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A tractor-trailer rolled over on the southbound Highway 427 collectors off-ramp to Dundas Street on Oct. 3, 2017. CITYNEWS/Jason MacLellan

2 seriously injured in tractor-trailer rollover on Hwy. 427

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 3rd, 2017

Two people have serious injuries after a tractor-trailer rollover on Highway 427 in Etobicoke.

Emergency crews were called to the scene just before 3 a.m. on Friday.

The rollover happened on the southbound collectors off-ramp to Dundas Street.

A man was rushed to rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries. The woman’s injuries are serious but not life-threatening.

It doesn’t appear any other vehicles were involved in the crash.

The ramp is closed as police investigate.

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Province steps up to keep pop-up injection site running through winter

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 3rd, 2017

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The Ontario government is stepping in to help winterize a pop-up safe injection site in Moss Park while they wait for approval to get the operation moved indoors.

The unsanctioned site has been allowed to operate without city or police interference since the summer. It’s run by volunteers who are trained to use Naloxone, an overdose antidote.

“We’ve stopped over 85 overdoses since August 12,” said harm-reduction advocate Nick Boyce of Toronto Overdose Prevention Society.

“We’ve witnessed close to 2,000 injections. We’re trying to move drug-use out of the alleyway to a safe environment. The drug supply is so toxic people are dropping. Those are 85 people that would be dead if we weren’t here.”

With temperatures falling, it was hoped the safe injection site could be moved to the basement of a nearby drop-in centre. Mayor John Tory and Ontario Health Minster Eric Hoskins have thrown their support behind the request but they need a federal exemption before that can happen. After determining they couldn’t wait any longer, the province offered up an ambulatory tent with heat and power.

But not everyone is welcoming the province’s move. In an open letter, city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti blasted the mayor for supporting unsafe injection sites.

“Rather than offer real help to those who are suffering from mental health issues and addictions, Mayor John Tory and the Board of Health are enabling very dangerous and disruptive behavior,” says Mammoliti.

“Drug abuse is not a victimless crime. …Who would want their children to be walking around or playing in the parks and streets next to injection sites?”

Mammoliti wants to see the provincial government make safe injection services and addiction treatment available in hospitals.

Toronto received approval for three permanent facilities in June. They are located at Toronto Public Health’s The Works, the Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre, and the South Riverdale Community Health Centre.

Bail granted in prank gun call that led to massive emergency response

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 3rd, 2017

Gregory Frank Goodridge, 54, appears in a Toronto courtroom on Nov. 2, 2017, charged with public mischief. CITYNEWS/(Marianne Boucher

Toronto police have made an arrest in connection with an alleged prank gun call that saw a bustling part of the downtown core cordoned off for several hours.

Last Thursday afternoon around 1 p.m., police received a call about a man with a gun who had forced someone into a marijuana dispensary on King Street West, near Blue Jays Way.

The call prompted an immediate and massive response, with ambulances, artillery vehicles and heavily-armed Emergency Task Force officers swarming the area.

Streets were shut down and TTC vehicles were diverted, causing a massive traffic backlog.

“Quite a few resources were used,” Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook told CityNews last week. “And there were quite a few different services in attendance and it was a disruption to say the least in the area.”

Local businesses also complained they lost significant income as a result of police closing the area to all vehicle and foot traffic for most of the day.

In the end, police didn’t find anyone with a gun on the premises, and concluded the call was a time-consuming and costly prank.

Police later said they believed the fake tip was called in from a payphone near Spadina Avenue and Cecil Street, and released security images of a suspect.

On Wednesday, Gregory Frank Goodridge, 54, was arrested. He’s facing a single count of public mischief.

Goodridge made a court appearance on Thursday and was released on bail on a promise to appear in court on a future date. His bail conditions include not being within five meters of the marijuana dispensary targeted by the alleged prank call.

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Mom’s final wish dashed after Air Canada mix-up puts her remains on wrong flight

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

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It was a promise to his dying mother but because of an apparent mix-up by Air Canada, a son’s final commitment was left unfulfilled.

Back in 2013, Jean Stone was moved out west, from Toronto, to Prince George British Columbia by her son, Glenn Stone. Stone promised his mother then, and again as her health began to fail, that he would accompany her body on the same plane back to Toronto, after which she would be buried beside her late husband in Dundas, Ontario.

“The hurt is once I found out (she was on a different flight) I couldn’t do a thing to correct the problem.”

Glenn Stone and the body of his mother, Jean, were to fly back to Toronto from Vancouver on Flight 34, on Saturday, October 21st at 9 a.m.

However, the flight was cancelled and they were moved to Flight 2134 on the same day at the same exact time. Stone claims the funeral home touched base with Air Canada Cargo to ensure they were both still on the same flight.

“I went to bed Friday night thinking this is the last request I can have for Mom. We are on the same flight in the morning. I went to the airport and inquired at the gate that Mom had been put on the same flight, a gate agent called to check and then told me Mom had been put on an earlier flight to Toronto an hour earlier.”

In the official contract for Jean Stone, the Air Canada transfer clearly says: “Do not load on earlier flight – family is travelling.” Though Stone’s remains were still put on an earlier flight to Toronto. Without her son’s knowledge.

“I’d done everything I could but I was devastated that promise couldn’t be honored to mom.”

In a statement to CityNews, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick wrote: “This unfortunate situation arose because the flight the customer was scheduled to travel on with his mother’s remains was cancelled due to a mechanical issue with the aircraft designated to operate that flight. We created a new flight with another aircraft, which the customer flew on. To ensure that the casket arrived in Toronto in a timely manner, it was put on an earlier flight as soon as our Cargo team became aware of the flight cancellation. Our intention was to avoid any delay.”

The problem is, both the cancelled flight and the new flight were scheduled to leave on October 21st at 9 a.m. Stone has since been issued a $200 dollar voucher, an offer he finds insulting.

“To think they could brush it under the carpet, and give me a $200 dollar voucher? Why would they think I would ever want to fly on Air Canada again? Why would my family want to?”

Air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs, calls Air Canada’s offer an “insult to the passenger.” Lukacs also calls the case a complicated matter.

“On the one hand, one can say it arrived there on time, it fulfilled the contract from a cargo perspective but at the same time we must understand when we talk about the body of a family member it is not simply a piece of cargo.”

Since CityNews reached out to Air Canada they have said they “understand the disappointment this has caused and our customer relations office has reached out and remains engaged with the customer.”

Late Wednesday afternoon Air Canada again reached out to Glenn Stone, and according to him, admitted there was a breakdown in communication.

He says they’ll be reviewing what happened but will not be offering anything more in the way of compensation.

Reported illnesses prompts recall of Maple Leaf Foods chicken strips

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

Maple Leaf Foods recalled its Chicken Breast Strips product on Nov. 1, 2017, because it may be contaminated with staphylococcus bacteria. CFIA

Maple Leaf Foods has recalled a brand of frozen chicken strips because they may contain the toxin produced by staphylococcus bacteria.

The chicken breast strips were sold in 840-gram packages with a best before date of Sept. 29, 2018.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says illnesses have been reported but did not provide further details.

The agency says the recall was triggered by a consumer complaint, and that more products may be pulled from stores depending on the results of a food safety investigation.

Food contaminated with the bacteria may not look or smell spoiled. Symptoms of staphylococcus poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and fever.

Click here for more information on the recall.

Transport truck safety called into question after Hwy. 400 crash

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

Aerial photos of the Highway 400 crash north of Highway 88, Nov. 1, 2017. 680 NEWS/Darryl Dahmer

At least three people were killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on Highway 400 Tuesday night, which police believe was caused by a transport truck driver.

Just six days ago, the head of the Ontario Provincial Police force Vince Hawkes held a news conference to express concerns about a spike in crashes involving transport trucks and put truck drivers “on notice” for being inattentive while behind the wheel.

Speaking at the scene of the 14-vehicle collision, Hawkes said the trucking industry should take a close look at the way it conducts business. He said truck drivers are unable to brake for slow or stopped traffic if they are texting, eating or watching TV while behind the wheel.

“These truck are, in essence, missiles travelling down the highway with contents in those trucks that as a result of a crash that happens further upstream… we’ll see the devastation like you see today… and the trend seems to be getting worse” he said.

Provincial police say that since Jan. 1, there have been more than 5000 transport truck related collisions that have left 67 people dead.

The head of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) was quick to defend both drivers and the industry over its role in transporting dangerous goods. He interprets Hawkes’ comments as focused on “the bad apples.”

“The Ontario Trucking Association, the Ministry of Transportation and the OPP believe that strategic enforcement with regards to whether its mechanical fitness, although we have a high performance of mechanical fitness, or driver related issues, should focus on that small percentage of carriers that are not following the law,” he said.

According to the OTA, mechanical and technological improvements such as speed limit and stability controls have made trucks safer. It says there has been a 66 per cent decrease in the fatality rate from large truck collisions, despite a 75 per cent increase in large truck vehicle registrations in the past decade.

However, the OPP say a quarter of all fatal collisions they investigate involve a commercial vehicle. On Wednesday, the Ontario Safety League called for a coroner’s inquest into highway safety.

Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said the ministry will cooperate fully if an inquest is called for.

“I welcome any initiative or undertaking that will help produce the outcome that everybody, the travelling public need in the province of Ontario which is road safety,” he said “If the coroner decides to go in the direction of an inquest the Ministry of Transportation will be happy to provide whatever is required.”

“Any death on the highway that’s preventable should be prevented” added Premier Kathleen Wynne. “So we will continue to work to make sure we do everything possible to prevent this kind of tragedy happening again.”

With files from The Canadian Press

3 killed in Colorado Walmart shooting; police seek suspect

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

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THORNTON, Colo. — A man nonchalantly walked into a Walmart and immediately opened fire with a handgun, killing two men and a woman before fleeing in a car on Wednesday night, according to Colorado authorities.

The shooting appears random and there are no indications that it was an act of terror, said Thornton police spokesman Victor Avila.

“This is a very heinous act,” Avila said. “We don’t know exactly what the motive of the person was, but it was certainly a terrible act.”

Two men died inside the Walmart, which is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) north of Denver in a busy shopping centre. The woman died later at a hospital.

Authorities did not immediately release any other information about the victims.

Aaron Stephens, 44, was in the self-checkout line when he heard a single shot followed by two more bursts of gunfire before people started running for the exits.

“The employees started screaming. Customers were screaming. They were running like crazy, and I ran out too because I didn’t want to get killed,” he said.

Guadalupe Perez was inside the store with her young son when she heard what she thought was a balloon popping. A Walmart employee told her someone was shooting, and then Perez saw people running away yelling, “Let’s go. Let’s go. Leave the groceries.”

“You see all these things in the news and you go through it, it’s scary,” she said. “But thank God we’re OK and nothing happened to us.”

Investigators, including special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were reviewing security video and interviewing witnesses to identify the suspect. Avila said police don’t yet know how many rounds were fired.

Ragan Dickens, a Walmart spokesman, said the company is working with investigators and declined further comment.

Ontario strengthening police oversight, redefining core police duties

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

File photo of police officers in Toronto. CITYNEWS

Ontario is expected to announce sweeping changes to its policing laws Thursday that include strengthening oversight of the system and making it possible to suspend officers without pay, The Canadian Press has learned.

The changes would include the first update to the Police Services Act in more than 25 years.

A source says the government will be implementing all of the recommendations contained in Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on police oversight, released earlier this year.

An Inspector General would be established to oversee police services, with the power to investigate and audit them.

Three civilian agencies charged with police oversight already exist – the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. Unlike the SIU and OIPRD, a source says the Inspector General would not investigate individual police misconduct.

Those three current oversight bodies would also get expanded mandates, such as requiring the SIU to report publicly on all of its investigations.

As well, the SIU would have to be called when an officer fires at a person and would be able to file more charges on its own. It currently only investigates police-involved death, serious injury and sexual assault allegations.

Local police boards would also be created for the Ontario Provincial Police, similar to the structure of municipal police services boards – which will be required to undergo more training, such as on diversity. The new act would also allow First Nations police forces to establish their own police services boards.

An amended Coroners Act would require coroner’s inquests when police kill through use of force, one of Tulloch’s key recommendations.

The government’s stated approach is to share the burden of community safety with municipalities. They will be required to implement community safety plans, such as identifying a need for more addiction and mental health programs, aiming to prevent problems before police get involved.

The new act will for the first time clearly define police responsibilities as those that can only be performed by an officer, sources say, which wouldn’t include directing traffic.

Two new pieces of legislation would allow police to track a cellphone and search a home in missing persons cases – something they can only do now when a crime is suspected – as well as making accreditation and oversight of forensic labs mandatory.

Police chiefs have been calling for a decade for the power to withhold pay from suspended officers, and parameters to do so will be set out in the legislation. Ontario is the only province in which chiefs can’t revoke the pay of suspended officers, who collect millions of dollars each year.

Under the current law, suspended officers have to be paid even when convicted of an offence, unless they are sentenced to prison.

The new legislation proposes to allow suspensions without pay when an officer is in custody or when they are charged with a serious federal offence that wasn’t allegedly committed in the course of their duties.

Legislation would also update the police discipline process more broadly, including giving a tribunal the power to revoke an officer’s licence.

The new Police Services Act and the other new and updated acts are being bundled together as the Safer Ontario Act.

With files from The Canadian Press’ Colin Perkel

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