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Forget April showers: GTA digging out from snow storm

CityNews | posted Monday, Apr 4th, 2016

A snow plow clearing a Toronto street on April 4, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

No, you’re not dreaming. Yes, it’s April, and a spring snow storm has blanketed the GTA.

The winter storm swept through the GTA and much of southern Ontario starting Sunday and into early Monday morning, causing dangerous driving conditions.

Plows clearing away snow on a Toronto street on April 4, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Plows clearing away snow on a Toronto street on April 4, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

A special weather statement was in effect for the GTA but ended around 7 a.m. Monday. As of 4 a.m., Pearson International Airport received 13 centimetres of snow, 680 NEWS meteorologist Harold Hosein said.

Hosein said the snow will end later Monday morning with some sunshine for the afternoon, and a high of -2 C. The City of Toronto has issued an extreme cold weather alert for Monday, triggering extra services for the homeless.

The storm led to some school bus cancellations outside of the Toronto area. Click here for a full list.

The storm caught many commuters off-guard. Ontario provincial police said they’ve received about 500 calls for collisions, including a pileup on Highway 400 north of Toronto involving as many as 40 vehicles.

The crash sent at least nine people to hospital with minor injuries, and blocked the lanes for hours.


In Toronto, police reported more than 100 crashes in the past 12 hours.

In one case, five people were taken to hospital for minor injuries a TTC bus crash on Highway 427 between Dundas and Bloor early Monday morning.

Plows have been out clearing the roadways, but drivers can expect slippery conditions on snow-packed streets.

Hector Moreno, manager of road operations for the city’s Transportation Services department, told CityNews salters have been out since 5 p.m. Sunday but fewer of them were out clearing the roads.

During the winter months, the city has 200 salters in its snow-clearing arsenal, but that number was scaled down to around 115-120 as of April 1.

Snow clearing crews on a Toronto street on April 4, 2016.  CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

 Snow clearing crews on a Toronto street on April 4, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Snow clearing crews on a Toronto street on April 4, 2016.  CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Snow clearing crews on a Toronto street on April 4, 2016. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy.

Subway closure this weekend, but fun events greet April’s arrival



Participants take part in a mass pillow fight in Toronto to mark International Pillow Fight Day on April 4, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young.

April arrives on Friday, finally, and just in time for the weekend.

Although the remnants of winter will linger around on Saturday and Sunday with cooler temperatures and flurries in the forecast, there are plenty of events taking place around the city to keep your spirits up.

As you make your plans, keep in mind that a portion of Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) is closed on Saturday. The intersection of King and Charlotte streets is also closed.

Have a great weekend!


Food Truck’N Friday
With summer just around the corner, the food truck season is also picking up steam. Food trucks will be gathering at Resurrection Road and Bloor Street West in Etobicoke on Friday to tempt your taste buds. Some of the vendors include I Love Lasagna, Jerk Brothers, Shopsy’s Food Truck and Delight Bite. Admission is free.

The Jerk Brothers food truck. Photo via Twitter/ @Jerk_Brothers.

The Jerk Brothers food truck. Photo via Twitter/ @Jerk_Brothers.

Harlem Globetrotters in Toronto 
One of North America’s most beloved basketball teams is back in the GTA this weekend.

The Harlem Globetrotters 2016 World Tour makes two appearances Saturday at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre and one at Ricoh Coliseum on Sunday. Tickets start at $25 and are available here.

The Harlem Globetrotters at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont., in 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Spowart.

The Harlem Globetrotters at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ont., in 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Spowart.

Pillow Fight Toronto
A major fight is set for Saturday at Nathan Phillips Square, and those who want to participate are asked to bring their pillows.

Yes, it’s a massive pillow fight, to mark (yes, honestly) International Pillow Fight Day. There are a few ground rules: participants can only use soft, non-feather pillows, you’re not supposed to swing at anyone not carrying a pillow and you’re asked to remove your glasses (for obvious reasons). It starts at 3 p.m.

Old Book and Paper Show
If you love the smell and sounds of old books, then this antiquariabook show is the place to be on Sunday. The show, which takes place at Artscape Wychwood Barns, features rare books, posters, historical papers, postcards, theatre programs, and comics. General admission is $10, but children 12 and under can get in for free.

Toronto's Old Book and Paper Show in 2013. Photo via antiqueshowscanada.com.

Toronto’s Old Book and Paper Show in 2013. Photo via antiqueshowscanada.com.

Dragon’s Den auditions in Toronto
Are you still trying to get that business idea off the ground? The Dragons may be able to help.

Auditions take place Saturday in Toronto for CBC’s “Dragon’s Den.” The auditions wrap up a 35-city tour looking for small businesses who are in need of an investment.

Spring Cottage Life Show
Despite the fact it’s going to be a frosty weekend, you’ll warm up once you step inside the Spring Cottage Life Show.

Expect over 550 exhibitors showing off the latest in boats, docks, water toys and building products at the International Centre in Mississauga. The show runs through Sunday and is free for children under 13.


Yoga Conference and Show

Feel the power of the ‘Om’ this weekend as yoga enthusiasts converge at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The three-day yoga event features classes and workshops for novice and advanced yoga practitioners, as well as exhibits and expert advice from master teachers. Floor admission is $15.

People taking part in a yoga class. GETTY IMAGES/Dougal Waters.

 People taking part in a yoga class. GETTY IMAGES/Dougal Waters.

TTC and road closures

King and Charlotte closure
The intersection of King and Charlotte streets, east of Spadina Avenue, is closed until 5 a.m. on April 11 for TTC track replacement work and sidewalk repairs.

The intersection of King Street and Charlotte Street is closed to traffic from March 29 to April 11, 2016, for TTC track replacement work and sidewalk repairs. CITYNEWS/Bert Dandy.

The intersection of King Street and Charlotte Street is closed to traffic from March 29 to April 11, 2016, for TTC track replacement work and sidewalk repairs. CITYNEWS/Bert Dandy.

Eastbound traffic on King approaching Charlotte will detour to Spadina, while westbound traffic on King will divert to either University Avenue, John or Peter streets.

Pedestrian walkways and access to area businesses will be maintained.

During the closure, the 504 King streetcar will be on diversion with shuttle buses running on King Street between Church Street and Strachan AvenueClick here for more information.

Line 2 closure
Subways won’t be running on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) from Kennedy to Victoria Park stations on Saturday due to track work.

Shuttle buses will run between the stations.

A TTC report proposing numbered subway lines was presented at a board meeting on Oct. 23, 2013. TTC

City council passes billion dollar hybrid option for Gardiner Expressway

CityNews | posted Friday, Apr 1st, 2016


City Council has given the green light to several transportation projects on Thursday, including approving the billion dollar Gardiner Expressway hybrid option.

By a vote of 36-5, council decided to go with hybrid option #3. This design pushes the portion of the Gardiner that runs east of Jarvis Street further north compared to the other two options, opening up more waterfront land for development.

This is the most expensive of the three options, with a projected cost of $569-million to build but when you include long-term costs, the price tag could top $1.052-billion.

City council also rubber-stamped a multi-billion dollar transit vision that includes the Scarborough subway extension, a downtown relief line and LRTs along Eglinton and the waterfront.

There’s still no decision on how to pay for it all.

Pedestrian killed, second injured, in separate incidents

CityNews | posted Friday, Apr 1st, 2016


A 56-year-old woman is dead after a hit-and-run crash in the east end on Thursday night.

The victim was struck near Markham Road and Nashdene Road, just south of McNicholl Avenue, around 10 p.m.

The driver did stop before taking off, police say, so the driver likely knew they hit someone.

Police say the woman was crossing Markham when she was hit by a dark-coloured Mercedes. There was debris left behind at the scene, and the Mercedes will have damage to the front end, including the grill.

There’s no word yet on a licence plate, but police have security camera video from the area. The video will likely be released later on Thursday.

Meanwhile, a man is in hospital after he was pinned under the wheel of a TTC bus.

It happened near Oakwood Avenue and Vaughan Road, also around 10 p.m. on Thursday night.

Toronto police say the man in his 60s may have been running for the bus when he was somehow trapped underneath it. He is expected to recover.

A man is in hospital after he was struck near Oakwood and Vaughan on March 31, 2016. CITYNEWS.
A man is in hospital after he was struck near Oakwood and Vaughan on March 31, 2016. CITYNEWS.

Gender-specific summer camps have Richmond Hill parents fuming

Betty Wondimu | posted Friday, Apr 1st, 2016


Extreme sports for boys, dainty mani-pedis for girls… those are the concepts for two gender-specific summer camps offered in Richmond Hill.

Angry parents are urging the town’s community services department to revise the concepts behind ‘Boyz Rule Camps’ and ‘Girlz Rock Camp,’ ironically classified under the town’s ‘general’ camp options.

Boys get to indulge in roller-blading, biking, skateboarding and ultimate frisbee, while their female counterparts stay inside and learn how to cook, bake and get manicures and pedicures.

All in the spirit of “girl-friendly fun.”

Since CityNews brought the issue to light, the town has made minor alterations to the names of the programs making them more gender-neutral. The names will be changed to ‘Extreme Sports’ and ‘Kidz Rock.’

But the damage was done and reaction to what many considered gender-stereotypes flooded social media:

The pressure was enough to produce a statement from the town of Richmond Hill on Wednesday, and another announcing the name change on Thursday.

To be fair, the town also offers a variety of other mixed-gender camp options, most of which are streamed by special interest like science or music and dance. Richmond Hill’s communications director Meeta Gandhi said these two programs have been in place for years and are quite popular.

“We don’t run a program if it doesn’t have the registration. The program has been in place since 2008 and they’ve been well enjoyed by all participants,” Gandhi said.

The details for two summer camp options offered by the town of Richmond Hill. RICHMONDHILL.CA.

Mystery kidnapping near Yonge and Bloor

CityNews | posted Friday, Apr 1st, 2016


Toronto police are investigating what appears to be a kidnapping in downtown Toronto.

A security guard spotted a man banging on the door of a building on Balmuto Drive, near Yonge and Bloor streets, around 3:30 a.m. on Friday.

Before the man could enter, two masked men came up and threw the men into the back of the van.

The driver then headed east on Bloor.

At this point, it’s not clear whether this is an April Fool’s joke or not.

Owner of Swiss Chalet buying St-Hubert for $537 million

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Mar 31st, 2016


St-Hubert logo. Photo via Facebook/StHubert.

The Quebec-based St-Hubert restaurant business has agreed to be acquired by the owner of the Swiss Chalet chain for $537 million.

In addition to 117 restaurants, Cara Operations Ltd. will acquire two food manufacturing plants, two distribution centres and a real estate portfolio.

Cara says St-Hubert will fit strategically with its business, which includes numerous restaurant brands including Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s and Milestones.

Cara currently has 1,010 franchised and corporate restaurants, including 37 located internationally.

The Toronto-area company, based in Vaughan, says it has a limited retail presence in Quebec and will use St-Hubert’s head office in Laval as its Quebec base.

Cara also sees St-Hubert’s food manufacturing business – which makes two-thirds of its sales through external customers such as Sobeys, Loblaw, Costco and Metro – as a major growth opportunity.

“The acquisition of St-Hubert is an excellent strategic fit for both companies,” Cara chair and CEO Bill Gregson said in a joint statement.

“This transaction gives St-Hubert the opportunity to drive its restaurant growth through the addition of Cara brands in Quebec and to drive a national retail food program for Cara, based in Québec, utilizing the existing manufacturing facilities and supplier base.”

Jean-Pierre Leger, St-Hubert chairman and CEO, said the will provides its employees with career opportunities in Quebec “since it will enable us to carry out major expansions of our food manufacturing programs and sales throughout Canada.”

Raptors hold off Hawks for franchise-best 50th win

Eric Koreen, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 31st, 2016


Every time the Toronto Raptors have reached a new high during their improbable run over the last three seasons, DeMar DeRozan has been forced into reflection mode. He is the last major link with the Raptors’ previous run of futility, a five-year stretch outside of the playoffs. He was a Raptor for four of those years, and knew the pain of playing meaningless games in March and April all too well.

Another peak came on Wednesday night. Following their 105-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, the Raptors reached 50 wins for the first time in franchise history. While some might see the accomplishment as merely an arbitrary round number, DeRozan could not possibly agree.

“It means everything to me,” DeRozan said. “This is where I’ve been my whole career. I’ve been through the tough times. Now to be, what do you call it, the winningest Raptor of all time and now to break the franchise record three years in a row, it definitely means a lot to me.

“You can never take that away. When (reporters) bring up things that I’ve done here, reality really hits me, honestly, because you really don’t think about all of the things you’ve (done) or things you’ve accomplished.”

DeRozan was stellar against the Hawks, scoring a game-high 26 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. With the victory, the Raptors surpassed their previous high for wins in a season, set last season at 49.

It was DeRozan’s fellow all-star in the Raptors’ backcourt that was more in the spotlight, however. Despite a persistent elbow injury, Kyle Lowry played in Wednesday’s game. Lowry had his right elbow drained after Monday’s blowout loss against Oklahoma City, and had been enduring a shooting slump over the last few games. He played a game-high 40-minutes against Atlanta.

Lowry played most of the game with a protective sleeve on his elbow, before ditching it in the fourth quarter. He was moved to swearing when describing what it was like to play with the sleeve.

“Yeah, it’s really annoying,” Lowry said.

Lowry shot just 4 for 19 from the field, but improved from the free-throw line, where he made seven of his eight attempts.

“Anything you do to make a shot…hit your head, slap your butt, prayer hands, pray to God, anything,” Lowry said, describing his state of mind. ” At the end of the day, I’ll be all right. This is five games, whatever. I’ve been in a funk before earlier this season so I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Lowry did manage 11 assists, many of which set up Jonas Valanciunas. The smaller Hawks did not seem to have an answer for Valanciunas, who scored 19 points on just 13 field-goal attempts.

“One thing about Kyle, he’s going to figure out a way, no matter what,” DeRozan said. “He can go 1 for 40, and it wouldn’t seem like it because he does everything else.”

It was the Raptors’ third win in as many games against Atlanta this season. While the Raptors are all but locked into second place in the Eastern Conference, every win seems to matter to the team.

“Pretty good progression,” said Lowry, after recounting the team’s journey during his four years in Toronto. ” I think everyone in this organization that’s been here has built it up to be a winning organization. I think we’ve been on the right track and continuing to grow. We’re not just satisfied with 50 wins. It’s a great benchmark to get, but at the end of the day we still want to be playing as long as possible: as close as possible to the end of the whole NBA season.”

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