Here are a selection of stories to know about right now, from tech to travel to culture and whatever else falls in between. There will be a Toronto slant here, undoubtedly.

Did you know that Canadian and Americans will now be able to travel with less checkpoints? Two airports in Canada, Billy Bishop in Toronto and Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec City, will be the Canadian touchstones. Travellers will get to pre-clear customs before they depart and allow an easier switchover border-to-border. The new agreement is for travellers crossing by land, rail and sea, and a couple routes (Montreal to New York and the Rocky Mountaineer railway in BC to Washington State), are already in planning. For the first time pre-clearence of cargo travelling across the border will also be admitted. Billy Bishop just reported its busiest season yet with 701, 573 passengers arriving and departing from March to May. It services 20 cities in Canada and the U.S. with connections to over 80 international destinations.

In investment news, Sidewalk Labs (read our brief from 2018) will invest CA$1.3 billion to push its vision further off the ground. Sidewalk Labs has released a 1,500-page plan detailing a vision for Toronto’s eastern waterfront, testing out modular pavement and more publicly accessible buildings. Google will also house its headquarters close by. A community driven by tech with data and privacy at the hands of those in charge now should be evaluated. #BlockSidewalk‘s campaign stresses the need for further public consultation and more details can be viewed here.

One the other end, people feel there could be a lot of significant improvements because of the various structural and material plans that will enable the environment. This would be the first “smart city” in Canada, but certainly not the first in the world (China being the leader). Here’s a video with more on the basic details, as described to date.

Last night #BlockSidewalk held an open meeting, inviting people to learn more about this “smart city” project and the concerns over privacy and regulation. One thing mentioned was how long of a proposal the document was (1,500 pages) and that it could have been shortened to 400 pages to be better accessible to readers wanting to know what is happening. It was also mentioned that in the document there are vague descriptions of how the governmental bodies proposed by Sidewalk Labs would be governed. And that all three levels of government are subject to legislation of the collection of private information, but it was argued that Sidewalk’s framing skips past this notion of “responsible use” with little information about justification or authority over data. Further, that it would appear Sidewalk is trying to obfuscate privatization, not in the sense of selling assets to the private sector for profits, but in the sense of private control of publicly owned assets.

Then earlier today, the Toronto Region Board of Trade posted this and collectively asserted that there are “huge opportunities” to note with this project. You can read the PDF here.

The discussion shall continue.

Canada’s first esports arena has been unveiled in Richmond B.C. The arena will host professional video game tournaments. Gaming Stadium opened its doors this past weekend for the public, who can come to watch the professional action happen. Over 100 spectators can view competitors playing off of one of 60 computers. Players are only permitted after entering as a team, but the facility will also bundle people together if needed and of course there is prize money involved. You can see more about the events and allotted money here.

In other esports news, Bell just took a minority stake in OverActive Media, the esports organization. The telecommunications giant will be its first founding marketing partner. The deal covers team sponsorship and content integration as well as traditional and online advertising. OverActive Media also owns esports franchises in Montreal, the U.S., Mexico, Columbia, Spain and South Korea.

123Dentist, Canada’s largest majority of Canadian-owned dental practices has raised $425 million, including $300 million in committed growth capital and a further $125 million accessible from both equity and debt partners. This investment will propel the business to further expand across Canada. There are offices in Vancouver and Toronto, and the company is mainly dentist-owned. The funds mentioned above were part of an equity investment from the private equity firm Peloton Capital Management and issuing the refinancing of 123Dentist’s “existing syndicated credit facilities co-led by Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal.” This is Peloton’s first deal.

In case you haven’t heard, Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is a free agent and may or may not stay in Toronto. People have taken a strong stance on him staying, even lining up to see the basketball player that is basically Toronto’s king as of late. On Wednesday, Leonard was rumoured to be meeting with Raptors president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster, so naturally people took off work to follow along. For a guy who likes privacy, Toronto didn’t receive the memo and it’s quite weird. This will be news of yesterday in a day, but still worth the pause, especially if things goes south. #KawhiWatch was the hashtag in case you want to see a bunch of people in the middle of the day stand around waiting for a basketball player. A very gifted basketball player, no less.

A new report commissioned for CBC News notes that Canadians have concerns over the cost of living (32%). Following cost of living, Canadians were most worried about climate change (19%), individual/family health (10%), immigration (8%) and international relations (7%). More on that study here.

Check out this TV rundown and this music rundown. Might get you jazzed.

And Ontario launched a new 24-hour animal cruelty hotline with a toll-free number, available 24/7. 1-833-9Animal (1-33-926-4625) is the contact. This is a new temporary model put in place to “keep animals safe as the province transitions to a new system that is more robust, transparent, and accountable.” Back in March the OSPCA said it would no longer enforce animal welfare legislation so this is the solution for now.

Finally, this gave us a chuckle.

Featured photo: Gaming Stadium rendering