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King Street pilot project raises congestion concerns

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 13th, 2017

Ready or not, it’s already begun – the ambitious year-long pilot project prioritizing streetcars on King Street went into effect on Sunday.

All traffic on King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst Streets is now only allowed to travel a single block before being forced to turn right – no left turns and no through traffic is allowed. City-licensed taxis are exempt, but only between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. As for cyclists, there’s space for them in the curb lane, but there are no plans for a dedicated bike lane along King Street.

The TTC says more than 65,000 people use the King streetcar during the week, but the rocket slows down to a crawl due to traffic congestion. Some might even say it’s faster to get off and walk. The pilot project aims to keep that stretch of road virtually car-free, allowing streetcars to move unhindered.

To ensure that people are aware of the new rules, Toronto police were out educating drivers on Sunday and making them aware of the changes.

CityNews spoke to both drivers and streetcar riders on King Street and opinions are clearly divided.

One driver says the new rules are an inconvenience to drivers who frequent the area.

“It will probably make it a little more difficult for people like us that drive on this street all the time, so that’s not the most convenient thing,” she says.

On the other hand, those who use the streetcars are a little more enthused about the changes and what they could mean for their weekly commute.

Streetcar rider Chris Drew says he’s excited the city is taking steps to address the frustrating gridlock on the street.

“We have to try something right? The current situation is failing so let’s try something and see how this works, and it’s all about moving a lot of people,” he says.

However while it may get streetcars moving, the ripple effect of diverting traffic away from King Street cannot be ignored. All those vehicles have to go somewhere, raising concerns that neighbouring streets will see increased traffic, causing backups and delays.

Small business owner Elena Lepori doesn’t see the logic behind the new rules and says they’ll cause serious problems for those who live and work on King Street.

“It would make me do a lot of detours. I don’t think that’s very practical. De-congesting a street by congesting another one…I don’t understand,” she says.

However, Const. Clint Stibbe tells CityNews Toronto police will be keeping a close eye on the situation in the area and analyzing the changes in traffic patterns.

“We will be monitoring the changes in the environment in the sense that individuals that are now backing up side streets … or whatever the case may be. The officers are going to make adjustments depending on what they’re seeing, and they’re going to advise us on anything they’ve identified that may be an ongoing problem,” he says.

Police expect that it will take some time for drivers to get used to the changes and are allowing for a week-long grace period before cracking down on violators.

During the first week of implementation, drivers will not be penalized, but instead they’ll be given warnings and provided with pamphlets explaining the new rules.

Thereafter, rule breakers could face a $110 fine and two demerit points, based on the officer’s discretion.

We honour and remember: Remembrance Day ceremonies encapsulate the weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

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“To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”

For the Fallen (Laurence Binyon, September 1914)

We always seem to be busy these days, and in the midst of all our running around, we often forget to look to beyond ourselves. This Saturday, which is Remembrance Day, Canadians will be taking the time to stop what they are doing and observe two minutes of silence.

Canadians will pause to remember and pay their respects to soldiers and military personnel who fought and died in past wars, and those who are serving in missions around the world.

Remembrance Day in the GTA

Several ceremonies will be held across the the city and the GTA on Friday and Saturday, including at the Old City Hall Cenotaph and Queen’s Park. Both ceremonies start at 10:45 a.m. Earlier in the morning, a sunrise service will be held at Prospect Cemetery at 8 a.m.

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War veterans at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre will be honoured with the annual planting of Canadian flags for Operation Raise a Flag. Around 30,000 flags will be planted on the centre’s lawns the day before. You can still purchase a flag for $25, and proceeds will go to veteran care and the centre’s Grant a Wish program.

The Royal Regiment of Canada will also be holding a service at St. James Church at 10:30 a.m. There will be a wreath-laying and march after the service. A gathering will also be held at Fort York Armoury for families of Dieppe veterans and other guests.

On Friday, the City of Mississauga will hold a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Mississauga Civic Centre Community Memorial from 10:45 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. The service includes two minutes of silence, a poetry reading and the laying of wreaths. Army cadets from the 105-7th Toronto Regiment will also be holding an overnight vigil at the Streetsville Cenotaph.

Click here for a list of services in Toronto, and here for memorials in the GTA.

On Saturday, TTC vehicles will pause for two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. across its entire network. Veterans, along with current members of the Canadian Armed Forces, will be able to travel for free with a companion on TTC vehicles. Veterans and current members of the military can also travel for free with a companion on GO Transit.

What’s open and closed

  • LCBO stores will be open at noon on Saturday, click here to locate the hours for your store
  • Beer Store locations will also open at noon on Saturday, with the exception of these stores that will open at 12:30 p.m.
  • Since Remembrance Day falls on a Saturday, federal and provincial government offices, along with banks, will be closed on Monday
  • No mail delivery on Monday

Other events

Baby show
It’s all about tiny humans this weekend as the Metro Toronto Convention Centre plays host to the BabyTime Show. If you and your partner are expecting, or have a new infant at home, you won’t want to miss what’s been dubbed Toronto’s best baby event. From prenatal to preschool, the show – put on by Babies”R”Us – has dozens of exhibitors under one roof. You can check out all the major baby brands and innovative products, and even get advice from some top parenting experts. New this year: the healthy moms marketplace – a dedicated area to health and wellness products geared towards moms and their little ones. The BabyTime Show takes place from Friday to Sunday.baby16x9-1024x576

Beatles tribute concert for charity
“She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.” Beatlemania hits Koerner Hall in Toronto this weekend, and it’s all for charity. Organizers are inviting people to come out and groove to their favourite Beatles songs, as part of a tribute concert in support of Canada Cares and the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. The hope is to raise awareness and support for caregivers. It’ll definitely be an evening to remember, complete with surprise guests and a chance to win great prizes. Attendees are also being encouraged to dress up as their favourite Beatle. The Jukebox Beatles tribute band takes the stage at 8 p.m.

Gem expo
Are you crazy for gems, minerals, beads, amber and pearls? Well, the Gem Expo – Canada’s premier bead and jewellery show – is for you. Local jewellery designers and artisans will be on hand, and many of the vendors also work with healing crystals that are said to help improve overall well-being. Attendees can also take part in one of several classes being offered. A silent auction is also taking place to help support a local Toronto charity. The Gem Expo runs Friday to Sunday at the Hyatt Regency Toronto on King Street West.

TTC and road closures

Partial Line 1 shutdown
As you make your way down to Remembrance Day events, keep in mind subways won’t be running on Line 1 (Yonge) between St. Clair and Lawrence stations. The closure is due to track work. Shuttle buses will running and Wheel-Trans service will be provided.

Road closures
Several roads will be closed for Remembrance Day ceremonies and prep work for the launch of the King Street Transit Pilot on Sunday. Click here for a full list.

What effect does commuting stress have on your health and well-being?

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

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We all know commuting can be stressful.

Whether you’re stuck in a monster traffic jam, or crammed onto a packed subway, the daily grind can result in rattled nerves and lead to some serious physical and mental health issues.

We spoke to some health experts about how commuting can impact your well-being.

Signs of a stressed out commuter: (Source: Dr. Christina Wickens, CAMH)

  • Physical symptoms like cardiovascular stress
  • Mental health issues, like depression
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Lower life satisfaction

 

Societal Impacts of stressed out workers

  • Lower productivity, not able to stay focused or complete tasks on time
  • Behaving more hostile to coworkers
  • Negative impact on homelife

 

Ways to beat the bumper-to-bumper blues

  • Give yourself extra time to get to where you’re going. “Anytime you’re running late it makes even a minor annoyance that much more frustrating,” Dr. Christine Wickens explains.

 

Move closer

“If you moved out of the city because you got a bigger piece of land or you got a cheaper house, you have to factor in the physical toll (the commute) takes on you. Amortize that over fifteen or twenty years,” Dr. Oren Amitay suggests.

Find a flexible employer

“See if you can change your schedule to see if you can travel at a less intense time,” Dr. Amitay says.

Distract yourself.

“Take a breath. Do some relaxation exercises. Listen to music that relaxes you,” Dr. Wickens says.

Hamilton man found dead in SUV was murdered: police

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

Police are looking for a black 2005 Ford Escape SUV, similar to the one pictured above, in connection with a murder near Hamilton on Nov. 8, 2017. HANDOUT/Niagara Regional Police Service

Niagara regional police say a 45-year-old man whose body was found in an SUV in a rural area outside Hamilton was the victim of a homicide.

Police say the body of Johnathan Bailey, of Hamilton was found at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Township of West Lincoln.

An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday at Hamilton General Hospital.

Investigators say they are searching for a black 2005 Ford Escape, which is believed to be associated with the homicide case.

They say the vehicle has aluminum rims, a roof rack and a stick family decal on the rear bumper with a father, mother and son.

The vehicle is believed to be from Ontario or Quebec, and police add there is no front licence plate.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Celebration of life for former Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay to be held Tuesday

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

CREDIT: MLB/TWITTER

A celebration of life for former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay will be held next week in Florida at the spring-training home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Halladay was killed Tuesday when the tiny sport plane he was flying crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. The service, which will be open to the public, will be held Tuesday afternoon at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, the Halladay family said in a statement released by the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.

“Our family is heartbroken in confirming that Roy passed away in a plane crash Tuesday afternoon,” the statement said. “While many will remember him for his success as a major league pitcher, we remember him as an amazing father, loving husband and loyal friend. Roy had many accomplishments in his professional career, the memories of which we will cherish forever. He described each achievement as a team effort rather than an individual accomplishment, a true testament to his character and love for his teammates.”

Halladay, who was 40, was a devoted husband to wife Brandy and a loving father to sons Ryan and Braden.

Halladay made his big-league debut with the Blue Jays in 1998 and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2003. He hit the 20-win plateau on three occasions and won the 2010 NL Cy Young Award with the Phillies.

He spent four seasons in Philadelphia before retiring in late 2013.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of Halladay’s Icon A5. A preliminary report is expected in the next week and the full investigation could take up to two years.

“Roy grew up with a passion for planes and always had the goal of becoming a pilot,” said the family statement, released late Thursday afternoon. “Since retiring from baseball, he has been actively studying, accumulating the required flight hours and obtaining multiple pilot certifications and licenses. Just as he was known for his work ethic in baseball, he was also widely respected by those who knew him in the aviation community for his hard work, attention to detail and dedication to safety while flying.

“He treated his passion for aviation with the same joy and enthusiasm as he did his love for baseball.”

Halladay had been the proud owner for less than a month of his Icon A5, and was among the first to fly the model. In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt “like flying a fighter jet.”

“While we mourn the loss of the core of our family, we choose to celebrate him and remember the man we knew privately on and off the field,” the family statement said. “We hope that he serves as an example of professionalism, integrity and hard work for all who knew him. For us, we will forever remember his unconditional love, humility and the sacrifices he made to provide for the family that meant the world to him.

“On behalf of our family we thank you for respecting our privacy during this time of overwhelming grief. We also ask that you respect the privacy of our extended family as well as the families and children who Roy has coached, taught or worked with. We are so fortunate and thankful for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from across the world.”

Halladay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year. He had a career mark of 203-105 and a 3.38 earned-run average

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Small knives to be allowed on planes, but baby powder banned: Transport Canada

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

People carry luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Dec. 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Under new regulation changes effective later this month, airline passengers will be able to carry some small knives on most flights, but baby powder will be banned.

Transport Canada says knife blades up to six centimetres — about the size of a large paper clip — will be allowed on domestic and most international flights.

Blades of any length will continue to be banned on U.S. flights while razor blades and box cutters of any size will remain prohibited on all flights.

Another change will prohibit certain powders and granular material with a volume of 350 millilitres — the size of a soda can — or more.

Prohibited materials include items such as bath salts, sea salt, baby powder, foot powder, cooking powder and sand. Baby formula, protein powder, tea and coffee will still be permitted in any quantity.

Transport Canada says the adjustments — which are effective Nov. 27 — reflect changes in the security environment and are needed to harmonize with international standards.

“These changes to screening procedures will bring Canada in line with international standards and our partner countries, while continuing to keep passengers safe,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a release.

Needles, dirty streets and crowds: Yonge BIA dealing with fallout of supervised safe injection site

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

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As two additional supervised injection sites get set to open in Toronto before the New Year, concerns are surfacing surrounding the impact Toronto’s existing site is having on public health and safety.

Yesterday, CityNews reported on the discovery of syringes, pointed out by students steps away from the front doors of St. Michael’s Choir School in the downtown core – less than 300 metres away from the supervised injection site at Dundas and Victoria Streets.

On Thursday, the principal of that school told CityNews that he has called Toronto Public Health on five separate occasions since September for syringes found on or near school property.

“Their response has not been amazing. They have come, but not right away,” principal Linton Soares said. “Their response has been anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half.”

Soares adds that more supports need to be put in place to assist the community with what has been an ongoing issue.

“This community should not have to bear that on our own”

Resources are a growing concern to keep the neighbourhoods surrounding these sites safe.

The Downtown Yonge BIA has had to take it upon themselves to clean up many of the syringes, paying to remove them from the streets. The BIA’s CEO, Mark Garner, says since the supervised injection site opened kitty-corner to YongeDundas Square they’ve noticed an increase in the needles.

“This is the busiest intersection in Canada, this is Canada’s main street, and it’s the number one tourist destination in Toronto,” Garner told CityNews.

“If this is the face that we put forward to the world we need to have the resources to be able to deal with these very complex issues and the increase in needles we’re finding in the area,” he added.

Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose riding includes the Toronto Public Health office injection site, recently took Mayor John Tory for a tour around the site and she echoes community concern that while the sites (which she supports) are receiving financial backing, the surrounding neighbourhood is not receiving adequate support to deal with a long list of issues from used syringes to drug dealers operating out in the open.

“I said specifically to the Mayor and to the chair of the board of health that what we needed was a coordinated approach to service delivery. You can’t just invest in safe injection services. That is important, but we need to make sure there’s wrap-around services.”

Getting a handle on the “unintended consequences” at the site near Yonge and Dundas and adding appropriate resources is paramount, according to Garner, before Toronto opens its next two sites.

In September, CityNews spoke with area businesses near the supervised injection site set to open this December near Queen West and Bathurst. Area business were asking for security to be added at the centre to help deter drug dealers and street level drug use. At the time, Councillor Joe Cressy declined to commit to added security telling CityNews “police are increasing and planning to increase their response and protocol to ensure 24-hour plans are in place for security of facilities.”

It’s a statement and promise, Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack calls ridiculous. “Mr. Cressy doesn’t have a realistic understanding of policing in this city. Our members are going from call to call right now, so for Mr. Cressy to put forward a position that we’re going to have these resources available for the safe injection sites is just untrue.”

A written statement from the Mayor’s office to CityNews this afternoon states “Mayor Tory is aware of the issue – it is part of a much larger problem that the City is working to address. The Mayor is dedicated to ensuring community safety and doing everything possible to prevent overdose deaths. He visited the area recently with Councillor Wong-Tam to speak to local residents and hear their concerns first hand. Toronto Police, Toronto Public Health, City of Toronto staff, the local councillor and the Mayor are all committed to working together to address this problem.”

Though it’s still unclear if that means more funding for resources will be set aside in the upcoming 2018 budget. Something Councillor Wong Tam and several other stakeholders in the heart of Canada’s largest city believe they deserve.

Kevin Spacey to be cut out of upcoming Getty film

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 9th, 2017

Actor Kevin Spacey arrives for the European Premiere of "Now" at a cinema in central London on June 9, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

In a wholly unprecedented move, Kevin Spacey is being cut from Ridley Scott’s finished film “All the Money in the World” and replaced by Christopher Plummer just over one month before it’s supposed to hit theatres.

People close to the production who were not authorized to speak publicly said Wednesday that Plummer is commencing reshoots immediately in the role of J. Paul Getty. All of Spacey’s scenes will be reshot, the people told The Associated Press. Co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams are expected to participate.

Scott, who is known to be an efficient director, is intending to keep the film’s Dec. 22 release date.

Representatives for Scott did not immediately return email messages seeking comment.

The film was originally set to have its world premiere at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 but was pulled earlier this week amid the sexual harassment reports surrounding Spacey, who has also been fired from “House of Cards” and dropped by his talent agency and publicist.

“All the Money in the World” was primed for a plush awards season release from distributor Sony Pictures Entertainment and its advertising campaign, which prominently features Spacey, has been public for about a month already. But its plans have been in question since Spacey’s reputation has diminished over the past week with harassment allegations growing daily.

The film chronicles the events surrounding the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and his mother’s attempt to convince J. Paul Getty, his billionaire grandfather, to pay the ransom.

The 87-year-old Plummer was reportedly Scott’s first choice for the role of J. Paul Getty, but the director was pressured into casting a bigger name. Plummer is probably best known for “The Sound of Music.” He won his first Oscar in 2012 for the film “Beginners.”

One of the people close to the production said that Scott’s plan caught Sony by surprise, but the studio is supporting the switch.

The trade publication Deadline first reported the news.

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