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Sears Canada to seek court approval to liquidate all remaining stores

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 11th, 2017

Sears Canada Inc. is applying for court approval to liquidate all of its remaining stores and assets after failing to find a buyer that would allow it to continue as a business.

The embattled retailer has been operating under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act since June.

The court overseeing Sears Canada’s operations is expected to hear a motion Friday seeking approval for the liquidation and wind down of the business.

Sears Canada said in a statement Tuesday it “deeply regrets this pending outcome and the resulting loss of jobs and store closures.”

The company wants to start the liquidation sales no later than Oct. 19 and expects them to continue for 10 to 14 weeks.

Last Tuesday, Sears received a revised bid from a buyer group led by its executive chairman Brandon Stranzl to buy the business as a going concern.

However, a lawyer for Sears Canada’s court-appointed monitor told the court last week said it would consider it but the company was running out of money and time.

Litigators for a group of lenders who have provided debtor-in-possession financing to Sears Canada to keep it afloat pushed for a liquidation agreement to be entered into by Oct. 7 at the latest. The lenders pushed for approval no later than Oct. 13, in order to liquidate before the crucial holiday season and maximize value.


Residents in Scarborough have their say on SmartTrack plan

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 11th, 2017

Mayor John Tory wants the public to get back on track with the talks of SmartTrack, announcing six new stations, including two in Scarborough.

SmartTrack was a marquee promise during Tory’s election campaign in 2014. He initially said shovels would be in the ground within two years.

Public consultation is underway this week, with the first held on Tuesday night at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

In a presentation, the city unveiled part of its plan which would see all-day, two-way service with trains every 6-10 minutes during peak periods and every 15 minutes during off-peak periods

The trains will also be electric, quieter and faster.

The idea is to use the existing GO rail corridors, which would see rapid transit along the Kitchener, Lakeshore East and Stouffeville lines as well as Eglinton Ave West.

However, some in attendance couldn’t help but voice their concerns over the project. They include worries about parking, noise, location and overall design

“They call this a meeting but it’s not a meeting” says Peter Thachuk, a concerned resident. “There’s no party at the table, no representative from communities at the table. They need to properly consult with communities”

And he’s not the only one – some members of City Council feel the same way.

“Their minds are made up” said Jim Karygiannis, who was surprised to see initial plans for parking at some of these stations altered.

“When they say here is a drawing with parking and then come back and say “oh there’s no parking” what consultation is that?”

For their part, the mayor and Metrolinx told CityNews everything discussed at the meetings will be taken into consideration.

“The only thing our minds have made up is that we are going to build SmartTrack and a subway extension” said Mayor Tory.

“The details of how things will happen, parking issues, noise issues are all on the table for discussion, that’s what these meetings are about”

Click here for information on the other meeting times and locations.

Trudeau says approach to Trump will be to find common ground on trade

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 11th, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will sit down with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday to seek common ground as uncertainty looms over the future of NAFTA.

Trudeau and Trump are to meet at the White House as round four of talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement get underway a few kilometres away in Arlington, V.A.

But Trump has repeatedly signalled he’s rather rip up the deal before renegotiating it, casting a pall over the talks.

Trudeau told a summit for businesswomen in D.C. Tuesday night that he views his meeting with the president as a continuation of their efforts to find ways to mutually benefit both countries.

“President Trump got elected on many of the same goals I got elected on of making sure that people who don’t feel like the success and growth of the economy has worked for them do better,” he said.

“We don’t always have the same policy prescriptions to do that but in our desire to help the middle class and those working hard to join it we always find common ground.”

Trudeau will head into his meeting with Trump after talks with the influential House of Representatives’ Ways and Means committee, one of two bodies of U.S. lawmakers helping negotiators put forward the U.S. positions on trade.

Talks kick off Wednesday with a discussion of government procurement, already a thorny subject as U.S. negotiators suggested during the last round of talks in Ottawa they want to limit access to Canadians and Mexicans to U.S. projects.

After that, discussions will move onto developing remedies for trade disputes and on Saturday, the discussions are expected to turn to agriculture.

Trudeau said he sees room for modernizing the deal, but also to make it more progressive.

“Putting progressive elements into trade deals – labour protections, environmental protections – actually helps us make the case for trade and reassure people that the benefits of trade will be distributed more fairly and not just to the small number of people who’ve always benefited from it in the past.”

That Trudeau is in D.C. as NAFTA talks resume was something of a coincidence; the trip was originally planned in connection with the summit he attended Tuesday evening.

Prior to delving into trade issues Wednesday, he’s also meeting with an organization that promotes women’s education.

On Thursday, he’ll leave for Mexico, his first official visit to that country.

Sears Canada to seek court approval to liquidate all remaining stores

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

Sears Canada Inc. is applying for court approval to liquidate all of its remaining stores and assets after failing to find a buyer that would allow it to continue as a business.

The retailer has been operating under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act since June.

The court overseeing Sears Canada’s operations is expected to hear a motion Friday seeking approval for the liquidation and wind down of the business.

The company wants to start the liquidation sales no later than Oct. 19 and expects them to continue for 10 to 14 weeks.

Sears Canada says it regrets the pending outcome and the resulting loss of jobs and store closures.


Related stories:

Sears Canada assessing revised bid, receives creditor protection extension

Judge approves hardship fund for former Sears Canada employees

Sears Canada executive chairman steps down to make bid for retailer


More to come

City of Toronto, Metrolinx to hold public meetings this week on SmartTrack

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

The public will get a chance to learn more about the new SmartTrack and GO train stations that are being planned in Toronto.

Six new SmartTrack stations are planned including two new stations in Scarborough.

A series of public meetings are scheduled for this week where organizers will provide an update on the progress of these projects and an overview of the concept plans.

They’ll also be looking to the public for input on key elements of the project.

The first meeting is set for Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Click here for information on the other meeting times and locations.

Authorities say Vegas gunman shot guard before firing on crowd

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

Law enforcement authorities on Monday made a significant change to the timeline of the Las Vegas mass shooting, saying the gunman shot a hotel security guard before he opened fire on concert-goers.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo had previously said the guard was shot after gunman Stephen Paddock fired at the country music festival and that the guard’s arrival in the hallway of the Mandalay Bay hotel may have caused Paddock to stop firing.

It was not immediately clear why the timeline of the shooting changed a week later and what the impact could be on the investigation.

On Monday, Lombardo said security guard Jesus Campos was in a hallway of the Mandalay Bay hotel responding to a report of an open door when he heard drilling from Stephen Craig Paddock’s room.

Paddock, who had installed three cameras to monitor the approach to his suite, opened fire through the door, spraying 200 shots down the hall and wounding the guard, who alerted other security officials, Lombardo said.

A few minutes later, Paddock began a 10-minute killing spree that killed 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Lombardo said.

Authorities also said Monday that Paddock targeted aviation fuel tanks, stocked his car with explosives and had personal protection gear as part of an escape plan.

Paddock had power tools and was attempting to drill a hole in an adjacent wall, perhaps to mount another camera or to point a rifle through, but he never completed the work, Lombardo said. He also drilled holes and bolted a metal bar to try to prevent the opening of an emergency exit stairwell door near the door of his room.

Lombardo again expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation, but not with the investigators who have yet to pinpoint the motive behind the shooter’s decision to fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel casino on a Las Vegas Strip concert crowd of 22,000 on Oct. 1.

“It’s because this individual purposely hid his actions leading up to this event, and it is difficult for us to find the answers to those actions,” Lombardo said. “We believe he decided to take the lives he did and he had a very purposeful plan that he carried out.”

There is still no evidence Paddock was motivated by ideology, or that there was another shooter, he said. Investigators have found 200 incidents of Paddock moving through the city, and at no time was he with anyone else, Lombardo said.

Lombardo said police and FBI agents, including behavioural profilers, still haven’t found a particular event in Paddock’s life that might have triggered the shooting. The sheriff added that a complete evaluation of Paddock’s mental condition was not yet done. Authorities didn’t find a note in his room, only a paper with numbers, he said.

Investigators believe the numbers represented calculations for more precise shots, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the details of the ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The sheriff also confirmed investigators are talking with Paddock’s brother Eric Paddock, who travelled to Las Vegas, and continue to speak with the shooter’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, to get insight.

Lombardo declined to reveal what they’ve said, but he stated, “Every piece of information we get is one more piece of the puzzle.”

Eric Paddock said he came to Las Vegas to retrieve his brother’s body in hopes of sending the cremated ashes to their 89-year-old mother in Orlando.

Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Monday he could not discuss the results of an autopsy done on Stephen Paddock, who police said shot himself dead before officers arrived at the Las Vegas Strip hotel suite from which he rained gunfire on a concert crowd below.

Eric Paddock told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he plans to put his brother’s assets in a trust that would benefit the shooting victims.

Law enforcement interviews with Paddock’s brother Saturday and Sunday were part of an exhaustive search through the 64-year-old’s life.

Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the victims and other concert-goers who survived returned Monday to reclaim baby strollers, shoes, phones, backpacks and purses left behind in the panic as they fled.

The personal effects being recovered were strewn across the massive grassy concert venue where 22,000 country music fans attended the Route 91 Harvest festival have become sentimental memories of loved ones for some and haunting reminders of the night of terror for others.

People left behind thousands of items, Clark County Emergency Manager John Steinbeck said.

Those who were in two areas of the concert grounds were being allowed to retrieve their things in groups, with authorities expanding the offer Monday to include people who were seated west of the stage. Authorities are powering up cellphones and asking people to text their full names to the phones to ensure they are returned to the correct owners.

At the assistance centre set up at a convention centre in Las Vegas, a steady stream of individuals walked in on Monday looking for purses, wallets, cellphones and even a wedding bracelet. Volunteers filled out intake forms with detailed descriptions of their lost items, and later, FBI victims assistance agents asked for additional questions.

People received their belongings in re-sealable plastic bags and were asked to check them. After identifying their items, some smiled and others hugged the FBI agents or Red Cross volunteers who had helped them.

The sombre mood inside the hall was occasionally deepened by the weeping of some.
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Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo in Las Vegas and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles contributed to this report

TTC employee dies after being injured on the job

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

A TTC employee who was injured on the job has died in hospital, the TTC said in a statement on Monday.

50-year-old Tom Dedes was a subway track maintenance worker and an 18-year veteran of the TTC.

He was seriously injured when he was pinned against a pickup truck at the McCowan yard in the early hours of Oct. 1.

The incident occurred after Dedes and his co-workers off-loaded equipment from a TTC pickup truck onto a work car in preparation for maintenance work that was to be carried out on Line 3 later that night.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross tweeted the full statement detailing the incident and CEO Andy Byford’s sympathies.

Mayor John Tory released a statement extending his condolences as well.

“Our thoughts this Thanksgiving Monday are with Tom’s family, including his partner Gina, and his friends and colleagues at the TTC,” he said. “The city will make sure we understand what happened and will take whatever steps we can to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.”

Deadly California wildfires force thousands to evacuate

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

An onslaught of wildfires across a wide swath of Northern California broke out almost simultaneously then grew exponentially, swallowing up properties from wineries to trailer parks and tearing through both tiny rural towns and urban subdivisions.

At least 10 were dead, at least 100 injured and at least 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed, authorities said. All three figures were expected to surge in the coming days as more information is reported.

Taken as a group, the fires are already among the deadliest in California history.

Residents who gathered at emergency shelters and grocery stores said they were shocked by the speed and ferocity of the flames. They recalled all the possessions they had left behind and were lost.

“All that good stuff, I’m never going to see it again,” said Jeff Okrepkie, who fled his neighborhood in Santa Rosa knowing it was probably the last time he would see his home of the past five years standing.

His worst fears were confirmed Monday, when a friend sent him a photo of what was left: a smoldering heap of burnt metal and debris.

Some of the largest of the 14 fires burning over a 320-kilometre region were in Napa and Sonoma counties, home to dozens of wineries that attract tourists from around the world. They sent smoke as far south as San Francisco, about 96 kilometres away.

Sonoma County said it has received more than 100 missing-person reports as family and friends scramble to locate loved ones.

The reports have come via calls to a hotline the county set up for the missing, according to Scott Alonso, communications director for Sonoma County.

It’s possible that many or most of the missing are safe but simply can’t be reached because of the widespread loss of cell service and other communications.

Much of the damage was in Santa Rosa, a far larger and more developed city than usually finds itself at the mercy of a wildfire. The city is home to 175,000 residents, including both the wine-country wealthy and the working class.

The flames were unforgiving to both groups. Hundreds of homes of all sizes were leveled by flames so hot they melted the glass off of cars and turned aluminum wheels into liquid.

Former San Francisco Giants pitcher Noah Lowry, who now runs an outdoor sporting goods store in Santa Rosa, was forced to flee in minutes along with his wife, two daughters, and a son just over two weeks old.

“I can’t shake hearing people scream in terror as the flames barreled down on us,” Lowry said.

His family and another evacuating with them tried to take U.S. 101 to evacuate but found it blocked by flames, and had to take country roads to get to the family friends who took them in.

A 145-kilometre stretch of the highway is framed by the flames and a major concern overnight, said Brad Alexander, a spokesman for the California Office of Emergency Services.

Highway 12, which winds through the heart of wine country, was also rendered unusable by the flames.

“Sonoma and Napa counties have been hit very hard,” Alexander said.

The ferocity of the flames forced authorities to focus primarily on getting people out safely, even if it meant abandoning structures to the fire.

Firefighters rushed to a state home for the severely disabled when flames reached one side of the center’s sprawling campus in the historic Sonoma County town of Glen Ellen.

Crews got the more than 200 people from the threatened buildings, one firefighter said, as flames closed within a few dozen feet.

Fires from ruptured gas lines dotted the smoky landscapes of blackened Santa Rosa hillsides. Fire trucks raced by smoldering roadside landscaping in search of higher priorities.

The flames were fickle in some corners of the city. One hillside home remained unscathed while a dozen surrounding it were destroyed.

Kim Hoe, a 33-year-old tech worker from Penang, Malaysia, was staying at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, which was gutted by flames. He said the power went out around 1 a.m., and he and his colleagues started packing up when someone knocked on the door and told them to run.

“We just had to run and run. It was full of smoke. We could barely breathe,” Hoe said.

The large majority of the injured were treated for smoke inhalation, according to St. Joseph Health, which operates hospitals in the Santa Rosa area. Two were in critical condition and one was in serious condition. The number of injured is expected to climb as information comes in for all the other areas affected by the firestorm consuming the state.

October has generally been the most destructive time of year for California wildfires. What was unusual Sunday; however, was to have so many fires take off at the same time.

Other than the windy conditions that helped drive them all, there was no known connection between the fires, and no cause has been released for any of them.

But the conditions late Monday and early Tuesday were calmer than they were 24 hours earlier, bringing hopes of progress against the flames.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the fire areas, and asked the federal government to do the same. Vice President Mike Pence, who is visiting California, said at an event near Sacramento that the federal government stands with California as it takes on the blazes, but he made no specific promises.

To the south in Orange County, more than 5,000 homes were evacuated because of a fire in the Anaheim area. The blaze had grown to nearly 26 square kilometres and had destroyed 24 structures.

Knickmeyer reported from Sonoma, California. Associated Press writers Paul Elias, Jocelyn Gecker, Sudhin Thanawala, Juliet Williams and Janie McCauley in San Francisco, John Antczak and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles and Martha Bellisle in Seattle contributed to this report.

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