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Screen capture of the video game "Dirty Chinese Restaurant"

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

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

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.”

4 in hospital after chemical released at recycle plant

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

Decontamination crews head to a Toronto recycle plant on Arrow Road after a hazmat incident on Oct. 6, 2017. CITYNEWS

Four people are in hospital after a hazmat issue at a fibre recycling plant.

Emergency crews were called to Arrow Road, in the Sheppard Avenue West and Highway 400 area, just after midnight Firiday, for reports that some sort of chemical powder was released inside the building.

“We immediately isolated the situation [and] we had decontamination crews on site,” Platoon Chief Doug Harper with Toronto Fire Services explained.

“Crews went inside and they investigated to try and determine what the actual source of this irritant was. Unfortunately it was inconclusive.”

Harper said that despite the substance being a minor irritant, for precautionary purposes all workers inside the plant were decontaminated and then turned over to paramedics to be evaluated.

Paramedics said the four people in hospital have respiratory issues but are expected to be okay.

There has been no word on what the leaked substance was.

“Tonight we’re going to secure the scene, allow it to ventilate naturally and then tomorrow morning we’re going to be sending additional crews in and they’re going to monitor the situation,” said Harper.

Ontario to tackle scalper bots, ticket resales in broad consumer protection bill

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

Beyonce and Jay Z tickets are offered for sale through StubHub in Chicago, Ill., on July 23, 2014. GETTY IMAGES/Scott Olson

Ontario is set to introduce ticket sale legislation Thursday that would ban so-called scalper bots and impose new rules on reselling tickets.

The Canadian Press has learned that it will be part of a larger consumer protection bill.

An outcry from fans shut out of buying tickets to the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour last year prompted the Ontario government to take a look at the issue.

Scalper bots are designed to purchase online a large number of tickets for a concert, show, or other event, enabling the person running the software to sell those tickets at a profit, and it would be illegal to knowingly resell a ticket originally purchased by a bot.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, however, has previously admitted enforcing a ban on scalper bots, which are not unique to Ontario, would be difficult.

Under the new legislation, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services agents would get the power to do inspections and lay fines against violators of the act. Companies themselves would also get the power to sue other companies for losses resulting from the use of bots.

Tickets could not be resold at more than 50 per cent above the face value, and that original price would have to be displayed.

Primary ticket sellers would have to tell buyers the capacity of the venue as well as how many tickets would be available through the general on-sale.

Ticket resale site StubHub has previously said it supports efforts to tackle bots, but that it values the ability of users to buy and sell tickets at prices fans deem appropriate, free from regulatory interference. It told the government during consultations that more regulatory burdens on the ticket market will drive sales off mainstream platforms that provide certain protections.

Etobicoke daycare hikes late fees for parents who don’t pick up kids on time

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017


If you’re more than an hour late picking up your child from an Etobicoke daycare you could face a $300 fine and a call from the Children’s Aid Society.

Park Lawn Preschool, a not-for-profit organization that runs three daycares in the Toronto area, notified parents this week it is changing its late fee structure to heavily punish tardiness.

According to a memo obtained by CityNews, parents will now be charged in increments starting at $10 for the first five minutes late, progressing to $150 after the first half hour and then $300 per child after 60 minutes — and a possible call to the Children’s Aid Society if no parents or emergency contacts can be reached.

Some parents believe the fines are too heavy-handed.

Anne-Marie Chronnell, who has two children attending Park Lawn Preschool in Etobicoke, says while she’d usually able to leave work at 4 p.m. to make the daycare’s closing hours of 6 p.m., she’s terrified something will come up resulting in huge late fees.

“Three-hundred dollars per child,” Chronnell said. “That just took the rug right out from underneath me. Who has $300 if … the TTC goes down, your car breaks down and suddenly you cannot … pickup your child, and (in my case) two children?”

No one from Park Lawn Preschool would comment. However, a source from the daycare tells CityNews that tardiness had become such a chronic problem at the daycare with staff at times having to stay until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. They say the industry standard of one dollar per minute late was not enough to deter parents from showing up late.

Chronnell says she wishes there was a three-strike system for parents who are normally on time to pick up their children.

“Are you going to take food off the table just to be able to pay for that,” she asked. “That’s rent. That’s food.”

Kim Shiffman, managing editor with Today’s Parent, says the rush to make it to a daycare by its 6 p.m. closing time is a daily struggle for many parents. However, many have come to expect late fees if the worst happens.

“The standard would normally be one dollar per minute,” Shiffman said. “Some daycare centres would actually not charge anything for a daycare late fee, however they will ask you to be more conscientious, or if it happens a lot, they could actually withdraw you from the program.”

The City of Toronto’s own late policy does not include any fees. Staff just stay late and the city is forced to absorb the costs associated with overtime.



Private bus planned for Park Lawn residents

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017


It’s one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods outside the downtown core, but residents say getting around the Park Lawn and Lakeshore area on transit can be difficult. That’s why a neighbourhood association is trying to fund a private shuttle bus.

Torontonians have seen this before — in Liberty Village — where residents frustrated with the crowded King streetcar route tried to create their own solution. A high-density neighbourhood with few transit options, entrepreneurs came up with the “Line Six shuttle,” a bus for hire.

Its trial run appeared fairly successful, but its owners backed away when they realized they faced legal challenges for competing against the TTC.

In Etobicoke, resident Scot Johnson is organizing a crowd-funding campaign to start a private bus route in the Park Lawn area. He thinks he’s found a way to avoid going head-to-head with public transit: selling memberships instead of tickets.

“We will provide this service as a free perk to membership within the Park Lawn Lakeshore Improvement Area (PLIA),” he explains on the fundraising page. “We have engaged several consultants on this to ensure we are operating within the rules.”

The bus would pick up passengers at four locations and drive them to Mimico GO station. It would operate Monday through Friday during rush hours. Aside from helping people get to work, Johnson says he hopes a private shuttle would actually encourage more public transit in the area.

“The long-term focus of this project is to demonstrate the need for Park Lawn and Lakeshore Road to a have a more community-accessible GO train station, ideally located at the site of the Mr. Christie Plant,” he writes on the page.

As CityNews first reported, demolition of the nearby Mr. Christie plant has begun, with condos slated to rise in its place. While the developer is open to creating a transit hub on the site, Metrolinx has already determined that a Parklawn station isn’t economically viable.

The TTC says it’s working with the city on a long-term transit strategy for the area. Phase two of Toronto’s Waterfront Reset Study will include recommendations for improving transit options in the area, says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.

“The study will make recommendations for a thorough transit service along the waterfront from Long Branch in the west to Woodbine Avenue in the east,” he said in a statement to CityNews. “As part of the study a number of streetcar improvements in the Humber Bay Shore/Park Lawn area are being considered.”

The results of the study will be presented to city council by the end of the year.

The Mimico GO station has a daily ridership of about 1,500 people — a number that would likely be higher if it were in a more accessible location, residents say. It’s about a twenty-minute walk from the neighbourhood along roads with few sidewalks, or a five-minute drive for many commuters, but parking is difficult to find. Many residents choose to drive downtown instead, contributing to the congestion problems on Lakeshore Road and the Gardiner Expressway. Johnson believes this shuttle will help curb those problems.

As well as the Waterfront Reset Study, the City of Toronto is working Park Lawn Lake Shore Transportation Master Plan. “This study will also identify opportunities to improve transit service in the area between Ellis Avenue, Park Lawn Road, The Queensway, and Lake Ontario,” says Green.

Depending on when you purchase the membership, it costs between $175 and $225 and includes unlimited, non-transferable, ridership for four-months. The group says they need to raise $25,0000 through those membership fees and advertising opportunities to launch the project.

Toronto to require landlords to provide relief from extreme heat

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017


Toronto city council has unanimously passed a motion which will require landlords to provide their tenants relief from extreme heat.

During the heat wave last month, the temperature in some apartments surpassed 30 C due to landlords turning on the heat — which they often do in September to make sure they meet the minimum temperature bylaw — and not turning on the air conditioning.

“Councillors across the city have been hearing from tenants who have been telling us that in many cases, when there’s a heat wave in September, their units can be 30 degrees or higher, and they’re boiling in their own homes,” said Coun. Josh Matlow, who introduced the motion.

“We have vulnerable people out there, we have people who are not able to live functional lives because of it, and also there are significant health risks.”

Currently, a city bylaw requires landlords to maintain a minimum temperature of 21 C from on Sept. 15 to June 1.

“The idea behind that is to make sure that over the winter months, landlords [don’t] cheap out and keep the temperature too low,” Matlow said. “The problem is that some landlords either take it as a direction to turn the heat on or turn the AC off the minute we get to September 15, even if outside it’s over 30 degrees, which is just absurd.

“What I’ve been telling landlords across the city to do is, first of all, use common sense — use your heads. If Mother Nature is taking care of the heat, you’ve got to take care of your tenants.”

Matlow said city staff will look at several options, including requiring a maximum temperature in addition to the minimum temperature.

“That takes away the ambiguity of do you turn the heat on or the AC off?” he said. “If there’s a maximum temperature, landlords are expected to do whatever is necessary to protect those tenants.”

He said more than 80 per cent of Toronto apartment buildings have air conditioning, so it shouldn’t be difficult for the rest to be brought up to standard.

The city will get input from landlords and tenants when drawing up the new bylaw, which it hopes to have in place by next spring.

“We cannot have another year like this,” Matlow said. “Our climate is changing and city hall needs to adapt too.”

Council votes against naming Etobicoke stadium after Rob Ford

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team during the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, on Nov. 15, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Drost

Toronto city council voted on Wednesday against naming the stadium at Centennial Park after the late former mayor Rob Ford. The final tally was 24-11.

Mayor John Tory introduced the motion to rename the venue Rob Ford Memorial Stadium, “in light of his many years of work on football programs in Etobicoke.”

Tory said when Ford was first elected to council in November, 2000, “he quickly became known for his unique approach to public service.”

“Councillor Ford’s community involvement went well behind politics,” Tory said in his motion, citing Ford’s work with the Newtonbrook North Stars, the football program at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School and the Rob Ford Football Foundation.

The former mayor’s brother and former city councillor Doug Ford said he was “very disappointed” with the vote.

Rob Ford became a celebrity in light of his admitted crack cocaine use, alcohol abuse, lewd comments and at times outrageous behaviour that transformed his mayoral office into an unprecedented spectacle.

He died in March 2016 at the age of 46 after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The motion also recommended honouring two other council members who died earlier this year — Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell and Coun. Ron Moeser.

In consultation with the McConnell and Moeser families, Tory said he would convene panels of councillors and community members in order to determine suitable public properties that could be renamed in their memory.

Council approved that part of the motion by a vote of 33-2.

With files from The Canadian Press

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