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Patrick Brown ‘seriously considering’ pulling out of Ontario PC leadership race: source

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Feb 26th, 2018

Patrick Brown is reportedly having doubts about continuing his bid to retake the helm of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

A source close to Brown told CityNews the embattled former leader is seriously considering pulling out of leadership race after threats to his friends and girlfriend. The source also said Brown’s mother has been hospitalized due to stress.

Brown resigned as Ontario Tory leader in January, hours after a CTV report in which the two women made sexual misconduct allegations that date back to the politician’s time as a federal MP.

Several weeks later, he registered to run for leadership of Ontario PC party.

Brown’s name was added to the candidates list on the Elections Ontario website with 30 minutes to go before the deadline to register expired.

Spring a month away, but fun can still be had this weekend

Patricia D'Cunha and Patrick Luciani | posted Friday, Feb 23rd, 2018

Good news: spring is around a month away. Bad news: you have to wait another month for the season of rejuvenation to arrive.

While we wait for it to arrive, there is no reason to stay inside. Plenty of things are taking place this weekend to help lift your spirits while helping the community.


Yogathon to help SickKids
February is heart month, and a special event is being held on Sunday to help children to live with heart with heart disease. The Hope for Hearts Yogathon, which takes place at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Carlton Street, features two hours of yoga practice led by instructors. Money raised from the event will go towards the SickKids Exercise Medicine Program. The program is the first dedicated pediatric one in Canada that provides physical activity and fitness recommendations to children with heart disease. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and doors open at noon.

Team Dog Rescue charity gala
Dogs are lovable and loving, but sadly, not everyone treats them this way. That’s where Team Dog Rescue comes in. It has helped rescue hundreds of abused and homeless dogs. This Friday, a charity gala will be held to help the organization continue its work. The event takes place at Steam Whistle on Bremner Boulevard at 7:30 p.m. The ticket price includes appetizers, gourmet chef-attended food stations, a sweet table, complimentary wine, and live entertainment.

Polar Bear Fest
If bears are your thing, why not spend part of your weekend chilling with some polar bears at the Toronto Zoo. This Saturday is international Polar Bear Day, and to celebrate, the zoo will be hosting Polar Bear Fest. Visitors can take part in fun and educational activities that will help raise awareness and support this threatened Canadian species. There will be two special presentations, one at 10 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m., that will allow guests to meet the people who work up close and personal with polar bears. The zoo will also host a silent auction and kids activities. There is also a 1k and 5k walk/run to support polar bears. That gets underway at 8:15 a.m. at the front entrance bridge at the Toronto Zoo.


A polar bear mother and her two cubs walk along the shore of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Man., Nov. 7, 2007. Canada is in danger of losing a major international battle over its management of polar bears as former allies reverse their position on a proposed ban on cross-border trade in parts of the animals.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward


Lovers of winter won’t want to miss this years Icefest in Yorkville this weekend. The annual event will be celebrating the Middle Ages this year. More than 70,000 pounds of crystal clear ice sculpted into huge displays, including an 11th Century-styled castle, knights and a giant throne built for two. And if that isn’t enough history for you, Icefest will also feature Knight tournaments all weekend. The festival runs from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in Village of Yorkville Park. Just make sure you keep an eye on the weather.

Future Cities #3
Waterfront Toronto will be hosting its third installment of its Future Cities talk this Sunday, with a special focus on Toronto’s housing issues. It will be hosted in collaboration with author and ‘placemaker’ Jay Pitter. She will transform the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram and Bluma Appel Salon into a “public living room,” to help push the conversation of the city’s housing challenges. The talk is on from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library.

TTC closure

Subway disruption
Transit riders will have to navigate around a partial subway closure with no shuttle buses this weekend. Crews will be working on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue this weekend, which means trains won’t be running on Line 1 between Sheppard-Yonge and St. Clair stations. The TTC will also be conducting track work in the area.

Riders are being asked to use the University section of Line 1 and buses on existing routes to get around. For those driving in the area, on-street parking on Pleasant Boulevard, and on St. Clair Avenue between Yonge Street and Ferndale Avenue, will be restricted, to allow for the smooth flow of traffic.

Airbnb to vet homes listed through new service launching in Toronto

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 23rd, 2018

Airbnb is rolling out a new tier of rentals in Toronto that have been inspected and verified in-person by staff.

A press release from the home-rental organization says its new Airbnb Plus program vets homes offered in the tier with a checklist of over 100 factors, including cleanliness, design and comfort.

The launch follows calls from some Canadians for an end to short-term rentals offered in their buildings and neighbourhoods after some Airbnb users rented homes to throw unruly parties or behaved disrespectfully towards neighbours.

A release says the Airbnb Plus service is aimed at high-end accommodations and has launched with 2,000 homes in 13 cities — a small fraction of the roughly 4.5 million properties listed on Airbnb in 81,000 cities worldwide.

By the end of the year, Airbnb foresees verifying the quality of 75,000 homes in 50 cities, including Montreal.

It will offer people who rent their homes through the tier in-home design consultation and expert photography, but did not say if there was a cost associated with the services or listings.

The Plus program, unveiled Thursday, is aimed at winning over travellers who aren’t sure they can trust the computer-driven system that Airbnb uses to assess the quality of rentals. Airbnb believes travellers will be willing to pay more for inspector-certified properties, allowing homeowners and apartment dwellers to recoup a $149 fee to participate in Plus.

The company will also begin offering four new types of properties classified as vacation homes, boutiques, bed and breakfast units and “unique” homes.

A new program called Airbnb for Family and Airbnb for Work will also launch in an effort to help renters find accommodations for social stays, weddings, honeymoons, group getaways and later this year, dinner parties.

Toronto police membership votes ‘no confidence’ in Chief Saunders

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Feb 23rd, 2018

The results of a symbolic no confidence vote by Toronto police officers reveals 86 per cent of the membership do not have confidence in the job being done by Chief Mark Saunders.

However, it appears less than half of the 8,000 membership took part in the online vote which was conducted over the last week.

The vote was launched after Saunders came under fire from the police union over recommendations made in the Transformational Task Force plan.

Just as the results of the vote were being released, the Toronto Police Services Board issued a statement in which they “fully and unequivocally” indicated their support for the chief.

“We know that modernization of our police service is necessary,” the board said. “We also know that it is difficult. We are keenly aware of the challenges this substantial change poses for our members, both uniform and civilian, as well as their families. But we also believe that the organization will emerge from this transformation stronger, more effective and more responsive to, and trusted by, the community.”

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack acknowledged that while the union has no power to remove Saunders — that rests with the police services board — the membership is looking forward to hearing from Saunders in response to the vote.

“Did we expect anything less than dismissiveness from it, no,” said McCormack. “What we are trying to do is to say we have reached a breaking point where we need to have some discussion about meaningful real actions.

“Over 2,600 people saying, ‘We’ve lost confidence, we feel that the direction is wrong,’ you can’t dismiss that.”

The union claims officers are overworked and understaffed, a concern that was echoed by families of Toronto police officers who held a rally outside Toronto Police headquarters on Monday.

Chief Saunders said the implementation of modernization, including strategic hiring, which is scheduled to begin this year, will help the police service work more efficiently.

“[it’s a] misnomer with I’m not listening. I’m listening loud and clear,” he said.

“If you look historically at our journey that we’ve taken, it hasn’t been a straight line. We’ve made changes and adjustments as we go, which is important, and part of that is to listen to what the concerns are and move and pivot properly and in accordance with what needs to be done to move things forward.”

On Tuesday, Saunders told Breakfast Television it wasn’t a matter of not having enough officers in Toronto, but that deployment was the issue to tackle.

Saunders has also come under scrutiny for the way the police service has handled several high profile investigations of late, including the deaths of billionaire Apotex founder Barry Sherman and his wife Honey and the disappearance of several men from Toronto’s Gay Village, which ultimately yeilded the arrest of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.

Canadians win gold, silver in Olympic women’s skicross

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 23rd, 2018

Canadian women have finished 1-2 in skicross at the Pyeongchang Winter Games with Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., taking gold and Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que., earning silver.

Switzerland’s Fanny Smith captured bronze while World Cup leader Sandra Naeslund of Sweden was fourth.

The medallists had to wait several minutes for the official results to be posted as judges reviewed the race.

Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., who won gold four years ago in Sochi, was eliminated in the opening heat at Phoenix Park. She fell behind shortly after the start and spun out early.

It was her first competitive event since rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament during a training run in October ahead of the World Cup season.

India Sherret of Cranbrook, B.C., was also eliminated in the first heat after a fall midway down the course. She crashed into a roller and had to be taken off on a sled.

Calgary’s Brady Leman won the men’s skicross race earlier this week.

Kaetlyn Osmond wins Olympic bronze medal in women’s figure skating

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Feb 23rd, 2018

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond has won a bronze medal in women’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics.

The reigning world silver medallist from Marystown, N.L., skating to music from “Black Swan,” scored 152.15 in her long program for a combined score of 231.02.

She was also third after the short program.

Osmond’s medal is historic as it boosts Canada’s total in Pyeongchang to 27, an all-time high for the country at the Winter Games.

Russia’s Alina Zagitova, just 15 years old, scored a combined 239.57 to capture gold. Teammate and reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia won silver with 238.26 points.

Osmond, 22, who almost quit skating after breaking her leg in a training accident in 2014, nailed her long program, landing seven triples jumps. Her only mishap was a slight bobble on a triple Lutz.

Canada hadn’t won an Olympic medal in women’s singles since Joannie Rochette claimed bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Games just days after her mom died of a heart attack.

It was a disastrous day for Gabrielle Daleman, who was seventh after the short program. The 20-year-old from Newmarket, fell three times — on her opening triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, her triple Lutz, and triple flip.

Daleman, who won bronze at last year’s world championships, was deducted 4.00 points for the falls

Osmond and Daleman will be looked to as leaders of Canadian team that will have to rebuild after these Olympics. Among those retiring are ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won double gold in Pyeongchang, three-time world champion Patrick Chan, and two-time world pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who captured bronze.

Osmond and Daleman, along with the retiring veterans, claimed gold in the team event to open these Games.

Brantford under state of emergency due to flooding

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018

Officials in Brantford have declared a state of emergency and a portion of the city is under an immediate evacuation due to flooding.


The Grand River runs through the city, and conservation officials say levels have been rising after an ice jam released and sent a surge of water downstream.

The evacuation order, which was followed by the state of emergency, went into effect on Wednesday morning.

The city says residents in three neighbourhoods that surround the river — Holmedale, Old West Brant and Eagle Place — should immediately evacuate to the north.

Around 4,900 residents and 2,200 homes are affected by the evacuation order. Power has been cut to around 650 homes and gas will be shut off in the affected areas.
Police are going door-to-door in some areas, encouraging people to leave the flood plain. Buses are available for people who need to be relocated.
At a news conference earlier in the day, Brantford Mayor Chris Friel said the flooding has also closed nearby trails as well as many local businesses and schools.

People are being warned to stay away from the river.

“It is never worth your personal safety for a view of the river … stay away from the river,” Friel said. “That is not just for today or this afternoon or this evening. That will be for the next couple days at least.”

Two bridges — Lorne Bridge and Veteran Memorial Parkway — are closed. Officials say once the water recedes, structural reviews will be done of the bridges as well as the attached pedestrian bridges.

Police are flying a drone over the river so officials can monitor water levels.

Friel said the Ontario government has been in contact with his community, and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Bill Mauro said a team is already en route to the city.

Facebook user Alex Amaral captured the following photos of an ice jam after it flowed over the banks of the Grand River in Cambridge.

Wi-Fi to be installed on GO trains and buses

The Canadian Press and News Staff | posted Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2018

Wireless internet is coming to the network of trains and buses that connect the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation says that Wi-Fi on GO Transit vehicles will make using public transit easier and more convenient.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster says it’s what commuters want.

“Whenever I’m on our trains and I talk to our customers, customers are very, very clear and personal about how beneficial Wi-Fi on our transit would be, and I think this is a fantastic initiative,” he said.

Free internet is already available at most GO stations and bus terminals.

The province says GO Transit operator Metrolinx will test the service in April on two GO trains and four GO buses to study service quality and collect feedback.

“The trains will be very clearly marked, decaled as we call it, (an) outside indication on the train itself to show that it has Wi-Fi on it, and very clear instructions on the inside,” Verster said.

Verster said Wi-Fi will eventually expand to all GO vehicles but didn’t say when exactly that would happen.

CORRECTION: This is a corrected story. An original version incorrectly stated the test will begin in March

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