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First snow, then rain on the way for Toronto and GTA

CityNews | posted Monday, Jan 9th, 2017

Getting to work on Tuesday morning could be especially tricky in the GTA.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Toronto, the GTA and much of southern Ontario, as well as a winter weather travel advisory

The national weather agency said a Colorado low is expected to move over southwestern Ontario Monday night, bringing with around 10 centimetres of snow on Tuesday.

The snow is expected to change to rain later in the day.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the snow will start overnight, “so the morning commute tomorrow could be quite messy with three centimetres of snow already on the ground.”

She said another 5-10 centimetres is expected throughout the day on Tuesday before it changes over to rain around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.

Caledon, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Peterborough and other eastern parts of the province could see in excess of 10 centimetres of snow by Tuesday night.

Environment Canada also issued a travel advisory on Monday for the Highway 401 corridor between Oshawa and Belleville, warning of lake-effect snow. It was lifted just before 9 a.m.

Meantime, the extreme cold weather alert for Toronto, which the city’s acting medical officer of health issued on Jan. 5, was lifted around 7:30 a.m. on Monday.

Team USA defeats Canada in shootout to win gold at WJHC

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jan 6th, 2017

Canada forward Mathieu Joseph (11) reacts after losing to the United States in gold medal game hockey action at the IIHF World Junior Championship, Thursday, January 5, 2017 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canada came so close to world junior championship gold that, after losing in a shootout, it was an effort for defenceman Thomas Chabot just to talk about it.

“It’s hard for me right now,” Canada’s star rearguard said after the United States won a spectacular, back-and-fourth final 5-4 when Troy Terry scored the only goal in a shootout.

“I lost one of the biggest games of my life.”

Canada wasted a pair of two-goal leads in regulation time and outshot the Americans 17-7 in a wild 20-minute overtime, only to be thwarted time and again by U.S. goaltender Tyler Parsons.

Then Parsons stoned all five Canadians in the shootout while Terry beat Carter Hart between the pads to give the Americans their fourth world junior title.

“I would rather it kept going,” said Chabot, who was named tournament MVP despite the loss. “We had so many chances in the overtime and to go into a shootout, well, it’s not something you can control.

“Obviously I’d have liked to play another period, but that’s how hockey is. We have to give credit to them. They found the back of the net in a shootout and that’s it.”

There has been concern over low attendance at games in Montreal since the tournament started on Dec. 26, but for a Canada-U.S. final, there were 20,173 fans at the Bell Centre, nearly all of them roaring for Canada.

Chabot and Jeremy Lauzon gave Canada the early 2-0 lead only to see Charie McAvoy and Kieffer Bellows tie it in the second. Nicolas Roy and Mathieu Joseph put Canada up 4-2 early in the third, but Bellows scored again and Colin White tied it at 7:07 of the third to help send the game into an extra period.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Lauzon. “Sometimes the crowd was so loud I couldn’t talk to my partner right beside me.

“It was a great experience.”

Chabot, an Ottawa Senators prospect, logged 43 minutes 53 seconds of ice time over four periods.

“As a coach, as a staff, we wanted our players to give everything they had and buy into this team concept,” said Canada coach Dominque Ducharme. “The guys went all out.

“We’re disappointed for our guys. They deserved to be rewarded.”

The U.S. and Canada have faced each other four times in world junior finals, with Canada taking the first in 1997 and the Americans winning the next three – including 2004 and 2010. Canada fell short of winning a 17th title and of repeating their victory when the event was also held in Montreal and Toronto two years ago.

It was only fitting that Terry got the winner. He had three shootout goals in the semifinal against Russia on Wednesday that put the Americans into the final.

“He’s unbelievable,” said U.S. forward Clayton Keller. “He’s my roommate here.

“He’s a guy that doesn’t get nervous. He just has ice in his veins and he came up clutch for us again.”

Canada outshot the Americans 31-28 and 50-36 overall.

Matt Barzal’s pass on a three-man rush went off Joseph’s stick to Chabot on the left side for a shot into an open net 4:38 into the game.

A long stretch of Canadian pressure led to Lauzon’s goal at 9:02 as Adam Fox batted the puck into the slot with his hand and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenceman fired it to the top corner past Parsons.

The Americans bounced back to start the second as Canada left the centre of its zone wide open for McAvoy to cruise in, take a pass from Jordan Greenway and beat Hart glove side from the slot.

A too many men on the ice call against Canada allowed the U.S. to tie it at 9:30 as Bellows tipped a Fox point shot under the crossbar.

Bellows was sent off for kneeing Joseph 55 seconds into the third frame and Roy walked in on the left side and wired a high shot past Parsons at 1:52.

Joseph went briefly for treatment, but returned to take Michael McLeod’s pass up the middle and score his first of the tournament on a breakaway at 4:05.

The Americans struck back 39 seconds later as Bellows one-timed a McAvoy pass from the right side and White evened the score at 7:07 when he redirected a Fox pass at the side of the net past Hart.

Pierre-Luc Dubois wasted a glorious chance when he whiffed on a pass at the doorstep on a power play, a miss that could have given the third overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft the tournament-winning goal.

“We’re proud of our guys,” said Ducharme. “They put so much effort into this. Not being rewarded is disappointing.”

Ah, nuts: Chocolate-loving squirrel bandits target Riverdale convenience store

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 6th, 2017


The owners of a Riverdale convenience store are dealing with some very tiny thieves.

Luke’s Grocery on Logan Avenue near Gerrard Street East has been the victim of chocolate robberies, but the suspects are squirrels.

In a Reddit post, the store said at least two squirrels are involved in the operation but there could be more.

The squirrels have been caught on video stealing the candy bars. The store posted a couple of them have on the YouTube page ‘StopThatSquirrel DropThatBar.’

In each of the the videos, a squirrel is seen sneaking into the store’s open door, going straight for the chocolate bar display, and dashing off with a candy bar.

In one incident, on Oct. 8, 2016, a grey-brown squirrel takes off with a Kinder Bueno, which costs $2. Then on Nov. 19, a black squirrel snatches a Crunchie costing $1.80.

“It’s a different bar each time – O’Henry, Mr. Big, etc. It happens about once every 2-3 days,” the post reads.

“Though we can’t see it the moment it commits the theft (because the bars are displayed below the counter, on the customer’s side), we can hear a distinct rustling. When we come around the counter to try to catch it, we can see the squirrel running off with the bar in its mouth.”

The store owners try to run after the squirrel but to no avail. Even customers have been trying to help catch the chocolate bandit.

“We tried running after it, but it’s still faster. A couple times, passerbys and customers tried chasing after it with us, but once it goes up a tree, it’s game over.”

The store said it has called Animal Services but they are only concerned about lost or killed pets.

“Please consider donating your peanuts to the cause! Join the resistance,” the Reddit post reads.


Poodle found abused and malnourished on Scarborough street

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 6th, 2017


A dog found abused and malnourished in Scarborough on Christmas Eve is recovering in a foster home after receiving treatment, Toronto Animal Services (TAS) says.

A passerby found the male Apricot Poodle in a residential area near Sheppard Avenue East and Meadowvale Road and took it to an emergency veterinary clinic.

The poodle, which TAS is calling Frankie, is about one to two years old and small, weighing about seven pounds.

When it was found, it had an elastic band around its snout, which had caused severe injury to its nose and the tissue inside its mouth.

TAS said the dog will likely require surgery to fix the tissue around its muzzle, but is otherwise recovering and eating well.

“Despite the horrible abuse that Frankie has sustained, he presents as a happy, pleasant, trusting dog — heartbreakingly typical of dogs in his situation,” the TAS said in a post on Instagram.

TAS is asking anyone with information about the case to call 416-338-7297.

To donate towards Frankie’s care, click here.

Walmart Canada, Visa declare truce in half year battle over credit card fees

Alexandra Posadzki, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jan 6th, 2017


Corporate behemoths Walmart Canada and Visa have declared a truce in their dispute over merchant fees, allowing Walmart customers in Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ont., to resume using the credit card beginning Friday.

Both companies said they came to an agreement but did not provide details, calling the arrangement confidential.

Walmart began refusing Visa credit cards at its three stores in Thunder Bay in mid-July. It said it pays more than $100 million in fees every year for customers to use various brands of credit cards, and that the fees charged by Visa were excessive.

That set off a widely watched battle within the retail sector that intensified in October, when Walmart expanded its policy of rejecting Visas to its 16 stores in Manitoba. The retail giant had said it was planning to expand its phase-out of Visa to all of its 400 stores in Canada.

The months-long dispute became so heated that at one point Visa offered its cardholders in Manitoba a reward for buying their groceries somewhere other than Walmart. It launched an advertising campaign in November offering Manitoba Visa cardholders a $10 credit if they spent $50 or more at grocery stores.

The campaign didn’t explicitly mention Walmart or the fee dispute, but a Visa spokeswoman said at the time that the company was hoping to ease any inconvenience for Visa cardholders who can’t use their cards everywhere that they want to.

Visa ran a similar ad in Thunder Bay, promising cardholders there with a $25 credit for every grocery purchase of $75 or more.

Visa previously said it had offered Walmart one of the lowest rates for any merchant in the country, and that if it gave in to the retailer’s demands then other merchants would want a reduction in their fees, as well.

First weekend of 2017: Winter fun, Queen streetcar service disruption starts

Patricia D'Cunha and Samantha Knight | posted Friday, Jan 6th, 2017


Welcome to the first weekend of the new year. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get out of the house more, then you won’t have any trouble finding something to do in the city this weekend.

If you’re a TTC rider, especially one who rides the 501 Queen streetcar, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that service on the Queen streetcar will be disrupted in the west end due to construction. The good news is that this work is being done to provide better service for TTC riders in the long run.

Hot Docs ‘best of 2016’
The new year begins with a recap of the best documentaries of 2016, which are being screened at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers until Jan. 12.

The Beatles visit a television studio in 1964. GETTY IMAGES/Mark and Colleen Hayward


Some of the documentaries include ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week,’ directed by Ron Howard; ‘Under the Sun,’ an inside look at the North Korean government’s propaganda machine; ‘The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble’ and ‘Gleason,’ which is about former NFL star Steve Gleason’s journey after being diagnosed with ALS and includes a live video journal he made for his son before his son was born in 2011.

Run4RKids 2017
Start the new year right by taking part in a run that helps raise awareness and money for youth and their families who are going through trauma and addiction.

On Saturday, participants will be taking part in several half marathons and marathons at the Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University.

Participants who raise $500 in pledges can race any of the events for free.

Mayor’s Winter Skate Party
He makes ‘dad’ jokes and on Sunday you can hear them in-person at Mayor John Tory’s skating party.

The event, which is part of the 100 years of Maple Leafs Hockey celebration, is being held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Colonel Samuel Smith Park. Several councillors will also be joining in the fun.

501 Queen streetcar disruption
Starting Sunday and for the rest of 2017, westbound streetcars will be turning back at Roncesvalles Avenue, so that track and bridge work can be done on The Queensway, Lake Shore Boulevard and at Humber Loop. Streetcars will be bypassing Humber Loop as well.

This means that anyone travelling between the Long Branch loop and Roncesvalles will need to rely on shuttle buses.

Winter Week
Winter Week festivities will take over the city this weekend, before the event wraps up on Sunday. The weeklong celebration of 100 years of Maple Leafs Hockey kicked off on Tuesday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs salute the fans after beating the Detroit Red Wings during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Nov. 22, 2014. NHLI/Getty Images/Graig Abel


The event offers outdoor skating, appearances from Leafs alumni and special guests, Hockey Hall of Fame displays, as well as games, activities, music and giveaways.

Saturday’s event will be held at Nathan Phillips Square from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday’s celebrations will take place at Colonel Samuel Smith Park from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Winter Bird Count for Kids
Explore winter bird species this weekend at the Winter Bird Count for Kids at Tommy Thompson Park. Toronto and Region Conservation and Bird Studies Canada will guide you through the experience, which runs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday.

Guests will learn to identify winter shorebirds, go for a snowy nature walk, and enjoy some family time outdoors. Binoculars and warm refreshments will be provided.

All levels of birding expertise are welcome. The event is free to attend.

Toronto Franchise Expo
Take the steps to owning your own business at the Toronto Franchise Expo. The two-day event teaches aspiring business owners the ins and outs of franchise ownership.

Over 140 businesses are represented at the event, including Trade Secrets, Mr. Sub, the UPS Store, Panago and Canadian Tire.

Seminars are included with admission, which is $10 at the door and $8 online. The expo runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No Pants Subway Ride
Don’t be alarmed if you see some people taking the subway this Sunday sans pants. There is a reason for it: it’s the 15th anniversary of the No Pants Subway Ride.

The celebration began in 2002 in New York. It was started by a group called ‘Improv Everywhere’ and is hosted here in the city by the ‘No Pants Society.’

Those who want to ditch their “leg prisons” can meet at the designated waiting area at Finch Station at 3 p.m. Shortly after that, commuters will take to the underground rails and then march in a parade from Dufferin Station to Penny’s Bar on Bloor Street West for a ‘No Pants Dance After Party.’ The pantsless subway rides will continue until the subway closes for the night.

We’re No. 1! Canada tops New York Times’ list of 2017 travel destinations

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 5th, 2017


Canadians won’t have to travel far to visit the New York Times’ top destination of 2017: we’re already here.

Canada took the No. 1-spot on the newspaper’s list of ’52 Places to Go in 2017,‘ beating out destinations like Chile’s Atacama Desert and Tijuana, Mexico.

The Great White North was praised for our, yes, wide-open spaces, and also our “cosmopolitan” cities. Another draw is the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and the federal government’s decision to make all national parks free in celebration.

“All of the country’s more than 200 national parks and historic sites are offering free admission through the year, from the turquoise lakes and mountain peaks of Banff in Alberta to the rolling dunes and red sandstone cliffs of Prince Edward Island along the Atlantic Coast to the newest reserve, the glacial-rounded Mealy Mountains in Labrador,” the Times wrote.

Last year, Toronto was No. 7 on the New York Times list of ’52 Places to Go in 2016.’ This year, the city didn’t make the cut. But there was one similarity: both last year and this year, the Times said the weak Canadian dollar was a big incentive for American visitors.

Still, Toronto wasn’t entirely left out of U.S. attention: Conde Nast named the ROM one of the 15 most beautiful museums in the world.

Perfect for those on a stay-cation.

People walk in front of the Royal Ontario Museum on Aug. 7, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

A view of Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park is shown in an undated handout photo. Parks Canada is preparing for an increase in visitors this year as people across the country and around the world request free annual passes to explore the nation’s natural treasures as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – Travel Alberta *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Tolls coming to Hwy. 407 extension on Feb. 1

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jan 5th, 2017


The free ride is coming to an end for users of the new section of Highway 407 and Highway 412 east of Toronto.

The new Highway 407 runs eastward from Brock Road in Pickering to Harmony Road in Oshawa, while Highway 412 connects Highway 407 to the 401.

The highways opened last June and customers were able to travel free of charge while the tolling infrastructure was being installed and calibrated.

Motorists can use the same transponder that is used to drive on the privately operated Highway 407 ETR (Express Toll Route), but the revenue will go to help fund infrastructure and transit projects across the province.

Drivers will use one transponder and receive one invoice, making the tolling process seamless, the province said.

The government says the tolls will be lower than those on Highway 407 ETR.

Related stories:

First phase of eastern Highway 407 set to open Monday morning
Highway 407 extension opens in Durham Region

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