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Ontario PC candidate Simmer Sandhu quits; cites anonymous ‘allegations’

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 17th, 2018

A Progressive Conservative candidate in Ontario’s provincial election has pulled out of the race citing anonymous allegations made against him.

Simmer Sandhu, who had been running in the riding of Brampton East, says the allegations pertain to both his work life and his nomination campaign.

Sandhu says he denies the allegations and will vigorously defend himself.

He also thanks supporters and volunteers for their hard work and dedication, and says he’s confident in PC Leader Doug Ford’s ability to earn the trust of Ontario voters.

A party spokeswoman says Sandhu’s resignation has been accepted.

Melissa Lantsman says the party is excited to announce Surdeep Verma as its new candidate in Brampton East, calling him a great addition to the PC team.

In his statement posted on Twitter Sandhu does not give details of the allegations.

“I have recently been made aware of allegations anonymously made against me pertaining to both my work life and my nomination campaign,” he wrote Wednesday.

“These allegations are totally baseless. I absolutely deny them.”

Sandhu said that while he is confident he will be cleared it is impossible for him to continue as a PC candidate.

Highway 407 investigating ‘inside theft of data’

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 17th, 2018

The company that operates a major toll road in the GTA says the personal information of roughly 60,000 people was stolen from its offices “some time over the past 12 months.”

The privately-operated 407 Express Toll Route says in a statement that the stolen data is limited to account names and phone numbers, and no credit card or banking information was taken.

It says the incident is being investigated as an “inside theft of data,” and no external breach of its systems is suspected.

The company says it was informed of the issue last Thursday and immediately launched an investigation.

It has also notified police, the federal privacy commissioner and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

The 407 ETR bills itself as “the world’s first all-electronic, barrier-free toll highway,” running 108 kilometres from Burlington to Pickering.

Here’s a new way to get a parking ticket in Toronto

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 17th, 2018

A new way of handing out parking tickets is bringing in millions of dollars in revenue for the city, but drivers are questioning whether it’s a valid tactic, or just a cash grab.

Up until this past August, parking officers had to place a bright yellow ticket on your windshield for the charge to be valid. But since then, parking enforcement officers have had a new tool at their disposal – the mail. Officials have been sending out 4,000 to 5,000 “drive away” tickets a month.

All a parking enforcement officer needs is a licence plate and the model of the vehicle to issue a ticket.

It will say “drove away” in the top corner and it comes with an additional $10 fee on top of the fine.

Drivers CityNews spoke had mixed reactions.

“It’s fair for the municipality to do that, absolutely when the infraction is just, but at the same time, it opens up a whole can of worms,” says Carmine Ciofani.

“You don’t know where the parking officer came from, so it could be that you just pulled up, stopped for a second, and drove off, and they’ve issued you a ticket,” adds John Buffett.”

Anthony Fabrizi, manager of revenue services for utility and parking operations at the City of Toronto, said it’s a valid form of ticketing and that the extra $10 fee is justifiable.

“If we find you parked illegally, and the officer can capture the information, we can send a ticket to you,” he said. “The municipality is charged a fee by the Ministry of Transportation to retrieve the [car ownership] information,” explains Fabrizi. “The extra charge is really a cost recovery, and the municipality doesn’t make any extra money.”

The city says the average fine for a parking ticket in Toronto is $53. Officials expect to issue 60,000 drive-away parking tickets this year alone, bringing in $3.1 million in fines.

The city says drive-away tickets are meant to protect parking enforcement officers from being clipped by cars that try and drive away.

The Toronto Police Service says there were 45 assaults on parking officers in 2017, including 24 assaults between January and May of last year. For the same period of time this year, there have been nine assaults. It’s not clear if those charges stemmed from drivers trying to evade a ticket.

 

 

 

 

 

Main Ontario party leaders to do most of their campaigning Wednesday in the GTA

News Staff | posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

The main party leaders are doing most of their stumping for the June 7 election in the Greater Toronto Area today.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is campaigning in Toronto, starting with a stop at a childcare centre before visiting a restaurant.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford will be making a morning announcement in Oakville before heading to Mississauga where he’s to tour Fielding Environmental and attend an evening rally.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is scheduled to make an announcement at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Mississauga before heading to Kanata, Ont., where she’s to speak at an Iftar dinner.

Hydro One was front and centre for the leaders on Tuesday.

Wynne called raises for the utility’s board of directors unacceptable, while her rivals slammed the pay hikes as the consequence of her government’s privatization of the utility.

Mirvish opens doors to Princess of Wales Theatre for royal wedding viewing party

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Royal watchers hoping to add a dash of glamour to the nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry on Saturday are being invited to David Mirvish’s free viewing party.

The Toronto arts impresario will gather as many as 2,000 people inside the Princess of Wales Theatre to experience the wedding projected live on a big screen.

The show will also include a royals costume contest where the winner receives a trip for two to London.

Free breakfast and trivia prizes will also be handed out during the broadcast.

Mirvish says the experience offers a unique opportunity to see the event inside a venue named after Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Tickets for the general public will be available Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET through http://www.mirvish.com.

Viewing parties for the royal wedding are being held across Canada at theatres, cathedrals, libraries, hotels and banquet halls.

Pop-up garbage dumps frustrating Scarborough resident

Pam Seatle | posted Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

It’s not the kind of semi-permanent “installation” you want to see pop up in your neighbourhood: heaps of garbage left there by winter and windstorms.

A Scarborough woman, who doesn’t want to be identified, says the detritus that collects in areas near Kennedy Road and St. Clair Avenue East is not just a seasonal problem. She has been complaining about it for the last 15 years

“I just want it cleaned up,” the woman told CityNews.” I live here, but even if this was just an industrial area, why do we have this? Why do thousands of commuters have to look out the window of a GO train and see this?”

The resident admits while some of the garbage has drifted or blown in, tires, bags of garbage and other debris are often intentionally discarded.

And it’s not just near the tracks; it’s also along the sidewalks — despite prominent “no dumping” signs.

The woman said the frustrating thing is no one is taking responsibility. She said she gets bounced back and forth between the City of Toronto, the TTC, Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and Metrolinx.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said it is sometimes difficult to determine who owns which property and, therefore, who is responsible for cleaning it up.

But Aikins said Metrolinx is responsible for the section of the rail corridor in question inside the fence. She said this is the time of year when they get resident complaints because this is when garbage becomes visible after the winter.

“We have 500 kilometres of rail that have lots of areas that are a concern this time of year,” she said. “So we coordinate a spring cleanup and we try to coordinate with our partners like CN and CP and municipalities and whoever owns that property.

“Just in the middle as we’re starting our cleanup this year, we had a huge, huge windstorm. Which distributed garbage and trees and roofing all over the rail corridors right across the region, so it really increased the amount of cleanup we had to do this spring.”

The city said crews do their best to keep on top of litter and do an annual comprehensive city wide cleanup in the spring. But it admits illegal dumping is a big challenge because cleanup is costly and enforcement is difficult because the person has to be caught in the act.

The office for Coun. Michelle Holland said it’s aware of the garbage issues in the ward and has made repeated phone calls to the various agencies to ensure they follow up.

Man seriously burned testing camping equipment in North York apartment

News Staff | posted Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

A man is in hospital with serious burns after accidentally starting a fire in an 18th floor apartment building in North York.

Emergency crews were called to the scene on Kempford Boulevard, near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, just after midnight on Tuesday.

Paramedics said the man’s burns, which are reportedly on his hands and arms, are serious but not life-threatening.

Police said the man was testing his camping equipment in preparation for a camping trip.

Toronto Water says $2,500 bill caused by leaking toilet, Scarborough man disagrees

Meredith Bond and Adrian Ghobrial | posted Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Without knowing it, a Scarborough man may have been flushing thousands of dollars down the toilet.

When Vipin Sehgal received his water bill at the end of February, he was shocked to see he owed the City of Toronto over $2,500.

His bill showed that starting in mid-January, his water usage started climbing before finally peaking on February 26 and then dropping down to a somewhat reasonable consumption level.

The total usage for that massive bill was 1572 cubic metres or almost 1.5 million litres of water over five months — enough to fill five average-sized swimming pools.

Seghal says his bill is usually around $300 dollars and averages around 100 cubic metres.

Immediately, Seghal realized something was wrong as he could not recall any changes to his family’s water consumption over that time period.

He contacted Toronto Water, who sent a plumber out to investigate and discovered a small leak in the toilet. The city concluded the leaky toilet was to blame for the spike in water consumption.

However, the plumber didn’t come to his home until March 23, almost a month after Seghal’s water consumption had returned to near normal levels.

Seghal says he has paid $350 of the $2,500 bill as a show of good faith while he waits for them to investigate what really caused the spike, but the city has slapped on a penalty for late payment.

The fact that they are charging him interest now on his non-payment is “just adding insult to injury,” he said, adding that it’s, “another slap in the face from city workers.”

Seghal says it’s clear to him there are inaccuracies in the system, whether it’s a human issue or a mechanical one.

City of Toronto’s Manager of Utility Billing Anthony Fabrizi says an investigation was launched after Seghal complained about the high bill and Toronto Water will soon be testing the meter to determine if anything went wrong, but he said a faulty toilet could explain the spike.

Fabrizi says the city believes that Seghal tried fixing his toilet, but couldn’t fully stop the leak, which is why the plumber still found evidence of a much smaller leak, a month later.

Seghal strongly contends he did not touch the toilet and was not aware of any leak until the city’s plumber discovered it.

Manager of Customer Care Services at Toronto Water Carlo Casale says the water gauges very rarely get it wrong.

Casale says when you look at the math from the bill, the spike can easily be attribute to a leaky toilet.

“If you think of a toilet, most tanks are about six litres in volume, so after you flush, say it takes 30 seconds to fill, that’s 12 litres a minute, over a day that’s $66 a day. In a month, that’s about $2,000 a month. It’s very easy for it to add up.”

When told that Seghal had yet to fix the small leak in his toilet and his water consumption levels had returned to normal, Casale says, “We can only charge by what goes through the meter. It’s very mechanical. Whatever goes through there, that’s what we’re going to charge.”

Casale did offer some tips if you want to avoid this happening in your home.

“One way to determine if a toilet is leaking is to listen. You can usually hear it leaking,” Casale said. “If not, you can usually do a little dye test, where you add in a little bit of food colouring, or even a tea bag, and wait about 10-15 minutes and see if the coloured water goes into the bowl. That’s one way to indicate if there’s a running toilet that’s uncontrolled.”

There is also a website called “My Water Toronto” where you can check your daily, weekly, and monthly water usage.

Fabrizi says there is a provision in their bylaws called the unexplained consumption increase. But, at this time, since the city has determined what they believe caused the leak, the Seghal’s can’t receive an adjustment under this provision.

The city receives around 1,000 complaints a year from people with high bills and in around 70 per cent of the cases, they give the homeowner at least a partial break on the bill.

If the city does find there was a problem with Seghal’s metre, Fabrizi says all the extra fees will be reversed.

Ultimately, there is no guarantee that the Seghals won’t have to pay their $2,500 bill.

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