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No access to downtown from York-Bay-Yonge exit during Gardiner ramp rebuild

CityNews | posted Thursday, Feb 9th, 2017

Drivers: If you think you are frustrated with traffic in Toronto right now, you will have a major headache to deal with on the Gardiner Expressway in the spring.

On Wednesday, Mayor John Tory announced that the ramp from the eastbound Gardiner Expressway to York, Bay and Yonge streets will be closed starting on April 17, as construction crews tear down the ramp and move it to Lower Simcoe.

The closure, which is expected to last eight months, will be “disruptive,” Tory said at a news conference at York and Harbour streets on Wednesday. “I’m not going to sugarcoat this.”

The existing ramp at York-Bay-Yonge is being replaced with a shorter ramp to Lower Simcoe Street.

Harbour Street, from Lower Simcoe to Bay streets, will also be widened from three to four lanes, to accommodate traffic flow in the area, Tory said. The expansion should give pedestrians and cyclists better access to the waterfront. View before and after photos below.

City staff and drivers have nicknamed the York-Bay-Yonge ramp the “hot wheels ramp” because “you really do whirl around as you come off the highway,” Tory said.

“We need to get this work done. This off-ramp, like the rest of the Gardiner Expressway, is 50 years old, and it is reaching the end of its life. It is in poor condition.”

The construction will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, but not overnight since condo residents live near the construction zone.

The work is expected to continue until January 2018.

During the construction, drivers will have to exit the eastbound Gardiner at the Jameson Avenue, Spadina Avenue and Jarvis Street ramps. Motorists will also be able to access the eastbound Lake Shore Boulevard from the eastbound Gardiner ramp at Spadina Avenue.

Tory said the ramp removal and rebuilding work is part of the $312 million the city is investing in road and bridge infrastructure, as indicated in the 2017 budget.

On Tuesday, the mayor’s executive committee approved the budget heads to council next week. The $12.3 billion operating budget includes a two per cent property tax increase.

Before and after photos of the Harbour, Lower Simcoe, Bay and York streets redesign

Below is a before and after view of the intersection of Harbour and York streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

Below is a before and after view of the west side of Harbour and Simcoe streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

Below is a before and after view of the west side of Harbour, Bay and York streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

Below is a before and after view of Harbour and Bay streets. The redesign is expected to be completed in early 2018. Click here to view it. Photos courtesy of the City of Toronto.

 

 

Portion of Honest Ed’s sign could be moved outside of Ed Mirvish Theatre

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

For decades, the Honest Ed’s sign lit up the Annex, and while the store is closed, part of the iconic sign could be given a new lease on life.

Mirvish Productions announced on Wednesday that part of the sign may be moved to the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

“I’m delighted to announce that we have found a way to move the 30-foot-tall by 60-foot-wide Honest Ed’s sign from the corner of Markham and Bloor streets to the Ed Mirvish Theatre in the Yonge/Dundas neighbourhood,” David Mirvish said in a statement.

The installation of the sign has to be approved by Toronto City Hall.

If approved, the sign will be installed on Victoria Street outside the theatre in the Yonge and Dundas streets area.

At that time, a timeline will be announced for its erection and unveiling.

The Toronto landmark at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor streets closed on Dec. 31, 2016. Ed Mirvish first opened his store in 1948.

In November, the city unveiled a temporary art installation at Bathurst Station, which included art work and signage inspired by the massive discount store’s famous bright red, yellow and blue hand-painted signs.

Canada is the fastest growing G7 country

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

(Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

In some ways a victim of his own success, the mayor of Kelowna has been struggling in recent years to rein in his city as it slowly spreads across the B.C. interior, testing his ability to provide core municipal services and build badly needed infrastructure.

Nor is the city’s middle-aged spread at all unique, according to the 2016 census data released Wednesday: Canada’s population of 35.15 million is settling in the bigger cities, ensuring they and their suburban neighbours keep growing, while small cities get smaller.

The three biggest metropolitan areas in the country — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — are now home to more than one-third of all Canadians with a combined population of 12.5 million, with almost one half living in Toronto and its suburban neighbours, the data shows.

Canada is once again the fastest growing country in the G7, Statistics Canada says in the first of what will be seven tranches of 2016 census data to be released over the course of the year. Wednesday’s release focused on population and dwellings; the next one, in May, will be focused on age and sex.

The latest figures also show that the once yawning gulf in growth rates between the spreading suburbs and their urban centres has continued to narrow, with young professionals and aging baby boomers alike opting for the downtown-condominium life.

The census shows that 82 per cent of Canadian population live in large and medium-sized cities across the country, one of the highest concentrations among G7 nations. Immigration has driven that change with new arrivals settling in urban centres as opposed to rural communities.

“The municipalities located on the edge of the (census metropolitan areas) are growing faster than the municipalities located (in the centre) of the census metropolitan area,” said Laurent Martel, director of the demography division at Statistics Canada.

“Also the rural areas located outside the census metropolitan areas, but close to them, are also growing faster than rural areas much farther away, so that’s also a sign of an urban spread phenomenon.”

Canada’s rural population is aging at a much faster rate than those in the urban centres, which tend to attract younger families, said Michael Haan, a sociology professor at Western University in London, Ont.

“Demographers call cities population sinks for a reason,” Haan said. “Imagine you had all sorts of water on a counter and it all just runs into the sink and it never comes out again.”

How to keep those sinks from overflowing has become an increasing concern for urban planners.

It’s why suburban lots over the years have become smaller, circuitous streets designed for cars are being replaced with a transit-and-foot-friendly grid system, and dwellings are increasingly being designed to allow young families to age in place.

“If we have a whole bunch of really young population, now we know that they’re going to start to age in our communities,” said Eleanor Mohammed, president of the Canadian Institute of Planners, and chief planner in Beaumont, Alta., which grew at a rate of 31 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

“So, if you’re community is really suburban, how do you create more density and a different built form that can help people age in place in the community they’re in right now so that they don’t feel they have to move somewhere else?”

In Kelowna, officials are encouraging people to live in areas that are already built out, as opposed to pushing the boundaries of the community further and further with new subdivisions.

The city’s growth rate over the last five years was 8.4 per cent — the sixth highest among metropolitan areas in the nation — pushing its population to 194,882, the census found.

“What we’re trying to do, as many communities are, is really trying to stop or limit sprawl and densify the areas that we already have because we know infrastructure is expensive,” Basran said.

Not all cities and towns in Canada are looking to keep their borders from expanding. Many are simply trying to hold on.

Several small towns in Nova Scotia not attached to an urban centre, such as New Glasgow, Cumberland and Digby, watched their population figures drop in the census.

Saint John, N.B., was one of only two metropolitan regions across Canada that saw a drop between 2011 and 2016 — from 70,065 to 67,575 — mirroring a larger provincial trend. New Brunswick’s population declined by 0.5 per cent, the only province to post negative growth since 2006.

Across the rest of Atlantic Canada, growth slowed largely because fewer immigrants came into the region and more people left the area to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

That elsewhere continued to be the West with Alberta growing at more than twice the national average, leading provincial growth for the third straight census cycle. Manitoba’s population increased by 5.8 per cent, surpassing the national average for the first time in 80 years largely on the back of new immigrants.

Almost one-third of Canadians now live in the West, the region’s largest share ever. Calgary and Edmonton were the fastest growing cities between 2011 and 2016, with Calgary leap-frogging Ottawa for fourth-largest overall behind the big three of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Quebec’s population surpassed the eight million mark and Ontario’s growth slowed to hit 13.4 million, still giving the two most populous provinces 61.5 per cent of the nation’s population.

Nationally, growth slowed to about one per cent annually between 2011 and 2016, an extra 1.7 million people. That would have been even lower if not for an influx of new immigrants, which Statistics Canada says accounted for about two-thirds of the latest increase.

Statistics Canada projections suggest natural, fertility-fuelled growth will decline in the coming years, thanks to an aging population and a declining birth rate, to less than one per cent, making migration by far the dominant source of growth by 2056.

Those numbers and projections are why the federal government’s economic growth council has recommended increasing immigration levels to 450,000 from 260,000 to ensure there are enough workers in the country to keep Canada’s economy humming along.

The one group we can teach our children to loathe

Scott Gilmore | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

baby boomers

I’ve taught my young children that all races and creeds are equal. I’ve tried hard to instill in them a profound sense of empathy, to help them understand that regardless of how someone looks or talks, they deserve to be heard. And, I’ve tried, with varying degrees of success, to practice what I preach—to give them a role model who is accepting and compassionate.

I have been equally clear with my children that there is one exception to the golden rule, that there is one group of people who deserve to be loathed and for whom bigotry is not only acceptable, it’s necessary. I am talking, of course, about baby boomers.

I imagine a shudder just went down your spine. You’re not alone. We all feel that way. I find it hard to understand how we’ve managed to stomach them for as long as we have. Surely, by now, we could have safely moved them into their own homeland, perhaps somewhere in the swamps around Orlando or in the desert? But no. They still walk among us. Sometimes, tolerance can go too far.

Has there ever been a more cynical, hypocritical, and destructive generation? It’s hard to know where to begin. How about with the fact that they are such utterly self-absorbed asses? There has never been a generation so fixated on itself. Right from the moment they bought their first Beach Boys album, they’ve being telling everyone in earshot how unique and important they are, these vanguards of a new century.

The audacity of this narcissism is awesome to behold. These are the sons and daughters of veterans of the Second World War, a generation of people who sacrificed everything and literally saved the world. They are even called the “Greatest Generation”! But the baby boomer response was, “Sure, but we invented tie-dye and disco.”

They are surely the most destructive generation in history. Their cult of consumerism has left our climate in tatters. And, staying true to their hypocritical routes, they are the first to complain about a carbon tax. In fact, while they drove our national debt into the stratosphere, they can’t abide even the smallest tax. As Maclean’s recently reported, in Vancouver, millionaire boomers couldn’t even stomach a reduction of their $570 home owners grants. Their greed is mythical in its proportions. After having accumulated more wealth than any other generation ever, and poised to inherit billions more from their elderly parents, they are still refusing to retire, keeping other generations out of the workforce.

But their hypocrisy is surely their greatest crime. This is the generation that cut its teeth protesting civil rights and Vietnam, who never stops talking about the Summer of Love, then gave us Iraq, Afghanistan and Donald Trump. They know all of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar solos, but are twice as likely to oppose a mixed marriage. These are the people who built massive, bankrupting pensions and social safety nets to coddle their own aging butts, and then are the first to roll their eyes when millennials complain a bachelor’s degree now requires $50,000 of debt.

It’s long past time we grasped the nettle and did something about baby boomers. Now is the moment. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, someone who clearly recognizes the threat these horrible people pose, has been systematically eliminating Boomers from his cabinet. Quite rightly, he sent John McCallum and Stephane Dion to China and Germany respectively—as far away as they could go without a rocket. Trudeau’s hands are free; he can finally act.

But how? Trump’s new border restrictions will make it very difficult to ship them south. And, we can’t send them north to be set adrift on an ice floe—their carbon-spewing lifestyles have made that impossible. What’s left? I recommend we consider labour camps—somewhere they can put their 20th-century skills to work. They could repair typewriters, program old VCRs, or sell macramé plant holders. And all proceeds would be used to reduce the massive national debt they’ve left us, to replant the forests they paved over for box malls, and to purchase and bury all remaining Anne Murray records.

It’s simply not enough to teach our children to revile them. We must act now.

Are scammers using fake licence plates to put you on the hook for tickets?

ADRIAN GHOBRIAL AND NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

fake-plate-blurred

When Jennifer Silva and her husband received a parking infraction in the mail just after Christmas, they chalked it up to human error, a simple data entry mistake, they thought.

After all, they paid for a monthly parking spot downtown, and hadn’t received any tickets.

But when they took that ticket to Metro Hall for an explanation, a costly and time-consuming can of worms was sprung open.

“They told us it was one of eight such infractions,” Silva explained.

“We were shocked. At first we thought it was human error, but the fact that it happened so many times we knew that it was something suspicious.”

When the shock wore off, reality set in.

Someone, apparently using a fake licence plate, had racked up hundreds of dollars in parking tickets — and they were on the hook for them.

“We showed our proof that we are renting a spot down the street and they told us that (the tickets) could not be cancelled and we would have to file a court date for the eight tickets.”

It was only after they brought forth evidence that the sticker dates didn’t match the dates on their legitimate plates that the tickets were tossed.

Not long after they received another parking infraction notice in the mail, this time from the City of Hamilton for $85.

“It was not us,” Silva said. “We were not in Hamilton, not anywhere close to it.”

Unlike parking enforcement officers in Toronto, the ones in Hamilton take photos of vehicles they adorn with tickets.

The photo showed a different model car.

Remarkably, that still didn’t suffice.

“They suggested it could have been us who removed the plate and put it on a different vehicle,” she deadpanned.

The City of Hamilton did offer to cut half the price off the ticket.

CTCN_MAUREEN_PIC_4-

Fighting to prove their innocence has been draining on the couple.

“It’s very frustrating and disheartening,” Silva stressed. “It seems like it’s nobody’s responsibility, nobody takes ownership of it. It’s a very time-consuming process and it’s pretty expensive.”

The couple has since paid $57 for a new licence plate number, but they hope their story will shed light on the issue and spark change in Toronto.

“It would be lovely if they could bring in some checks in terms of either taking photographs like they do in Hamilton, or having some sort of flag that if the plate doesn’t match the sticker, that it’s a red flag and they could radio it in to police.”

“I think the policies and procedures really have to change so that they are doing their due diligence in catching people that do this…to innocent people.”

David Armstrong, shift supervisor for Toronto parking enforcement, says it’s the first time in his more than 15 years on the job that he’s seen a doctored plate being used in this manner.

“This is a new one for me,” he admitted. “You have a number of stolen vehicles reported each year and stolen licence plates and on occasion we will find plates taken and put on other vehicles…but this is a new one for us.”

Parking enforcement officers in Toronto currently take down plate information, but nothing more. When asked if they should be documenting things like vehicle makes and models, Armstrong said that decision would fall jointly on the Ministry of Transportation and the City.

In the meantime, Silva says that despite having the tickets thrown out, she’s still apprehensive.

“We are afraid that it might happen again,” she admits. “We are also concerned that someone could be using these plates for criminal activity.”

That fear could be justified, after Toronto police recently discovered a fake plate on a stolen vehicle in the downtown core.

“I’m sure that this is probably happening a lot more than we think,” Silva concluded. “But nobody has brought a light to it.”

Durham Const. not the only cop to bust a move on the job

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

When Durham Regional police officer Jarrod Singh was summoned to the scene of a reported fight in downtown Oshawa on Sunday night, he was likely prepared to break up the ruckus and bust the brawlers.

The only thing he ended up busting, was a move.

There was no fight. Instead, Const. Singh found himself on the set of a music video shoot and he soon became embroiled in a dance-off.

The clip was provided by Vivid Media, which was shooting the video for the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

It turns out Const. Singh used to be a dancer in his younger years, and he’s still got the moves to prove it.

“I used to do hip hop back in the day when I was in Durham College as a student,” he told CityNews.

“They asked me to show them some moves and I put some moves on and they really enjoyed it and obviously someone was recording it and it became viral.”

It’s not the first time officers have embraced the lighter side

It’s not the first time officers have embraced the lighter side and shaken their booties on the job. Here’s a few more smile-inducing examples.

GTAA proposes major transit hub at Pearson airport

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport could soon be home to a major transit hub.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) unveiled plans on Tuesday to create a multi-modal transportation centre at the country’s largest airport.

The hub would connect regional and local transit lines — including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Finch West LRT and SmartTrack — as well as the UP Express and a high-speed rail line to Kitchener.

Howard Eng, president and CEO of the GTAA, said it’s time to catch up with other major cities across the globe.

“By the time New York and Chicago were the size that Toronto is today, they each had at least two major transportation hubs,” he said in a statement.

“Now is the time to ensure that better transit options are in place; otherwise we risk squandering the significant opportunities that are part and parcel of the exciting growth that the airport, the city and the region are experiencing.”

Mayor John Tory said he’s very excited about the plan, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered.

“The devil becomes in the details, which is … where is it going to be? Who’s going to pay for it?” Tory said. “I think the very fact we’re having the discussion now is very positive and we should now move to that next stage of deliberations.”

According to the GTAA, more than 300,000 people work in the area around Pearson — which includes Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto.

“Location matters and Toronto Pearson’s close proximity to Brampton gives us a definite advantage when it comes to attracting global companies to our city,” Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey said in a statement.

“A major multi-modal transit centre serving the western GTA, located at our airport will provide a critical connection between Brampton and the rest of the world.”

The proposed location for the hub is on Airport Road across from terminals 1 and 3, with access from Highways 409 and 427 and from Airport Road.

The goal is to have the hub completed by 2027.

 

Shoppers warned after PC Plus accounts breached

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Shoppers are being warned to get smart with their online presence after several people were scammed out of their President’s Choice Plus Points.

Deanne Sharpe said she went to a London Superstore on Saturday, only to be told 110,000 points were gone from her account.

Sharpe told the cashier “No that can’t be right … the last time I checked before I came here it was 124 (thousand points), plus what I earned today.”

Sharpe then called customer service and after spending 45 minutes on hold, was told her points had been spent at a store Quebec. Sharp said she’s never been to Quebec.

A number of viewers and readers have reached out to CityNews with similar stories, including Vishal Gupta.

“I went to Fortinos to grab some lunch,” Gupta explained. “When I went to pay, I realized that the points balance on my receipt was about 100,000 lower than it should have been.”

President’s Choice Plus Points can be used to buy food and other merchandise at stores within the Loblaw Companies Limited chain.

The company has declined several interview requests from CityNews on this issue but, in a written statement, drew attention to data breaches at other large companies.

“There have been a number of high-profile privacy breaches recently, most notably Yahoo and LinkedIn, where large numbers of usernames and passwords were accessed,” Kevin Groh, Loblaw vice president Corporate Affairs and Communications, wrote.

“If someone uses a favourite username and password for multiple sites and one of those sites is exposed, their other accounts can be exposed too.”

The company recently sent an email to PC Club members, urging them to update their passwords on a regular basis.

Daniel Tobok, CEO of cyber-security company Cytelligence, said thieves don’t need to gather all your information from one place. Instead, they can pull your profile from snippets of information throughout the web.

“The bad guys actually are extremely organized and they do have file systems for information that they take and breach,” Tobok warned. “You have to be diligent. You do have to have a sense of security in terms of OK is this a smart thing that I’m doing. Am I publishing my information out there too much?”

Loblaw said it will reimburse customers who have had their points stolen.

Toronto police said their Financial Crimes Unit has received no complaints but urged people to come forward if they have been scammed.

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