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The map of SmartTrack including proposed stations and GO stations as shown on Oct. 10, 2017. Image credit: Smarttrack.to

City of Toronto, Metrolinx to hold public meetings this week on SmartTrack

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

The public will get a chance to learn more about the new SmartTrack and GO train stations that are being planned in Toronto.

Six new SmartTrack stations are planned including two new stations in Scarborough.

A series of public meetings are scheduled for this week where organizers will provide an update on the progress of these projects and an overview of the concept plans.

They’ll also be looking to the public for input on key elements of the project.

The first meeting is set for Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Click here for information on the other meeting times and locations.

Authorities say Vegas gunman shot guard before firing on crowd

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo, investigators work among thousands of personal items at a festival grounds across the street from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Friends and relatives of the victims and other concert-goers who survived returned Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, to reclaim baby strollers, shoes, phones, backpacks and purses left behind in the panic as they fled, at a Family Assistance Center at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Law enforcement authorities on Monday made a significant change to the timeline of the Las Vegas mass shooting, saying the gunman shot a hotel security guard before he opened fire on concert-goers.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo had previously said the guard was shot after gunman Stephen Paddock fired at the country music festival and that the guard’s arrival in the hallway of the Mandalay Bay hotel may have caused Paddock to stop firing.

It was not immediately clear why the timeline of the shooting changed a week later and what the impact could be on the investigation.

On Monday, Lombardo said security guard Jesus Campos was in a hallway of the Mandalay Bay hotel responding to a report of an open door when he heard drilling from Stephen Craig Paddock’s room.

Paddock, who had installed three cameras to monitor the approach to his suite, opened fire through the door, spraying 200 shots down the hall and wounding the guard, who alerted other security officials, Lombardo said.

A few minutes later, Paddock began a 10-minute killing spree that killed 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Lombardo said.

Authorities also said Monday that Paddock targeted aviation fuel tanks, stocked his car with explosives and had personal protection gear as part of an escape plan.

Paddock had power tools and was attempting to drill a hole in an adjacent wall, perhaps to mount another camera or to point a rifle through, but he never completed the work, Lombardo said. He also drilled holes and bolted a metal bar to try to prevent the opening of an emergency exit stairwell door near the door of his room.

Lombardo again expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation, but not with the investigators who have yet to pinpoint the motive behind the shooter’s decision to fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel casino on a Las Vegas Strip concert crowd of 22,000 on Oct. 1.

“It’s because this individual purposely hid his actions leading up to this event, and it is difficult for us to find the answers to those actions,” Lombardo said. “We believe he decided to take the lives he did and he had a very purposeful plan that he carried out.”

There is still no evidence Paddock was motivated by ideology, or that there was another shooter, he said. Investigators have found 200 incidents of Paddock moving through the city, and at no time was he with anyone else, Lombardo said.

Lombardo said police and FBI agents, including behavioural profilers, still haven’t found a particular event in Paddock’s life that might have triggered the shooting. The sheriff added that a complete evaluation of Paddock’s mental condition was not yet done. Authorities didn’t find a note in his room, only a paper with numbers, he said.

Investigators believe the numbers represented calculations for more precise shots, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the details of the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The sheriff also confirmed investigators are talking with Paddock’s brother Eric Paddock, who travelled to Las Vegas, and continue to speak with the shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, to get insight.

Lombardo declined to reveal what they’ve said, but he stated, “Every piece of information we get is one more piece of the puzzle.”

Eric Paddock said he came to Las Vegas to retrieve his brother’s body in hopes of sending the cremated ashes to their 89-year-old mother in Orlando.

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Monday he could not discuss the results of an autopsy done on Stephen Paddock, who police said shot himself dead before officers arrived at the Las Vegas Strip hotel suite from which he rained gunfire on a concert crowd below.

Eric Paddock told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he plans to put his brother’s assets in a trust that would benefit the shooting victims.

Law enforcement interviews with Paddock’s brother Saturday and Sunday were part of an exhaustive search through the 64-year-old’s life.

Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the victims and other concert-goers who survived returned Monday to reclaim baby strollers, shoes, phones, backpacks and purses left behind in the panic as they fled.

The personal effects being recovered were strewn across the massive grassy concert venue where 22,000 country music fans attended the Route 91 Harvest festival have become sentimental memories of loved ones for some and haunting reminders of the night of terror for others.

People left behind thousands of items, Clark County Emergency Manager John Steinbeck said.

Those who were in two areas of the concert grounds were being allowed to retrieve their things in groups, with authorities expanding the offer Monday to include people who were seated west of the stage. Authorities are powering up cellphones and asking people to text their full names to the phones to ensure they are returned to the correct owners.

At the assistance centre set up at a convention centre in Las Vegas, a steady stream of individuals walked in on Monday looking for purses, wallets, cellphones and even a wedding bracelet. Volunteers filled out intake forms with detailed descriptions of their lost items, and later, FBI victims assistance agents asked for additional questions.

People received their belongings in re-sealable plastic bags and were asked to check them. After identifying their items, some smiled and others hugged the FBI agents or Red Cross volunteers who had helped them.

The sombre mood inside the hall was occasionally deepened by the weeping of some.
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Las Vegas and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report

TTC employee dies after being injured on the job

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

TTC veteran Tom Dedes, 50, died in hospital after being injured on the job, the TTC said in a statement on Monday. TWITTER/@bradTTC

A TTC employee who was injured on the job has died in hospital, the TTC said in a statement on Monday.

50-year-old Tom Dedes was a subway track maintenance worker and an 18-year veteran of the TTC.

He was seriously injured when he was pinned against a pickup truck at the McCowan yard in the early hours of Oct. 1.

The incident occurred after Dedes and his co-workers off-loaded equipment from a TTC pickup truck onto a work car in preparation for maintenance work that was to be carried out on Line 3 later that night.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross tweeted the full statement detailing the incident and CEO Andy Byford’s sympathies.

Mayor John Tory released a statement extending his condolences as well.

“Our thoughts this Thanksgiving Monday are with Tom’s family, including his partner Gina, and his friends and colleagues at the TTC,” he said. “The city will make sure we understand what happened and will take whatever steps we can to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.”

Deadly California wildfires force thousands to evacuate

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

Coffey Park homes burn in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Oct. 9, 2017. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

An onslaught of wildfires across a wide swath of Northern California broke out almost simultaneously then grew exponentially, swallowing up properties from wineries to trailer parks and tearing through both tiny rural towns and urban subdivisions.

At least 10 were dead, at least 100 injured and at least 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed, authorities said. All three figures were expected to surge in the coming days as more information is reported.

Taken as a group, the fires are already among the deadliest in California history.

Residents who gathered at emergency shelters and grocery stores said they were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the flames. They recalled all the possessions they had left behind and were lost.

“All that good stuff, I’m never going to see it again,” said Jeff Okrepkie, who fled his neighborhood in Santa Rosa knowing it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.

His worst fears were confirmed Monday, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.

Some of the largest of the 14 fires burning over a 320-kilometre region were in Napa and Sonoma counties, home to dozens of wineries that attract tourists from around the world. They sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 96 kilometres away.

Sonoma County said it has received more than 100 missing-person reports as family and friends scramble to locate loved ones.

The reports have come via calls to a hotline the county set up for the missing, according to Scott Alonso, communications director for Sonoma County.

It’s possible that many or most of the missing are safe but simply can’t be reached because of the widespread loss of cell service and other communications.

Much of the damage was in Santa Rosa, a far larger and more developed city than usually finds itself at the mercy of a wildfire. The city is home to 175,000 residents, including both the wine-country wealthy and the working class.

The flames were unforgiving to both groups. Hundreds of homes of all sizes were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminum wheels into liquid.

Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Noah Lowry, who now runs an outdoor sporting goods store in Santa Rosa, was forced to flee in minutes along with his wife, two daughters, and a son just over two weeks old.

“I can’t shake hearing people scream in terror as the flames barreled down on us,” Lowry said.

His family and another evacuating with them tried to take U.S. 101 to evacuate but found it blocked by flames, and had to take country roads to get to the family friends who took them in.

A 145-kilometre stretch of the highway is framed by the flames and a major concern overnight, said Brad Alexander, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services.

Highway 12, which winds through the heart of wine country, was also rendered unusable by the flames.

“Sonoma and Napa counties have been hit very hard,” Alexander said.

The ferocity of the flames forced authorities to focus primarily on getting people out safely, even if it meant abandoning structures to the fire.

Firefighters rushed to a state home for the severely disabled when flames reached one side of the center’s sprawling campus in the historic Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen.

Crews got the more than 200 people from the threatened buildings, one firefighter said, as flames closed within a few dozen feet.

Fires from ruptured gas lines dotted the smoky landscapes of blackened Santa Rosa hillsides. Fire trucks raced by smoldering roadside landscaping in search of higher priorities.

The flames were fickle in some corners of the city. One hillside home remained unscathed while a dozen surrounding it were destroyed.

Kim Hoe, a 33-year-old tech worker from Penang, Malaysia, was staying at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, which was gutted by flames. He said the power went out around 1 a.m., and he and his colleagues started packing up when someone knocked on the door and told them to run.

“We just had to run and run. It was full of smoke. We could barely breathe,” Hoe said.

The large majority of the injured were treated for smoke inhalation, according to St. Joseph Health, which operates hospitals in the Santa Rosa area. Two were in critical condition and one was in serious condition. The number of injured is expected to climb as information comes in for all the other areas affected by the firestorm consuming the state.

October has generally been the most destructive time of year for California wildfires. What was unusual Sunday; however, was to have so many fires take off at the same time.

Other than the windy conditions that helped drive them all, there was no known connection between the fires, and no cause has been released for any of them.

But the conditions late Monday and early Tuesday were calmer than they were 24 hours earlier, bringing hopes of progress against the flames.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the fire areas, and asked the federal government to do the same. Vice President Mike Pence, who is visiting California, said at an event near Sacramento that the federal government stands with California as it takes on the blazes, but he made no specific promises.

To the south in Orange County, more than 5,000 homes were evacuated because of a fire in the Anaheim area. The blaze had grown to nearly 26 square kilometres and had destroyed 24 structures.

Knickmeyer reported from Sonoma, California. Associated Press writers Paul Elias, Jocelyn Gecker, Sudhin Thanawala, Juliet Williams and Janie McCauley in San Francisco, John Antczak and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles and Martha Bellisle in Seattle contributed to this report.

TTC employee assaulted at downtown subway station

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

File photo of a TTC sign. CITYNEWS.

Toronto police are looking for a man after a TTC janitor was assaulted on Monday.

Police said it happened just before 11 p.m. at the Bloor-Yonge subway station.

The TTC employee was reportedly punched in the ribs. The suspect fled the station.

Paramedics were called to the scene but the victim refused to be taken to hospital. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Police say the suspect is believed to be a black man, in his 50s, who was wearing blue jeans and a jean jacket.


Happy Thanksgiving: What you need to know for the long weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

Autumn colored maple leaves hanging on clothes line. GETTY IMAGES/Moncherie

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? As you gather with family or friends this weekend, take a moment to count your blessings and reach out to those less fortunate.

While many will be preparing and taking part in the holiday feast, others will also be around town taking in some events. If you are heading out on Monday, below is a list of what’s open and closed.

What’s open and closed on Monday


  • TTC will run on holiday service
  • GO will run on a Sunday schedule
  • Tourist attractions: Art Gallery of Ontario, Casa Loma, CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo
  • Several malls: Bramalea City Centre (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Eaton Centre (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Pacific Mall (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Upper Canada Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Vaughan Mills Mall (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Hillcrest Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)



  • All LCBO and Beer stores will be closed
  • Most grocery stores (select ones are open but call ahead)
  • Some malls: Dufferin Mall, Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Shopping Centre
  • Government offices, municipal buildings, and banks
  • All Toronto Public Library branches are closed on Sunday and Monday
  • No mail delivery


Maple Leafs’ home opener
Hockey is back in the 6ix. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ home opener is set for Saturday night against the New York Rangers. The Leafs are holding a free tailgate party for fans in Maple Leaf Square starting at 5 p.m. There will be live music, activities for fans, and the chance to win not only tickets for the game but also season tickets.

Marlies’ home opener
Before the Leafs game, hockey fans are also invited to celebrate and cheer on the Marlies during their home opener. The Marlies host the Utica Comets at Ricoh Coliseum. The puck drops at 4 p.m.  Fans who take in the game also have the chance to win Leafs tickets.

Toronto Zoo Panda Party
The smallest giant pandas at the zoo are having a party and you’re invited. The panda cubs are turning two and will be celebrating all weekend long. The party features snacks, a chance to learn about the pandas, along with family activities like races, crafts and photos with the bears. Tickets cost $16 and can be purchased here.

Saber Battle Toronto 2017
If you’re trying to escape your family this weekend and want some stress relief, here’s an event that could help. The annual Saber Battle takes over Nathan Phillips Square at 8 p.m.  It’s an all ages event and organizers encourage people to bring their own light saber.

Road closures

The intersection of Park Lawn Road and Marine Parade Drive and Lake Shore Boulevard West will be partially closed from 10 a.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Tuesday, as construction crews replace streetcar tracks. Click here for details. TTC service will also be affected. Click here for details.

The intersection of Bay and Harbour streets will be closed to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Tuesday. The closure is for construction of the new off-ramp from the Gardiner Expressway to Lower Simcoe. Click here for details.

Bremner Boulevard will be closed from Lake Shore Boulevard West to the parking garages east of York Street from 6 a.m. to midnight on Saturday for the festivities surrounding the Maple Leafs’ home opener at the Air Canada Centre.

Markham-based company pulls controversial video game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

Screen capture of the video game "Dirty Chinese Restaurant"

A Markham-based company says it will not be releasing the controversial video game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant.”

Big-O-Tree Games posted a statement on its website, saying after careful consideration and listening to public opinion they decided it was not in anyone’s best interest to release the game.

The game was described as the “first ever restaurant simulation where you have the choice of running a prestigious Oriental establishment or a real filthy dive!” Players chase cats and dogs with a cleaver, scavenge for ingredients and dodge immigration officials.

The game was condemned as being “offensive and racist,” especially to the Chinese community.

Big-O-Tree defended the product, calling it satire and influenced by classic politically incorrect shows such as ‘South Park,’ ‘All in the Family,’ and ‘Simpsons.’

On Thursday, they issued an apology to the Chinese community.

“We would like to make a sincere and formal apology to the Chinese community and wish to assure them that this game was not created with an intentional interest of inflicting harm or malice against Chinese culture,” read the statement posted Thursday.

Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti tweeted his approval of the decision to pull the gameScreenshot-2017-10-6-Frank-Scarpitti-on-Twitter-Pleased-to-hear-game-company-will-not-be-releasing-Dirty-Chinese-Restaurant...

Anti-nuclear weapons group wins Nobel Peace Prize

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

Photo activists of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) protest against the conflict between North Korea and the United States with masks of the North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, right, and the U.S. President Donald Trump, left, in front of the U.S. embassy in Berlin, Germany on Sept. 13, 2017. (Britta Pedersen/dpa via AP)

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to an organization seeking to eliminate nuclear weapons through an international treaty-based prohibition.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday announced the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons as winner of the $1.1 million prize.

The Geneva-based organization ICAN “has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to co-operate … in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons,” committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in the announcement.

She noted that similar prohibitions have been reached on chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions.

“Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition,” she said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Walsstrom said that giving the prize to ICAN was “well-deserved and timely.”

Walsstrom said that the organization has been working hard since 2007 and “we know how serious the situation is around in the world.”

Reiss-Andersen said “through its inspiring and innovative support for the U.N. negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.”

Asked by journalists whether the prize was essentially symbolic, given that no international measures against nuclear weapons have been reached, Reiss-Andersen said “What will not have an impact is being passive.”

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