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Main Ontario party leaders to do most of their campaigning Wednesday in the GTA

News Staff | posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

The main party leaders are doing most of their stumping for the June 7 election in the Greater Toronto Area today.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is campaigning in Toronto, starting with a stop at a childcare centre before visiting a restaurant.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford will be making a morning announcement in Oakville before heading to Mississauga where he’s to tour Fielding Environmental and attend an evening rally.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is scheduled to make an announcement at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Mississauga before heading to Kanata, Ont., where she’s to speak at an Iftar dinner.

Hydro One was front and centre for the leaders on Tuesday.

Wynne called raises for the utility’s board of directors unacceptable, while her rivals slammed the pay hikes as the consequence of her government’s privatization of the utility.

Mirvish opens doors to Princess of Wales Theatre for royal wedding viewing party

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

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Royal watchers hoping to add a dash of glamour to the nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Saturday are being invited to David Mirvish’s free viewing party.

The Toronto arts impresario will gather as many as 2,000 people inside the Princess of Wales Theatre to experience the wedding projected live on a big screen.

The show will also include a royals costume contest where the winner receives a trip for two to London.

Free breakfast and trivia prizes will also be handed out during the broadcast.

Mirvish says the experience offers a unique opportunity to see the event inside a venue named after Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Tickets for the general public will be available Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET through http://www.mirvish.com.

Viewing parties for the royal wedding are being held across Canada at theatres, cathedrals, libraries, hotels and banquet halls.

Pop-up garbage dumps frustrating Scarborough resident

Pam Seatle | posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

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It’s not the kind of semi-permanent “installation” you want to see pop up in your neighbourhood: heaps of garbage left there by winter and windstorms.

A Scarborough woman, who doesn’t want to be identified, says the detritus that collects in areas near Kennedy Road and St. Clair Avenue East is not just a seasonal problem. She has been complaining about it for the last 15 years

“I just want it cleaned up,” the woman told CityNews.” I live here, but even if this was just an industrial area, why do we have this? Why do thousands of commuters have to look out the window of a GO train and see this?”

The resident admits while some of the garbage has drifted or blown in, tires, bags of garbage and other debris are often intentionally discarded.

And it’s not just near the tracks; it’s also along the sidewalks — despite prominent “no dumping” signs.

The woman said the frustrating thing is no one is taking responsibility. She said she gets bounced back and forth between the City of Toronto, the TTC, Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and Metrolinx.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said it is sometimes difficult to determine who owns which property and, therefore, who is responsible for cleaning it up.

But Aikins said Metrolinx is responsible for the section of the rail corridor in question inside the fence. She said this is the time of year when they get resident complaints because this is when garbage becomes visible after the winter.

“We have 500 kilometres of rail that have lots of areas that are a concern this time of year,” she said. “So we coordinate a spring cleanup and we try to coordinate with our partners like CN and CP and municipalities and whoever owns that property.

“Just in the middle as we’re starting our cleanup this year, we had a huge, huge windstorm. Which distributed garbage and trees and roofing all over the rail corridors right across the region, so it really increased the amount of cleanup we had to do this spring.”

The city said crews do their best to keep on top of litter and do an annual comprehensive city wide cleanup in the spring. But it admits illegal dumping is a big challenge because cleanup is costly and enforcement is difficult because the person has to be caught in the act.

The office for Coun. Michelle Holland said it’s aware of the garbage issues in the ward and has made repeated phone calls to the various agencies to ensure they follow up.

Man seriously burned testing camping equipment in North York apartment

News Staff | posted Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

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A man is in hospital with serious burns after accidentally starting a fire in an 18th floor apartment building in North York.

Emergency crews were called to the scene on Kempford Boulevard, near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, just after midnight on Tuesday.

Paramedics said the man’s burns, which are reportedly on his hands and arms, are serious but not life-threatening.

Police said the man was testing his camping equipment in preparation for a camping trip.

Toronto Water says $2,500 bill caused by leaking toilet, Scarborough man disagrees

Meredith Bond and Adrian Ghobrial | posted Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

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Without knowing it, a Scarborough man may have been flushing thousands of dollars down the toilet.

When Vipin Sehgal received his water bill at the end of February, he was shocked to see he owed the City of Toronto over $2,500.

His bill showed that starting in mid-January, his water usage started climbing before finally peaking on February 26 and then dropping down to a somewhat reasonable consumption level.

The total usage for that massive bill was 1572 cubic metres or almost 1.5 million litres of water over five months — enough to fill five average-sized swimming pools.

Seghal says his bill is usually around $300 dollars and averages around 100 cubic metres.

Immediately, Seghal realized something was wrong as he could not recall any changes to his family’s water consumption over that time period.

He contacted Toronto Water, who sent a plumber out to investigate and discovered a small leak in the toilet. The city concluded the leaky toilet was to blame for the spike in water consumption.

However, the plumber didn’t come to his home until March 23, almost a month after Seghal’s water consumption had returned to near normal levels.

Seghal says he has paid $350 of the $2,500 bill as a show of good faith while he waits for them to investigate what really caused the spike, but the city has slapped on a penalty for late payment.

The fact that they are charging him interest now on his non-payment is “just adding insult to injury,” he said, adding that it’s, “another slap in the face from city workers.”

Seghal says it’s clear to him there are inaccuracies in the system, whether it’s a human issue or a mechanical one.

City of Toronto’s Manager of Utility Billing Anthony Fabrizi says an investigation was launched after Seghal complained about the high bill and Toronto Water will soon be testing the meter to determine if anything went wrong, but he said a faulty toilet could explain the spike.

Fabrizi says the city believes that Seghal tried fixing his toilet, but couldn’t fully stop the leak, which is why the plumber still found evidence of a much smaller leak, a month later.

Seghal strongly contends he did not touch the toilet and was not aware of any leak until the city’s plumber discovered it.

Manager of Customer Care Services at Toronto Water Carlo Casale says the water gauges very rarely get it wrong.

Casale says when you look at the math from the bill, the spike can easily be attribute to a leaky toilet.

“If you think of a toilet, most tanks are about six litres in volume, so after you flush, say it takes 30 seconds to fill, that’s 12 litres a minute, over a day that’s $66 a day. In a month, that’s about $2,000 a month. It’s very easy for it to add up.”

When told that Seghal had yet to fix the small leak in his toilet and his water consumption levels had returned to normal, Casale says, “We can only charge by what goes through the meter. It’s very mechanical. Whatever goes through there, that’s what we’re going to charge.”

Casale did offer some tips if you want to avoid this happening in your home.

“One way to determine if a toilet is leaking is to listen. You can usually hear it leaking,” Casale said. “If not, you can usually do a little dye test, where you add in a little bit of food colouring, or even a tea bag, and wait about 10-15 minutes and see if the coloured water goes into the bowl. That’s one way to indicate if there’s a running toilet that’s uncontrolled.”

There is also a website called “My Water Toronto” where you can check your daily, weekly, and monthly water usage.

Fabrizi says there is a provision in their bylaws called the unexplained consumption increase. But, at this time, since the city has determined what they believe caused the leak, the Seghal’s can’t receive an adjustment under this provision.

The city receives around 1,000 complaints a year from people with high bills and in around 70 per cent of the cases, they give the homeowner at least a partial break on the bill.

If the city does find there was a problem with Seghal’s metre, Fabrizi says all the extra fees will be reversed.

Ultimately, there is no guarantee that the Seghals won’t have to pay their $2,500 bill.

Winter losses of bee colonies in Ontario could be worst on record

Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

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Canadian beekeepers are expressing concern about the effects of poor weather on their colonies, with the president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association describing the level of dead or ailing ones as “astounding.”

“It’s quite discouraging and demoralizing for beekeepers,” Jim Coneybeare, 55, said in a phone interview Monday.

An association survey of almost 900 Ontario beekeepers indicated that 70 per cent suffered unsustainable losses this past winter.

“I’ve been getting calls from beekeepers around the province,” said Coneybeare, who lives in Fergus, Ont.

“The number of dead or weak colonies is astounding. These could be the worst winter losses on record.”

That’s bad news not only for beekeepers, but for vegetable and fruit growers who depend on bees for pollination.

More than 40 per cent said the recent long, cold winter that extended into spring was the main reason for the heavy losses.

“Pollen from the trees usually comes at the end of March, beginning of April, (but) nobody saw that until the end of April, beginning of May, so a lot of our pollen was delayed,” Coneybeare said.

The third-generation beekeeper explained that an abundance of pollen and nectar leads queen bees to raise a lot of young bees, but that production of the brood is cut back if there is not enough.

Coneybeare, who said Ontario has more than 3,000 beekeepers, noted that plants want sunshine and temperatures of around 25 C and that they don’t yield pollen and nectar if it’s 18 C and cloudy.

“And then there’s still certain areas where we see certain problems with pesticides,” he added.

“Some areas are seeing stress from pesticides so then the hives just don’t have as many young bees that survive into the spring.”

The association has asked the Ontario government for financial assistance to allow beekeepers to recover and rebuild their colonies.

Coneybeare doubts the problem will affect the price of honey in stores, but fruits and vegetable prices could feel the impact.

“The apples you eat, the peaches you eat…various fruits and vegetables produced in Canada could be affected by the availability of honey bees to pollinate those crops,” he said.

Beekeepers in Alberta and Quebec have also experienced noticeable losses because of weather conditions.

Connie Phillips, executive-director of the Alberta Beekeepers Commission, points to a longer than normal winter in her province.

“March and April were the coldest they’ve been in about 75 years,” she said in an interview.

“There were losses related, in some cases, to starvation because the bees ran out of food in their hives because the winter was so long.”

Phillips said she’s heard of anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent in losses and that “a few beekeepers lost everything.”

But, she added, the Alberta winter loss survey hasn’t been completed yet.

The Alberta commission represents more than 90 per cent of the province’s 300,000 colonies, which is the largest number in Canada.

Alberta has about 900 beekeepers, according to one recent statistic.

It’s a similar situation in Quebec where beekeepers have reportedly lost between 40 per cent and 80 per cent of their colonies.

Quebec has more than 300 beekeepers with about 50,000 colonies.

TTC streetcar track repairs close Cabbagetown intersection until June

News Staff | posted Monday, May 14th, 2018

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Construction season has officially started in Toronto.

The intersection of Parliament and Gerrard streets has been closed in all directions for TTC streetcar track repairs.

The area isn’t expected to re-open until June 4.

During the closure, TTC streetcars and buses that normally travel through the area will be diverted.

The city says drivers can use alternate routes, including Jarvis Street, River Street, Bloor Street East and Dundas Street East.

Pedestrians will also be detoured around the work area and cyclists are being asked to dismount and walk around the intersection.

Work will take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Vaughan looking to fast track Airbnb rules in wake of weekend shooting

News Staff | posted Monday, May 14th, 2018

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The City of Vaughan may be looking to fast track new rules surrounding short term rentals in the wake of this weekends fatal shooting at an Airbnb rental.

One man was shot to death and a second was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound after neighbours tell CityNews a fight broke out followed by loud bangs around 3:30 a.m. Saturday at a house on Timber Creek Boulevard, near Major MacKenzie Drive and Highway 27.

Police have yet to identify the victim, except to say he is in his 20s.

One man was taken into custody for fleeing the scene. York Regional Police aren’t calling him a suspect, saying only his involvement is under investigation.

Neighbours say the house has been on the market for quite some time and has been used as an Airbnb. In the past there have been noise complaints and calls made to police.

Area councillor Marilyn Iafrate says residents shouldn’t have to live in fear in their neighbourhood due to these short term rentals.

“I’m just looking forward to getting a grip on this because it’s getting rampant and right now it’s a free for all, and it’s not fair,” she tells CityNews.

“We need to have zones established, at the very least where you can or can’t. We also have to be fair. If people are looking to rent a home for business in the city for a month or two, we don’t want to prohibit that but having major parties is not acceptable.”

Iafrate adds they are looking at taking a page out of Toronto’s recent decision to regulate short term rentals.

“Based on complaints, we are trying to fast track this. …Airbnb’s, or short term rentals, were never meant to be in neighbourhoods.”

In a statement provided to CityNews, the City of Vaughan says it is currently undertaking a comprehensive review about regulating short-term rentals.

“Safety always remains a leading priority for the City of Vaughan. Processes and best practices are being examined to ensure that under any new potential rules brought forward, short-term rentals will be inspected, licensed and safe for the public.”

Airbnb says it has removed the home’s listing from its service and tells CityNews it has launched their own investigation, part of which will look at who was staying in the the home at the time of the shooting.

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