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Travellers at Pearson International Airport on Dec. 12, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy

Thursday expected to be busiest for pre-holiday travel at Pearson: GTAA

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says Thursday is expected to be the busiest day for pre-holiday travel at Pearson International Airport.

The GTAA says more than 130,000 passengers are expected to go through the airport Thursday.

It also predicts nearly 2.7 million passengers will travel through the airport between Dec. 17 and Jan. 7.

The GTAA says holiday travellers can make their trip easier by reserving a parking spot, packing light and leaving holiday gifts unwrapped in carry-on luggage.

The GTAA says more than 44 million passengers travelled through Toronto Pearson in 2016, making it the second-busiest international airport in North America.

Quebec woman among 12 killed in bus crash in Mexico

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

The Canadian who was among 12 people killed in a bus crash in Mexico has been identified as Stephanie Horwood of Gatineau, Que. (Facebook)

A bus crash in eastern Mexico that claimed the lives of 12 people, including a Canadian woman, has left families in two provinces in a state of shock.

The woman was identified by her family as Stephanie Horwood of Gatineau, Que.

Carole Pommet Reinthaler told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that her daughter-in-law was in Mexico with her husband and their two daughters aged nine and 11.

All three were injured.

Pommet Reinthaler said she was devastated when her son called to break the news of the tragedy.

“I still don’t believe she is dead,” she said. “It’s difficult to accept, but we have to no choice but to live with a pain like that.”

Pommet Reinthaler said her son will return to Ottawa with his two girls Thursday evening, but Horwood’s body will be transported to her family in Newfoundland-Labrador.

“Her father wants to see his daughter for a last time,” Pommet Reinthaler added.

She said there would be two funeral ceremonies: one in Horwood’s native St. John’s, N.L., and the other in Gatineau.

Horwood would have turned 42 next week on Dec. 27.

“For us to have something like that happen, it’s almost incredible . . . that she died so young and in another country where she was going to have so much fun with her family,” Pommet Reinthaler said.

She said the tragedy has been very hard on her son.

“He’s all in pieces, he’s left alone with his two daughters, no mother any more … he just wants to come home,” Pommet Reinthaler said.

lobal Affairs Canada confirmed that one Canadian was killed and three others were among the 20 injured in the incident.

The accident occurred when the bus carrying cruise ship passengers flipped over on a narrow highway in the state of Quintana Roo on Tuesday, Global Affairs said. The bus was headed toward Mayan ruins when the crash occurred.

“Consular officials in Ottawa and in Playa del Carmen, Mexico are in contact with affected Canadian citizens as well as family members and are providing consular assistance as required,” spokesman Philip Hannan said. “Due to privacy considerations, further details cannot be disclosed at this time.”

Mexican officials said eight Americans, two Swedes, and one Mexican were the others killed in the crash.

The injured bus driver was taken into custody, the state government said.

Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises confirmed that 27 passengers from two of its cruise ships were on the bus at the time of the crash.

“Our hearts go out to all those involved in the bus accident,” company spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in a statement. “We are doing all we can to care for our guests, including assisting with medical care and transportation.”

Some of the passengers injured in the crash were taken to local hospitals, while others were transported to the United States for treatment, Martinez said.

Video images from the scene show the bus on its side in vegetation off the two-lane highway. Some survivors could be seen lying on the pavement while others were able to walk.

Quintana Roo state authorities said 13 people remained in hospital.

Chris Brawley, of Haslet, Texas, was on one of the two cruise ships that had passengers on the crashed bus and was taking a different bus to the ruins. He said his bus passed by just minutes after the accident and he observed skid marks on the dry pavement.

Brawley said the ship he was sailing on, the Serenade of the Seas, sailed out of Mahahual Tuesday around 5:30 p.m., a couple hours after its scheduled departure. It was docked Wednesday up the coast in Cozumel.

“Captain informed us this morning one of our passengers passed overnight,” Brawley said.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

With files from The Associated Press

Winter arrives Thursday, and right on cue, snow to follow

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 21st, 2017

A person makes their way to a streetcar as snow flies through the air during a squall in downtown Toronto, on Thursday, December 15, 2016. A major storm is expected to hit beginning Monday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

Winter officially arrives Thursday and it is coming in like a lion.

A special weather statement is in effect for Toronto and the GTA, ahead of a potentially dicey drive home and an even worse Friday morning commute for the last day of work before the holidays.

Environment Canada said up to 15 centimetres of snow is possible for the GTA by Friday.

According to the weather agency, the snow will start Thursday afternoon. Around 5-10 centimetres is expected to be on the ground by Friday morning. Another five centimetres of snow is possible later in the day.

There is also a risk of freezing drizzle throughout the day.

Why is Santa ignoring Justin Trudeau’s texts?

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017

Screengrab from government YouTube video.

His progressive policies and poster boy good looks may have connected with voters, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasn’t so lucky when he tried to connect with Santa Claus via text message recently.

No, the PM isn’t on the naughty list and there’s nothing wrong with cellphone reception in Ottawa. Santa has simply received a more important message loud and clear: There’s no room for distracted driving, whether you’re behind the wheel of a sedan, an SUV, or a sleigh.

Trudeau’s playful and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to receive a response from Santa is the theme of new video released by Transport Canada that reminds Canadians to keep their eyes on the road this holiday season.

In the video, Trudeau is attempting to text Santa, but he’s getting a shoulder that’s colder than the North Pole. Dismayed, and unaccustomed to rejection, Trudeau contacts Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, seeking an explanation.

“Hey Marc listen, where is Santa?” the peeved PM asks. “He usually responds to my text messages and I’m not hearing from him. Is everything under control?”

Garneau assures Trudeau that he hasn’t been ghosted by the jolly old elf.

“Mr. Prime Minister you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” Garneau responds. “We are closely watching Santa and he’s well on his way. I’ve reminded Santa to put down his cellphone so he’s not tempted to talk or text. I don’t want Santa to get distracted while he’s driving his sleigh.”

With the PM’s bruised ego finally comforted, Garneau reminds Canadians to mimic Santa’s steely focus.

“As you travel to see your family and friends keep your eyes on the road and avoid being distracted. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a highway or stopped at a red light. When you’re not focused on the road things can happen very fast. Stay safe and happy holidays.”

Millions spent on art at 6 new TTC subway stations

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017

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What’s the price tag for beauty? It’s a question being raised after the budget was revealed for art installed at six new subway stations on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension.

From the colourful glass at Finch West to the disco ball at Downsview Park, the art has been getting accolades. But although many riders admire the works, some expressed sticker shock after learning each station’s artwork cost $500,000.

“It’s important to remember that the TTC public policy and city’s public policy requires either new or renovated facilities to use one per cent of capital budget for public art.” TTC spokesman Brad Ross said. “So in fact these projects are well below that one per cent recommendation.”

The six new stations — Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, Highway 407, Pioneer Village, York University, Finch West, Downsview Park and Sheppard West — opened last weekend.

Loblaw parent company alerted competition watchdog to bread price-fixing

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017

A women carts out her groceries from a Loblaws in Toronto on May 1, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Bakery owner George Weston Ltd. says it and grocer Loblaw Companies Ltd. alerted the Competition Bureau immediately after discovering a more than decade-long bread price-fixing arrangement in March 2015.

The companies say in a joint statement that they became aware of an arrangement involving the co-ordination of retail and wholesale prices of some packaged breads from late 2001 to March 2015.

They say the participants regularly increased prices on a co-ordinated basis, and participants included both companies, as well as other major grocery retailers and another bread wholesaler.

The statement says the employees responsible for Weston Bakeries and Loblaw’s role in the arrangement are no longer employed by the companies and that they have beefed up compliance programs.

Loblaw is offering eligible customers who register online at LoblawCard.ca before May a $25 gift card that can be used at its grocery stores across Canada.

The added disclosure came after sealed court filings into the matter were made available to the companies and other affected parties for review.

Record holiday travellers could cause delays at Canadian airports

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017

Hundreds of passengers wait in a lineup at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on April 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canadian holiday travellers should brace for crowds and delays as a record number of passengers are expected to pass through the country’s largest airports and highways are filled with Christmas commuters.

With Air Canada and rival WestJet Airlines carrying 7.9 and 9.7 per cent more passengers for the first nine months of the year, the 2017 Christmas season should break travel records, said airline analyst Robert Kokonis of AirTrav Inc.

“This bodes well for the rest of the year and, I believe, into Christmas and Winter 2018 periods,” he wrote in an email.

Toronto Pearson International Airport expects that nearly 2.7 million passengers will travel through the country’s largest airport between Dec. 17 and Jan. 7, up from 1.9 million last year when there were fewer days of elevated traffic.

The busiest travel day leading into the holiday will be Thursday when more than 130,000 people are expected to use the airport.

On average, 50,000 to 60,000 passengers are expected to depart and arrive at Trudeau International Airport in Montreal and more than one million over the season.

Traffic this year is up about 10 per cent on the year as carriers have added new direct flights, particularly to international destinations.

“We will have a growth this year in passenger traffic for the holiday period and we will welcome our 18 millionth passenger,” said airport spokeswoman Anne-Sophie Hamel.

Forecast for heavy snow in the days leading up to Christmas could cause some delays but Montreal Trudeau is used to facing Quebec winters, she said.

“Our snow clearing teams are active to ensure that when there is more difficult weather, these impacts are limited for passengers.”

Vancouver and Calgary airports are forecasting the 2017 will be another record season.

“We anticipate our busiest days to be when school gets out and the week after Christmas,” said airport spokeswoman Andrea Pham.

Canadian Airports Council president Daniel-Robert Gooch said he expects a strong end to a booming year since airport traffic is outpacing economic growth.

“It’s a very good news story for the air transport business and local economies and tourism,” he said in an interview.

Air Canada and WestJet Airlines said they are both expecting higher passenger volumes during the peak travel period but refused to provide forecasts. WestJet said it expects to beat the record 74,000 passengers it carried one day before Christmas last year.

The airlines offered advice such as checking in online or through an app, paying for any baggage fees in advance, verifying flight status for any delays, arriving early at the airport and carrying the appropriate identification.

Roads will also be busy this holiday as extra vehicles and snow cause delays while longer wait times are expected to cross the U.S. border.

“The best advice is to simply realize that things are going to be moving more slowly and they’re going to be busier than they usually are and so leave extra time,” said CAA spokesman Ian Jack.

Travelling through the United States could also take more time since the American Automobile Association expects a record 107.3 million holiday road and air travellers.

The Canadian agency overseeing airport screening said it will add more workers to help meet heightened demand over the holiday, especially for peak travel days.

“When it’s really busy, passengers should be there ahead of time because the lineups can be longer,” said Mathieu Larocque, spokesman for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

He said travellers can shorten security inspections by ensuring they know what can be carried on board the plane, especially in carry-on luggage.

Passengers can ask questions of CATSA on Twitter or Facebook and send pictures of items to avoid surprises at the airport.

Gifts should remain unwrapped for easier inspection if required. Some airports offer post-security wrapping services.

Province launches sweeping review of Ontario Energy Board

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2017

Glenn Thibeault arrives to speak with the media in Toronto on Sept. 12, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Ontario is launching a sweeping review of the province’s energy regulator as it hopes to adapt to a rapidly changing market.

The Liberal government has tapped Richard Dicerni, a former head of Ontario Power Generation, to lead a year-long review of the Ontario Energy Board.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says it will look at how the O-E-B should keep up with new technology and new consumer demands.

He says in the near future more people will be putting solar panels on their roof, storing excess power and perhaps using it to power their electric vehicle.

Thibeault says the last time the O-E-B looked at updating its regulations 10 years ago, when a lot of the new energy innovations didn’t exist.

The O-E-B sets rules for energy companies and establishes rates that consumers pay.

The government says that in the last eight years the O-E-B has reduced companies’ requested rate increases by an average of 40 per cent.

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