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Toronto to require landlords to provide relief from extreme heat

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

Toronto city council has unanimously passed a motion which will require landlords to provide their tenants relief from extreme heat.

During the heat wave last month, the temperature in some apartments surpassed 30 C due to landlords turning on the heat — which they often do in September to make sure they meet the minimum temperature bylaw — and not turning on the air conditioning.

“Councillors across the city have been hearing from tenants who have been telling us that in many cases, when there’s a heat wave in September, their units can be 30 degrees or higher, and they’re boiling in their own homes,” said Coun. Josh Matlow, who introduced the motion.

“We have vulnerable people out there, we have people who are not able to live functional lives because of it, and also there are significant health risks.”

Currently, a city bylaw requires landlords to maintain a minimum temperature of 21 C from on Sept. 15 to June 1.

“The idea behind that is to make sure that over the winter months, landlords [don’t] cheap out and keep the temperature too low,” Matlow said. “The problem is that some landlords either take it as a direction to turn the heat on or turn the AC off the minute we get to September 15, even if outside it’s over 30 degrees, which is just absurd.

“What I’ve been telling landlords across the city to do is, first of all, use common sense — use your heads. If Mother Nature is taking care of the heat, you’ve got to take care of your tenants.”

Matlow said city staff will look at several options, including requiring a maximum temperature in addition to the minimum temperature.

“That takes away the ambiguity of do you turn the heat on or the AC off?” he said. “If there’s a maximum temperature, landlords are expected to do whatever is necessary to protect those tenants.”

He said more than 80 per cent of Toronto apartment buildings have air conditioning, so it shouldn’t be difficult for the rest to be brought up to standard.

The city will get input from landlords and tenants when drawing up the new bylaw, which it hopes to have in place by next spring.

“We cannot have another year like this,” Matlow said. “Our climate is changing and city hall needs to adapt too.”

Council votes against naming Etobicoke stadium after Rob Ford

CityNews | posted Thursday, Oct 5th, 2017

Toronto city council voted on Wednesday against naming the stadium at Centennial Park after the late former mayor Rob Ford. The final tally was 24-11.

Mayor John Tory introduced the motion to rename the venue Rob Ford Memorial Stadium, “in light of his many years of work on football programs in Etobicoke.”

Tory said when Ford was first elected to council in November, 2000, “he quickly became known for his unique approach to public service.”

“Councillor Ford’s community involvement went well behind politics,” Tory said in his motion, citing Ford’s work with the Newtonbrook North Stars, the football program at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School and the Rob Ford Football Foundation.

The former mayor’s brother and former city councillor Doug Ford said he was “very disappointed” with the vote.

Rob Ford became a celebrity in light of his admitted crack cocaine use, alcohol abuse, lewd comments and at times outrageous behaviour that transformed his mayoral office into an unprecedented spectacle.

He died in March 2016 at the age of 46 after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The motion also recommended honouring two other council members who died earlier this year — Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell and Coun. Ron Moeser.

In consultation with the McConnell and Moeser families, Tory said he would convene panels of councillors and community members in order to determine suitable public properties that could be renamed in their memory.

Council approved that part of the motion by a vote of 33-2.

With files from The Canadian Press

TTC, GO Transit co-fare discount coming soon

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

Commuters who use both the GO train and the TTC could soon be saving some money.

The mayor’s office has confirmed that Queen’s Park has agreed to subsidize a co-fare agreement that will see passengers on GO Transit and the UP Express get half-price fares on the TTC.

The discount will see adults paying $1.50 to ride the rocket.

Conversely, those heading out of the city starting on the TTC will have the $1.50 discount applied to their GO Transit or UP Express fare.

However, the reduced fare will only apply to those who use Presto.

A spokesman for Mayor John Tory told CityNews the discount will likely start by the end of the year and called it a “big win” for Toronto.

“We have never had an agreement on fares before. This is a good step in the right direction towards SmartTrack. This is the first step in fare integration, not the only step and not the end of the story, but a great beginning,” spokesman Don Peat said in a statement.

“The TTC’s budget is protected and will not be negatively impacted. Ultimately, this agreement will mean if you ride a mix of the TTC, UP Express and GO to get around Toronto, transit will now be less expensive.”

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said the popular co-fare system is in place between GO and a dozen other transit agencies in the province.

She also noted that it was recently recommended by the Transit Integration Committee.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca and Mayor John Tory are expected to make the official announcement on Friday.

Trump to visit Las Vegas, meet with survivors

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

President Donald Trump will reckon with the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas as he meets Wednesday with survivors and law enforcement officials in a time of grief.

Trump heads to the city days after a gunman on the 32nd floor of a Vegas Strip hotel and casino opened fire on people at an outdoor country music festival below. The Sunday night rampage by Stephen Craig Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured 527, some from gunfire and some from a chaotic escape.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump said he’d be in Las Vegas to “pay our personal respects and condolences to everybody. What happened is such a tragedy. So unnecessary. Who can believe what happened to Las Vegas?” He later added that it was “a very horrible thing even to think about.”

Trump was to be joined by first lady Melania Trump. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he and Rep. Mark Amodei, a Nevada Republican, also would make the trip.

Trump’s trip to Las Vegas follows his Tuesday travel to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. During that trip, he highlighted Puerto Rico’s relatively low death toll compared with “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” when as many as 1,800 people died in 2005 as levees protecting New Orleans broke. He also focused on the best of the reviews he and his administration are getting rather than criticism of the federal response to Hurricane Maria.

As he departed the White House for Puerto Rico, Trump called the Las Vegas gunman “demented” and a “very, very sick individual.” Trump also praised Las Vegas police, saying they had done an “incredible job.”

Asked about gun laws, the president said “we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.”

Trump offered sombre remarks about the shooting from the White House on Monday, saying “our unity cannot be shattered by evil, our bonds cannot be broken by violence.”

Council hatches pilot project to allow backyard chickens in select wards

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

Residents in some Toronto neighbourhoods will be allowed to keep chickens in their backyards under a pilot project approved Tuesday by city council.

The pilot will run in four city wards over the next three years with an interim review in 18 months. At that time, city staff will review the data and decide whether to expand the project to the rest of the wards.

The wards are Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park, Ward 21 St. Paul’s, and Ward 32 Beaches-East York.

Residents can keep up to four chickens and must register with the city. Roosters won’t be permitted.

Chickens would not be allowed in apartment buildings, condominiums or properties without sufficient outdoor space.

The pilot project is expected to launch next spring.

A survey included in a city staff report filed in May suggested that lifting the ban on chickens could be a popular move.

“There is nothing wrong with it from a public health perspective [and] from a nuisance perspective. They are as clean as cats and dogs. They are as clean as the owners that take care of them,” Coun. Joe Mihevc said on Tuesday.

Coun. Justin Di Ciano said his father has had chickens in his backyard for more than five years and they’re still laying eggs.

“He’s got five of them,” Di Ciano said. “The neighbours love them. My children certainly love them.

“He doesn’t throw food away anymore. He’s got no more organic waste because it all goes to the chickens … and there’s really a peaceful, serenity to it all when you are able to go back and see them.

“Chickens are very social animals so they become pets long after they stop laying eggs.”

Opponents of the pilot have argued it will generate complaints and tie up the city’s bylaw enforcement officers.

“We shouldn’t have livestock in the city,” said Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker. “Livestock and chickens and goats belong in a barnyard, not somebody’s backyard.

“I think certainly for the chickens … they attract coyotes, they attract raccoons, they attract foxes. It’s just not what we want in other people’s backyards.”

Several municipalities in Ontario, including Kingston, Brampton, Niagara Falls and Caledon, allow residents to keep chickens in backyard coops.

Correction: A previous version of the story said Ward 22 instead of Ward 32.

Air Canada, WestJet offer changes to Las Vegas travel plans for limited time

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

Canada’s two major airlines are waiving fees for ticket holders who want to change their Las Vegas travel plans in the wake of the shooting there on Sunday that killed at least 59 people at a country music concert.

Both WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Air Canada have implemented “goodwill” policies to allow guests to change their dates of travel or to exchange their tickets for a different destination.

On its website, Air Canada says the policy will apply to customers who bought a ticket no later than Sunday if they are scheduled to touch down in Las Vegas between now and next Monday, Oct. 9.

It says customers can contact Air Canada reservations to change the flight, free of charge, to another date or another destination between now and Oct. 23, subject to availability. The client would have to pay any difference in price.

WestJet says it has implemented a flexible change/cancel promise for those with tickets to Las Vegas for a shorter period — until Wednesday.

It says guests will be able to change their travel dates or route without paying fees.

Woman dies after being hit by minivan in North York

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Oct 4th, 2017

A 25-year-old woman has died after she was hit by a minivan in North York on Tuesday afternoon.

It happened around 4:30 p.m. at Sentinel and Assiniboine roads, near the York University campus.

The woman was taken to hospital with life-threatening head injuries and later died.

Roads are closed in the area for the investigation.


Musicians and celebrities pay tribute to rocker Tom Petty

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2017

LOS ANGELES – Reaction to the death of rock superstar Tom Petty, who died Monday after suffering cardiac arrest at this Malibu home:

“I’m shocked and saddened by the news of Tom’s passing, he’s such a huge part of our musical history, there’ll never be another like him.” – Eric Clapton in a statement.

“Devastating news about  TomPetty A profound loss. Sad sad day today. RIP” – rocker Slash on Instagram.

Devastating news about #TomPetty A profound loss. Sad sad day today. RIP

A post shared by Slash (@slash) on

“RIP @tompetty you will be missed. A music legend  GoneButNeverForgotten” Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer on Twitter.

“Through his work with the Heartbreakers and The Traveling Wilburys he’s left us with an incredibly legacy to enjoy forever, it’s such a shame he has left us way before his time.” – Def Leppard singer Joe Elliot on Twitter.

“It is so rare to find someone who commands such universal respect in the business. He was a rock n roll lifer with music in his blood. This man delivered a wealth of great songs to his fans and to the world and that is something to celebrate.” – rocker Alice Cooper, on Twitter.

“I feel Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is the best American rock band, ever. He is both a peer and an inspiration to me. I am heartbroken at his passing, and my deep sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.” – REO Speedwagon’s Keith Cronin on Facebook.

“Always felt good to know Tom Petty was out there in the world making up beautiful words and music. Sad today but grateful forever.” – singer Richard Marx on Twitter.

“Safe passages to the summerlands, brother. You couldn’t have left more dreams here for us. Thank you. RIP” – rocker Ryan Adams on Twitter.

“Tom Petty was a stud. Very few super cool dudes from the old school left. Actual talent. Rough to hear the news” – actor-comedian David Spade on Twitter.

“Tom was a true rock and roll purist, both in his music and his defiant spirit. With the Heartbreakers, his infectious riffs, rebellious personality, and inventive songwriting brought a new urgency to rock traditions and fueled a now legendary career and some of the most memorable music of the last four decades.” – Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow in a statement.




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