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Photo courtesy: Jim Grace, Mississauga. Twitter.com/meesterjeem

Fog blankets southern Ontario: Views from Toronto and the GTA

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 4th, 2017

The sky was a hazy shade of winter on Sunday morning, with Environment Canada issuing a fog warning for southern Ontario.

Toronto and the GTA as well as the cities of Cambridge, Hamilton and beyond are experiencing near zero visibility. The agency as well as police are advising drivers to be extra cautious – drive slow and maintain a safe following distance.

CityNews viewers from across the city and beyond shared what they saw or rather couldn’t see as they woke up in a literal haze:

Government confirms Canadian killed in Trinidad and Tobago

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 4th, 2017

Map of Trinidad and Tobago where an Ontario man was found dead

A Canadian has been killed in Trinidad in what police are reportedly calling a homicide.

The Canadian government has confirmed the death, but officials say due to privacy laws they can provide few other details.

Two Trinidad and Tobago news stations identified the victim as 56-year-old Vishnu Narine, an Ontario resident.

On its website, the Daily Express said Narine was visiting his homeland when he was found dead Friday morning in Sainte Madeleine.

According to reports, police said he was found with obvious signs of trauma.

The Trinidad Guardian reported the body was discovered on a gravel road at a site earmarked for construction.

Narine’s family told police he was last seen alive on Thursday night and was carrying $10,000 in cash when he ventured out to meet someone.

Canadian officials in Port of Spain are in touch with local authorities and consular services are being provided to the family of the person who was killed.

Ontario will fall short of 2020 electric vehicle target, analysts say

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 4th, 2017

A Nissan Leaf charges at an electric vehicle charging station (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer,File)

Ontario is envisioning a future in which millions of electric vehicles are on the roads, but analysts predict consumer uptake will remain far off the government target for 2020, despite tens of millions of dollars in subsidies.

The Liberal government has been encouraging electric vehicle sales by doling out $75 million in rebates to vehicle owners, offering various other incentives and programs, installing a network of charging stations and spending $1 million to open an electric vehicle education centre.

But that so far hasn’t translated into vast numbers of vehicles. The official data for 2017 isn’t yet available, but at the end of last year, electric vehicles represented less than one per cent of all passenger vehicle sales in Ontario.

In just two years, by 2020, the government hopes to see that number increase to five per cent.

It can’t be done, analysts say.

“The chances of meeting it aren’t low, they’re zero,” said auto industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers. “In the auto sector all roads lead to electric, it just happens to be that the road to serious acceptance of them is probably at least 2030 and more likely 2040, 2050.”

Tony Faria, an auto industry analyst at the University of Windsor, agrees that Ontario won’t meet its goal by 2020.

“We will almost assuredly get to five per cent electric vehicles purchased or on the road at some point in time, it’s just not going to be in the next couple of years,” he said. “We’re really wedded to our gasoline-driven vehicles because of the flexibility they give us distance wise, amazing availability of where you can fill up and so on.”

Range anxiety – a fear that an electric vehicle would run out of charge somewhere far from a charging station – is cited by analysts, the industry and government as one of the main reasons more people haven’t yet switched to electric vehicles.

The government announced in July 2016 that it would spend $20 million to build a network of 500 public charging stations along highways and at public places across the province by March 31, 2017.

But now, more than eight months after that self-imposed deadline, just two-thirds of the stations are in use.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said that timeline was “ambitious” and there have been challenges around the locations of some of the chargers, permits and construction delays, but he still believes the target can be met.

“We see what the numbers are currently, but again when you look at not only the demand we’ve seen over the last few months, but the forecasted demand for the next three or four years we do see and certainly do predict fairly sharp increases in people’s appetite for (electric) vehicles,” he said.

It takes time to get people to change their behaviours, Del Duca said.

“People get very comfortable in their patterns, both as commuters and when they’re making their product selections when they’re looking at cars,” he said. “I think there was always going to be the need for some time for a cultural shift.”

FleetCarma, a company that promotes electric vehicles, reports on quarterly sales numbers and found that in Ontario those numbers are up 96 per cent year-over-year for the first nine months of 2017.

In the second quarter, they reported electric vehicle sales represented about 0.7 per cent of the market.

“While these numbers may seem small compared to the total number of auto sales the thing to take note of here is the trajectory of the numbers,” they wrote.

The president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association said those numbers bode well and he believes there is a good chance of hitting the five per cent target in 2020. The industry itself is doing a lot to encourage sales, but for now the market demand is still very small and manufacturers are losing money on their production, said Mark Nantais.

“There’s a good deal of literature out there by independent parties to suggest that at this point in time vehicle manufacturers are losing anywhere from $10,000 to $14,000 per vehicle,” he said.

That will change over time as demand increases, he said.

“Sometimes we proceed with costly technologies that – while we might be losing money on them – we ultimately think that the market will improve, that the number of vehicles will increase, that the cost of the technology will come down,” Nantais said.

To increase sales, the government offers rebates of up to $14,000 for electric vehicles that cost up to $150,000.

In order to encourage customers to choose electric vehicles, auto dealers will often give buyers the rebate out of their own funds, but that has left some out hundreds of thousands of dollars, they say.

Frank Notte, with the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, said many dealers are waiting up to five or six months for the government to reimburse them. One dealer is owed more than $400,000, he said, and GM dealers in the Greater Toronto Area alone are owed about $2.3 million.

The Ministry of Transportation wouldn’t confirm those numbers, but said it is working to streamline the process so dealers can get reimbursed more quickly.

The province has also put $1 million toward the Plug’n Drive Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre in northern Toronto, where people can learn about and test drive electric vehicles. The centre said it has seen 1,600 test drives with more than 4,000 visitors since it opened this spring.

Mayor says 400 new shelter beds needed to combat ‘challenging situation’

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 4th, 2017

A homeless man sits with his dog on a street in Montreal, Tuesday, December 2, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced Sunday that the city will open 400 new homeless shelter beds to combat an urgent need for housing during the winter.

The plan will increase the number of beds in current shelters and use additional motel rooms in the city to house families and individuals.

Tory said in a statement that some of the beds would be ready in a matter of days, and all 400 should be available in the coming weeks.

The extra spaces are estimated to cost $10 million, which will be coming out of the city’s rainy day funds according to Tory.

The city expects to have 5,651 beds available by the end of the year, over 1,000 more than what it offered two years ago.

Tory also announced that the city would be expediting the construction of three new permanent homeless shelters, which will now open next year instead of in 2019 as previously scheduled.

“We cannot simply do nothing, we must take decisive action,” Tory said during a press conference. “I’m confident that council is gong to join me in taking decisive action so that we’re underway with the odds to find those shelters, we’re underway in the discussion with those motels to create that capacity.”

Violent robbery at Brampton bank machine involved machete

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 1st, 2017

Two suspects wanted in connection with a violent robbery in Brampton early in the morning on Nov. 27, 2017. HANDOUT/Peel Regional Police

Peel police are looking for three men wanted in connection with a violent robbery at a bank machine in Brampton in which a machete and small knife were used.

The robbery happened shortly after midnight Sunday in a plaza near Bramalea Road and Sandalwood Parkway.

Two suspects, one armed with a machete the other with a knife, approached someone using a bank machine and demanded cash, according to police.

The two men then allegedly fled on foot and met with a third suspect who was nearby. They were last seen on Applegrove Court.

It’s believed the three men were spotted at a fast food restaurant prior to the robbery, according to eyewitness accounts.

Suspect number one is black, 18 to 19 years old, approximately five-foot-six, with a slim build. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a black ski mask concealing his face, a blue jacket with orange trim, a black hooded sweater underneath and dark pants. The suspect was observed concealing the machete within a dark beige canvas-style bag he was carrying.

Suspect number two is black, 17 to 18 years old, of average height and with a medium build. His face was not covered during the incident. He was wearing a black jacket, grey hooded sweatshirt, black toque and dark jeans.

Suspect number three is black, 18 to 20 years of age, approximately six-foot-one to six-foot-two, with a thin build. He was wearing a dark bomber-style hooded jacket, white T-shirt with a black smiley face logo on it, black pants and white shoes.

Const. James Forcillo begins serving 6-year sentence

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 1st, 2017

Const. James Forcillo arrives at court in Toronto on Jan. 25, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
 Const. James Forcillo, the Toronto police officer convicted of attempted murder in the fatal shooting of Sammy Yatim, has consented to his detention and has started to serve his six-year sentence.

The attorney general was granted a request to revoke his bail on Monday.

Forcillo was on house arrest bail pending an appeal.

Forcillo has been in custody since on Nov. 15, when he was charged with breaching the conditions of his bail.

Investigators say he failed to notify police of a change in his living conditions, as he was found at his fiancee’s home instead of the home registered with police.

Forcillo was sentenced to six years in prison for the shooting of Yatim on a streetcar, but had been out on bail while appealing his conviction.

He was found guilty last year of attempted murder but was acquitted of the more serious charge of second-degree murder for shooting Yatim multiple times. He was sentenced to six years behind bars, a year more than the mandatory minimum.


Christmas countdown starts with December’s arrival this weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 1st, 2017

The Holiday Fair in the Square at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. TWITTER/HolidayFairTO

Christmas Day is three weeks away and people are getting into the festive spirit by putting up decorations and going to holiday events.

While it may be the most wonderful time of the year for many, it can be tough to be cheery with the hustle and bustle of shopping and tackling to-do lists. So, take a break from that noise, and just enjoy the best of the season.


Holiday Fair in the Square
The festive season continues to dazzle with a holiday fair at Nathan Phillips Square. The fair, which starts on Friday and runs until Dec. 23, features snacks and treats from the city’s top-notch food trucks and gourmet vendors. Adults can sip beer and wine at the licensed ice bar, while kids can be merry at the Holly Jolly Midway. Artistic and community performers will entertain fair-goers. And while Santa is super busy right now, he is making time to stop by the fair on the weekend for photos. Anyone who wants to take a photo with Santa is encouraged to make a small donation to Epilepsy Toronto.

Santa parade and skate
Santa is a very busy man — he also has to make an appearance at the Etobicoke Lakeshore Santa Claus Parade on Saturday. The two-hour parade starts at 10 a.m. at Lake Shore Boulevard West and Dwight Avenue. Lake Shore will be closed from Dwight Avenue to Thirty Sixth Street from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. After the parade, Santa heads to Colonel Samuel Smith Park for a skating party at 12:30 p.m.lakeshoresanta-nov30

Christmas market in Leslieville
Take the stress out of Christmas shopping by shopping in one of Toronto’s hippest neighbourhoods. The Leslieville Christmas Pop-Up Market takes place Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 17 Rhodes Ave., near Queen Street East and Coxwell Avenue. Not only can you shop with a drink, you can listen to Christmas carols and even get a picture with Santa too. Everyone is asked to bring a canned good donation to support Second Harvest.

Winter village
Evergreen’s Winter Village officially opens Saturday. It features fun for the whole family, including food, nature activities for kids, and scavenger hunts. The Village will be open every weekend until the end of December, and weekdays from Boxing Day to Dec. 29. It’s open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. and admission is free.

Jason Bonham in Toronto
This is not a Christmas event, but it is sure to be high energy. If you love classic rock, you’ll want to check out Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, who’s bringing his Led Zeppelin Experience to Toronto. He and his band will be playing a number of the classics from the seminal rock group. The show is Sunday night at 7 p.m.

TTC closures

There are two closures this weekend. Subways won’t be running on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) between Sheppard West and Lawrence West stations on Sunday due to signal upgrades. Shuttle buses will be running and Wheel-Trans buses will be available upon request.

If you are taking the subway to the Christmas fair at Nathan Phillips Square on this weekend, you won’t be able to get off at Osgoode Station; you will have to get off at Queen Station instead. Osgoode will be closed and subways will not be servicing the station from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday for fare gate construction.

Wynne wraps China trade mission

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 1st, 2017

Premier Kathleen Wynne addresses questions from the public during a town hall meeting in Toronto on Monday, November 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Premier Kathleen Wynne wrapped up a trade mission to China and says the trip has secured nearly $2 billion in agreements between Ontario and Chinese companies.

Speaking from Shenzhen, China on Friday, Wynne told The Canadian Press that those agreements will create more than 2,000 jobs in Ontario.

The premier and business delegates from the science, tech, agri-food and automotive sectors met with Chinese businesses throughout the week.

In Shenzhen, Wynne met with BYD, the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, which is planning to expand its auto assembly and finishing operations to Ontario.

On this trip, which is her third trade mission to China, the premier has also travelled to Chongqing.

While the Chinese leg of the trip is over, the delegation will continue the trade mission travelling to Hong Kong and then on to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam.

As important as signing deals is to the broader trip, Wynne said making contacts that leads to future investment is a key element of the mission.

“Right now, because of what’s going on in terms of global economic uncertainty, it’s really even more important that we have these connections,” she said. “That we diversify our trade and investment relationships.”

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