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Soggy start to the week as spring storm hits southern Ontario

CityNews | posted Monday, Mar 28th, 2016

It was a soggy start to the work week as a spring storm hit southern Ontario, arriving on Sunday night and lasting until Monday.

The heavy rain will taper to showers and end in the afternoon, 680 NEWS meteorologist Harold Hosein said. As the rain dies down, the wind will pick up, he warned. Winds will become northwesterly, gusting to 60 km/h.

The forecasted high is 8 C, with cloudy periods and an overnight low of 3 C.

Across Toronto and the GTA, residents were woken up by the loud claps of thunder.

 

 

 

For those who were awake to see it, Mother Nature put on quite a show, with lightning striking the CN Tower.

 

 

 

 

Doug Ford preparing for an emotional send-off this week

ADRIAN GHOBRIEL | posted Monday, Mar 28th, 2016

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An emotional Doug Ford opens up about what the past few days have been like and the celebration that is to come his brother’s life in the coming week.

Starting Monday at 10 a.m., thousands of people are expected to pay their respects over the next two days as the former mayor lies in repose at City Hall.

If you would like to send a video or pictures to be used in the Rob Ford memorial, you can do so at the following linkrobfordmemorial@gmail.com

Pothole menace angers motorists, creates business for repair shops

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Mar 28th, 2016

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MONTREAL – An annoying sign of spring — the dreaded pothole — is testing the patience of Canadian drivers this year while also creating a financial bonanza for auto repair shops.

Extreme fluctuations in early spring temperatures along with lots of rain have unearthed a high number of potholes that are exposing motorists to hefty repair bills.

“It’s probably the worst year I’ve seen in the last 10 to 15 years,” Ben Lalonde, president of My AutoPro service centres in Ottawa, said in a recent interview.

Business is up as customers are showing up with bent wheels, punctured tires, misalignments and wrecked suspensions. Repair bills can range between $200 and $500 depending on the force of impact and the type of damage, Lalonde said.

Spring is a lucrative period for repair shops, says Jack Bayramian, owner of Montreal’s Decarie Garage, who adds that repairs stemming from pothole damage makes up about 30 per cent of his year’s revenues.

There’s no tally for the cost of dealing with the aftermath of potholes in Canada, but a poll of U.S. motorists by the American Automobile Association suggests they spend an average of US$3 billion a year dealing with pothole repairs. The Canadian Automobile Association is in the process of conducting its own poll.

While repair shops welcome the extra business, they also say it can cause customers to pare back spending on preventative maintenance.

“I know having bad roads is good for business but I think it’s (temporary) … because a lot of people end up neglecting their cars, and at the end it could be a safety concern,” James Bastien, manager of an OK Tire in the nation’s capital.

Most motorists tend to pay for repairs out-of-pocket unless damage is well above insurance claim deductibles, or they can beat the odds and win a claim from a municipality.

Several large Canadian municipalities are struggling this year to keep up with the menace that is consistently among the top sources of angry complaints from residents.

“This year has been fairly bad,” says Bryden Denyes, area manager of core roads for the City of Ottawa.

The city has filled 51,000 potholes so far this year, up substantially from 20,200 at the same time in 2015, but down slightly from two years ago. Compared to last year’s almost relentless bone-chilling cold, Ottawa has faced 28 freeze-and-thaw cycles versus just 11 a year ago.

The capital spends $5.4 million a year filling potholes and repairing roads, compared to the nearly $7 million to fix major and arterial roads in Montreal. Toronto spent $6 million in 2014 to fix 360,000 potholes.

Lionel Perez, a councillor responsible for Montreal’s infrastructure, said it’s a constant struggle to plug the holes, especially because of decades of under-investment.

The challenge is even bigger in Edmonton, which over the last nine years has faced an average of 455,000 new potholes a year. A warmer winter and less snow has given the Alberta capital somewhat of a reprieve this year.

In addition to filling potholes, municipalities have to contend with damage claims submitted by residents.

Very strict rules limit compensation in Quebec. Payouts are also low in other provinces.

Ottawa paid out only 10 per cent of claims last year, while Edmonton’s annual payout ratio is about 16 per cent. Toronto, meantime, paid out about half the 2,376 claims filed in 2014, the city said in its latest report.

Emergency kit to prepare at home if power goes out

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 24th, 2016

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Here’s what you should be preparing at home if power goes out in your area. According to Emergency Preparedness Canada, here’s what should be in your emergency kit:

  • 72-hours of food that won’t spoil
  • Bottled water
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Extra medications
  • Cash

 And if you’re out on the messy roads, here’s what you should have in your car:

  • Food that won’t spoil
  • Bottled Water
  • A blanket and extra clothing
  • A first aid kit
  • A flashlight
  • Candles and matches
  • Jumper cables
  • Road flares

For your pets, you should have these in a kit at home, according to the Ontario SPCA:72 hour food supply, including bowls and a can opener

  • 72 hour water supply
  • Blankets/towels
  • Toys
  • Leash, muzzle, harness
  • Litter pan, litter, plastic bags and scooper
  • Pet carrier to allow for easy transport
  • Medical records, Veterinarian’s name and contact number
  • Medications and a pet first aid kit
  • Current photo of your pet along with their name, address and brief description
  • Information on your pets feeding schedule, temperament/behavior, medical concerns
  • ID tags and Micro chip number
  • Flashlight
  • List of boarding facilities, hotels that can accommodate pets

Ghomeshi found not guilty of all charges in sexual assault trial

CityNews | posted Thursday, Mar 24th, 2016

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Judgement day in the compelling sexual assault trial of Jian Ghomeshi has arrived.

The fallen radio star has been found not guilty in all four counts of sexual assault one count of overcoming resistance by choking by Ontario Court Justice William Horkins today.

“The quality of the evidence failed to prove the case,” Horkins said in delivering the verdict. “The testimony brings reasonable doubt.”

Ghomeshi had previously pleaded not guilty to the five charges against him. Ghomeshi now faces/was facing a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail. The choking charge carried or carries a potential life sentence.

Ghomeshi – who kept a very low profile inside and outside the courtroom – immediately hugged his mother and sister upon hearing the verdict. Because of this acquittal, he now has the option of pursuing a counter lawsuit for defamation or malicious prosecution against his accusers.

Looking back at the trial, the strategic decision not to testify in his own defence likely played a large part in why he walked out of Old City Hall a free man today.

He also has an all-star defence team to thank, Marie Henein and Danielle Robitaille, for using every moment of the trial’s 80 days to break down every fiber of his three complainants’ testimonies.

This trial heard three alleged victims: Trailer Park Boys actress Lucy DeCoutere and two other women who chose to keep their identities protected.

Henein’s fierce cross examination targeted inconsistencies in the women’s accounts of what happened between them and the former broadcaster, some of which allegedly happened over a decade ago. In her closing statements, Henein accused all three women of lying under oath.

The defence consistently produced what several media outlets could only describe as ‘bombshells’ of evidence against each complainant throughout the case.

For the first complainant, Henein presented flirtatious emails sent after alleged assaults in 2002 and 2003, including an infamous bikini photo that was never made public. The emails were brought up in court after the woman testified she never contacted Ghomeshi following a series of violent accounts with him.

DeCoutere was confronted with emails of her own, including one where she expressed a desire to have sex with Ghomeshi after an alleged assault where she was slapped and choked by Ghomeshi against her will. Henein also produced a hand-written letter sent to Ghomeshi days after the alleged assault that ended with the words: “I love your hands.”

The third and final complainant admitted to deliberately withholding information from police. In addition to that, Henein also revealed that the third woman and DeCoutere exchanged thousands of messages discussing their allegations and shared contempt for Ghomeshi.

The 48-year-old disgraced radio host has acknowledged to being into “rough sex” but maintains that it was always consensual.

Easter weekend: What’s open/closed and events

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND AMBER LEBLANC | posted Thursday, Mar 24th, 2016

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The Easter weekend is upon us, and while some of us are heading to family gatherings and church services, others will be hopping at parades and Easter egg hunts.

As always, as you make your long weekend plans, consult our list of what’s open and closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Hope you have a relaxing long weekend!

What’s open and closed

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Food and drink

All LCBO and Beer Store locations will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

While all Beer stores are open on Easter MondayLCBO stores will be open but with modified hours. Before the weekend, some LCBO stores have extended hours on Thursday.

Most grocery stores will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but some are open. Call ahead before heading out. The Loblaws on Carlton Street is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Sunday, while the Sobeys Urban Fresh on Bay Street is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days.

Transit, garbage and other services

The TTC is running on holiday service on Good Friday and regular service the rest of the weekend, while GO Transit is on a Sunday schedule on Good Friday and will run on regular schedules the rest of the long weekend.

Government offices, including municipal buildings like Toronto City Hall, are closed Friday to Monday. However, City Hall will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday so that people can pay their respects to former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who willie in repose in the rotunda until Tuesday.

Banks will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Also, mail won’t be delivered on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

All Toronto Public Library branches will be closed Friday, Sunday and Monday, but are open on Saturday.

In Toronto, daytime curbside residential collection will take place on Good Friday and is not collected on any Monday. Click here for more details.

Shopping centres

Some malls will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, while most malls will be open on Monday.

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Bayview Village
Good Friday (closed but some restaurants are open), Easter Sunday (closed)

Bramalea City Centre
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Dufferin Mall
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

East York Town Centre
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Eaton Centre
Open on Good Friday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.)

Fairview Mall
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Pacific Mall
Open 365 days a year

Scarborough Town Centre
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Sherway Gardens
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Square One
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

The Promenade
Open on Good Friday (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and closed Easter Sunday

Toronto Premium Outlets
Open on Good Friday (9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (11 a.m. – 7 p.m.)

Upper Canada Mall
Open on Good Friday (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and closed Easter Sunday

Vaughan Mills Mall
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Yorkville Village
Open on Good Friday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Easter Sunday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Tourist attractions

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Art Gallery of Ontario

Open on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but closed on MondayClick here for hours.

City of Toronto activities
Recreation programs won’t be held at parks and recreation facilities on Good Friday and Easter MondayClick here for more information.

The city’s 10 historic sites will be closed on Friday but will be open on Saturday and Sunday. Fort York National Historic Site and Spadina Museum are the only locations that will open on Monday.

Casa Loma
Open over the Easter weekend from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CN Tower
Open over the Easter weekendClick here for hours.

Hockey Hall of Fame
Open over the Easter weekend. Click here for hours.

Ontario Science Centre
Open over the Easter weekend. Click here for hours.

Ripley’s Aquarium
Open over the Easter weekendClick here for hours.

Royal Ontario Museum
Open over the Easter weekendClick here for hours.

Toronto Zoo
Open over the Easter weekendClick here for hours.

Events

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Easter parade and egg hunts
The two-houEaster parade will be rolling through the Beach on Sunday, featuring floats, marching bands, and an appearance by the Easter bunny. It starts at 2 p.m.

There are a few Easter egg hunts to check out, including one aSpringdale Farm in Milton and another in at Kortright Centre For Conservation in Woodbridge.

Spring Canadian Pet Expo
Canada’s largesevent for our furry friends takes over the International Centre this weekend. You’re encouraged to bring your pet to the show with you to check out three massive pet-friendly halls. The show is also home to Canada’s biggest cat show, put on by the Canadian Cat Association. Tickets are available here or at the door.

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One of a Kind Show and Sale
Celebrating homemade excellence – that’s the focus of the One of a Kind Show and Sale at the Enercare Centre. It features more than 450 artisans selling everything from furniture to jewellery to stained glass. Click here for tickets.

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Toronto Indoor Games
Some incredible musicians will be piping and drumming away Saturday during the annual Toronto Indoor Games. It’s a long standing tradition taking place at the Moss Park Armoury in downtown Toronto. Some of the best pipers and drummers in the province will be competing in solos, quartets and bands. Admission is just $5 and everyone is welcome.

TTC changes
Great news for TTC bus riders. The TTC says five new express routes start later this week, one on Easter Sunday and four on Easter Monday.

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First up on Sunday, the 185 Don Mills rocket will operate between Steeles Ave. East and Pape Stations. Then on Monday, riders will be able to ride the 24E Victoria Park Express, the 186 Wilson rocket, the 199 Finch rocket, and the 188 Kipling South rocket. These buses will make limited stops in order to get riders where they’re going faster.

Judge expected to deliver decision in Ghomeshi’s sexual assault trial

DIANA MEHTA, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 24th, 2016

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Jian Ghomeshi is set to learn his fate Thursday as an Ontario judge is expected to deliver a decision in the disgraced broadcaster’s closely-watched sexual assault trial.

Ghomeshi, the one-time host of CBC Radio’s popular culture show “Q,” pleaded not guilty to four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.

He didn’t testify in his own defence and expressed little emotion at his two-week trial, which sparked a broad conversation on the challenges of reporting and prosecuting sexual assault.

Justice William Horkins, who presided over the case, has had more than a month to mull over the evidence presented in court, the bulk of which came from the three women who accused Ghomeshi of sexually assaulting them at various times between 2002 and 2003.


Related stories:

The three women who testified against Jian Ghomeshi in their own words

March for sex assault victims to take place after Ghomeshi verdict

Key dates in the case of disgraced CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi


The Crown argued that the women were “unshaken” in their allegations against the 48-year-old, but his defence team countered that all three complainants were unreliable witnesses who lied under oath.

If convicted on the sexual assault charges, Ghomeshi faces a maximum of 18 months in prison. A conviction on the choking charge could bring a potential life sentence.

Ghomeshi’s trial drew long lines of observers to a downtown Toronto courthouse in February.

The testimony of his accusers and their cross-examination by his high-profile defence lawyer Marie Henein led to moments of intense drama in court.

The first complainant testified that Ghomeshi suddenly yanked on her hair when they were kissing in his car in late 2002. A few days later, she said he abruptly pulled her hair while they were kissing in his home and started punching her in the head.

The second complainant, actress Lucy DeCoutere – the only woman who can be identified in the case – told the trial Ghomeshi suddenly pushed her against a wall, started choking her and slapping her face when they were kissing in his bedroom in the summer of 2003.

The third woman testified that while kissing Ghomeshi on a park bench in 2003, he suddenly bit her shoulder and started squeezing her neck with her hands.

Under cross examination from Henein, however, the trial learned that the first woman sent friendly emails and a bikini photo to Ghomeshi after her alleged assaults, asking him to contact her. She said she sent the emails as “bait,” so she could demand an explanation for the alleged assaults. The woman also testified that she didn’t remember the emails when she spoke with police.

During DeCoutere’s cross-examination, Henein produced an email the actress sent Ghomeshi hours after the alleged assault in which she expressed a desire to have sex with him. She also produced a hand-written letter the actress sent him days later that ended with the words: “I love your hands.”

The third complainant acknowledged under questioning from Henein that she deliberately misled investigators by not initially telling them she had a sexual encounter with Ghomeshi a few days after the alleged assault. Henein also revealed that the woman and DeCoutere exchanged thousands of messages in which they discussed their allegations and their shared
contempt for him.

Ghomeshi still faces a separate trial in June on a single count of sexual assault.

Freezing rain arrives: Schools closed in parts of GTA, power outage in Vaughan

CityNews | posted Thursday, Mar 24th, 2016

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A salt truck in Toronto on March 24. 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Icy conditions across the GTA prompted school closures and school bus cancellations, on the last day of class before the Easter long weekend.

Buses were cancelled for the Toronto District, Toronto Catholic, York Catholic, York Region District, Durham Catholic and Durham District school boards, but schools remained open.

All school buses were cancelled, and all schools and offices were closed in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District, Peel District, Halton District and the Halton Catholic District school boards.

Click here for updates.

More than 35,000 hydro customers in areas west and north of Toronto were without power early Thursday as freezing rain swept through the area.

However, by 7:15 a.m., PowerStream said power had been restored in Vaughan. Initially, 26,000 customers in Kleinburg, Maple and Woodbridge were affected by the power outage.

There are still power outages west of the city.

A freezing rain warning remains in effect for the GTA. Environment Canada said around 10-20 millimetres of ice accumulation was possible for some areas and warns that there could be a thick coating of ice on roadways, sidewalks, trees and power lines.

 Slippery roads and sidewalks in Toronto as freezing rain sweeps through the area on March 24, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

The TTC also experienced streetcar delays because of icing on the overhead wires. Riders faced longer than normal travel times since the streetcars have to travel slower to maintain their contact with the overhead wires due to sparking. Extra buses were brought in to supplement service.

Toronto Conservation warns that water levels in creeks and streams will be higher than normal and could cause flooding. They advise people to be extra cautious around bodies of water, and pay close attention to kids and pets.

At one point, there were 114 cancelled flights at Pearson International Airport with lots of delays on top of that, and around nine cancellations at Billy Bishop airport.

Several flights have been cancelled or delayed at Pearson International Airport due to weather on March 24, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Several flights have been cancelled or delayed at Pearson International Airport due to weather on March 24, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Meanwhile, Ontario Hydro was working to restore power to more than 10,000 customers, primarily in the Fergus, Listowel and Cambridge areas, with restoration expected to be completed by around 8 a.m.

With reports from The Canadian Press

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