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GTAA proposes major transit hub at Pearson airport

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport could soon be home to a major transit hub.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) unveiled plans on Tuesday to create a multi-modal transportation centre at the country’s largest airport.

The hub would connect regional and local transit lines — including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Mississauga Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Finch West LRT and SmartTrack — as well as the UP Express and a high-speed rail line to Kitchener.

Howard Eng, president and CEO of the GTAA, said it’s time to catch up with other major cities across the globe.

“By the time New York and Chicago were the size that Toronto is today, they each had at least two major transportation hubs,” he said in a statement.

“Now is the time to ensure that better transit options are in place; otherwise we risk squandering the significant opportunities that are part and parcel of the exciting growth that the airport, the city and the region are experiencing.”

Mayor John Tory said he’s very excited about the plan, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered.

“The devil becomes in the details, which is … where is it going to be? Who’s going to pay for it?” Tory said. “I think the very fact we’re having the discussion now is very positive and we should now move to that next stage of deliberations.”

According to the GTAA, more than 300,000 people work in the area around Pearson — which includes Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto.

“Location matters and Toronto Pearson’s close proximity to Brampton gives us a definite advantage when it comes to attracting global companies to our city,” Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey said in a statement.

“A major multi-modal transit centre serving the western GTA, located at our airport will provide a critical connection between Brampton and the rest of the world.”

The proposed location for the hub is on Airport Road across from terminals 1 and 3, with access from Highways 409 and 427 and from Airport Road.

The goal is to have the hub completed by 2027.


Shoppers warned after PC Plus accounts breached

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Shoppers are being warned to get smart with their online presence after several people were scammed out of their President’s Choice Plus Points.

Deanne Sharpe said she went to a London Superstore on Saturday, only to be told 110,000 points were gone from her account.

Sharpe told the cashier “No that can’t be right … the last time I checked before I came here it was 124 (thousand points), plus what I earned today.”

Sharpe then called customer service and after spending 45 minutes on hold, was told her points had been spent at a store Quebec. Sharp said she’s never been to Quebec.

A number of viewers and readers have reached out to CityNews with similar stories, including Vishal Gupta.

“I went to Fortinos to grab some lunch,” Gupta explained. “When I went to pay, I realized that the points balance on my receipt was about 100,000 lower than it should have been.”

President’s Choice Plus Points can be used to buy food and other merchandise at stores within the Loblaw Companies Limited chain.

The company has declined several interview requests from CityNews on this issue but, in a written statement, drew attention to data breaches at other large companies.

“There have been a number of high-profile privacy breaches recently, most notably Yahoo and LinkedIn, where large numbers of usernames and passwords were accessed,” Kevin Groh, Loblaw vice president Corporate Affairs and Communications, wrote.

“If someone uses a favourite username and password for multiple sites and one of those sites is exposed, their other accounts can be exposed too.”

The company recently sent an email to PC Club members, urging them to update their passwords on a regular basis.

Daniel Tobok, CEO of cyber-security company Cytelligence, said thieves don’t need to gather all your information from one place. Instead, they can pull your profile from snippets of information throughout the web.

“The bad guys actually are extremely organized and they do have file systems for information that they take and breach,” Tobok warned. “You have to be diligent. You do have to have a sense of security in terms of OK is this a smart thing that I’m doing. Am I publishing my information out there too much?”

Loblaw said it will reimburse customers who have had their points stolen.

Toronto police said their Financial Crimes Unit has received no complaints but urged people to come forward if they have been scammed.

Power outages continue after Tuesday’s freezing rain

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 8th, 2017

Freezing rain in Toronto caused power outages and long delays on streetcar lines on Tuesday afternoon and evening, with some areas of the city still without power on Wednesday morning.

Downed power lines and ice accumulation on aging equipment caused outages in pockets throughout the city, with Toronto Hydro crews working through the night to fix the problems.

Toronto Hydro said that power would be restored near Brimley Road and Lawrence Avenue by 5:30 a.m., and near Burnhamthorpe Road and the East Mall by 6 a.m.

Spokesman Brian Buchan said there were 49 separate incidents of downed wires, leaving about 20,000 customers without power at various times overnight. There were never more than 11,000 or 12,000 people affected at any one time.

On Tuesday, ice-coated streetcar wires caused vehicles to lose power and shut down on Broadview Avenue, Dundas and King streets and beyond. Full streetcar service resumed around 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, pieces of ice fell from buildings at Yonge and Bloor streets and near Bay and Gerrard around 7 p.m.

Around 8 p.m., a woman slipped on the ice while crossing the road at Mortimer and Broadview avenues and was hit by a car. She was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital with serious injuries.

Earlier, Peel paramedics tweeted to say half of their 911 calls were for falls due to freezing rain.

Initially, Environment Canada said the freezing rain was expected to start in the morning. However, just after 8:30 a.m., the national weather agency said it would begin around noon. Both later and earlier than predicted, precipitation hit Burlington just before 10:30 a.m.

CityNews meteorologist Adam Stiles said the risk of freezing rain in the GTA would end overnight and then the temperature would drop on Wednesday.

On Monday, Air Canada issued a travel alert for Pearson International Airport and Billy Bishop Airport because of Tuesday’s weather. WestJet also said the weather could cause delays or cancellations in southern Ontario.

Tory calls on the province to fund daycares in TDSB schools

Momin Qureshi and Christine Chubb | posted Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2017

Mayor John Tory is trying to ease the minds of parents seeking daycare in the city by looking to the province for funding.

At the start of 2017, Tory announced they would begin to phase out the $1.13-million Childcare Occupancy Grant — which helps with the cost of maintaining daycare spaces in public, Catholic and French schools.

Tory is calling out the provincial government to step up and take responsibility for the schools they fund.

“The fact of the matter is, the city is subsidizing childcare centres inside schools owned and operated by school boards funded largely by the province and by the very significant education taxes that people pay as part of their property tax bill,” he explained.

The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care says without the grant, affected families would have to pay at least $350 more in child care fees every year. The cut would not affect low-income parents who get subsidies.

According to the mayor, city staff originally advised the phasing out of the subsidies because they “don’t support the city’s principles or equity and transparency”, stating they are inconsistent with how all other child care programs in Toronto are supported by the city.

“Sixty-five per cent of Toronto child care centres do not receive a rent supplement. So 35 per cent of families benefit from this arrangement and 65 per cent of families do not,” Tory said. “That is clearly not fair and not consistent. It is not being paid for by the right government and we need the province to address that now.”

Tory has sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking the province to cover the cost of daycares inside TDSB schools – which the province funds.

“I asked her to direct the Ministry of Education to directly fund the full cost of spaces used by all early learning child care and before and after school programs in Toronto,” he said. “Eliminate the current unfairness and place the financial responsibility where it should be – with the province of Ontario.”

But there is some good news for parents.

According to the mayor, the city has found money to ensure the daycare spaces can be saved for one year.

“Asking people to pay more for child care right now is not reasonable and it’s not right. So we will maintain the Occupancy Grant for 2017 while we work hard to see these costs transitioned to where they belong – namely the province of Ontario.”

 The executive committee is expected to approve the grant on Tuesday.

“This $1.13-million investment in 2017 will mean that the parents of more than 8,000 children in Toronto will not see their fees go up on account of any change to those occupancy grants.”

Premier Wynne has yet to make a public statement regarding Tory’s letter.

Tension have run high between the usually allied political leaders since the premier nixed Tory’s road toll proposal two weeks ago.

Despite city council’s overwhelming approval, Wynne denied Toronto’s request to charge a $2 toll on the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway in favour of giving Ontario municipalities a bigger share of gas tax money for transit.

Calm before the storm: Freezing rain warning for Toronto, GTA

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2017

A freezing rain warning remains in effect for much of southern Ontario including Toronto and the GTA on Tuesday.

Environment Canada said the freezing rain is expected to start in the morning and last for several hours before changing to rain in the afternoon.

The national weather agency warns roads and sidewalks will become icy, which may cause traffic and transit delays. The icy buildup may cause tree branches to break and could lead to power outages.

Click here for school bus cancellations.

In Toronto and the GTA, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the mix of freezing rain and rain will start at 9:30 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m. Around 5-10 millimetres of ice accumulation and 10 millimetres of rain are expected to hit the region.

She said it will be a mainly rain event for the city with a high of 5 C and windy conditions. Freezing rain will dominate areas to the east, north and northwest.

The freezing rain will change to rain around 3 p.m. and continue until 9 p.m., Taylor said.

On Monday, Air Canada issued a travel alert for Pearson International Airport and Billy Bishop Airport because of Tuesday’s weather. WestJet also said the weather could cause delays or cancellations in southern Ontario.


O No, Canada: Singer flubs anthem at Raptors game in NYC

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 6th, 2017

O No, Canada.

A Broadway performer botched the Canadian national anthem before the Toronto Raptors’ game in Brooklyn on Sunday, singing lyrics that aren’t in “O Canada.”

Amber Iman, who has been cast in the national tour of “Hamilton” that will soon open, sang, “O Canada, we sing our hearts for thee.” The line that ends the song is “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”

Raptors players and coaches looked around in confusion as they stood in line.

“I’m going to leave that alone. But yeah, that anthem was a lot different than I’ve heard over the last five years. A lot different,” Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry said. “Her voice was beautiful, but the anthem, the song, the words … have her come to Toronto, we’ll come and get somebody to give her some lessons.”

The Raptors responded by poking fun at the Nets on Twitter , writing “For future reference” and posting the correct lyrics to the song.

The Nets apologized to the singer for the prompter failing according to a spokeswoman at the Barclays Center.

Click here for Sportsnet’s game coverage.

Toronto man sues neighbour, animal group after his dog was allegedly killed by pit bull

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 6th, 2017

Jon Dunnill wants justice for April, his 12-year-old Havanese dog that was killed by a neighbour’s dog that he says was a pit bull – a breed banned in Ontario.

April died inside Dunnill’s downtown condominium on April 19, 2016.

His sister-in-law, Adelina Amaral, was standing in the hallway when another dog jumped at her, Dunnill said. As Amaral rushed to get inside the apartment, so did the male dog named Brownie, which belonged to a neighbour two doors down the hall, he said.

“I thought the intruding dog was simply going to sniff April, but before I knew it the pit bull had April in her jaws, head high, and proceeded to violently shake April side to side like a rag doll,” he said. “I heard an awful scream come from April.”

By the time Brownie’s owner, Kathleen Callaghan, came to the door, April was dead, Dunnill said.

A neighbour called police and Toronto Animal Services.

The next day, Brownie was euthanized. Toronto Animal Services didn’t lay charges, saying the owners co-operated by giving the dog up.

Elizabeth Glibbery, a manager at Toronto Animal Services, said Brownie was “substantially similar to an American Staffordshire Terrier,” a type of pit bull.

Toronto police also investigated, according to Const. Jenniferjit Sidhu, but she said the Crown decided there wasn’t a reasonable chance for conviction, so they also didn’t lay charges.

Dunnill has now filed a small claims lawsuit against Brownie’s owners, Callaghan and Daniel Hill, and Dog Tales – an animal group from where the pit bull was adopted. Dunnill is seeking about $24,000 in damages, including the cost of cremating April and $7,500 each for mental anguish for him, his wife and his wife’s sister who lives with them.

“The dogs are like our children,” Dunnill said, choking up. “It’s tough, it’s tough to take. I think about it all the time.”

He said he filed the suit because “there should be consequences for killing my dog.”

In his statement of claim, Dunnill alleges Dog Tales should have known Brownie was a pit bull, and therefore the animal shouldn’t have been given for adoption. He also alleges Dog Tales should have known the dog “displayed an extremely high drive to harm other animals” and shouldn’t have been placed in a home.

According to the claim, when Callaghan showed up to find April in Brownie’s jaws, she said: “I have to call the shelter where I got her … they said if anything like this were to happen, I should call them right away.”

Dog Tales has denied all the allegations, which have not been proven in court, and said it will defend itself “vigorously.”

The dog and horse rescue organization, located in King City, Ont., north of Toronto, is owned by Danielle Eden and Rob Scheinberg, whose family is among the richest in the country, according to Canadian Business magazine.

Dog Tales’ rescue missions periodically make news: the group brought 260 dogs from a shelter in Israel last year, and last month it took in 63 dogs saved from a Chinese meat festival.

Last week, Dog Tales rolled out a campaign featuring celebrities like Don Cherry, actor Adrian Grenier and Paris Hilton in an effort to save 21 dogs seized during raids in October 2015 that are on death row.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which requires court approval to destroy animals for behavioural reasons, has said an evaluation of the animals concluded that the 21 “pit bull-type dogs” are a menace to society and cannot be rehabilitated.

Dog Tales tried to intervene in the court case, but a judge denied its request in December.

A spokeswoman for the animal group called April’s death “a tragic event.”

“Our hearts go out to April’s family, who went through something that no dog parent should ever go through,” Clare Forndran said in a statement.

“Not a day goes by that we don’t think of Brownie – a sweet, lazy, senior dog who was loved dearly by our staff and volunteers,” she said.

“We take every precaution to ensure that our dogs are adopted into responsible and loving homes, and we have many unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding the event.”

Dunnill also alleges that Brownie’s owners should have known their dog was dangerous and therefore it should have been on a leash.

Brownie’s owners did not respond to requests for comment.

White House expresses confidence travel ban will be restored

Eric Tucker, The Associated Press | posted Monday, Feb 6th, 2017

Lawyers for Washington state and Minnesota have told a federal appellate court that restoring President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and travellers from seven predominantly Muslim countries would “unleash chaos again.”

The filing with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco came early Monday after the White House said it expected the federal courts to reinstate the ban.

Washington and Minnesota said their underlying lawsuit was strong and a nationwide temporary restraining order was appropriate. If the appellate court reinstated Trump’s ban the states said the “ruling would reinstitute those harms, separating families, stranding our university students and faculty, and barring travel.”

The rapid-fire legal manoeuvrs by the two states were accompanied by briefs filed by the technology industry arguing that the travel ban would harm their companies by making it more difficult to recruit employees. Tech giants like Apple and Google, along with Uber, filed their arguments with the court late Sunday.

Trump’s executive order was founded on a claim of national security, but lawyers for the two states told the appellate court the administration’s move hurts residents, businesses and universities and is unconstitutional.

The next opportunity for Trump’s team to argue in favour of the ban will come in the form of a response to the Washington state and Minnesota filings. The 9th Circuit ordered the U.S. Justice Department to file its briefs by 6 p.m. EST Monday. It had already turned down a Justice request to set aside immediately a Seattle judge’s ruling that put a temporary hold on the ban nationwide.

In the latest filing, lawyers for Washington state and Minnesota said: “Defendants now ask this Court to unleash chaos again by staying the district court order. The Court should decline.”

That ruling last Friday prompted an ongoing Twitter rant by Trump, who dismissed U.S. District Court Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” and his decision “ridiculous.”

Trump renewed his Twitter attacks against Robart on Sunday. “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” He followed with another tweet saying he had instructed the Homeland Security Department to check people coming into the country but that “the courts are making the job very difficult!”

Vice-President Mike Pence said Sunday that “we don’t appoint judges to our district courts to conduct foreign policy or to make decisions about the national security.” Trump himself had offered an optimistic forecast the previous night, telling reporters during a weekend at his private club in Florida: “We’ll win. For the safety of the country, we’ll win.”

The government had told the appeals court that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, an assertion that appeared to invoke the wider battle to come over illegal immigration.

Congress “vests complete discretion” in the president to impose conditions on entry of foreigners to the United States, and that power is “largely immune from judicial control,” according to the court filing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, predicted the appeals court would not have the last word. “I have no doubt that it will go to the Supreme Court, and probably some judgments will be made whether this president has exceed his authority or not,” she said.

In his ruling, Robart said it was not the court’s job to “create policy or judge the wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches, “but to make sure that an action taken by the government “comports with our country’s laws.”

Whatever the outcome and however the case drags on, a president who was used to getting his way in private business is finding, weeks into his new job that obstacles exist to quickly fulfilling one of his chief campaign pledges.

“The president is not a dictator,” said Feinstein, D-Calif. “He is the chief executive of our country. And there is a tension between the branches of government.”

The Twitter attacks on Robart – appointed by President George W. Bush – prompted scolding from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

“We don’t have so-called judges,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. “We don’t have so-called senators. We don’t have so-called presidents. We have people from three different branches of government who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.”

However, Pence defended the president, saying he “can criticize anybody he wants.” The vice-president added that he believes the American people “find it very refreshing that they not only understand this president’s mind, but they understand how he feels about things.”

Trump’s order applied to Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen – Muslim-majority countries that the administration said raise terrorism concerns. The order had caused unending confusion for many foreigners trying to reach the United States, prompting protests across the United States and leading to multiple court challenges.

The State Department said last week that as many as 60,000 foreigners from those seven countries had had their visas cancelled. After Robart’s decision, the department reversed course and said they could travel to the U.S. if they had a valid visa.

The department also advised refugee aid agencies that refugees set to travel before Trump signed his order would now be allowed in.

The Homeland Security Department no longer was directing airlines to prevent visa-holders affected by Trump’s order from boarding U.S.-bound planes. The agency said it had “suspended any and all actions” related to putting in place Trump’s order.

Pence appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’ “Face the Nation,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “Fox News Sunday.” McConnell was on CNN, Feinstein spoke on Fox and Sasse was interviewed by ABC.

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