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SafeTTC app tips lead to 3 arrests

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

It’s only been operating for 10 weeks, but the SafeTTC app has already helped lead to three arrests.

To date, the app has received 574 reports – 22 per cent of those surrounded allegations of harassment, according to statistics provided to CityNews by the TTC.

“We’ve had over 500 reports filed. The most common report is harassment,” explained TTC spokesperson Susan Sperling.

The app, which is free to download and use, allows riders to discreetly submit videos, photos and texts about unwanted behavior to the TTC control centre. Submitting a tip doesn’t immediately summon emergency personnel, but tips received through the app have been connected to arrests in two allegations of sexual assaults and one robbery.

“Our goal with this app was to make the TTC safer and we can see that that’s already happening,” said Sperling.

Since its launch in September, 2,700 users have downloaded the SafeTTC app.

The TTC’s #ThisIsWhere campaign, which launched at the same time as the app, has encouraged commuters to take to social media with their experiences of racism, violence or harassment while riding the red rocket.

The campaign features posters and stickers placed prominently in TTC stations and vehicles. The billboards recount actual experiences like “#ThisIsWhere Agatha leaned away when someone leaned in to kiss her” and “#ThisIsWhere Savi faced violence when confronting a racist.”

But one expert is worried the campaign’s tone could be taking away from its actual message.

“Essentially people are reading these ads all over the place that are saying all the bad things that are happening on the TTC,” said marketing and business specialist Marc Gordon.

“They’re seeing this and they’re thinking, wow, is the TTC that dangerous, is this bus dangerous, is this subway car dangerous, because they’re being reminded of all the bad things that happened on it. And I’m worried that they’re to be focusing on that rather than really the core message that the TTC is trying to make sure these things don’t happen by empowering passengers to do something about it.”

Toronto partners with Waze, helping drivers navigate traffic

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

Mayor John Tory’s multi-layered plan to ease congestion in Toronto has taken another step forward, with the city now sharing its traffic data with the traffic and navigation app Waze.

Tory formally announced the partnership with the traffic app Waze on Monday, but the collaboration has been in the works since September. At that time, he laid out the new traffic measures – part of his ongoing plan to make it easier for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to get around the city.

Waze users can get up to date information on road closures and gridlock in the city. Waze will also help the city communicate information about road closures and highway maintenance.

“This partnership will give our traffic operations centre better visibility into traffic patterns and give users of the Waze application enhanced information so that they can plan,” Tory said at the Consolidated Traffic Communications Centre in North York.

“By using Waze, all motorists will have access to the City of Toronto’s data in real time and be able to avoid road closures, construction and traffic jams.”

There are more than 560,000 active Waze app users in Toronto.

Earlier this month, Tory launched “quick clear squads” on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. The rapid response teams will focus on fixing problems causing temporary lane blockages.

One dead in car fire near Woodbine Casino

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

Police are investigating after a body was found inside a burning car near Woodbine Casino.

Emergency crews were called to the scene on Rexdale Boulevard around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, where they located the vehicle in a ditch off the side of the road.

Paramedics said a person was pronounced dead on scene.

No further details have been released.

Fran’s Restaurant on Shuter St. temporarily closed after fire

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

Late night favourite Fran’s Restaurant in the downtown core is closed until further notice after a fire overnight.

Toronto police, fire and paramedics responded to the restaurant’s Victoria and Shuter streets location at around 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Toronto Fire says the blaze was a grease fire in the exhaust ducts. While the fire was knocked down quickly, there was heavy smoke and some residents from neighbouring condos were evacuated.

No injuries were reported.

There is no word on when the restaurant will reopen at this time.

Jeffrey Tambor suggests he’s leaving ‘Transparent’ following accusations

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 20th, 2017

Actor Jeffrey Tambor says he doesn’t see how he can return to the Amazon series “Transparent” following two allegations of sexual harassment against him.

In an ambiguous statement Sunday, Tambor referenced what he calls a “politicized atmosphere” that has afflicted the set. He also says that the idea that he would deliberately harass anyone is untrue.

Two women have come forward over the past few weeks to accuse Tambor of sexual harassment, including “Transparent” actress Trace Lysette and his former assistant.

Tambor has won two Emmys for portraying Maura Pfefferman in the highly regarded show, which is now in its fourth season. Many interpreted his words to mean that he was leaving the show, which has not been confirmed.

Representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

Trudeau to apologize to Canadians persecuted for being gay

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 20th, 2017

Martine Roy was just 20-years-old and less than a year into her chosen career as a medical assistant with the Canadian Armed Forces at CFB Borden when military police suddenly showed up at her workplace to arrest her.

They brought her to an interrogation room and demanded she admit she was a lesbian. They put her through psychological testing. Within a year she had been dishonourably discharged from the army.

Thirty-three years later she cannot hold back the tears as she prepares to hear an apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons.

“It’s amazing,” Roy told The Canadian Press on Sunday afternoon, from her home in Montreal. “Even though if you fight all your life for that it’s always hard to believe it will happen.”

Trudeau confirmed on Twitter he will offer the apology to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited people who were forced out of the military or public service and some who were even prosecuted criminally for “gross indecency.”

Starting in the 1950s and lasting until 1992, thousands of Canadians in the military, RCMP, and across the civil service were fired. Roy refers to it as “the purge” by which the government tried to weed out people that it felt were susceptible to foreign intimidation and blackmail because of their sexual orientation.

The government developed a homosexuality test known as the “fruit machine,” which measured arousal to pornographic images in order to provide proof of sexual orientation to back up the reason for firing, or denying someone a promotion.

Roy said when the military police showed up at her door she didn’t even know what her sexual orientation was and the firing “entirely changed my life.”

She said she tried for five years to fight back but eventually she decided she wasn’t going to put any more energy into it.

“You really think you did a big big crime,” she said of the ordeal. “Sexual orientation has nothing to do with your skills.”

She said in 1992 when Canada changed the law she expected an apology but that didn’t happen until now.

“It means a lot,” said Roy, fighting tears. “It means even more coming from (Trudeau) because I know it’s going to come from his heart.”

Trudeau promised to issue the apology more than a year ago after Egale Canada, a group that advocates for the rights of sexual minorities, released a report on the matter and made a number of recommendations including that a formal apology be issued.

The government has been consulting with Egale and others to determine the best way to approach the apology.

A spokeswoman for Egale said on Sunday that having a date is “exciting.”

“We think it’s long overdue,” said Jennifer Boyce.

Canada is also facing a class action suit from more than 2,000 people who say they were persecuted by the federal government for their sexual orientation. Negotiations to settle that suit are underway.

Toronto Argos win wild East final over Riders

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 20th, 2017

Cody Fajardo’s one-yard TD run with 23 seconds remaining rallied the Toronto Argonauts to a wild 25-21 East Division final win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday afternoon.

Toronto returns to the Grey Cup for the first time since winning the historic 100th championship game in 2012 at Rogers Centre.

The Argos will face the Calgary Stampeders, who advanced to the CFL championship game for a second straight year after coming back to defeat Edmonton Eskimos 32-28 in the West Division final.

Calgary was 2-0 versus the Argonauts in the 2017 regular season with wins of 23-7 and 41-24 in August.

Fajardo’s touchdown came after Christion Jones’ 79-yard punt return TD with 2:45 remaining put Saskatchewan ahead 21-18. Toronto starter Ricky Ray calmly marched the Argos to the Riders’ one-yard line, completing 7-of-8 passes for 67 yards to set up Fajardo’s winning run.

Toronto cemented the win when Akwasi Owusu-Ansah recovered Saskatchewan receiver Duron Carter’s attempted lateral.

The Argos were certainly opportunistic against Saskatchewan, with 17 of their points coming off turnovers, delighting the enthusiastic gathering of 24,929, the club’s largest crowd ever at BMO Field.

Among those attending were Maple Leafs’ players Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and head coach Mike Babcock, who donned his Riders’ apparel sitting next to Argos owner Larry Tanenbaum, who’s also the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Leafs.

Saskatchewan was attempting to become the first crossover team to reach the Grey Cup since the rule was adopted in 1996. The Riders were 2-0 versus Toronto this year and defeated the defending-champion Ottawa Redblacks 31-20 in last weekend’s East Division semifinal.

Saskatchewan won the toss and deferred, opting to have the 54-kilometre-an-hour north wind for the fourth. When the Riders got the ball with 12 minutes left at their 17-yard line, they trailed 18-3.

Brandon Bridge of Mississauga, Ont., cut the deficit to 18-10, finding Carter on an 11-yard TD pass at 5:57, capping a smart 93-yard, seven-play drive. It was the first playoff touchdown pass by a Canadian since Ottawa’s Russ Jackson did so in the ’69 Grey Cup game.

Saskatchewan pulled to within 18-13 on Tyler Crapigna’s 28-yard field goal with 4:44 remaining before going ahead on Jones’ TD. Bridge then hit Naaman Roosevelt for the two-point convert and three-point lead.

It was a disappointing end to the season for Saskatchewan starter Kevin Glenn, a 17-year veteran still in search of his first Grey Cup victory. Glenn threw three first-half interceptions _ one that was returned for a TD _ before being replaced for good to start the second half by Bridge.

Ray and Toronto running back James Wilder Jr. were already assured of spending Grey Cup week in Ottawa as East Division finalists for the outstanding player and rookie awards, respectively. Now, they’ll be accompanied by their teammates and look to cap head coach Marc Trestman’s fabulous first season with the Argonauts by celebrating a CFL championship.

Trestman will make a fourth Grey Cup appearance as a CFL head coach. His first three (and two wins) came with Montreal from 2008-12 before becoming the head coach of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

Terrance Plummer and DeVier Posey had Toronto’s touchdowns. Lirim Hajrullahu added the converts and two field goals.

Crapigna booted two field goals and a convert.

Toronto converted two late Saskatchewan turnovers into 10 points and a 17-3 half-time lead despite playing into the brisk wind. Hajrullahu’s 35-yard field goal at 14:31 came after Cassius Vaughn’s interception at the Riders’ 23-yard line.

Ray’s hit Posey on a 17-yard TD strike at 13:47 to move Toronto ahead 14-3, capping a 63-yard, seven-play drive aided by unnecessary roughness and pass interference penalties against the Riders. That march was set up by Owusu-Ansah’s interception.

In fact, all of the first-half points came off the combined six turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble, one on downs). It was an especially tough half for Glenn, who was 6-of-13 passing for 87 yards and three interceptions.

Glenn was replaced by Bridge at 4:28 of the second after completing 6-of-11 passes for 87 yards and a pick. He returned later in the quarter but was picked off by Owusu-Ansah on his first pass attempt.

Toronto opened the game with the wind and moved the ball smartly before Wilder Jr. was stopped on third-and-one at the Saskatchewan 29-yard line. The Riders converted that into Crapigna’s 16-yard field goal to open the scoring.

But Plummer put Toronto ahead 7-3, returning a Glenn interception 39 yards for the TD at 9:56.

You’ve been warned: Grace period over on King Street

CityNews | posted Monday, Nov 20th, 2017

The grace period for drivers who disobey the rules of the King Street pilot project officially ended Monday morning.

All traffic on King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst streets is only allowed to travel a single block before being forced to turn right – no left turns and no through traffic is allowed. The pilot project aims to keep that stretch of road virtually car-free, allowing streetcars to move unhindered.

The TTC says more than 65,000 people use the King streetcar during the week, but traffic congestion slows the service down to a crawl.

Toronto police have been handing out warnings instead of fines over the past week as drivers adjusted to the new rules on the downtown street.

But starting Monday, there will be a no tolerance policy. Fines begin at $110 and come with two demerit points upon conviction.

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