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TTC employee assaulted at downtown subway station

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 10th, 2017

Toronto police are looking for a man after a TTC janitor was assaulted on Monday.

Police said it happened just before 11 p.m. at the Bloor-Yonge subway station.

The TTC employee was reportedly punched in the ribs. The suspect fled the station.

Paramedics were called to the scene but the victim refused to be taken to hospital. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Police say the suspect is believed to be a black man, in his 50s, who was wearing blue jeans and a jean jacket.

 

Happy Thanksgiving: What you need to know for the long weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? As you gather with family or friends this weekend, take a moment to count your blessings and reach out to those less fortunate.

While many will be preparing and taking part in the holiday feast, others will also be around town taking in some events. If you are heading out on Monday, below is a list of what’s open and closed.


What’s open and closed on Monday

Open

  • TTC will run on holiday service
  • GO will run on a Sunday schedule
  • Tourist attractions: Art Gallery of Ontario, Casa Loma, CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo
  • Several 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 8 p.m.), Square One (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Upper Canada Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Vaughan Mills Mall (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Hillcrest Mall (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

 

Closed

  • All LCBO and Beer stores will be closed
  • Most grocery stores (select ones are open but call ahead)
  • Some malls: Dufferin Mall, Fairview Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, Yorkdale Shopping Centre
  • Government offices, municipal buildings, and banks
  • All Toronto Public Library branches are closed on Sunday and Monday
  • No mail delivery

Events

Maple Leafs’ home opener
Hockey is back in the 6ix. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ home opener is set for Saturday night against the New York Rangers. The Leafs are holding a free tailgate party for fans in Maple Leaf Square starting at 5 p.m. There will be live music, activities for fans, and the chance to win not only tickets for the game but also season tickets.

Marlies’ home opener
Before the Leafs game, hockey fans are also invited to celebrate and cheer on the Marlies during their home opener. The Marlies host the Utica Comets at Ricoh Coliseum. The puck drops at 4 p.m.  Fans who take in the game also have the chance to win Leafs tickets.

Toronto Zoo Panda Party
The smallest giant pandas at the zoo are having a party and you’re invited. The panda cubs are turning two and will be celebrating all weekend long. The party features snacks, a chance to learn about the pandas, along with family activities like races, crafts and photos with the bears. Tickets cost $16 and can be purchased here.

Saber Battle Toronto 2017
If you’re trying to escape your family this weekend and want some stress relief, here’s an event that could help. The annual Saber Battle takes over Nathan Phillips Square at 8 p.m.  It’s an all ages event and organizers encourage people to bring their own light saber.

Road closures

The intersection of Park Lawn Road and Marine Parade Drive and Lake Shore Boulevard West will be partially closed from 10 a.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Tuesday, as construction crews replace streetcar tracks. Click here for details. TTC service will also be affected. Click here for details.

The intersection of Bay and Harbour streets will be closed to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Tuesday. The closure is for construction of the new off-ramp from the Gardiner Expressway to Lower Simcoe. Click here for details.

Bremner Boulevard will be closed from Lake Shore Boulevard West to the parking garages east of York Street from 6 a.m. to midnight on Saturday for the festivities surrounding the Maple Leafs’ home opener at the Air Canada Centre.

Markham-based company pulls controversial video game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

A Markham-based company says it will not be releasing the controversial video game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant.”

Big-O-Tree Games posted a statement on its website, saying after careful consideration and listening to public opinion they decided it was not in anyone’s best interest to release the game.

The game was described as the “first ever restaurant simulation where you have the choice of running a prestigious Oriental establishment or a real filthy dive!” Players chase cats and dogs with a cleaver, scavenge for ingredients and dodge immigration officials.

The game was condemned as being “offensive and racist,” especially to the Chinese community.

Big-O-Tree defended the product, calling it satire and influenced by classic politically incorrect shows such as ‘South Park,’ ‘All in the Family,’ and ‘Simpsons.’

On Thursday, they issued an apology to the Chinese community.

“We would like to make a sincere and formal apology to the Chinese community and wish to assure them that this game was not created with an intentional interest of inflicting harm or malice against Chinese culture,” read the statement posted Thursday.

Markham mayor Frank Scarpitti tweeted his approval of the decision to pull the gameScreenshot-2017-10-6-Frank-Scarpitti-on-Twitter-Pleased-to-hear-game-company-will-not-be-releasing-Dirty-Chinese-Restaurant...

Anti-nuclear weapons group wins Nobel Peace Prize

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to an organization seeking to eliminate nuclear weapons through an international treaty-based prohibition.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday announced the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons as winner of the $1.1 million prize.

The Geneva-based organization ICAN “has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to co-operate … in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons,” committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said in the announcement.

She noted that similar prohibitions have been reached on chemical and biological weapons, land mines and cluster munitions.

“Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition,” she said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Walsstrom said that giving the prize to ICAN was “well-deserved and timely.”

Walsstrom said that the organization has been working hard since 2007 and “we know how serious the situation is around in the world.”

Reiss-Andersen said “through its inspiring and innovative support for the U.N. negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.”

Asked by journalists whether the prize was essentially symbolic, given that no international measures against nuclear weapons have been reached, Reiss-Andersen said “What will not have an impact is being passive.”

4 in hospital after chemical released at recycle plant

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 6th, 2017

Four people are in hospital after a hazmat issue at a fibre recycling plant.

Emergency crews were called to Arrow Road, in the Sheppard Avenue West and Highway 400 area, just after midnight Firiday, for reports that some sort of chemical powder was released inside the building.

“We immediately isolated the situation [and] we had decontamination crews on site,” Platoon Chief Doug Harper with Toronto Fire Services explained.

“Crews went inside and they investigated to try and determine what the actual source of this irritant was. Unfortunately it was inconclusive.”

Harper said that despite the substance being a minor irritant, for precautionary purposes all workers inside the plant were decontaminated and then turned over to paramedics to be evaluated.

Paramedics said the four people in hospital have respiratory issues but are expected to be okay.

There has been no word on what the leaked substance was.

“Tonight we’re going to secure the scene, allow it to ventilate naturally and then tomorrow morning we’re going to be sending additional crews in and they’re going to monitor the situation,” said Harper.

Ontario to tackle scalper bots, ticket resales in broad consumer protection bill

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

Ontario is set to introduce ticket sale legislation Thursday that would ban so-called scalper bots and impose new rules on reselling tickets.

The Canadian Press has learned that it will be part of a larger consumer protection bill.

An outcry from fans shut out of buying tickets to the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour last year prompted the Ontario government to take a look at the issue.

Scalper bots are designed to purchase online a large number of tickets for a concert, show, or other event, enabling the person running the software to sell those tickets at a profit, and it would be illegal to knowingly resell a ticket originally purchased by a bot.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, however, has previously admitted enforcing a ban on scalper bots, which are not unique to Ontario, would be difficult.

Under the new legislation, Ministry of Government and Consumer Services agents would get the power to do inspections and lay fines against violators of the act. Companies themselves would also get the power to sue other companies for losses resulting from the use of bots.

Tickets could not be resold at more than 50 per cent above the face value, and that original price would have to be displayed.

Primary ticket sellers would have to tell buyers the capacity of the venue as well as how many tickets would be available through the general on-sale.

Ticket resale site StubHub has previously said it supports efforts to tackle bots, but that it values the ability of users to buy and sell tickets at prices fans deem appropriate, free from regulatory interference. It told the government during consultations that more regulatory burdens on the ticket market will drive sales off mainstream platforms that provide certain protections.

Etobicoke daycare hikes late fees for parents who don’t pick up kids on time

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

If you’re more than an hour late picking up your child from an Etobicoke daycare you could face a $300 fine and a call from the Children’s Aid Society.

Park Lawn Preschool, a not-for-profit organization that runs three daycares in the Toronto area, notified parents this week it is changing its late fee structure to heavily punish tardiness.

According to a memo obtained by CityNews, parents will now be charged in increments starting at $10 for the first five minutes late, progressing to $150 after the first half hour and then $300 per child after 60 minutes — and a possible call to the Children’s Aid Society if no parents or emergency contacts can be reached.

Some parents believe the fines are too heavy-handed.

Anne-Marie Chronnell, who has two children attending Park Lawn Preschool in Etobicoke, says while she’d usually able to leave work at 4 p.m. to make the daycare’s closing hours of 6 p.m., she’s terrified something will come up resulting in huge late fees.

“Three-hundred dollars per child,” Chronnell said. “That just took the rug right out from underneath me. Who has $300 if … the TTC goes down, your car breaks down and suddenly you cannot … pickup your child, and (in my case) two children?”

No one from Park Lawn Preschool would comment. However, a source from the daycare tells CityNews that tardiness had become such a chronic problem at the daycare with staff at times having to stay until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. They say the industry standard of one dollar per minute late was not enough to deter parents from showing up late.

Chronnell says she wishes there was a three-strike system for parents who are normally on time to pick up their children.

“Are you going to take food off the table just to be able to pay for that,” she asked. “That’s rent. That’s food.”

Kim Shiffman, managing editor with Today’s Parent, says the rush to make it to a daycare by its 6 p.m. closing time is a daily struggle for many parents. However, many have come to expect late fees if the worst happens.

“The standard would normally be one dollar per minute,” Shiffman said. “Some daycare centres would actually not charge anything for a daycare late fee, however they will ask you to be more conscientious, or if it happens a lot, they could actually withdraw you from the program.”

The City of Toronto’s own late policy does not include any fees. Staff just stay late and the city is forced to absorb the costs associated with overtime.

 

 

Private bus planned for Park Lawn residents

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

It’s one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods outside the downtown core, but residents say getting around the Park Lawn and Lakeshore area on transit can be difficult. That’s why a neighbourhood association is trying to fund a private shuttle bus.

Torontonians have seen this before — in Liberty Village — where residents frustrated with the crowded King streetcar route tried to create their own solution. A high-density neighbourhood with few transit options, entrepreneurs came up with the “Line Six shuttle,” a bus for hire.

Its trial run appeared fairly successful, but its owners backed away when they realized they faced legal challenges for competing against the TTC.

In Etobicoke, resident Scot Johnson is organizing a crowd-funding campaign to start a private bus route in the Park Lawn area. He thinks he’s found a way to avoid going head-to-head with public transit: selling memberships instead of tickets.

“We will provide this service as a free perk to membership within the Park Lawn Lakeshore Improvement Area (PLIA),” he explains on the fundraising page. “We have engaged several consultants on this to ensure we are operating within the rules.”

The bus would pick up passengers at four locations and drive them to Mimico GO station. It would operate Monday through Friday during rush hours. Aside from helping people get to work, Johnson says he hopes a private shuttle would actually encourage more public transit in the area.

“The long-term focus of this project is to demonstrate the need for Park Lawn and Lakeshore Road to a have a more community-accessible GO train station, ideally located at the site of the Mr. Christie Plant,” he writes on the page.

As CityNews first reported, demolition of the nearby Mr. Christie plant has begun, with condos slated to rise in its place. While the developer is open to creating a transit hub on the site, Metrolinx has already determined that a Parklawn station isn’t economically viable.

The TTC says it’s working with the city on a long-term transit strategy for the area. Phase two of Toronto’s Waterfront Reset Study will include recommendations for improving transit options in the area, says TTC spokesperson Stuart Green.

“The study will make recommendations for a thorough transit service along the waterfront from Long Branch in the west to Woodbine Avenue in the east,” he said in a statement to CityNews. “As part of the study a number of streetcar improvements in the Humber Bay Shore/Park Lawn area are being considered.”

The results of the study will be presented to city council by the end of the year.

The Mimico GO station has a daily ridership of about 1,500 people — a number that would likely be higher if it were in a more accessible location, residents say. It’s about a twenty-minute walk from the neighbourhood along roads with few sidewalks, or a five-minute drive for many commuters, but parking is difficult to find. Many residents choose to drive downtown instead, contributing to the congestion problems on Lakeshore Road and the Gardiner Expressway. Johnson believes this shuttle will help curb those problems.

As well as the Waterfront Reset Study, the City of Toronto is working Park Lawn Lake Shore Transportation Master Plan. “This study will also identify opportunities to improve transit service in the area between Ellis Avenue, Park Lawn Road, The Queensway, and Lake Ontario,” says Green.

Depending on when you purchase the membership, it costs between $175 and $225 and includes unlimited, non-transferable, ridership for four-months. The group says they need to raise $25,0000 through those membership fees and advertising opportunities to launch the project.

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