1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Blogs

The 504 King streetcar is seen in traffic in Toronto on Nov. 7, 2017. CITYNEWS

Streetcars moving faster 1 month into King Street pilot, data shows

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 13th, 2017

The city has released its first set of data for the King Street Transit Pilot and, not surprisingly, it suggests streetcars are moving a little faster and cars a little slower.

The pilot project launched on Nov. 12, between Bathurst and Jarvis streets, primarily to improve transit service, which has slowed significantly over the past several years.

The differences are only a few minutes either way, with the biggest change coming during the afternoon rush hour.

“This initial set of data shows improvements in the reliability and travel times of the streetcar, with minimal impacts on travel times for vehicles on other routes in the downtown,” said Barbara Gray, general manager of Transportation Services.

Here are the preliminary findings.

  • The reliability of streetcar travel times has improved for both the morning (7 a.m. to 10 a.m.) and afternoon (4 p.m. to 7 p.m.) rush hours.
  • The most significant improvement has been during the afternoon rush hour, when the upper range of streetcar travel times has improved from 25 minutes to 22 minutes eastbound and 24 to 19.7 minutes westbound.
  • Average streetcar travel times have improved for the afternoon rush hours. The most significant improvement has been westbound, with a 2.6-minute improvement in average travel time through the pilot area.
  • Average vehicle travel times on most streets in the pilot area have seen variations (+/-) of around a minute or less compared to before the pilot.
  • In some cases, where increases in vehicle travel times are more than a minute, other conditions have been identified which most likely caused the delay.

 

“Measurement is vital to the King Street pilot, and will ensure we can make any necessary adjustments so the street and surrounding area works for transit customers, cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and business owners as well as local residents,” said Mayor John Tory.

“We also appreciate the feedback of local businesses, transit users, and the taxi industry and will continue to address any concerns as quickly as possible.”

The city is monitoring the impact on transit service, traffic on parallel streets and effects on cyclists, pedestrians and local businesses.

New data for the pilot project will be released every month, and a more comprehensive report will be out early in 2018.

Ontario ticket sales law that bans scalper bots may pass Wednesday

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 13th, 2017

A woman uses her computer keyboard to type while surfing the internet in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, December, 19, 2012. Federal officials have advised Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to put the brakes on setting up a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders. The previous Conservative government ushered in legislation that opened the door to allowing the RCMP to create such a database as part of measures to crack down on child predators.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A bill to strengthen consumer protection rules around home warranties, ticket sales, real estate practices and travel services in Ontario may soon become law.

The legislation is set for final debate on Wednesday, and if it goes to a third reading vote, the majority Liberal government is expected to pass it.

Changes to ticket selling laws include banning so-called scalper bots, which buy a large number of tickets online for an event then resell them at a large profit.

It would also ban tickets from being resold at more than 50 per cent of the face value and make it illegal to knowingly resell tickets that were purchased by bots.

Ticket sellers would also have to display an itemized list of all fees, taxes and service charges, and resellers would have to disclose the face value of the ticket.

But Ticketmaster has warned that the legislation puts companies that are playing by the rules at a disadvantage, and ticket resale site StubHub says capping ticket resale prices artificially controls a global market and will lead to unintended consequences.

Bitter cold grips Toronto, closing holiday fair for Wednesday

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 13th, 2017

Steam rises as people look out on Lake Ontario in front of the skyline during extreme cold weather in Toronto on Feb. 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

First there was the snow, and now comes the cold. The frigid temperatures arrived in the GTA late Tuesday and has not loosened its grip on the region.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor says it will feel like -20 C with the wind on Wednesday morning. The windchill will drop slightly to -14 by the afternoon, but will then dip again to -24 overnight.

On Tuesday, the City of Toronto issued an extreme cold weather alert for the city. Extreme cold weather alerts are issued when the temperature is forecast to reach -15 C Celsius or colder, or when the windchill is forecast to reach -20 or colder.

During an extreme cold weather alert, extra services are made available for the homeless.

If you’re planning to go to the Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square, it will be closed Wednesday due to the cold. Officials say they plan to reopen on Thursday.

The Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square is closed on Dec. 13, 2017, due to the cold weather. CITYNEWS

The Holiday Fair in Nathan Phillips Square is closed on Dec. 13, 2017, due to the cold weather. CITYNEWS

Meanwhile, problems persist at Pearson International Airport in the wake of the GTA’s first significant snowfall of the year. At one point, around 400 flights were cancelled. As of 5 a.m. on Wednesday, there were 60 cancelled flights in and out of the airport.

Democrat Doug Jones wins Alabama Senate seat in stunning upset

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Dec 13th, 2017

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Doug Jones and his wife Louise wave to supporters before speaking Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore, a one-time GOP pariah who was embraced by the Republican Party and the president even after facing allegations of sexual impropriety. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special Senate election on Tuesday, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed GOP rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations.

It was the first Democratic Senate victory in a quarter-century in Alabama, one of the reddest of red states, and proved anew that party loyalty is anything but sure in the age of Trump. The Republican loss was a major embarrassment for the president and a fresh wound for the nation’s already divided GOP.

“We have shown not just around the state of Alabama, but we have shown the country the way — that we can be unified,” Jones declared as supporters in a Birmingham ballroom cheered, danced and cried tears of joy. Still in shock, the Democrat struggled for words: “I think that I have been waiting all my life, and now I just don’t know what the hell to say.”

Moore, meanwhile, refused to concede and raised the possibility of a recount during a brief appearance at a sombre campaign party in Montgomery.

“It’s not over,” Moore said. He added, “We know that God is still in control.”

From the White House, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones “on a hard-fought victory” — but added pointedly that “the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”

Jones takes over the seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The term expires in January of 2021.

The victory by Jones, a former U.S. attorney best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen responsible for Birmingham’s infamous 1963 church bombing, narrows the GOP advantage in the U.S. Senate to 51-49. That imperils already-uncertain Republican tax, budget and health proposals and injects tremendous energy into the Democratic Party’s early push to reclaim House and Senate majorities in 2018.

Still, many Washington Republicans viewed the defeat of Moore as perhaps the best outcome for the party nationally despite the short-term sting. The fiery Christian conservative’s positions have alienated women, racial minorities, gays and Muslims — in addition to the multiple allegations that he was guilty of sexual misconduct with teens, one only 14, when he was in his 30s.

“Tonight’s results are clear — the people of Alabama deemed Roy Moore unfit to serve in the U.S. Senate,” said Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who leads the national GOP’s Senate campaign arm and called on Moore to quit the race weeks ago.

A number of Republicans declined to support him, including Alabama’s long-serving Sen. Richard Shelby. But Trump lent his name and the national GOP’s resources to Moore’s campaign in recent days.

Had Moore won, the GOP would have been saddled with a colleague accused of sordid conduct as Republicans nationwide struggle with Trump’s historically low popularity. Senate leaders had promised that Moore would have faced an immediate ethics investigation.

Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed hopes of scheduling a vote on their tax legislation before Jones is sworn in, but lawmakers are still struggling to devise a compromise bill to bridge the divide between the House and Senate legislation that can win majority support in both chambers.

The Republican loss also gives Democrats a clearer path to a Senate majority in 2018 — albeit a narrow one — in an election cycle where Democrats are far more optimistic about seizing control of the House of Representatives.

Ultimately, Tuesday’s contest came down to which side better motivated its supporters to vote. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said turnout likely would not exceed 25 per cent of registered voters.

Jones successfully fought to cobble together an unlikely coalition of African-Americans, liberal whites and moderate Republicans.

He had his strongest support across Alabama’s “black belt,” named for the colour of its soil, and in the larger urban areas, including Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. Turnout in those areas, which features a large African-American population, also ran higher than in some of the more heavily Republican parts of the state.

At his election night headquarters, stunned supporters erupted in celebration as news of his victory was announced. Many danced to the song “Happy.” Some cried.

“I honestly did not know that this was even an option. I didn’t think that we could elect a Democrat,” said 26-year-old campaign volunteer Jess Eddington, her eyes red from tears of joy. “I am so proud we did.”

Moore, who largely avoided public events in the final weeks of the race and spent far less money on advertising than his opponent, bet big — and lost — on the state’s traditional Republican leanings and the strength of his passionate evangelical Christian supporters.

He sidestepped questions about sexual misconduct as he arrived at his polling place on horseback earlier in the day.

Alabama state law calls for a recount if the margin of victory is less than one-half of one percentage point. With all precincts reporting, Jones led by 1.5 points — three times that margin.

If the secretary of state determines there were more write-in votes than the difference between Jones and Moore, the state’s counties would be required to tally those votes. It’s not clear how that would help Moore, who ended the night trailing Jones by more than 20,000 votes.

Democrats were not supposed to have a chance in Alabama, one of the most Republican-leaning states in the nation. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton here by nearly 28 points just 13 months ago. Yet Moore had political baggage that repelled some moderate Republicans even before allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

Virtually the entire Republican establishment, Trump included, supported Moore’s primary opponent, Sen. Luther Strange in September. Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was one of the only early high-profile Moore backers.

Moore was once removed from his position as state Supreme Court chief justice after he refused to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument at the state court building. A second time, he was permanently suspended for urging state probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Said Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez: “The people of Alabama sent a loud and clear message to Donald Trump and the Republican Party: You can’t call yourself the party of family values as long as you’re willing to accept vile men like Roy Moore as members.”

Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jay Reeves and Emily Wagster Pettus in Birmingham, Alabama, Bill Barrow in Montgomery and Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.

Toronto man wanted in connection to alleged Kijiji rental fraud

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 12th, 2017

Olufemi Abiodun Agunbiade, 33, of Toronto, who also goes by the name "Femi," wanted for rental fraud, Dec. 11, 2017. TORONTO POLICE SERVICES/Handout

Toronto police are investigating after five people alleged they were victims of rental fraud after connecting with a man on Kijiji.

It was reported that between Oct. 23 and Nov. 28, five people responded to an ad about a condo at 2200 Lake Shore Boulevard West.

The alleged victims claimed they were met by a man living in the unit who claimed to be a real estate agent and were given a tour.

It was reported that the victims all signed rental agreements and handed over first and last months rent.

Police said the man has since fled and didn’t have the right to rent the unit.

The suspect has been identified as Olufemi Abiodun Agunbiade, 33, of Toronto, who also goes by the name “Femi.”

Police said they have interviewed other people who have allegedly fallen victim to this fraud and are urging any others to come forward.

Are there too many roundabouts in this GTA neighbourhood?

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 12th, 2017

593482582001_5676435234001_5676433113001-vs

Richmond Hill is a fan of roundabouts, but how many is too many? One resident feels the traffic management tool is being used too often.

Tower Hill Road between Yonge Street and Bathurst Street stretches about 4.3 kilometres and would take about seven minutes to drive. It has six roundabouts on that stretch of road, with two additional ones in the Tower Hill neighbourhood.

According to city building experts, it’s used for many reasons — one of them being that it’s safer. But that’s if people know how to use them, which according to a CityNews tipster, many drivers don’t. She says that the town should do more to educate the residents about using the roundabouts to avoid collisions.

Lynn Chan, communications advisor to the township of Richmond Hill said in an email to CityNews after we reached out about redients’ concerns that “the Town is reviewing the signage needs on the Tower Hill Road roundabouts and additional signage and pavement markings will be considered.”

According to the Ministry of Transportation, drivers should approach the roundabout in the correct lane, depending on where they are headed. Those entering the roundabout must always yield to traffic in both lanes already inside, and wait for a gap before proceeding. Motorists should never stop inside the roundabout, except to avoid a collision.  (Here is an explainer about how to use roundabouts.)

Lyft starts global expansion with Toronto service launch Tuesday

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 12th, 2017

This Monday, May 16, 2016, file photo shows a smartphone displaying the Lyft app, in Detroit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Paul Sancya, File

Ride-hailing service Lyft will launch its service in Toronto on Tuesday, marking its first expansion outside the United States.

The addition of Lyft brings increased competition to Uber in Canada’s largest city.

The company announced plans to expand to Toronto last month, but had not set a date for its start.

Lyft will operate between Hamilton and Oshawa, Ont., and as far north as Newmarket, Ont.

Uber arrived in Canada several years ago and has fought an uphill regulatory battle ever since.

Beck Taxi says adding thousands of cars to Toronto’s congested streets is the last thing the city needs and only discourages transit ridership.

Pentagon to allow transgender people to enlist in military

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Dec 12th, 2017

FILE - In this March 27, 2008 file photo, the Pentagon is seen in this aerial view in Washington. A Pentagon official tells The Associated Press that transgender people can enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, despite President Donald Trump's opposition. The new policy reflects growing legal pressure on the issue. Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that make it possible, although difficult, for them to join the armed services. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Transgender recruits will be allowed to enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1, the Pentagon said Monday, as President Donald Trump’s ordered ban suffered more legal setbacks.

The new policy reflects the difficult hurdles the federal government would have to cross to enforce Trump’s demand earlier this year to bar transgender individuals from the military.

Three federal courts have ruled against the ban, including one Monday in Washington state.

In October, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly barred the Trump administration from proceeding with its plan to exclude transgender people from military service. Part of the effect of the ruling was that the military would be required to allow transgender people to enlist beginning Jan. 1.

The government had asked Kollar-Kotelly to put the Jan. 1 date on hold while they appealed her full ruling but she declined Monday, reaffirming the Jan. 1 start date. The Department of Justice is now asking a federal appeals court to intervene and put the Jan. 1 requirement on hold.

Potential transgender recruits will have to overcome a lengthy and strict set of physical, medical and mental conditions that could make it difficult for them to join the armed services.

Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, said the enlistment of transgender recruits will begin next month and proceed amid legal battles. The Defence Department also is doing a review, which is expected to carry into 2018.

Eastburn told The Associated Press on Monday that the new guidelines mean the Pentagon can disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments associated with gender transition and those who underwent reconstruction. But such recruits are allowed in if a medical provider certifies they’ve been clinically stable in their preferred sex for 18 months and are free of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas.

Transgender individuals receiving hormone therapy must be stable on their medication for 18 months.

The requirements make it challenging for a transgender recruit to pass. But they mirror concerns President Barack Obama’s administration laid out when the Pentagon initially lifted its ban on transgender service last year.

“Due to the complexity of this new medical standard, trained medical officers will perform a medical prescreen of transgender applicants for military service who otherwise meet all applicable applicant standards,” Eastburn said.

Aaron Belkin, director of the California-based Palm Center, an independent institute that has conducted research on sexual minorities in the military, said the 18-month timeline is fair.

“It’s a good standard because the Pentagon is treating gender dysphoria according to the same standards that are applied to all medical conditions,” he said.

However, Elaine Donnelly, president for the Center For Military readiness, said Trump “has every right to review, revise, or repeal his predecessor’s military transgender policies, which would detract from mission readiness and combat lethality.” Court judges, she said, are not qualified to run the military.

The Pentagon move Monday signals the growing sense within the government that authorities are likely to lose the legal fight.

“The controversy will not be about whether you allow transgender enlistees, it’s going to be on what terms,” said Brad Carson, who was deeply involved in the last administration’s decisions. “That’s really where the controversy will lie.”

Carson worried, however, that the Defence Department could opt to comply with a deadline on allowing transgender recruits, but “under such onerous terms that practically there will be none.” Carson, who worked for Carter as the acting undersecretary of defence for personnel, said requiring 18 months of stability in the preferred sex is a reasonable time.

“It doesn’t have any basis in science,” he said, noting that experts have suggested six months is enough. “But as a compromise among competing interests and perhaps to err on the side of caution, 18 months was what people came around to. And that’s a reasonable position and defensible.”

Sarah McBride, spokeswoman for Human Rights Campaign, praised the court’s ruling, saying that it affirms “there is simply no legitimate reason to forbid willing and able transgender Americans from serving their country.”
–––
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report


 

Page 2 of 39012345...102030...Last »