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Auld Lang Syne: New Year’s events, what’s open and closed


A clock counts down to New Year’s Day. GETTY IMAGES/Jamie Grill

“For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.”

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, many people will be singing the traditional Scottish folk tune ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ as they remember the year that passed and toast to the future. The three words literally mean “old long since” and loosely translates to “for old times’ sake.”

While some people will be celebrating with dinner and parties, others will be opening champagne at home with family and friends. As always, please drink responsibly and don’t drink and drive.

Don’t have any plans for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day yet? Below are some events.

If you are heading out on Jan. 1, click here to scroll down to a list of what’s open and closed over New Year’s. Since New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, several businesses including government offices and Canada Post offices will be observing Jan. 2 as a holiday for Jan. 1.


New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square
Ring in 2017 at Nathan Phillips Square. The 32nd annual New Year’s Eve event runs from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. More than 50,000 people are expected to take over the square for a night of skating, music and dancing.

Performers include Juno award-winning band Walk Off The Earth, DJ Shubb (one of the original members of A Tribe Called Red), Jamaican-Canadian musician Exco Levi, Mexican-Canadian MC Boogat, and rising star Nefe. A fleet of food trucks will be on hand throughout the night. Fireworks will go off at midnight to signal the New Year and officially kick off the year-long celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.


New Year’s Eve Comedy Extravaganza
If you’re looking to close out 2016 with some laughs, then Massey Hall is the place for you. The New Year’s Eve Comedy Extravaganza is in its 16th year. The event is hosted by well-known stand up comic and actress, Caroline Rhea, and is headlined by veteran comedian Mike MacDonald. The evening features a flock of stand-up comedians hand-picked by the founder of Yuk Yuk’s. The laughs start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $70.

A Very Bowie New Year’s Eve
Dance to the sounds of David Bowie this New Year’s Eve at The Old Nick on the Danforth. The band ‘I Will Be King’ will be paying tribute to the late singer-songwriter. The show starts at 9 p.m. Party favours and champagne at midnight will be included. There’s no cover charge for the evening’s festivities.


Toronto Polar Bear Dip
Make 2017 a year of adventure by taking a dip into the chilly waters of Lake Ontario. Over 500 brave “dippers” will be swapping their winter coats for bathing suits at noon on Sunday, as they take part in the 12th annual Toronto Polar Bear Dip at Sunnyside Beach.

The event helps raise money for Habitat for Humanity Greater Toronto Area. Since 2005, the Toronto Polar Bear Club has raised almost $370,000 for build projects in the city. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m.

2017 Centennial Classic and 3HL New Years Day Classic
Enjoy some hockey action to kick off the new year.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will face-off in an outdoor regular season game at BMO Field this Sunday, in the first-ever NHL Centennial Classic. The game will be a rematch of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, when the Leafs won 3-2 in a shootout. The puck drops at 3 p.m. Tickets start at $145.


Throughout 2017, the NHL will conduct a centennial celebration featuring a variety of ceremonies and special events that will highlight 100 years of NHL hockey and a number of milestone anniversaries for clubs, including the Maple Leafs.

Meantime, the 3HL New Year’s Day classic will be held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The 3HL Tour is the world’s first three on three Professional Hockey League. The event features eight teams of aspiring, and accomplished, pro hockey players competing in a single elimination bracket style tournament. Tickets cost $8 for children and $29 for adults. A portion of the proceeds will support March of Dimes Canada and Prostate Cancer Canada.

What’s open and closed



Dec. 31: Service will run on a Saturday schedule but subways and most surface routes will extend later than usual – subways between 3:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and surface routes until 4 a.m. Click here for details.
Jan. 1: Sunday service schedule (subways start at 8 a.m.)

GO Transit
Dec. 31: Trains will run on a Saturday schedule with late-night service and free rides after 7 p.m. (Check the GO website for schedule details)
Jan. 1: Sunday service
Jan. 2: Sunday service

Other GTA transit
Some GTA transit services are also offering free rides at or after 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Click on the links below for more information:

Designated driver services

Below are some designated driver services across the GTA:


Bramalea City Centre
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Dufferin Mall
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Eaton Centre
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 1: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Erin Mills Town Centre
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Fairview Mall
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Pacific Mall
Open all year round

Scarborough Town Centre
Dec. 31: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Sherway Gardens
Dec. 31: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Shops at Don Mills
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Square One
Dec. 31: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The Promenade
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Toronto Premium Outlets
Dec. 31: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Vaughan Mills
Dec. 31: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Yorkdale Mall
Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed

Grocery/drug stores

Dec. 31: Most stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Jan. 1: Closed

Dec. 31: Most stores will be open from 7 am. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Jan. 1: Closed

Shoppers Drug Mart
Select stores will be open on New Year’s Day. Click here to check the hours at your local store.

Dec. 31: Most stores will be open from 7 am. to 6 p.m. Click here to check the hours at your local store.
Jan. 1: Closed

LCBO/Beer Stores

Dec. 31: All stores will open at regular hours and close at 6 p.m. Click here to check hours at your local LCBO.
Jan. 1: Closed

The Beer Store
Dec. 31: All stores will open at regular hours and close at 6 p.m. Click here to check hours at your local store.
Jan. 1: Closed

Tourist attractions

Dec. 31: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Jan. 1: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Casa Loma
Dec. 31 and Jan. 1: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

CN Tower
Dec. 31: 9 a.m. – midnight
Jan. 1: 10 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Ontario Science Centre
Dec. 31 and Jan. 1: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Dec. 31 and Jan. 1: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Royal Ontario Museum
Dec. 31: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 1: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Toronto Zoo
Dec. 31 and Jan. 1: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Government offices and banks

Dec. 31: Most bank branches will be open but government offices are closed
Jan. 1: Closed (no mail delivery)
Jan. 2: Closed (no mail delivery)

Note: Most City of Toronto operations and all municipal offices will be closed on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.

Toronto Public Library

Dec. 31: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Jan. 1: Closed
Jan. 2: Closed

Toronto garbage collection

Since New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, there are no changes to the curbside pickup schedule.

City of Toronto recreation centres

Dec. 31: Community recreation centres will close at 4 p.m., except those with scheduled permits.
Jan. 1: Closed

Click here for list of activities to do in the city over the holidays.


What’s new in Ontario and Toronto for 2017


A new year means new taxes and regulations that will go into effect in Ontario and in the City of Toronto.

Tax and regulation changes in Ontario that kick in Jan. 1 will provide some relief from soaring electricity rates while pushing up the cost of home heating, and give first-time home buyers a financial break.

In Toronto, the cost to ride the TTC will increase by 10 cents on Jan. 1. The hike will apply to tokens, adult tickets, and cash fares for students and seniors. The cost of a Metropass will also go up. Only adult cash fares will remain the same, at $3.25.

Canadians will ring in the new year with a number of tax changes that will affect the bottom line of federal and provincial governments.

Below are some changes across the province:

The government will remove the eight-per-cent provincial portion of the HST from electricity bills, but the Liberals’ cap-and-trade program to fight climate change will add about $6 a month to natural gas bills in the new year.

The province is doubling the maximum refund of the land-transfer tax to $4,000 for people buying their first home, which means they won’t pay the tax on the first $368,000 of a purchase price.

Restaurant chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario must start posting caloric content on menus as of Jan. 1, but not sodium levels.

Travel agents and wholesalers must include the all-in price for their services and vacation packages in all advertising.

New regulations for the towing industry will require companies to post rates for towing and storage of vehicles on their trucks and provide itemized invoices. They must also accept credit cards and cannot demand cash.

Child support will no longer be treated as income for people receiving social assistance or disability payments, ending the provincial clawback from some of the lowest-income residents.

The maximum cost of a payday loan will drop from $21 to $18 for every $100 borrowed.

The Smoke Free Ontario Act is updated to ban the sale of clove cigarettes and most menthol-flavoured tobacco products, which the government says is the most popular flavour with young people when they start smoking.

Police in Ontario will no longer be able to engage in carding, or random street checks. New rules prohibit what is termed “the arbitrary collection of identifying information by police,” who must tell people up front that they have a right to walk away without providing identification or answering their questions.

Another major legislative change that starts Jan. 1 recognizes the legal status of all parents, including same sex couples, regardless of how their child was conceived.

The Succession Law Reform Act will allow a child who is conceived through assisted reproduction up to three years after the death of their parent to inherit and seek support from their deceased parent’s estate.

There are new requirements for large businesses and non-profit organizations to make public spaces such as parking lots, play areas and service counters accessible for people with disabilities.

Passengers freed after TTC bus hits pole downtown

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Dec 30th, 2016

The TTC was not “The Better Way” for a group of passengers Thursday evening when their bus hit a pole.

The bus was covered in live wires after the crash, and emergency workers had to use the jaws of life to free passengers from the wreckage at Queen and Sherbourne streets after 5 p.m. The riders were trapped inside because of the fallen hydro wires after the crash.

“I was in one of the back seats,” said Andrew Combeer. “I wasn’t really even paying attention, and all of a sudden it was just jolted awake and the lights had gone off in the bus and the light pole came down right next to us. I think he just crashed into the light pole.”

No serious injuries were reported — only bumps and bruises — but seven people were taken to hospital.

The road was shut down for the investigation and cleanup but has since been reopened.

There’s no word yet on what led to the crash.


Renata Ford arrested for suspected drunk driving

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Dec 29th, 2016

Renata Ford arrives at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Sept.17, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The widow of late Mayor Rob Ford has been arrested for suspected impaired driving, Toronto police say.

Police said Renata Ford was arrested in the parking lot of a shopping plaza near The Kingsway and Royal York Road around 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

She is facing charges of driving while impaired and driving with over 80 mg of alcohol.

Ford was alone in the vehicle at the time.

She has held in custody overnight, but was released on Thursday morning. It’s not yet known when she will appear in court.

Rob Ford was mayor from 2010 to 2014. He died of cancer in March at the age of 46.’

With files from The Canadian Press

Debbie Reynolds passes away a day after death of daughter Carrie Fisher

The associated press | posted Thursday, Dec 29th, 2016

Actress Debbie Reynolds, the star of the 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain,” has died. She was 84.

Her son, Todd Fisher, said Reynolds died Wednesday, a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who was 60.

“She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” Fisher said from Cedars-Sinai Medical Cdenter, where his mother was taken by ambulance earlier Wednesday.

He said the stress of his sister’s death “was too much” for Reynolds.

Reynolds enjoyed the very heights of show business success and endured the depths of personal tragedy and betrayal. She lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor and two other husbands plundered her for millions. Fisher, who found lasting fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars” and struggled for much of her life with drug addiction and mental health problems, died on Tuesday after falling ill on a plane and being hospitalized.

In her screen career, Reynolds was a superstar early in life. After two minor roles at Warner Bros. and three supporting roles at MGM, studio boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in “Singin’ in the Rain,” despite Kelly’s objections. She was 19 with little dance experience, and she would be appearing with two of the screen’s greatest dancers, Donald O’Connor and Kelly, who also co-directed.

“Gene Kelly was hard on me, but I think he had to be,” Reynolds, who more than held her own in the movie, said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O’Connor had been dancing since he was three months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old. … I think Gene knew I had to be challenged.”

“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” was based on the life of a Colorado woman who rose from poverty to riches and triumphed over tragedy, including the sinking of the Titanic.

The 1964 Meredith Willson musical, with Molly’s defiant song “I Ain’t Down Yet,” brought Reynolds her only Academy Award nomination. She also received a Tony nomination in 1973 when she starred on Broadway in the revival of “Irene,” in which her daughter also appeared.

After her transition from starlet to star, Reynolds became immensely popular with teenage girls and even more so when in 1955 she married Eddie Fisher, the pop singer whose fans were equally devoted.

The couple made a movie together, “Bundle of Joy,” which seemed to mirror the 1956 birth of Carrie. The Fishers also had a son, Todd, named for Eddie’s close friend and Taylor’s husband, showman Mike Todd.

During this period, Reynolds had a No. 1 hit on the pop charts in 1957 with “Tammy,” the Oscar-nominated song from her film “Tammy and the Bachelor.” But the Cinderella story ended after Mike Todd died in a 1958 airplane crash. Fisher consoled the widow and soon announced he was leaving his wife and two children to marry Taylor.

The celebrity world seemed to lose its mind. Taylor was assailed as a husband stealer, Fisher as a deserter of his family. Reynolds won sympathy as the innocent victim, a role emphasized when she appeared before news cameras with diaper pins on her blouse. A cover headline in Photoplay magazine in late 1958 blared: “Smiling through her tears, Debbie says: I’m still very much in love with Eddie.”

Fisher’s singing career never recovered, but Taylor, who left him for Richard Burton in 1962, remained a top star. And Reynolds’ film career flourished. She starred with Glenn Ford in “The Gazebo,” Tony Curtis in “The Rat Race,” Fred Astaire in “The Pleasure of His Company,” Andy Griffith in “The Second Time Around,” with the all-star cast in “How the West Was Won” and Ricardo Montalban in “The Singing Nun.”

She also provided the voice of Charlotte the spider in the 1973 animated “Charlotte’s Web.”

But over the years, her marital woes continued.

In 1960 Reynolds married shoe magnate Harry Karl. The marriage ended in disaster when she discovered that Karl, a compulsive gambler, had devastated her assets and left her deeply in debt. She divorced him in 1973 and toured tirelessly with her song and dance show to pay off creditors.

Reynolds’ third marriage, to Virginia businessman Richard Hamlett in 1984, proved equally disastrous. In 1992, against friends’ advice, she paid $10 million to buy and convert the faded Paddlewheel Hotel in Las Vegas into the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino. She performed nightly and conducted tours of her movie memorabilia, which she had collected since MGM auctioned its artifacts in 1970.

Reynolds, who ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1997 and selling the property at auction the next year, accused Hamlett of making off with her money. She once again went on the road.

“All of my husbands have robbed me blind,” she asserted in 1999. “The only one who didn’t take money was Eddie Fisher. He just didn’t pay for the children.”

In her later years, Reynolds continued performing her show, travelling 40 weeks a year. She also appeared regularly on television, appearing as John Goodman’s mother on “Roseanne” and a mom on “Will & Grace.” Her books included the memoirs “Unsinkable” and “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

In 1996 she won critical acclaim in the title role of Albert Brooks’ movie “Mother,” in which Brooks played a struggling writer who moves back home and works on his strained relationship with Reynolds’ character. A few years earlier, she had wanted to play the mother in the film adaptation of Fisher’s bittersweet autobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge,” which featured mother-daughter actresses. Director Mike Nichols cast Shirley MacLaine instead.

Reynolds and Fisher were featured together in the HBO documentary “Bright Lights,” scheduled for release in 2017.

Mary Frances Reynolds spent the first eight years of her life in Depression-era poverty in El Paso, Texas, where she was born on April 1, 1932. Her father, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was transferred to southern California and the family settled in Burbank, near Warner Bros. studio.

The girl flourished, winning 48 Girl Scout merit badges, excelling in sports and playing French horn and bass viola in the Burbank Youth Symphony. Girlfriends persuaded her to enter the beauty contest for Miss Burbank, and she won over the judges by lip-syncing to a Betty Hutton record.

She did team up with Taylor — long since divorced from Fisher — and two other veterans, Joan Collins and MacLaine, for the 2001 TV movie “These Old Broads.” The script, co-written by Reynolds’ daughter, was about aging, feuding actresses who get together for a reunion show. Reynolds would look back wryly on the Taylor affair, acknowledging that no man could have resisted her and that she actually voted for Taylor when she was up for best actress in 1960. The former romantic rivals had reconciled years before Taylor died in 2011; Reynolds recalled they had both been passengers on the Queen Elizabeth.

“I sent a note to her and she sent a note to me in passing, and then we had dinner together,” she told The Huffington Post a few months after Taylor’s death. “She was married to Richard Burton by then. I had been remarried at that point. And we just said, ‘Let’s call it a day.’ And we got smashed. And we had a great evening, and stayed friends since then.”


AP entertainment reporters Hillel Italie in New York and Sandy Cohen and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report. The late Associated Press writer Bob Thomas contributed biographical material to this report.

Be careful out there: Messy commute in the GTA

News staff | posted Thursday, Dec 29th, 2016

It is shaping up to be a messy commute with a mixed bag of wintry weather hitting the GTA early Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Environment Canada issued a weather advisory for the City of Toronto and parts of southern Ontario. It remains in effect for the region.

“With the snow falling during the morning rush hour, holiday travelers and commuters may experience travel delays,” the agency warned.

Environment Canada said around five to eight centimetres of snow is expected to fall. 680 NEWS meteorologist Harold Hosein said some areas could get up to 10 centimetres of snow.

Some parts of the GTA, especially near the lake, are seeing wet snow or a mix of rain or snow.

“We’ve got snow all across southwestern Ontario, all of the GTA and into eastern Ontario, so wherever you go this morning and into the afternoon hours, you will be experiencing a slippery drive,” Hosein said.

There are around 60 flight cancellations in and out of Pearson International Airport. Click here to check your flights status.

There is also a snow squall watch in effect for Caledon, Newmarket, Uxbridge, Dufferin and Barrie.

Hosein said another round of snow, around 5-10 centimetres, is on the way for New Year’s Eve.

Police investigate shooting at King and Spadina

PATRICIA D'CUNHA | posted Thursday, Dec 29th, 2016

Toronto police are investigating an early-morning shooting in the downtown core that sent one person to hospital.

Emergency crews were called to King Street and Spadina Avenue around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Paramedics told 680 NEWS they could not locate the victim when they arrived on the scene, and that they may have taken themselves to hospital.

The extent of the victim’s injuries is not yet known.

There is no word on a suspect.

A portion of King was closed for the police investigation but has since reopened.

Top 5 health trends for 2017

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Dec 28th, 2016

With the new year around the corner, health expert Bryce Wylde shares the top 5 trends that will keep your body healthy:

  1. The lupin bean and vegan omega 3 sources:
    Also known as the miracle bean, lupin bean is high in fibre and protein. It is completely vegan and lowers cholesterol, making it great for diabetics!
  2. Guar bean from India:
    Fibre is 2017’s protein! Did you know about 60% of North Americans have confirmed IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) making fibre much more necessary in our daily diet. This soluble fiber is invisible, tasteless, odourless and colourless. It also helps with the absorption of minerals.
  3. The latest application for probiotics, Blis-K12:
    Blis-K12 is an oral probiotic that supports healthy bacteria in the mouth. Available in chewable or swallowable forms, Blis-K12 assists in the fight against sore throats!
  4. Nootropics (from Silicon Valley) crank up cognitive function:
    ‘Noootropics’ or ‘smart supplements’ improve cognitive functions including memory, creativity, and motivation. They can be found in vitamins B6 and B12.
  5. Boosting energy sources:
    Fire up your mitochondria for clean energy, good focus, and better sleep patterns, with theanine (an extract of green tea).


Check out the full video here:

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