the proposal has been launched, which has gained the support of opposition parties and the incumbent mayor John Tory. Ford’s move has ensured that October’s mayoral race will likely be as complicated and divisive as those that marked his brother’s chaotic years at the helm of city hall.

Transport

New arrivals?

In anticipation of the 2024 Olympics, French rail bosses have proposed a très bien makeover for Paris’s trains.

Following last month’s announcement that the Gare du Nord would be expanded ahead of the Paris Olympics in 2024, French rail bosses have followed suit by unveiling a proposed upgrade to their fleet of high-speed trains. Designed by the minimalist Japanese studio Nendo, the new carriages will feature bigger windows, adjustable lighting for different times of day and entirely changeable seating arrangements, meaning a first-class carriage can be converted into a second-class cabin depending on demand. The innovations don’t end there: the new trains will be manufactured from 97 per cent recycled material and will consume 20 per cent less energy due to hi-tech brakes. On top of all that, French rail authorities claim that the TGV du Futur model will cost €5m less to make than the current Duplex trains. If the upgrades stay on track, countries facing their own rail woes will do well to take note.

F&B

Fresh flavours

Yotam Ottolenghi has come up with a new restaurant recipe for Rovi, his latest London venue.

Rovi’s handsome 85-cover berth in London’s Fitzrovia feels different to Yotam Ottolenghi’s other spots: the pastries and cakes of his Notting Hill outlet are gone, as are the piled-high salad displays in Belgravia. At Rovi, experimentation is everywhere: in the bar area (Ottolenghi’s first) for example, surplus ingredients from the kitchen are turned into an inventive cocktail called Lucky Dip. The menu is still centred on vegetables but mouthwatering meatier options include the Jerusalem mixed grill, with offal, pickles, flatbread and baharat onions. Neil Campbell, formerly of the Grain Store, is in charge of the kitchen, and it's his love for tinkering and careful sourcing that have moved the new opening beyond the tried-and-tested Ottolenghi recipe. It’s a tasty combo that any chefs giving consideration to expanding their repertoire would do well to sample.

Urbanism

Image: Getty Images

Road to nowhere

Are Facebook, Google and the rest of San Francisco’s powerful tech titans taking the city for a ride?

Nia Wilson’s murder at an Oakland train station on Sunday is the most high-profile case in a recent crime spike on the Bay Area’s Rapid Transit System (Bart). Could that rise be down to a lack of resources for San Francisco’s transport network? It’s a strong argument, not least when you consider Facebook’s mid-June announcement that it will partner PortSF to provide private-charted ferry trips for its employees, thus taking funds out of the public coffers. And did we mention those Google buses? As the wealthiest commuters are transported to work in veritable palanquins, Bart is already having to counterbalance a 2 per cent passenger drop with a hiring freeze and overtime reductions – and it follows that transport police will be the next casualty. It’s high time that San Francisco’s tech sector reacquainted itself with the concept of civic responsibility and footed at least some of the bill for providing trains, ferries and buses that work for everyone.

From Monocle 24

Food Neighbourhoods: Berlin, Kottbusser Tor

The Menu

Monocle’s Hester Underhill takes us to the Berlin district of Kreuzberg to see how this once dilapidated area has become a hive of creative culinary activity.

From Monocle Films

Venice Architecture Biennale: Soft-power potential

Monocle editor in chief Tyler Brûlé takes a look at how nations are using the world stage of the Venice Architecture Biennale to reflect their identity and build their brand.

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