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Two firefighters injured in Dundas and Bathurst fire

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jun 30th, 2016

A five-alarm fire in the west end burned for hours on Wednesday night and lasted well into Thursday morning, bringing more than 100 firefighters to downtown Toronto.

The fire began in a business on Dundas Street west of Bathurst Street around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday. A person who lived in one of the apartments above the business called 911.

Two of the firefighters were hurt during the blaze, one suffering an injured rib and the other an injured hand. No other injuries were reported.

The fire was in an older building and it was a difficult one to put out, division commander Bob O’Hallarn said.

“We’re finding we knock it down and it seems to flare up in another area … and that’s why we have crews up on the roof,” he said.

“A couple times we’ve pulled crews off the roof because it seemed to be getting a bit spongy.”

The cause of the fire, and the cost of the damage, is not yet known. The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office is investigating.

A five-alarm fire burns on Dundas Street west of Bathurst Street on June 30, 2016. CITYNEWS/Hugues Cormier
A five-alarm fire burns on Dundas Street west of Bathurst Street on June 30, 2016. CITYNEWS/Hugues Cormier
A five-alarm fire burns on Dundas Street west of Bathurst Street on June 30, 2016. CITYNEWS/Hugues Cormier
A five-alarm fire burns on Dundas Street west of Bathurst Street on June 30, 2016. CITYNEWS/Hugues Cormier

LGBTQ acronym not one-size-fits-all for diverse community

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 30th, 2016

For some, it’s best not to refer to the LGBTQ community at all. The acronym, that is.

Longtime activist David Rayside prefers the term “sexual diversity” in his academic writings. It’s one way he avoids the complications of what he calls the “infinitely expanding alphabet.”

“You’re inevitably caught up with the fact that sexuality has many colours, many forms, many ambiguities, so it becomes a challenge,” says Rayside, an associate and former director of the University of Toronto’s Mark S. Bonham Centre for sexual diversity studies.

“It’s too unwieldy so I just stay away from it.”

One of the most common incarnations of the acronym is LGBTQ, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. In addressing the recent Orlando massacre, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau notably went with LGBTQ2, to include First Nations’ two-spirited communities.

But more variations abound, with some acronyms swelling into the double digits to acknowledge an ever-growing number of groups seeking visibility.

For many years, the organizers of Canada’s biggest pride parade – Pride Toronto – went with LGBTTIQQ2SA: “a broad array of identities such as, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited, and allies.”

This year, organizers appear to have eschewed the acronym in promotional materials, which instead tout “the history, courage, diversity and future of Toronto’s Pride community.”

There are more groups to consider, with some people identifying as genderqueer, agender, cross-dressing, neutrois, asexual, pansexual, polyamorous, and kinky, notes a lengthy footnote on Queer Ontario’s think tank web page. (Elsewhere it uses the simpler “LGBTQ*,” with the asterisk pulling readers to the footnote.)

Still more might argue for specific reference to community members of colour, and those with disabilities and/or living in poverty.

“The fact that it tends to be ever-growing is a reflection of the diversity of the gender and sexually diverse communities,” says Queer Ontario founder Nick Mule, also an associate professor of social work at York University.

“As a society we’re becoming more and more sensitized to people’s differences. And a lot of people just have a sense that they need to be recognized, they need to be named, they need to be identified. In some ways, it represents a political response to the kind of hetero-normative, or hetero-sexist world that we live in.”

But acknowledgment isn’t always enough.

Although bisexuality has been entrenched in the acronym for decades, Rayside argues it “is still the most neglected, I would say politically, of all of those identity markers.”

The transgender community meanwhile, has seen a dramatic gain in public awareness but many basic rights – “basic kind of survival issues,” notes Rayside – remain out of reach.

“Trans populations are so minoritized, their members are so small, I think they were quite smart to try to hook onto the LGB movement and gain the sympathy and gain the support and then move forward with LGBT so that we can fight for all of those rights,” adds Mule.

Albert McLeod of the organization Two-Spirited People of Manitoba was pleased to hear Trudeau mention the aboriginal community, noting that the term “two-spirit” has been around since the early ’90s but remains lesser-seen.

“It’s kind of hit-and-miss and it kind of goes up and down over time,” McLeod says of making inroads into the acronym, which can appear as ‘T,’ ‘2,’ or ‘2S.’

“Being two-spirit is more a political statement about indigenaity, valuing your indigenous (roots) if you’re involved in anti-colonialism or cultural reclamation. And that’s unique from the broader LGBT community.”

And because it refers to a belief that one person can carry both male and female spirits, it challenges notions of binary gender, “which I think really is a part of colonization,” McLeod says from Winnipeg.

Mule’s provincial advocacy group uses the term “queer” to encompass an array of groups, many of them challenging the idea that people are either exclusively male or female.

But using an umbrella term risks overlooking the specificities of the groups it’s meant to highlight, notes Mule.

And those differences can be stark.

Gays and lesbians were at the forefront of the burgeoning liberation movement, but the early days of their union were fractious at best, says Mule.

Besides facing different hurdles, sexism was rampant. Many women found gay men as misogynist as straight males. Racial divisions, meanwhile, can loom just as much as in broader society, making it difficult for two-spirited people to feel comfortable at some events, says McLeod.

Among this highly politicized group, it seems there will always be debate over identity, alliances and direction.

“Sometimes people just assume that the gender/sexually diverse communities are monolithic and we think alike and that we’re all open and accepting,” says Mule.

“But the truth of the matter is, within communities there is struggle. There is a level of adjustment and education and acceptance, even within the communities.”

Then there are those who’d rather not bother with labels at all. Mule points to queer theory, a field of academic critical thought that eschews the debate altogether.

“It tries to do away with all identities, including the term queer, challenging society to question itself as to why is it important for you to know who’s male, who’s female, who’s gay who’s straight, who’s bi, who’s trans,” he says.

“The theoretical view is that sexuality and gender is fluid and we should not be boxing ourselves into one label or another … Not all of us agree with that because it’s a challenge to the way we think and the way we operate in society.”

It’s not much of a leap for RuPaul Charles – better known as the drag supermodel RuPaul – who mused on the idea before heading to Toronto for this weekend’s pride festivities.

“Descriptions really are for other people to help them understand you – and to help them put you in a box,” says Charles by phone from Los Angeles.

“I personally don’t need a description. I just am. It does help other people understand it. I’ve always been someone who says you can call me whatever you want – you can call me ‘he,’ you can call me ‘she,’ you can call me ‘Regis and Kathy Lee.’ I’ll answer to anything because what the truth is, is it’s the intention behind the words that make the difference.

“If you’re coming from a place of love, I can feel that.”

With files from David Friend

Celebrate Canada Day with fireworks but remember what’s open and closed

Patricia D'Cunha and Amber LeBlanc | posted Thursday, Jun 30th, 2016

Happy Canada Day! Canada is 149 years old on Friday, and what a birthday celebration it is going to be.

For one thing, you finally have a three-day Canada Day long weekend after a long time. And secondly, there are no scheduled subway closures this weekend – hooray!

And that is just for starters. There are celebrations around the city to show off your patriotism, including fireworks at various locations across the GTA.

As you make your plans, check out a list below of what’s open and closed on Friday and road closures over the long weekend.

A supporter holds up a Canadian flag before a World Cup 2014 qualifying soccer game between Canada and Cuba in Havana, June 8, 2012. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Franklin Reyes
A supporter holds up a Canadian flag before a World Cup 2014 qualifying soccer game between Canada and Cuba in Havana, June 8, 2012. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Franklin Reyes



Outside the city


Pride Month wraps up
It’s a very busy weekend for the last weekend of Pride. On Friday, the Trans March starts at Church and Hayden streets at 8 p.m. and wraps up at Allan Gardens an hour later.

People take part in the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on July 3, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Willms
People take part in the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on July 3, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Willms

On Saturday, it’s the annual Dyke March, which starts at 2 p.m. at Church and Bloor streets. It will march its way down Yonge to Carlton streets, and into Allan Gardens for a party with artists, performers, poets and activists.

The month wraps up Sunday with one of the biggest pride parades in North America. The 35th annual event starts at 2 p.m. at Church and Bloor streets. Everyone is invited and this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be riding along.

Canada Day events

In Toronto, Yonge-Dundas Square will be marking the party with a multicultural celebration, and a special citizenship ceremony will be held at Queen’s Park. There are also some parades, including one in East York.

Below are links to Canada Day festivities taking place in the GTA.

Ajax | Brampton | Burlington | Mississauga | Oakville | Oshawa | Newmarket | Richmond Hill | Vaughan |Whitby

Other events

Redpath Waterfront Festival
The festival takes place along the waterfront between Spadina Avenue and Bay Street, where the family can check out majestic tall ships along with an artisan market, a dog show, and lots of other events. Watch a preview of the event below or click here to view it.

Digital Dream
On the other end of the spectrum, Digital Dreams takes place at the Flats at Ontario Place Saturday and Sunday. The electronic music dance party is expected to draw thousands of fans.

Queen’s Plate
The 157th Queen’s Plate, Toronto’s version of the Kentucky Derby, takes place at Woodbine Racetrack on Sunday. There’s $1,000,000 up for grabs in the world-class race.

What’s open/closed on July 1

A closed sign on a storefront. GETTY IMAGES/Steve Goodwin
A closed sign on a storefront. GETTY IMAGES/Steve Goodwin


  • TTC will run on a holiday schedule
  • GO Transit will run on a Saturday schedule
  • Tourist attractions: ROM, CN Tower, Casa Loma, Toronto Zoo, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario Science Centre, Canada’s Wonderland, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
  • Most 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 9 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), The Promenade (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Toronto Premium Outlets (9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Upper Canada Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Vaughan Mills Mall (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • Curbside garbage collection: For homes that follow the Friday 1 schedule, garbage will be collected; however, those that follow the Friday 2 schedule will only have green and blue bin collection


  • LCBO stores are closed
  • Beer Store locations will also be closed, but some stores will remain open later on Thursday
  • Government offices, municipal buildings, banks, and libraries
  • No mail delivery
  • Some malls: Dufferin Mall, Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Shopping Centre
  • Most grocery stores are closed on Friday, except for Bloor Street Market (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Longo’s at Maple Leaf Square and Bloor HBC (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Road closures

Road closures for events

Canada Day celebration at Queen’s Park: Queen’s Park/Queen’s Park Circle from College to Bloor streets from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday

Canada Day parade in Scarborough: On Friday, Brimley Road from Progress Avenue to Ellesmere Road from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Brimley from Ellesmere Road to Lawrence Avenue from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Ellesmere Road from Midland Avenue to McCowan Road from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Canada Day celebrations at Mel Lastman Square: Southbound lanes of Yonge Street between North York Boulevard and Park Home Avenue from noon to 11 p.m. on Friday

East York’s Canada Day: Cosburn Avenue from Cedarvale Avenue to Oak Park Road, Virginia Avenue from Cedarvale to Cosburn avenues, and Gledhill Avenue will be closed from Holborne to Cosburn avenues, from 7 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Friday

Church Street Pride Festival: Church Street from Carlton to Hayden streets from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Monday

Trans Pride March: It starts at Church Street between Hayden and Bloor streets, proceeds west on Bloor to Yonge Street, heads south on Yonge to Carlton Street and then east on Carlton to Allan Gardens. Roads in the area wil be closed on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Pride and Remembrance Run: Wellesley Street from Jarvis Street to Queen’s Park Circle and Queen’s Park from College to Bloor streets from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday

Dyke March: It starts at Church between Hayden and Bloor streets, then proceeds west on Bloor to Yonge Street, south on Yonge to Carlton Street, and east on Carlton to Allan Gardens. Roads in the area will be closed between noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Pride Week Trans March: It starts at Church Street and Bloor Street East, heads west on Bloor to Yonge Street, then south on Yonge to Dundas Street East and heads along Dundas Street East to Victoria Street. Several rolling road closures will take place in the area between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., with the parade taking place from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

Road work
The entire intersection of College and Bathurst will be closed for TTC work until July 12.

Also, Queen Street West between Spadina Avenue and Bathurst Street is reduced to one lane in either direction for watermain replacement and and reconstruction work. The construction is expected to last until Oct. 8.

Woman killed in Mississauga home explosion

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jun 29th, 2016

A woman was killed and nine other people were injured in a massive house explosion on Hickory Drive near Dixie Road in Mississauga on Tuesday.

Peel police couldn’t say if the victim was inside the home that exploded just after 4 p.m.

Approximately 58 homes have had their utilities cut off for the investigation, displacing up to 100 residents.

Mississauga fire chief Tim Beckett said one house was reduced to rubble while at least six others were “extremely damaged.” Other homes suffered minor structural damage.

Beckett said it’s too early to determine what caused the blast, but gas lines are being shut off as a precaution and the area has been cordoned off for an investigation.

Courtesy of Dave Ells on Facebook. CITYNEWS.

Photo credit: Zed Zidaric 


Beckett said 700 addresses are impacted by the tight perimeter closed off for the investigation overnight between Eastgate Parkway, Rathburn Road, Golden Orchard Drive and Dixie Road.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie said family reunification is a priority at this point, urges displaced residents to head to Burnhamthorpe Community Centre. Peel police said there is no estimated time of return for residents that have been displaced.

A witness named Dave told CityNews that he had just gotten into his truck when the blast happened.

“I close the door and my truck literally jumped off the ground two feet,” he explained.

“I thought my truck had exploded and then I saw a bunch of debris (and) smashed glass. All the garage doors in the townhouse complex were completely blown through.”


Photos on social media show plumes of dark smoke billowing from the neighbourhood and CityNews and 680 NEWS viewers say their homes were shaken by the blast.

Nearby Burnhamthorpe Community Centre at 1500 Gulleden Dr. is being set up as a temporary shelter for displaced residents. By Wednesday morning, Red Cross workers at the Centre said about 100 people had registered there, but no one had stayed the night.

Most people stayed with family or friends, while the Red Cross put five people up in hotel rooms.

At least one school was closed Wednesday because of the blast.

Courtesy of Dave Ells on Facebook. CITYNEWS.
Courtesy of Dave Ells on Facebook. CITYNEWS.

Canadians ‘happy at home’ when it comes to travel, new poll suggests

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 29th, 2016

A new poll finds that while most Canadians have lived or travelled abroad, the majority see their homeland as a top vacation destination.

A survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for Historica Canada says 68 per cent of participants agreed that “Canada has something for everyone, so why go anywhere else.”

About a third of respondents, on the other hand, said they think Canada is a great place to live but not that interesting to visit and they’d rather travel outside its borders.

Related stories:

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‘Craft cannabis’ growers fight for legal role, say B.C. jobs, tourism at stakeA>

Among those planning Canadian vacations, most — 32 and 24 per cent, respectively — are headed to Ontario or Quebec, where the bulk of the country’s population lives.

But a quarter of respondents say British Columbia is their dream destination in Canada, far ahead of any other province, though almost as many (22 per cent) say they long to go on a coast-to-coast road trip.

The poll, administered online to 1,008 Canadians between June 17 and 22, is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

“Canadians are very happy at home and there’s a lot to choose from in Canada and Canadians in general celebrate that,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president and CEO of Historica Canada.

Many respondents (46 per cent) say they would prefer to travel domestically rather than head south of the border even if the exchange rate wasn’t a factor, although 26 per cent say they would choose the U.S. if our dollar was stronger, the poll says.

Close to a third say their preference depends more on the weather, noting they like summer in Canada and winter down south.

Those at least 55 years old are the most likely to choose based on the season — 36 per cent say that affects their decision, compared to 32 per cent of those 35 to 54 years old and 24 per cent of those 18 to 34.

Nearly four in 10 say they visit the U.S. less often due to safety concerns.

“There’s a lot of general discussion lately of gun issues, of crime issues, how much does that affect you? And you see a high return there of people saying, ‘Actually, yeah, I do think about that and that makes it less likely for me to go there,’” Wilson-Smith said.

Still, the average Canadian has lived in or visited five other countries, the poll finds. Most (39 per cent) have been to two to five other countries, while 20 per cent have visited one and 15 per cent have never left the country.

Residents of Alberta were the most likely (22 per cent) to say they’ve never left Canada, followed by those in Atlantic Canada (19 per cent).

Prolific travellers — those who have been to at least 10 other countries — were most likely to be from British Columbia, with Ontario as runner-up and Quebec close behind.


Obama joins Trudeau, Mexican president for North American Leaders’ Summit

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 29th, 2016

The love-in between Canada and Mexico will expand into a continental threesome as U.S. President Barack Obama joins Justin Trudeau and Enrique Pena Nieto for the North American Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday.

The huddle, colloquially known as the Three Amigos summit, is expected to focus on clean energy and climate change.

Related stories:

Canada’s beef industry welcomes Mexico lifting import ban on older cattle
Chretien lays claim to ‘Three Amigos’ nickname, says gathering sets example
Mexican president continues Canadian stay with state visit in Ottawa

The Mexican president, who has been on a state visit to Canada since Monday, is to sign on to the Canada-U.S. methane reduction deal announced when Trudeau visited Washington last March.

That accord pledges to cut methane emissions 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

The three leaders are also expected to announce a goal to achieve 50 per cent clean power generation across North America by 2025, including renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage and increased energy efficiency.

Ahead of today’s summit, Trudeau and Pena Nieto cleared away Tuesday long-standing trade and travel irritants: Canada will lift its controversial visa requirement for Mexican visitors before the end of the year while Mexico will end restrictions on Canadian beef imports.

The two leaders touted the relationship between their countries as a model of political and economic co-operation, in sharp contrast to the growing strains of protectionism and isolation sweeping the United States and Britain — a message that’s likely to intensify today when Obama joins Trudeau and Pena Nieto for a day of summitry.

The trio are to hold a joint news conference at the conclusion of the summit this afternoon.

After the summit, Trudeau is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Obama, who will cap his daylong visit to the Canadian capital with an address to Parliament.

Toronto transit front-and-centre at executive committee meeting

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jun 28th, 2016

Toronto’s transit future is in the hands of Mayor John Tory’s executive committee on Tuesday, with the Scarborough subway extension, SmartTrack, and how to pay for it all up for discussion.

Last week, Tory and the province announced new stops for the mayor’s SmartTrack and GO Transit’s Regional Express Rail Network.

The Scarborough subway has been a big topic on the transit agenda. It’s now a one-stop extension to Scarborough Town Centre, but is expected to cost $900 million more than originally estimated, to around $3 billion. Despite the increase, Tory is committed to moving forward with the plan.

Related stories:

Tory defends extra $900M for Scarborough subway extension

Scarborough subway price tag hits $3.16B

Four new GO stations to serve SmartTrack

Four new GO stations push SmartTrack plans forward

And now there’s more controversy over public transit in Scarborough. In an opinion piece in theToronto Star, which was published on Monday, the mayor appears to link a large immigrant population in Scarborough to the outcry over the increased cost.

Tory wrote “many of the subway’s loudest critics do not live or work in Scarborough, where more than half the population is born outside of Canada. When they say this is too much to spend on a subway, the inference seems to be that it’s too much to spend on this part of the city.”

Coun. Josh Mattlow responded to the opinion piece tweeting: “Sad, desperate and shameful. I had hoped for much more from a mayor who preached civility.”

The mayor’s office responded on Tuesday, saying “the mayor’s editorial was not meant to be divisive but to point out an inequity in our transit system that needs to be addressed.”

“While reaction to transit debates in this city is strong it’s encouraging to know that we all care deeply about how we build our city,” spokesperson Amanda Galbraith said in an emailed statement to CityNews.

“The bottom line is Scarborough is underserved by transit. Dramatically so compared to the rest of the city. Many of the people who live in Scarborough are newcomers to our city, and they need opportunities for mobility on transit.”

Ikea recalling Malm dresser after three deaths

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Jun 28th, 2016

Three deaths in the U.S. within the past two years is reportedly leading Swedish furniture giant Ikea to recall one of its best-selling dressers.

The U.S. Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission says the expected announcement from Ikea will concern millions of Malm-style dressers, but it’s not clear if the recall will cover the six million sold in Canada.

The three children were killed when dressers tipped over onto them. Six children have died since 1989 and 36 have been injured, ABC reports.

“There are millions and millions of these products in people’s homes,” said Rachel Weintraub, of the Consumer Federation of America.

“The evidence we have of the hazard is robust, the number of people who could be impacted is profound, and it’s incredibly important to take action.”

Ikea issued a repair kit last year that would secure the dressers to the wall, but now says further action is needed.

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