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Judge to charge jury at Toronto suitcase murder trial

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jan 6th, 2016

A Toronto judge is to instruct the jury Wednesday at the trial of a man accused of killing his 17-year-old daughter and leaving her body in a burning suitcase two decades ago.

In closing arguments Tuesday, defence lawyer Jennifer Penman urged jurors to acquit the teen’s father of deliberately killing Melonie Biddersingh, saying the evidence instead points to his wife as the culprit.

Everton Biddersingh, 60, has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of his daughter. His wife, Elaine Biddersingh, faces her own trial this spring.

Penman portrayed Elaine Biddersingh as an evil, demon-obsessed religious fanatic and the likely killer of her horrifically abused and starved teenaged stepdaughter.

The Crown alleges Biddersingh killed his daughter by starving or drowning her, then crammed her into a suitcase and drove her to a remote area north of Toronto and set her on fire.

The Biddersinghs were arrested in March 2012 after a tip that finally allowed them to identify the victim’s remains and lay charges.

Toronto Zoo confirms polar bear cub is still cute in new video

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2016


Keep reading if you’re into cuteness.

The Toronto Zoo has posted a new photo of its polar bear cub as well as a video showing her being bottle fed by zoo staff.

The unnamed cub now almost two months old, weighs 2.8 kilograms and now feeds six times a day.

Her fuzzy white coat is also becoming thicker.

The zoo says she’s still in the wildlife health centre and not viewable to the public.

Horse community devastated by barn fire near Wellington County

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2016


A barn that housed more than 40 horses will have to be knocked down after a devastating fire near Wellington County.

All of the horses inside, at least 43 animals, were killed in the fire at Classy Lane Stables in Puslinch on Monday night.

“Nobody wants to have this happen. They’re all part of our family. We all work, live and breathe, horse,” Cathy Illerbrun, an instructor at Sunrise Therapeutic Riding and Learning Centre, said Tuesday morning. The Centre is located across from Classy Lane and she said the owners were real neighbours.

“They help us with waste management … they even snowplow our driveway. They’re a great supporter to us. That’s what farmers are. That’s what neighbours do.”

The community, Illerbrun said, is united by their love of horses, and will respond to this tragedy “like farmers do: everybody pitches in and helps each other out,”

The fire began around 11 p.m. The remote location posed a problem for crews, Puslinch Fire and Rescue Service chief Steven Goode said.

“There are no hydrants in the area. There was a lot of water-shuttling that was happening. Road conditions were not the best,” Goode said.

“It was also extremely cold.”

The structure was fully engulfed and five separate fire departments were called in to battle the flames. Goode said he couldn’t comment on what fire protection systems were in place.

Classy Lane is a training centre for harness racing and is home to high-end racehorses. The barn was one of five at the stables and crews were able to save the other four buildings, Goode said.

“It’s a sad occasion,” Jason Benn, chief fire prevention officer for Puslinch Fire and Rescue Service, said Tuesday morning.

“Unfortunately, all the animals perished. They are racing horses that race throughout Ontario and Canada.”

Benn said the frigid temperatures made it difficult to fight the fire. It took four hours to extinguish the flames. The owners of Classy Lane were away at the time of the fire and are expected to return to the stable later Tuesday.

Barb Millier, who owns the facility with her husband Jamie, says she is unsure of the exact number of horses that were lost, but estimates at least 43 of the animals perished. Millier, who is visiting Florida and spoke to The Canadian Press by phone, said firefighters were still on the scene and that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the blaze.

She said her husband was trying to get a flight home as soon as possible.

Millier said all of the horses are standardbreds owned by trainers who race them at the Mohawk, Woodbine and Flamboro Downs racetracks in southern Ontario.

The Classy Lane website says the facility opened in 2003 and has five barns that accommodate 222 horses.

The cost of the damage is estimated to be between $4 and $6 million. The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office is investigating. The fire is not considered suspicious at this time.

With files from The Canadian Press

Correction: An earlier version of this article said damages were estimated at $100 million.

TTC scheduling apps showing wrong data, should be fixed Tuesday

Charlene Close and news staff | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2016


TTC riders who rely on smartphone apps to check arrival times are feeling the chill today.

Predictions are off because NextBus, the California company responsible for updating transit data, didn’t upload the TTC’s new schedule.

The TTC pays NextBus about $600,000 a year to upload the new schedule every six weeks.

“Yesterday, Jan. 3 we changed the schedules for the next six weeks, and that schedule, for reasons we don’t yet understand, was not uploaded by NextBus as it should have been,” said Brad Ross, head of corporate communications at the TTC.

Since the NextBus data powers the TTC arrival times, any other app that uses that information will also be incorrect.

“Everybody who uses any application in Toronto for next vehicle arrival relies on NextBus to provide that data,” he said.

According to Ross, it’s not only arrival times on apps that are affected, but the times on subway boards and bus platforms as well.

“All of our customers are being inconvenienced who are waiting in fact at a subway station or a bus platform where we have boards that show next vehicle arrival time, those will be inaccurate.”

Ross says the company has assured the TTC that it will make things right and its predictions should be accurate for the start of service Tuesday morning.

‘The fire just exploded:’ Three in hospital after Bay and Bloor blaze

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jan 5th, 2016


Three people are recovering in hospital after a four-alarm fire at a highrise apartment on Monday night.

A sauna was sending out plumes of smoke, prompting the 911 call. When firefighters arrived and opened the door to the sauna, “the fire just exploded,” explained Toronto District Fire Chief James Green.

Emergency crews were called to the building on Charles Street, near Bay and Bloor streets, around 11 p.m.

When crews arrived, they found smoke in the hallway. They traced that smoke to the sauna. Green said the fire had “fully consumed” all the cedar and the electrical wiring inside.

“When crews opened the door, the influx of oxygen caused an explosion that blew them back and injured a few of our guys. It blew doors out down the hallway and ruined the celling at the far end of the hallway.

“The fire came out and knocked the fellas down that were right in front of the door. There was no fire that went down the hallway,” it was just the force of the explosion, Green added.

A “mayday” was called in shortly after that. One firefighter and two residents were taken to hospital, but are all expected to recover. Officials say everyone is accounted for..



Drivers facing new rules for pedestrian crossovers

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2016


It’s the first day back to work and school for many after the holidays, and new rules are in effect aimed at keeping pedestrians safe.

Under the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, drivers will be required to remain stopped at pedestrian crossovers with overhead lights or at school crossings with guards – displaying school crossing stop signs – until everyone is off the roadway.

Also, pedestrians will be prohibited from entering a crossover if the vehicle is so close that the driver cannot stop.

The new rules, which went into effect on Jan. 1, applies to pedestrian crossovers and not at crosswalks, unless a school crossing guard is present.

According to the Ministry of of Transportation, “pedestrians crossovers are identified by specific signs, pavement markings and lights.” Such crossovers have overhead lights and push buttons for pedestrians.

A crosswalk is located at intersections with traffic signals, pedestrian signals or stop signs.

Drivers who break the new crossover law will be fined $150 to $500 and face three demerit points. Fines will be doubled in community safety zones.

According to police, 38 pedestrians have been killed on city streets in 2015, including a 63-year-old man killed in a hit-and-run on the Danforth just before midnight on Dec. 30.

And 2016 is not off to a great start. A man died after being struck by a vehicle in Scarborough on Sunday evening.

Toronto under extreme cold weather alert

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2016


Toronto’s medical officer of health has issued an extreme cold weather alert for the city on Sunday, with temperatures expected to plummet overnight.

An alert is issued when temperatures are set to reach -15 C or colder according to Environment Canada’s forecast.

During extreme cold weather alerts, extra services are available to the homeless, including two 24-hour drop-ins and extra shelter beds.

Click here for more information on cold weather alerts and the services they trigger.

680 NEWS meteorologist Harold Hosein says we can expect flurries on Sunday night and a low of -14 C, but windchill values near -25 C.

Monday is looking similar, with a high of -11 C and a windchill that will make it feel like -20 C.

TTC fare hike, subway service changes take effect

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 4th, 2016


Another TTC fare hike will take effect on Sunday, but subway access on that day of the week will also grow by an hour.

TTC commissioners approved the increases in November when they voted on their 2016 operating budget, which included a number of fare hikes to balance the books.

The transit commission will implement the following changes starting on Sunday:

  • A cash fare hike of 25 cents
  • A 10-cent increase to the price of a token
  • TTC subway service will start at 8 a.m. on Sundays, one hour earlier than the current 9 a.m. Sunday opening.

However, the price of Metropasses — which has seen a jump of 45 per cent in the past decade — will be frozen.

2016 also marks the final year of the Metropass, which will be turfed in favour of a Presto card. For more information on how Presto works, click here.

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