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Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) beats the drum as the Toronto FC celebrate with the crowd following their win over the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup Final in Toronto on Saturday, December 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Dec. 11 declared ‘Reds Day’ in Toronto to honour TFC’s MLS Cup win

CityNews | posted Monday, Dec 11th, 2017

After a record-setting season and a triumphant win avenging last year’s crushing defeat, the TFC’s first MLS Cup victory is being officially marked for posterity by the City of Toronto.

Along with the victory parade to be held in their honour on Monday, Dec. 11 has been declared “Reds Day” in Toronto, Mayor John Tory said on Sunday.

Mayor Tory congratulated the team and also acknowledged it’s loyal and passionate fan base in his official proclamation. TFC supporters are “among the best fans in the world,” he said.

Torontonians are encouraged to wear red to show their “support, pride and appreciation” for the TFC on Reds Day.


Get merry at Christmas markets in GTA and beyond

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 8th, 2017

Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District. Photo via torontochristmasmarket.com.

European-style Christmas markets seem to be gaining popularity in Ontario, and while the Toronto Christmas Market is the most famous one of them all, there are others in the GTA and beyond.

Click on our interactive map below to find a list of the markets.


Franken announces resignation from Senate amid allegations

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 8th, 2017

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken said Thursday he will resign from Congress in coming weeks following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and a collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once-rising Democratic star.

“I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” Franken said in the otherwise-hushed Senate chamber.

Franken quit just a day after new allegations brought the number of women alleging misconduct by him to at least eight. Wednesday morning, one woman said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, an accusation he vehemently denied. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonour on this institution,” Franken declared Thursday.

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” had originally sought to remain in the Senate and co-operate with an ethics investigation, saying he would work to regain the trust of Minnesotans.

“Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” Franken said Thursday. “Others I remember quite differently.” Still, he said he could not both co-operate with an investigation and fully carry out his duties to his constituents.

Franken had gained respect as a serious lawmaker in recent years and has even been mentioned in talk about the 2020 presidential campaign.

His resignation means Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a fellow Democrat, will name a temporary replacement. The winner of a special election in November would serve through the end of Franken’s term in January of 2021. Among the possibilities is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a trusted ally.

“Enough is enough,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York declared on Wednesday. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”

A torrent of Democrats quickly followed Gillibrand.

“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behaviour,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Franken has acknowledged and apologized for some inappropriate behaviour, but he strongly denies the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that she ducked to avoid his lips but Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Franken said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was “preposterous.”

The pressure on him to leave mounted this week after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces pressure to resign as well over allegations reported by Buzzfeed that he repeatedly propositioned a former campaign worker.

While Franken is departing, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore could be arriving, if he prevails in a Dec. 12 special election. Multiple women have accused the 70-year-old Moore of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. If Moore is elected, it could create a political nightmare for Republicans, who have promised an ethics probe.

The allegations against Franken began in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations followed, including a woman who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo on a USO tour in 2003.

Calls continue for integrated fare between TTC and local transit agencies

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 8th, 2017

TTC Subway

With the new Toronto-York Spadina subway extension to open on December 17, one advocacy group is concerned commuters won’t be changing their habits because they’ll be required to pay two fares – one to ride a York Regional transit bus, and a second fare to hop on the subway.

And that’s renewing calls for an integrated fare system between the TTC and local transit authorities.

“I’m not saying absolutely remove the wall. What I am saying is that there is a fair share that needs to be paid,” said Fred Winegust of the Congestion Relief Committee, South Central York Region.

“That fair share is not only for York region residents going to Toronto, but economic studies have shown that there are people from Toronto who are paying the double fare going into York region.”

TTC and GO Transit riders who use both services will enjoy discounted fares beginning in January. The chair of the TTC says extensive talks need to take place before the TTC could offer fare integration with other local transit agencies.

“We’re getting the PRESTO system in place. That will allow us technically to do fare integration,” said Coun. Josh Colle. “The negotiation will be between all these municipalities, the provincial government and the city to figure out what’s a fair fare integration model so that nobody is financially burdened in one way or another.”

The partnership between the TTC and GO Transit was made possible thanks to provincial funding. Metrolinx, which operates PRESTO and GO Transit, already has fare integration deals in place with several local transit systems — including Mississauga, Brampton, Durham and York region. The provincial transit agency is open to seeing the program expanded.

“If you ask me about integrated fares and when we should have reached a position on integrated fares across the region, I’d say we should have done this years and years and years ago,” said Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster.

“This is a very complicated topic though. It includes many decision-makers and we will continue to push this as quickly as possible.”

Suspect in Good Samaritan murder in Hamilton arrested

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 8th, 2017

Dale Burningsky King is alleged to be the shooter in Hamilton Good Samaritan murder. (Hamilton Police/Handout)

Police in Hamilton have made an arrest in connection with the death of a 19-year-old Good Samaritan over the weekend.

Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot and killed when he tried to intervene as two men were accosting an older man in the Main Street and Wentworth Street area.

Dale Burningsky King, 19, was arrested late Thursday afternoon at a home in Hagersville. He has been charged with second degree murder.

Police say a female was also arrested at the time. They say she is related to King and charges are pending against her.

On Monday, police previously arrested James Anthony Robert Matheson and charged the 20-year-old with accessory after the fact to murder.

A vigil is scheduled to be held in honour of Al-Hasnawi on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Brock University, where the teen was in his first year of medical sciences studies.

Former privacy watchdog concerned about PRESTO card privacy

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 8th, 2017


Ontario’s former Information and Privacy Commissioner is voicing concern over Metrolinx’s policies governing how police and law enforcement are able to access the data on commuters’ PRESTO payment cards.

The provincial transit agency has recommended several revisions aimed at providing greater transparency and clarity regarding the sharing of information of PRESTO user data. But Metrolinx will still provide rider data to law enforcement agencies without a warrant in several situations — including when there are immediate health and safety concerns, or during the investigation of a possible crime that occurred on a transit vehicle.

“For us, it really is important to get the balance right between personal privacy as well as to what’s in the public interest,” said Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster.

“Quick release of information that can affect incidents that are very serious on our own transit network can help to resolve issues, such as missing persons or an attack on someone.”

Under Metrolinx’s proposed new guidelines, a court order would still be required in most cases when authorities are investigating a crime that wasn’t committed on transit.

But that isn’t acceptable to Ontario’s former privacy watchdog.

“What is the distinction between on transit and not on transit? It doesn’t make sense,” Ann Cavoukian told CityNews.

“You should have a baseline protection that the information on your PRESTO card will not be accessed by law enforcement unless they have probable cause and they’ve gotten a warrant. If it’s an emergency, that’s something else, everyone accepts that. But you can’t say everything is an emergency. We should be able to have both privacy and security.”

Metrolinx says they will notify individuals whenever possible if their information has been disclosed to law enforcement. The organization also plans to release the number of requests made every year, with their first report coming in February. A spokesperson told CityNews the amount of requests is currently very low and that about half of them relate to missing persons.

Metrolinx has sent their updated PRESTO information-sharing practices to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for input. A response is expected later this month.

City council votes to regulate short term rentals like Airbnb

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 8th, 2017


Toronto city council has passed a long list of regulations and controls on short-term rentals, like Airbnb.

The new regulations prohibit residents from listing any secondary suite other than their primary residence as a short term rental. The regulations also cap the number of nights in a calendar year in which a full unit can be rented at 180 days, or about six months.

Secondary suites are units that have their own bathrooms and kitchen facilities — so renting out a basement apartment for a few nights a week, isn’t allowed. Residents will only be allowed to rent rooms out of the home that they live in, their primary residence.

One of the arguments is that short term rentals contribute to an already growing problem of shortages and affordability when it comes to finding a home.

” We have a rental housing crisis in this city where we need 16 thousand new rental housing units just to make our rental housing affordable the risk of losing a single unit is not worth the potential gain of a few bucks for a property owner,” said Councillor Joe Cressy.

“Homeowners who are sharing their secondary suites now on our platform, are sharing the space for typically three months of the year. Those are units that are never going to go back on the long term rental market. They are being used by the families. That’s what this is about. So a city saying now we can’t use that causes harm to families who are trying to make ends meet and trying to live here in the City and that’s what’s also being talked about and is really important for the cit to consider today,” said Alex Dagg, Manager of Public Policy at Airbnb Canada.

The regulations mean anyone choosing to rent out rooms or their entire home on a short term rental website or online would need to be registered with the city and pay an annual fee of 50 dollars. Short-term accommodations companies , like Airbnb, would have to pay the city a licensing fee of $1 for each night booked on their platform as well as a one-time registration fee of $5,000.

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