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UP Express to offer earlier service starting in April

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

Early birds will soon be able to make their way to the airport using the city’s express train.

Metrolinx said the UP Express, which runs from Union Station to Pearson International Airport, has become so popular they’re adding more service to the line.

Starting April 7, the first train will hit the rails at 4:55 a.m. instead of 5:30 a.m.

Metrolinx said ridership on the UP Express has increased to over 300,000 people a month.

As well, Metrolinx says they are adding more rush hour GO trains on the Lakeshore West and East Lines to make it easier to get to and from work, as well as late at night.


Patrick Brown says he won’t run in next provincial election

News Staff and The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

Patrick Brown says he will not be running as a candidate in the next provincial election.

“After much thought, I will not be running in the upcoming provincial election,” Brown tweeted Thursday night. “I remain committed to the Conservative movement and to the well-being of my local community.”

His announcement came moments after the Conservative party released a statement saying Brown would not be eligible to run as a candidate in the riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.

PC party president Jag Badwal said the decision of the Provincial Nominations Committee was unanimous.

Brown stepped down as party leader in January amid sexual misconduct allegations, which he has vehemently denied.

The Progressive Conservatives picked former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford as their new leader last weekend.

Badwal said the committee also agreed to reopen nominations in three ridings: Brampton North, Mississauga Centre and Newmarket-Aurora.

The committee also set aside the nomination in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas “as a result of the flawed process,” Badwal said in a statement.

The Ontario Conservatives has been dogged by controversial nomination battles in ridings across the province, including allegations of vote-stuffing in races near Hamilton and Ottawa.

In the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, police are investigating the PC nomination.

Ontario voters go to the polls on June 7.

Canadians with disabilities twice as likely to experience violence: Statistics Canada

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

New data from Statistics Canada says Canadians with disabilities are twice as likely to experience violent victimization as the able-bodied population.

The figures, drawn heavily from the 2014 General Social Survey on Victimization, found rates were similar among both disabled men and women.

Statistics Canada says nearly four in 10 disabled people 15 years of age or older not living in institutions report experiencing robbery, sexual or physical assault, a figure they say is about double what’s found in the general population.

The numbers show the issue was most acute among people with cognitive or mental health disabilities, who reported victimization rates four times higher than the general population.

The data suggests disabled women were considerably more likely to report sexual assault than non-disabled women, and say one in three of the violent crimes disabled people experience take place in their own homes.

Members of the disabled community say the numbers likely understate the severity of the problem and say society does not do enough to protect a vulnerable population.

‘Subway Bandit’ facing robbery charges

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

Toronto police have charged two men in connection with a series of robberies at Subway restaurants.

Sixteen restaurants were robbed between Feb. 18 and March 13, police say. Nine are in the west end of Toronto and seven are in Peel Region.

Egal Wais, 21, of Toronto is facing 49 charges. It’s alleged he went into the stores disguising himself with his hood tied close around his face and glasses. In some instances, he would pretend to order food before making a demand for cash, and taking a replica firearm out of his pocket. He also walked behind the counter to remove money from the till in some of the robberies.

Wais is facing 16 counts each of robbery, disguise with intent, and use imitation firearm to commit indictable offence, and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Yosef Ali, 24, also of Toronto, allegedly joined Wais on three occasions and is facing eight similar charges.

They will both appear in court on April 19.

Reliability issues force TTC to suspend further installation of PRESTO fare gates

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Mar 16th, 2018

The Toronto Transit Commission is suspending the installation of the remaining PRESTO fare gates in order to correct several reliability issues.

The TTC says it needs to replace approximately 2,000 motors due to what it calls “significant reliability issues” which have occurred with the new fare gates.

Fare gate contractor, Scheidt & Bachmann, will be replacing the motors which control the paddle mechanism associated with each gate. As well, there are issues with the software and operating systems which control the internal mechanism of the gates.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green says so far, 800 gates have been installed and are in service across the system. Another 100 have been installed but have yet to be put into service while another 100 have yet to be installed.

Green says in any given month, only about five per cent of the gates are down but when they go down, they go down for significant periods of time.

“We have so many gates at one station and to have one or two of them down for any length of time is a real inconvenience.”

Green says it’s uncertain how the delays and fixes will impact the final roll out of the PRESTO fare gates. The TTC started installing gates in 2016 and had hoped to have construction completed at all stations, including Union, by June 2018.

Green stresses the TTC will not be on the hook for any of the costs as it’s all part of their service contract.

While the problem with the gates is not directly related to the PRESTO tap fare system, it’s all part of the gate function mechanism.

“All of the ways that PRESTO integrates with the gates – the mechanism of the gates, the software that controls the gates – all of those need to be looked at and wherever those deficiencies exist need to be addressed,” said Green.

Autistic man assaulted in Mississauga; suspects sought

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 15th, 2018

Peel police are asking for the public’s help with the investigation into a “vicious assault” on an autistic man in Mississauga.

Police responded to a call for a violent assault at the Square One bus terminal at around 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old victim was reportedly sitting on the stairs of the lower level of the terminal when he was approached by three men. The men allegedly surrounded the victim and punched and kicked him several times. They then fled the scene.

The victim was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Police have released video as well as photos of the suspects.

All three suspects are described as South Asian males, five-feet-ten-inches tall.

The first suspect has a light complexion and a thin build with a dark, short beard and straight, black hair above the ears. He was wearing a black t-shirt with an Air Jordan logo and white lettering with black track pants and black shoes.

The second suspect is described as clean shaven with a light complexion and thin build. He is wearing a black jackets with a greay horizontal stripe across the chest and a grey vertical stripe along the hood along with black track pants and black shoes.

The third suspect is unshaven with a medium complexion and medium build. He is wearing a black hoodie with a Nike logo on the front and Nike lettering along the sleeves with black track pants and black shoes.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

Suspected drunk driver arrested after woman hit near U of T

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 15th, 2018

A suspected drunk driver is in custody after a 21-year-old woman was struck by a vehicle near the University of Toronto.

Police say the woman was hit while crossing the street at a marked crosswalk in the Huron and College streets area around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. The driver was going the wrong way on Huron at the time.

She was rushed to hospital, where she remains with life-threatening injuries.

The driver fled the scene, but police located the SUV in the Spadina Road and Eglinton Avenue area of Forest Hill.

The 19-year-old driver has been arrested, but there is no word yet on charges.

College is closed in both directions between Spadina and Huron for the investigation.

‘Enough is enough’: U.S. students stage walkouts against guns

Colin Binkley, The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Mar 15th, 2018

Declaring enough is enough, tens of thousands of young people from Maine to Alaska walked out of school to demand action on gun violence Wednesday in one of the biggest student protests since the Vietnam era.

Braving snow in New England and threats of school discipline in places like Georgia and Ohio, they carried signs with messages such as “Am I next?,” railed against the National Rifle Association and bowed their heads in memory of the 17 dead in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“We’re sick of it,” said Maxwell Nardi, a senior at Douglas S. Freeman High School in Henrico, Virginia, just outside Richmond. “We’re going to keep fighting, and we’re not going to stop until Congress finally makes resolute changes.”

Around the nation, students left class at 10 a.m. local time for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in Florida. At some schools, students didn’t go outside but lined the hallways, gathered in gyms and auditoriums or wore orange, the colour used by the movement against gun violence.

Over and over, students declared that too many young people have died and that they are tired of going to school every day afraid of getting killed.

“Enough is enough. People are done with being shot,” said Iris Foss-Ober, 18, a senior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis.

Some schools applauded students for taking a stand or at least tolerated the walkouts, while others threatened punishment.

Protesters called for such measures as tighter background checks on gun purchases and a ban on assault weapons like the one used in the Florida bloodbath.

As the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photo on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with an American flag. The caption: “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

Walkouts interrupted the day at schools from the elementary level through college, and at some that have witnessed their own mass shootings. About 250 students gathered on a soccer field at Colorado’s Columbine High, while students who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack in 2012 walked out of Newtown High School in Connecticut.

Students at several schools assembled on sports fields and arranged themselves into hearts, peace signs or the word “Enough.” At other schools, students spent the 17 minutes writing letters to lawmakers or registering classmates to vote.

At Eagle Rock High in Los Angeles, teenagers a moment of silence as they gathered around a circle of 17 chairs labeled with the names of the Florida victims.

In joining the protests, the students followed the example set by many of the survivors of the Florida shooting, who have become gun-control activists, leading rallies, lobbying legislators and giving TV interviews. Their efforts helped spur passage last week of a Florida law curbing access to assault rifles by young people.

But whether they can make a difference on Capitol Hill remains to be seen. Congress has shown little inclination to tighten gun laws, and President Donald Trump backed away from his initial support for raising the minimum age for buying an assault rifle to 21.

Another protest against gun violence is scheduled in Washington on March 24, with organizers saying it is expected to draw hundreds of thousands.

A spokeswoman for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said DeVos “gives a lot credit to the students who are raising their voices and demanding change.”

“She hears them, and their input will be valuable as she convenes the Federal Commission on School Safety and works to find solutions to keeping all students safe at school,” spokeswoman Liz Hill said.

Historians said the demonstrations were shaping up to be one of the largest youth protests in decades.

“It seems like it’s going to be the biggest youth-oriented and youth-organized protest movements going back decades, to the early ’70s at least,” said David Farber a history professor at the University of Kansas who has studied social change movements.

“Young people are that social media generation, and it’s easy to mobilize them in a way that it probably hadn’t been even 10 years ago.”

The co-ordinated protests Wednesday were organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March, which brought thousands to Washington last year.

In the nation’s capital, more than 2,000 high-school age protesters observed the 17 minutes of silence by sitting on the ground with their backs turned to the White House as a church bell tolled. The president was out of town.

The protesters carried signs with messages such as “Our Blood/Your Hands” and “Never Again” and chanted slogans against the NRA.

In New York City, they chanted, “Enough is enough!” In Salt Lake City, the signs read, “Protect kids not guns,” ”Fear has no place in school” and “Am I next?”

Stoneman Douglas High senior David Hogg, who has emerged as one of the leading student activists, livestreamed the walkout at the tragedy-stricken school on his YouTube channel. He said the students could not be expected to remain in class when there was work to do to prevent gun violence.

“Every one of these individuals could have died that day. I could have died that day,” he said.

At Aztec High School in a rural, gun-friendly part of New Mexico where many enjoy hunting and shooting, students aimed to avoid gun politics and opted for a ceremony honouring students killed in shootings — including two who died in a December attack at Aztec.

“Our kids sit on both ends of the spectrum, and we have a diverse community when it comes to gun rights and gun control,” Principal Warman Hall said.

About 10 students left Ohio’s West Liberty-Salem High School — which witnessed a shooting last year — despite a warning they could face detention or more serious discipline.

Police in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta patrolled Kell High, where students were threatened with unspecified consequences if they participated. Three students walked out anyway.

The walkouts drew support from companies such as media conglomerate Viacom, which paused programming on MTV, BET and its other networks for 17 minutes during the walkouts.

Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Maria Danilova in Washington; Jeff Martin in Atlanta; Kantele Franko in Columbus, Ohio; Jonathan Drew in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Mike Householder in Detroit; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston; Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Krysta Fauria in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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