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TTC to install gate after car found in streetcar tunnel again

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 19th, 2018

For the second time in the span of a week, a vehicle was driven into the Queens Quay streetcar tunnel early Saturday morning.

Police say a BMW was driven into the tunnel and proceeded towards Union Station. It was found at least 150 metres past Queens Quay Station shortly before 4 a.m.

The TTC brought in a swing crane, usually used to move track in subway tunnels, to retrieve the vehicle.


Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook told 680 NEWS the driver was found in the vehicle with his foot “stuck on the gas pedal” although the car had come to a complete stop. A 24-year-old from Toronto has been arrested and is facing impaired driving charges.

No injuries were reported.

The 509 and 510 streetcars were turning back at Queens Quay West and Spadina, with shuttle buses operating to and from Union Station. Regular streetcar service resumed approximately six hours later, around 10:15 a.m.

A similar incident prevented streetcars from operating on the route during the early hours of March 11. It happened shortly after midnight and took approximately three hours to clear.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross says a gate mechanism will now be installed to prevent cars from driving into the tunnel — along with the signs, rumble strips, flashing lights and raised track already in place.

He told 680 NEWS that the TTC has resisted the installation of a gate in the past because they are prone to failure.

“The problem with gates is they are mechanical in nature and they can fail … and what that means is that they could trap a streetcar until we can get the gate up,” he said. “We were hopeful that with all the additional signage and rumble strips that we have added and the bollards and the more lights we’ve put in and lowered the lights to eye level for car drivers that that would be enough, but clearly it hasn’t been.”

Along with the possibility of mechanical failure, Ross also points out another potential problem.

“You’ve got to wonder though, is the gate now going to crack windshields instead because people hit the gate?” he said. “Nevertheless we have to do something. Clearly we cannot continue to endure cars driving into the tunnel.”

Ross said since the previous incident last Saturday, TTC staff has been looking into installing a gate.

“This is the tipping point,” he said.

“Enough is enough. We’ll put that gate in and hopefully that will bring an end to these weekend jaunts.”

It is unclear what kind of gate is being considered or when it will be installed. Ross said a design and timeline will be announced when a final decision is made.

Search for alleged dognappers caught on surveillance video

Nitish Bissonauth | posted Monday, Mar 19th, 2018


A Toronto couple is asking for the public’s help after Bella, their Schnauzer-Poodle mix, was taken from outside a grocery store on Front and Princess streets.

The owners say they tied Bella to a pole just outside the store on Sunday afternoon where they were shopping for just a few minutes. After returning, they noticed she was gone.

“I felt really safe in this neighbourhood, I’ve done this a couple of times in the past in the spring and in the summer. I never thought that someone would steal our dog, that’s a crime – and in broad daylight,” said Amy Zhang.

The couple searched the area and were surprised when they spoke with employees at the Pet Value down the street who say they saw Bella with a different couple.

A man wearing a white hat, black hoodie and carrying a backpack is captured on surveillance video entering the store with the dog. The employees say the dog didn’t look in distress and that they had no idea this man wasn’t Bella’s owner.

“She was just sitting down, as if she was waiting for a treat,” said Rina Reyes, an Pet Value employee.

“The only thing that was suspicious was that he kept giving his palm for the dog to smell, normally you only do that with an estranged dog.”

And that man wasn’t alone. Shortly after leaving employees say a woman with short purple hair, wearing a dark parka with a fur hood was caught trying to steal dog food.

Employees say they stopped her and demanded she return the food. She then met up with the man outside and they both left the scene.

“She said she didn’t have any money,” said Rose McNally-Spencer, the employee who confronted the woman.

“If you don’t have any money, why would you steal a dog?”

According to Toronto police, dog napping or stealing someone else’s pet is considered theft and depending on the value of the pet, they could be charged with theft either under or over $5,000.

“We just want her back. If anyone can just help us, return her back to the humane society. She’s micro-chipped, so if she returns they’ll be able to contact us,” said Zhang.

“As long as she’s safe and fed, that’s all we ask for and we’re happy to offer a cash reward for her safe return.”

The Zangs say Bella is an important part of their family and they fear for the dog’s safety.

Bella was last seen wearing a red leash with a pink harness.

Late Sunday, the Zhangs received a tip that Bella had been spotted on her own near Dupont and Bathurst streets.

Talks set to resume in York University strike on Tuesday

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 19th, 2018


Talks aimed at ending the York University teaching assistants strike are set to resume this week.

In separate statements released on Sunday, both sides sounded cautiously optimistic that the other was serious about getting a deal done.

The university said getting back to the table was “in the best interest of our students and the York community” but added there continues to be no evidence of movement by the union on its 41 demands including wage increments, expansion of benefits and other increases.

“Nevertheless, CUPE 3903 has communicated that it believes a negotiated settlement can be reached if the parties return to the table,” said the university statement. “In the interest of our students, we believe that it is important for us to return to the table to hear CUPE 3903’s proposals for a resolution.”

The union says a return to bargaining cannot be “a simple matter of optics” and called on the university to stop bargaining through the media and come to the table in good faith.

“We are willing to be flexible, but this commitment must be returned,” said the statement from CUPE 3903. “We are concerned that York’s recent communication fails to acknowledge the key issues members have indicated on numerous occasions.”

The strike is entering its third week after 3,700 faculty members, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, research assistants, part-time librarians and archivists walked off the job back on March 5 after rejecting what the university termed its final offer.

On March 13th, the university says it put forth three options including a request for a “realistic counter proposal” from the union, binding arbitration on the most contentious issues and non-biding mediation.

The university says the union rejected all three options on March 15th and has provided no further response.

The last strike at the university back in 2015 lasted for 28 days.

10-month-old dies from carbon monoxide poisoning in Barrie

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Mar 19th, 2018


Barrie Fire says a 10-month-old infant has died after being found with carbon monoxide poisoning on Sunday morning.

Emergency crews were called to a home in the Barre Drive and D’Ambrosio Drive neighbourhood around 8:30 a.m.

They discovered a woman, a 10-month-old infant and a 3-year-old child in the home that had high levels of carbon monoxide.

The mother and infant were unresponsive and taken to hospital in life threatening condition. The 3-year-old was alert when firefighters arrived.

Samantha Hoffman with Barrie Fire told 680 NEWS the carbon monoxide levels in the home were over 300 parts per million

“The regular level is zero,” she said. “You’re at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning if you’re exposed to a small amount of carbon monoxide over a long period time or a lot of carbon monoxide over a very short period of time.”

Hoffman says the home did not have working carbon monoxide alarms.

UP Express to offer earlier service starting in April

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018


Early birds will soon be able to make their way to the airport using the city’s express train.

Metrolinx said the UP Express, which runs from Union Station to Pearson International Airport, has become so popular they’re adding more service to the line.

Starting April 7, the first train will hit the rails at 4:55 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m.

Metrolinx said ridership on the UP Express has increased to over 300,000 people a month.

As well, Metrolinx says they are adding more rush hour GO trains on the Lakeshore West and East Lines to make it easier to get to and from work, as well as late at night.


Patrick Brown says he won’t run in next provincial election

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

Ontario PC Leadership candidate Patrick Brown leaves the Ontario PC Party Head Offices in Toronto on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Patrick Brown says he will not be running as a candidate in the next provincial election.

“After much thought, I will not be running in the upcoming provincial election,” Brown tweeted Thursday night. “I remain committed to the Conservative movement and to the well-being of my local community.”

His announcement came moments after the Conservative party released a statement saying Brown would not be eligible to run as a candidate in the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.

PC party president Jag Badwal said the decision of the Provincial Nominations Committee was unanimous.

Brown stepped down as party leader in January amid sexual misconduct allegations, which he has vehemently denied.

The Progressive Conservatives picked former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford as their new leader last weekend.

Badwal said the committee also agreed to reopen nominations in three ridings: Brampton North, Mississauga Centre and Newmarket-Aurora.

The committee also set aside the nomination in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas “as a result of the flawed process,” Badwal said in a statement.

The Ontario Conservatives has been dogged by controversial nomination battles in ridings across the province, including allegations of vote-stuffing in races near Hamilton and Ottawa.

In the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, police are investigating the PC nomination.

Ontario voters go to the polls on June 7.

Canadians with disabilities twice as likely to experience violence: Statistics Canada

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

Wheelchair walk

New data from Statistics Canada says Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely to experience violent victimization as the able-bodied population.

The figures, drawn heavily from the 2014 General Social Survey on Victimization, found rates were similar among both disabled men and women.

Statistics Canada says nearly four in 10 disabled people 15 years of age or older not living in institutions report experiencing robbery, sexual or physical assault, a figure they say is about double what’s found in the general population.

The numbers show the issue was most acute among people with cognitive or mental health disabilities, who reported victimization rates four times higher than the general population.

The data suggests disabled women were considerably more likely to report sexual assault than non-disabled women, and say one in three of the violent crimes disabled people experience take place in their own homes.

Members of the disabled community say the numbers likely understate the severity of the problem and say society does not do enough to protect a vulnerable population.

‘Subway Bandit’ facing robbery charges

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018


Toronto police have charged two men in connection with a series of robberies at Subway restaurants.

Sixteen restaurants were robbed between Feb. 18 and March 13, police say. Nine are in the west end of Toronto and seven are in Peel Region.

Egal Wais, 21, of Toronto is facing 49 charges. It’s alleged he went into the stores disguising himself with his hood tied close around his face and glasses. In some instances, he would pretend to order food before making a demand for cash, and taking a replica firearm out of his pocket. He also walked behind the counter to remove money from the till in some of the robberies.

Wais is facing 16 counts each of robbery, disguise with intent, and use imitation firearm to commit indictable offence, and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Yosef Ali, 24, also of Toronto, allegedly joined Wais on three occasions and is facing eight similar charges.

They will both appear in court on April 19.

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