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Drivers caught in traffic at a green light in Toronto. CITYNEWS

Police board passes Mayor Tory’s plan for civilian traffic wardens

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

Civilian traffic wardens will be coming to congestion hot spots around the city.

The Toronto Police Services Board passed the plan, brought forth by Mayor John Tory, on Thursday.

The goal of the full-time civilian traffic wardens is to clear problems quickly at some of the city’s highest congestion intersections.

In 2016, the city launched a traffic warden pilot program using paid-duty officers who were placed at key intersections across the city to help keep traffic moving.

“The pilot project worked,” Tory said earlier this week. “When officers were actively engaged managing vehicles and pedestrians, we found a minimum of 90 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by vehicles and a 70 per cent reduction in intersection blockage by pedestrians.”

Tory said the city and the province have been able to determine a way, under the Highway Traffic Act, to allow non-police personnel to direct traffic at a number of key intersections next year. The wardens will be traffic management officers.

This is all a part of Tory’s new traffic measures which he says will make it easier for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to get around the city.

Tory is also working to ban utility trucks from doing non-emergency work during daytime hours.

Starting next month, the city and the traffic app Waze will be sharing their traffic data with each other. Tory also said in a few weeks, the first smart signal traffic light will be installed in the city. The new lights will respond to traffic conditions, meaning drivers will get “more green lights when the lights should be green,” according to Tory.

Tory also said he will request city staff to review a possible increase in fines for traffic-blocking offences.

Boy, 15, seriously injured in stabbing at Toronto high school

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

Emergency crews outside Central Academy after a student was stabbed, Sept. 21, 2017. CITYNEWS

A student is in serious condition after a stabbing at a Toronto high school on Thursday afternoon.

The 15-year-old boy was stabbed in the torso outside Central Toronto Academy, near Ossington Avenue and Harbord Street, shortly before 12:45 p.m.

Paramedics said they took him to SickKids Hospital in serious condition.

Police said officers also located a second victim who may have been Tasered.

The school was under lockdown, but it has since been lifted.

Toronto police said three people are in custody.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

Babysitter facing charges after child found in car dies in hospital

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 22nd, 2017

Police tape surrounds the car where a child was found in critical condition in Etobicoke on Sept. 20, 2017. The child was pronounced dead in hospital. CITYNEWS/Hugues Cormier
A female babysitter is facing chargers after a young child in her care died in hospital.

The child, a four-year-old boy, was found in a car in Etobicoke on Thursday afternoon. He was taken to a Trillium Health Partners hospital in critical condition and pronounced dead.

The boy had just turned four, police told 680 NEWS. As of Friday morning, a memorial was growing outside the building where he lived.

The car was behind an apartment building on Mill Road, near Burnhamthorpe, around 1 p.m.

The vehicle’s windows were smashed and a child car seat was sitting on the sidewalk.

The babysitter will appear in court on Friday. She’s expected to be charged with criminal negligence causing death.

 

 

Apple TV refresh brings 4K, City to streaming platform

Winston Sih | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

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Amidst the iPhone announcements in Apple’s annual September event in Cupertino, Calif., brings a few other surprises including an update to Apple TV—finally embracing 4K technology in the living room. But is the market finally ready, or is it a little too late?

4K HDR

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Physically, the device is the same in size. But it does pack a punch with new technology to bring your TV viewing experience to life. Leveraging the A10X Fusion chip—the previous-model chip in iPhone 7—the tech giant hopes that will provide the needed computing power to stream 4K-resolution content. Quadruple the pixels of high definition, quadruple the crispness, and you notice it from the get-go when you power the unit on. Caveat is, of course, that you need a 4K television—something many households don’t currently have.

If you are an owner one a 4K television set, the colours and depths of the pictures are stunning. Colours are more vibrant, blacks are deeper, and whites are brighter. This is all thanks to the high-definition range that adapts to your television set, finds the optimal performance, and scales the content up or down to fit your display environment. Apple TV 4K follows two leading formats on the market, Dolby Vision and HDR10, and the engineering shines through when streaming content.

From the previous-generation model, Apple says its 4K older sibling is two-times faster, and graphics performance is up to four times faster, though unless you’re streaming 12 things at once, you won’t notice a massive difference. However for 4K content, it will benefit from the spec bump.

Surfacing the TV content you want

Through the new tvOS update, Canadians now get access to the Apple TV app—one of a seven countries this is rolling out to outside of the United States.

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Canadian broadcasters, including City and FX, have joined onto this new platform to unify on-demand offerings in one easy-to-find location for binge-watchers. Users can subscribe and sign into their favourite services, and titles are synced and streamed across Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. HD movies from iTunes are upgraded to 4K HDR at no additional cost.

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There’s an app for that

Thousands of apps are being added on an on-going basis, allowing users to do everything from play games, control your smart home devices, to edit your family photos from iCloud. Selection isn’t as robust as the likes of App Store on iOS devices, and the remote experience simplifies what you can (and can’t) do on Apple TV.

Siri is integrated into the physical remote itself, and for those looking to type on a traditional keyboard, you can do so via the Remote app on your iOS device.

Final thoughts

For those looking to invest in a streaming player, Apple TV is a good choice. It won’t replace your cable subscription or PVR, but it’ll give you plenty of options to compliment your viewing experience—especially if you’re into streaming. The computing power will make using interactive apps a breeze, and while the selection of programs isn’t as robust as it could be, developers will take advantage as more users adopt.

The 4K HDR 32GB variant ($229) is a great option only if you have the display to go with it, otherwise the fourth-generation non-4K model ($199) will suffice—the price difference only being about $30.

EXCLUSIVE: Fire captain charged with several weapons offences

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

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A Toronto Fire Services captain who works out of Scarborough is under investigation by Toronto’s organized crime unit — and facing several gun-related charges.

Capt. Kar-Wing Lai, 46, was arrested after police executed search warrants last Thursday at two separate GTA locations and allegedly found more than 30 weapons, sources told CityNews.

He faces charges of careless storage of a firearm, importing and exporting knowing it is unauthorized, weapons dangerous, and possession of a firearm knowing it’s unauthorized.

He had a bail hearing at a Finch Avenue East courthouse Tuesday and was released under strict conditions.

He is not allowed to enter any fire hall in the city for two weeks or access any Toronto Fire Services computers because police are still executing search warrants and looking for more evidence.

Furthermore, he must live with a surety at his Richmond Hill home and stay in his house 24 hours a day unless he is with his surety or going to court appearances or work.

Lai — a fire prevention captain who works with children to promote fire safety — is on the Sunshine List and makes $122,000 a year.

He has been employed by the City of Toronto for 20 years and has never worked as a firefighter. He’s now on leave.

A spokesperson said the city is taking the charges seriously and cooperating with investigators.

 

City tells Toronto landlords to turn heat off during soaring temperatures

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

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We are just days away from the start of fall but summer temperatures seem to be lingering, and it’s expected to get even warmer this weekend. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, some buildings across Toronto have already turned the air conditioning off and turned heat on.

That’s because a city bylaw mandates that landlords maintain a minimum temperature of 21 C as of Sept. 15.

On Wednesday, city councillors Josh Matlow and Joe Mihavc held a joint news conference at CityHall urging landlords to turn their heating systems off, after their offices have been inundated with calls from residents saying the conditions were unbearable.

“If your tenants are baking inside and if you have air conditioning turn it on,” Coun. Matlow said. “Turn off the heat and use common sense. You will be in compliance with the bylaw.”

Many landlords across the city turn the heat on, on or before Sept. 15, per the city heat by-law. That bylaw states “A landlord is responsible for providing heat to a residential dwelling that is rented or leased, to a minimum air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius from September 15 to June 1.”

Matlow, who is also the chair of the Tenant Issues Committee, says the bylaw sometimes gets misinterpreted, saying it requires the unit to be no colder than 21 degrees – not that the heating system is on.

“It speaks to the temperature, not when you need to turn on your boilers,” said the St.Paul’s councillor. “There’s nothing in there that says flick the switch.”

One of the buildings in Matlow’s riding is 44 Jackes Ave., located in the Yonge Street and St.Clair Avenue area. There are 274 units in that building, and one woman tells CityNews her apartment hit 31 degrees.

“It’s annoying that they can’t turn it off,” said Geoff, a resident of the building. “I understand they eventually have to turn the heat on, but it’s not appropriate for right now.”

Councillor Mihevc is the chair of the Board of Health, and he says he’s received complaints from tenants at three buildings and at least one person has been hospitalized as a result, but still, not all landlords are complying with their pleas.

“There’s certainly those landlords that are refusing to budge and there are just too many of them in our city,” said the St.Paul’s West Councillor.

Residents at 44 Jackes Ave. say they were told it takes five days for the systems to switch over. CityNews has reached out to Bentall Kennedy and the property manager, but has not yet heard back.

Councillor Matlow says the city is now looking at reviewing the heat by-law, since these pleas to landlords are becoming a biannual event. He says Mayor John Tory is committed to change the bylaw by this spring to accommodate years when the temperatures aren’t seasonal.

“One of the suggestions that we’ve been looking at is perhaps even allowing the Chief Medical Officer of Health to have flexibility to announce to landlords when the date might change to turn the heat on,” Matlow explains.

Any landlords who have concerns or questions about the heat by-law are told to contact the city or their local councillors.

Jamaican woman facing deportation loses bid to stay in Canada

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

Beverley Braham

A Jamaican woman facing deportation has lost her bid to remain in Canada.

Beverley Braham has been ordered by the Canada Border Services Agency to report for removal on Thursday after her appeal was denied.

Braham, 38, is married to a Canadian citizen and has a four-month-old son, who was born in Canada. She came to Canada in 2012 on a six-month visa, but overstayed her visa.

On Sept. 6, she took her son and husband with her when she met with an official from CBSA. That’s when, Braham says, a CBSA official made her husband leave the room, called Children’s Aid Society (CAS), and took away her baby food.

Braham says they were kept in detention for nearly three full days.

Her supporters, including the Black Lives Matter Movement, held a demonstration to protest her detention and deportation, blocking the intersection of Yonge and Bloor for almost 20 minutes during rush hour on Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday, she returned to the CBSA to plead her case to remain in Canada.

In a letter obtained by CityNews, the CBSA considered several requests to defer her removal, first on the basis of her current medical circumstances and another in the best interests of her four-month-old child.

In both instances, the CBSA determined there was not enough evidence for a deferral of the removal order.

Braham argued that leaving the country would “be detrimental to her health” as she was undergoing treatment for a blood clot in her lungs. However, the CBSA noted that Braham has been treated for her condition and air travel at this time would not be detrimental to her condition.

With regards to the best interest of her infant son, who requires surgery “in the near future,” the CBSA noted that the child – being a Canadian citizen – would receive all the necessary medical care which is available to all Canadians. It also noted that no surgical procedure has been scheduled and it’s uncertain when this procedure would be done.

“While I am sympathetic to the family’s circumstances, it is [sic] must also be understood that the separation of family members is an unfortunate but inherent aspect of the removals process,” reads the letter.

The letter concludes by saying Braham is expected to report for her removal on September 21 as directed.

Hurricane Maria slams Puerto Rico, moves to Dominican Republic

CityNews | posted Thursday, Sep 21st, 2017

People walk next to a gas station flooded and damaged by the impact of Hurricane Maria, which hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on Sept. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Hurricane Maria is lashing the northeastern Dominican Republic early Thursday and is expected to pass near the Turks and Caicos later in the day.

The Category 3 storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 185 km/h and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said some strengthening is possible during the next day or so.

Maria, which has killed at least 10 people across the Caribbean, is centred about 110 kilometres north of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and is moving northwest near 15 km/h.

Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are rebuilding after the hurricane slammed into the U.S. territory Wednesday, crushing concrete balconies and paralyzing the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees.

Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stunned by a hurricane that crushed concrete balconies, twisted metal gates and paralyzed the island with landslides, flooding and downed trees vowed to slowly rebuild amid an economic crisis as rescue crews fanned out across the U.S. territory Thursday.

The extent of the damage is unknown given that dozens of municipalities remained isolated and without communication after Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

Uprooted trees and widespread flooding blocked many highways and streets across the island, creating a maze that forced drivers to go against traffic and past police cars that used loudspeakers to warn people they must respect a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew imposed by the governor to ensure everyone’s safety.

“This is going to be a historic event for Puerto Rico,” said Abner Gomez, the island’s emergency management director.

Previously a Category 5 with 281 km/h winds, Maria hit Puerto Rico as the third-strongest storm to make landfall in the U.S., based on its central pressure. It was even stronger than Hurricane Irma that storm roared into the Florida Keys earlier this month.

In the capital of San Juan, towering eucalyptus trees fell nearly every other block over a main road dotted with popular bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, some of which were damaged. Outside a nearby apartment building, 40-year-old tourism company operator Adrian Pacheco recounted how he spent eight hours in a stairwell huddled with 100 other residents when the hurricane ripped the storm shutters off his building and decimated three balconies.

“I think people didn’t expect the storm to reach the point that it did,” he said. “Since Irma never really happened, they thought Maria would be the same.”

Hurricane Irma sideswiped Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, leaving more than one-million people without power but causing no deaths or widespread damage like it did on nearby islands. Maria, however, blew out windows at some hospitals and police stations, turned some streets into roaring rivers and destroyed hundreds of homes across Puerto Rico, including 80 per cent of houses in a small fishing community near the San Juan Bay, which unleashed a storm surge of more than four feet.

“Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,” Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press.

The sound of chain saws began to fill the silence that spread across San Juan late Wednesday afternoon as firefighters began to remove trees and used small bulldozers to lift toppled concrete light posts. Some neighbors pitched in to help clear the smaller branches, including Shawn Zimmerman, a 27-year-old student from Lewistown, Pennsylvania who moved to Puerto Rico nearly two years ago.

“The storm didn’t bother me,” he said. “It’s the devastation. I get goosebumps. It’s going to take us a long time.”

Maria has caused at least 10 deaths across the Caribbean, including seven in the hard-hit island of Dominica and two in the French Caribbean territory of Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico’s governor told CNN one man died after being hit by flying debris. No further details were available, and officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Puerto Rico’s electric grid was crumbling amid lack of maintenance and a dwindling staff even before the hurricanes knocked out power. Many now believe it will take weeks, if not months, to restore power.

Edwin Rosario, a 79-year-old retired government worker, said an economic crisis that has sparked an exodus of nearly half a million Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland will only make the island’s recovery harder.

“Only us old people are left,” he said as he scraped a street gutter in front of his house free of debris. “A lot of young people have already gone…If we don’t unite, we’re not going to bounce back.

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