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Survey finds growing disconnect between Canadians and nature

PETER CAMERON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 28th, 2018

TORONTO – A survey for the Nature Conservancy of Canada indicates Canadians feel happier when they are connected to nature, but fewer are making the effort to get out of the house.

The online survey of 2,000 Canadians found 87 per cent of respondents felt happier, healthier and more productive when connected to nature.

But 74 per cent of respondents say that it is simply easier to spend time indoors and 66 per cent say they spend less time in nature than they used to.

It also found more than 80 per cent of respondents are concerned that accessible natural areas will not be there for future generations and that 94 per cent of Canadians are aware of the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

The Nature Conservancy released the survey results Thursday to highlight its Landmark Campaign — an effort to double the land and water conserved by the NCC to more than 2.4 million hectares.

To inspire Canadians to contribute to the campaign, the NCC has curated a pop-up art exhibit called Nature and Me, featuring nature photography and reflections from notable Canadians, that will travel across the country.

Jim Cuddy, Ed Burtynsky, Rick Mercer, Clara Hughes and Adam van Koeverden are among those sharing their stories in the Nature and Me exhibit to highlight the importance of nature as an inspiration in their lives.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Research, also indicated that Canadians spend an average of 1.3 hours per day in nature during the week and two hours on the weekend.

Eighty-eight per cent of those surveyed said that reducing stress was a benefit of nature, while 57 per cent listed lowering blood pressure as a benefit.

Among the reasons cited for spending time indoors were busy personal lives and environmental factors such as rain, snow, bugs and insects.

The Landmark Campaign has already raised $551-million towards its $750-million goal and completed 390 of 500 planned projects, which include restoring rare habitats, supporting species at risk, and improving the quality of air and water.

“We are at a turning point,” Nature Conservancy president John Lounds said in a release. “It’s time to talk boldly about the tangible benefits nature provides, and the urgency and importance of protecting it.”

Displaced St. James Town residents won’t be allowed back until 2019

CityNews | posted Friday, Sep 28th, 2018

The residents displaced by a highrise fire on Parliament Street last month won’t be allowed back home until early 2019.

“After beginning restoration work and conducting extensive testing, we have learned that you will likely not be able to move back into your apartment until sometime early in the new year,” the property manager said in a letter to residents.

Wellesley Parliament Square said its staff had set up a new call centre in the dedicated response office and had found more accommodations for residents.

“We also have more staff on hand to meet with displaced residents to discuss the option that best suits your individual needs,” the letter said.

Some 1,500 tenants have been out of 650 Parliament St. since Aug. 21, when a six-alarm electrical fire caused significant damage to the building.

Originally, it was hoped some residents would be allowed back as early as Thanksgiving.

Lawyers for the residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against building management and Toronto Hydro to get compensation for expenses and other losses.

 

Visually impaired woman’s dream vacation set to take flight again

GINELLA MASSA AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Sep 28th, 2018

A visually impaired woman is getting a second chance for a dream vacation to Ireland after her first attempt to leave was scuttled when her service dog was denied boarding.

Nancy Hatch was set to join her friends for a trip to Dublin, having confirmed multiple times with officials in Ireland that she had the appropriate paperwork for her seeing-eye dog Awesome. But those plans hit a major roadblock when she arrived at Pearson airport Wednesday afternoon.

“I got all the veterinary things, they require certain procedures to be done a specific number of days before you fly, then you have to go to a government office and get everything stamped,” she told CityNews.

But Hatch claims staff at the WOW Air desk told her that officials in Reykjavik, Iceland — where she would have a two-hour layover — did not have any record of Awesome’s documentation.

“They said that if my dog went, it could be seized in Iceland and put in quarantine,” she said.

Hatch told CityNews she’s travelled to several countries with a certified service dog and has never had an issue.

She said it was never made clear exactly where the error occurred — whether she had missed a step in the process or it was a glitch in the airline’s system. The most frustrating part, she said, was that airline staff seemed unwilling to help find a solution or offer her a refund.

“It was just, ‘No, we cant do anything.’ It was very dismissive,” explained Peggy Keall, who was scheduled to fly to Dublin with Hatch and their group of friends.

“A little common sense along with compassion would have been nice.”

The two women tried to book a direct flight through Air Transat, which offered them complimentary seats, but ultimately they were unable to go through with it because they were told processing the paperwork through a different airline would take five days.

“I came to go on a vacation wanting to feel like a normal person, blending in with everyone else,” Hatch said.

“Then you get reminded maybe you’re not.”

Since the story aired on CityNews, Hatch said she received messages of support from friends and strangers, including Open Doors, a Chicago-based non-profit organization that advocates for people with disabilities.

Executive Director Eric Lipp told Hatch he had been in contact with both WOW Air and Icelandic officials and everything had been sorted out.

In a statement to CityNews, WOW Air said Hatch had all the necessary paperwork but failed to register the dog in her booking, which she was required to do 48 hours before departure.

“Technically our agents at the airport didn’t do anything wrong but we would have liked to have handled this case differently in light of her having all necessary documents,” said WOW Air spokesperson María Margrét Jóhannsdóttir.

The airline added it had spoken with Hatch and had booked her and Awesome on a flight scheduled to leave Pearson for Dublin via Reykjavik at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Fiery Kavanaugh denies quiet accuser Ford in Senate showdown

LISA MASCARO, ALAN FRAM AND LAURIE KELLMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 28th, 2018

In an emotional day like few others in Senate history, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford quietly but firmly recounted her “100 per cent” certainty Thursday that President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers – and then Brett Kavanaugh defiantly testified he was “100 per cent certain” he did no such thing.

That left senators to decide whether the long day tipped their confirmation votes for or against Trump’s nominee in a deeply partisan fight with the future of the high court and possibly control of Congress in the balance.

Showing their own certainty, Republicans quickly scheduled a recommendation vote for Friday morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where they hold a 11-10 majority. They’re hoping for a final Senate roll call next week, seating Kavanaugh on the court for the Oct. start of its new term.

In the committee’s packed hearing room for hour upon hour Thursday, both Kavanaugh and Ford said the alleged assault and the storm of controversy that has erupted 36 years later had altered their lives forever and for the worse – perhaps the only thing they agreed on during their separate testimony marked by a stark contrast of tone and substance.

Ford recounted for the senators and a nationwide TV audience her long-held secret of the alleged assault in a locked room at a gathering of friends when she was just 15. The memory – and Kavanaugh’s laughter during the act – was “locked” in her brain, she said. Ford delivered her testimony with deliberate certitude, though admitting gaps in her memory as she choked back tears at some points and said she “believed he was going to rape me.”

Hours later, Kavanaugh entered the hearing room fuming. He angrily denied her allegation, alternating a loud, defiant tone with near tears of his own, particularly when discussing his family. He decried his confirmation opposition as a “national disgrace.” He interrupted senators and dismissed some questions with a flippant “whatever.”

“You have replaced ‘advice and consent’ with ‘search and destroy,”‘ he said, referring to the Constitution’s charge to senators’ duties in confirming high officials.

Democrats pressed the judge to call for an FBI investigation into the claims, but he would say only, “I welcome whatever the committee wants to do.”

Republicans are concerned, among other reasons, that further investigations could push a vote past the November elections that may switch Senate control back to the Democrats and make consideration of any Trump nominee more difficult.

Trump made his feelings newly clear that he was sticking by his choice. “His testimony was powerful, honest and riveting,” he tweeted. “The Senate must vote!”

Trump nominated the conservative jurist in what was supposed to be an election year capstone to the GOP agenda, locking in the court’s majority for years to come. Instead Kavanaugh has seemed in peril and on Thursday he faced the Senate hearing amid a national reckoning over sexual misconduct at the top of powerful institutions.

The day opened with Ford, now a 51-year-old college professor in California, raising her right hand to swear under oath about the allegations she said she never expected to share publicly until they leaked in the media two weeks ago and reporters started staking out her home and work.

As Anita Hill did more two decades ago when she alleged sexual misconduct by Clarence Thomas, the mom of two testified before a committee with only male senators on the Republican side of the dais.

The psychology professor described what she says was a harrowing assault in the summer of 1982: How an inebriated Kavanaugh and another teen, Mark Judge, locked her in a room at a house party as Kavanaugh was grinding and groping her. She said he put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams. Judge has said does not recall the incident.

When the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, asked Ford how she could be sure that Kavanaugh was the attacker, Ford said, “The same way I’m sure I’m talking to you right now.” Later, she said her certainty was “100 per cent.”

Her strongest memory of the alleged incident, Ford said, was the two boys’ laughter.

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” said Ford, who is a research psychologist, “the uproarious laughter between the two.”

Republican strategists were privately hand-wringing after Ford’s testimony. The GOP special counsel Rachel Mitchell, a Phoenix sex crimes prosecutor, who Republicans had hired to avoid the optics of their all-male line up questioning Ford, left Republicans disappointed.

Mitchell’s attempt to draw out a counter-narrative – mainly that Ford was co-ordinating with Democrats – was disrupted by the panel’s decision to allow alternating five-minute rounds of questions from Democratic senators.

During a lunch break, even typically talkative GOP senators on the panel were without words.

John Kennedy of Louisiana said he had no comment. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said he was “just listening.”

Then Kavanaugh strode into the committee room, arranged his nameplate, and with anger on his face started to testify with a statement he said he had shown only one other person. Almost immediately he choked up.

“My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed,” he said.

He lashed out over the time it took the committee to convene the hearing after Ford’s allegations emerged, singling out the Democrats for “unleashing” forces against him. He mocked Ford’s allegations – and several others since – that have accused him of sexual impropriety.

Even if senators vote down his confirmation, he said, “you’ll never get me to quit.”

Kavanaugh, who has two daughters, said one of his girls said they should “pray for the woman” making the allegations against him, referring to Ford. “That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old,” he said choking up. “We mean no ill will.”

The judge repeatedly refused to answer senators’ questions about the hard-party atmosphere that has been described from his peer group at Georgetown Prep and Yale, treating them dismissively.

“Sometimes I had too many beers,” he acknowledged. “I liked beer. I still like beer. But I never drank beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone. ”

When Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., pressed if he ever drank so much he blacked out, he replied, “Have you?” After a break in the proceedings, he came back and apologized to Klobuchar. She said her father was an alcoholic.

Behind him in the audience as he testified, his wife, Ashley, sat looking stricken.

Republicans who had been scheduled to vote as soon as Friday at the committee – and early next week in the full Senate – alternated between their own anger and frustration at the allegations and the process.

“You’re right to be angry,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, his voice rising in anger, called the hearing the “most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”

Watch Blasey Ford’s full testimony below. 

Last weekend of September includes Nuit Blanche, and Run for the Cure

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND MICHAEL GIBBONS | posted Friday, Sep 28th, 2018

Where did the month go? It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the Labour Day long weekend. Well, the good news is with the arrival of October on Monday, we can look forward to the Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the lovely colours of autumn.

As you mark the last weekend of September, below are some events to help you plan it.

Events

Nuit Blanche
The all-night arts festival takes over the city this weekend, but this year, the installations will be grouped in six neighbourhoods — to make exploring them easier. The event features 75 contemporary art projects created under the theme “You Are Here,” which focuses on the city’s continuous change and desire for progress. Three of the exhibitions are produced by the City of Toronto, featuring 27 art projects.

Below is a list of the six neighhourhoods (as outlined by Nuit Blanche organizers):

  • Scarborough: Scarborough Civic Centre, Scarborough Town Centre and the surrounding area, with projects at five Line 3 stations
  • Don Mills: Shuttle service connects Line 3 to projects at the Aga Khan Museum and the Ontario Science Centre
  • Bloor-Yorkville: Along Bloor Street West from the ROM to the Bata Show Museum, and north of Spadina Museum
  • Downtown: Around Nathan Phillips Square and City Hall, and encompassing Church of the Holy Trinity, Toronto Coach Terminal, Yonge-Dundas Square and Bay Street.
  • Sterling Road: Museum of Contemporary Art and the Drake Commissary
  • West Queen West: Artscape Youngplace, as well as Shaw and Sudbury streets

 

Click here for an interactive map of the projects by location.

TTC service will be extended on lines 1, 2, and 3, from 1:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Sunday. Service on Line 3 will be free from 7 p.m. on Saturday to 7 a.m. on Sunday. The 6 Bay and 501 Queen routes will be on diversion due to road closures in the area. Click here for full service details.

Run for the Cure
Tens of thousands of Canadians will strap on their running shoes on Sunday for the CIBC Run for the Cure. It’s the largest single-day, volunteer-led event in Canada supporting the fight against breast cancer. The Run for the Cure takes place in 56 locations across the country, with 24 locations in Ontario alone. Opening ceremonies for the Toronto run will begin at 9:30 a.m. at King’s College Circle on the University of Toronto campus. The event features one-kilometre and five-kilometre routes.

Toronto Pug Grumble and Canada Pooch
If you love pugs and fall, then Trinity Bellwoods will be the perfect place for you on Sunday afternoon. Dress up in your favourite autumn outfit (and your pug too, if he or she wants to) and bring your pug to the dog bowl at the park. Show off your style and mingle with other owners and their pugs as well. You could also win a $100 shopping spree. To participate, post a photo of your pug at the Pub Grumble to your Instagram and tag @canadapooch and #torontopuggrumble. Click here for more information.

Etsy: Made in Canada
Over 130 crafters will be at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto this weekend for the fifth annual Etsy: Made in Canada event. Organizers say you’ll be able to find plenty of handmade jewellery, housewares, fashion accessories, and more at this event. There will also be live workshops to attend, and a chance to win a gift basket of items from participating vendors. The show will take from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday. The first 100 visitors get a free tote bag.

Pedestrian Sundays
This Sunday marks the penultimate edition of Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market for this year. From noon until 7 p.m., the streets of the iconic Toronto neighbourhood will be closed to vehicles, allowing people to stroll through the area, and check out the many unique shops and restaurants Kensington Market has to offer. Smaller closures will take place on Lower Kensington Avenue from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Road closures

Nuit Blanche
The following road closures will be in effect:

  • Queen Street West between Yonge Street and University Avenue from 4 p.m. on Saturday to 9 a.m. on Sunday
  • Bay Street between Dundas Street West and Adelaide Street West from 8 a.m. on Saturday to 11 a.m. on Sunday
  • Borough Drive between Brian Harrison Way and Town Centre Court from 8 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. on Sunday

Gibbons not returning to Blue Jays in 2019

GREGORY STRONG, THE CANADIAN PRES | posted Thursday, Sep 27th, 2018

Manager John Gibbons will not return to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019, ending his second run with the club.

The Blue Jays made the long-expected announcement on Wednesday, ahead of Toronto’s final home game of the season against the Houston Astros.

Gibbons’s job security was in question earlier this summer as rumours circulated that the club was contemplating making a managerial change. But the Jays announced in August that Gibbons would finish the season, which concludes Sunday after a three-game series in Tampa against the Rays.

In early 2017, Gibbons was rewarded for back-to-back playoff appearances with a contract extension through 2019 with a club option for 2020. But the Blue Jays missed the playoffs last year and played below expectations again this season.

The Jays went into rebuilding mode this year after the club fell out of playoff contention early in the season, leading to trades of key players like Josh Donaldson and J.A. Happ.

Gibbons is in second place on the team’s all-time list for managerial victories with 791. Cito Gaston is the all-time leader with 892 wins.

The 56-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, also managed the team from August 2004 to June 2008. He was rehired in November 2012.

Gibbons guided the Blue Jays to a disappointing 74-88 record in 2013 but the Blue Jays improved to 83-79 the following year. A flurry of moves at the 2015 trade deadline by then-GM Alex Anthopoulos helped reignite the fanbase and the team soared in the second half en route to ending a 22-year playoff drought.

A 93-69 mark in 2015 gave the Blue Jays the American League East division crown. Toronto beat the Texas Rangers in the ALDS before losing the AL Championship Series in six games to the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

Bolstered by AL MVP Donaldson and sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays led the league in runs scored (891), home runs (232), RBIs (852), walks (570) and on-base plus slugging (.797).

Most of the offensive weapons returned for 2016 and the team’s 89-73 mark was good enough for a return to the post-season. Toronto beat the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game and took Texas down again before falling to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.

The Blue Jays struggled in 2017 and were essentially out of the playoff mix by mid-season in 2018.

Gibbons first joined the Blue Jays’ coaching staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher. He was promoted mid-season to first base coach and served in that capacity until replacing manager Carlos Tosca.

Gibbons spent parts of three seasons as a catcher with the New York Mets after being drafted by the team in 1980.

He later worked as a coach and manager for a number of teams at a variety of minor-league levels.

Tweet your favourite John Gibbons memory @CityNews.

Woman misses out on dream vacation after airline denies service dog from boarding

GINELLA MASSA | posted Thursday, Sep 27th, 2018

A visually impaired woman is missing out on a dream trip to Dublin with her friends after her service dog was denied boarding by WOW airlines.

Nancy Hatch claims she confirmed multiple times with officials in Ireland that she had the appropriate paperwork for her seeing-eye dog named Awesome, but hit a major roadblock when she arrived at Pearson airport Wednesday afternoon.

“I got all the veterinary things, they require certain procedures to be done a specific number of days before you fly, then you have to go to a government office and get everything stamped,” she told CityNews.

But Hatch claims staff at the WOW airlines desk told her that officials in Reykjavik, Iceland — where she would have a two-hour layover – did not have any record of Awesome’s documentation.

“They said that if my dog went, it could be seized in Iceland and put in quarantine,” she said.

CityNews attempted to reach out to WOW airlines Wednesday evening for comment, but did not receive a response before deadline.

Hatch told CityNews she’s travelled to several countries with a certified service dog and has never had an issue.

She said it was never made clear exactly where the error occurred – whether she had missed a step in the process, or if it was a glitch in the airline’s system. The most frustrating part, she said, was that airline staff seemed unwilling to help find a solution, or offer her a refund.

“It was just, ‘no, we cant do anything.’ It was very dismissive,” Peggy Keall, who was scheduled to fly to Dublin with Hatch, along with their group of friends, explained.

“A little common sense along with compassion would have been nice.”

Instead, the pair watched the rest of their friends board the flight without them. They are now out about $800 dollars each.

The two women tried to book a direct flight through Air Transat, who offered them complimentary seats, but ultimately they were unable to go through with it because they were told processing the paperwork through new different airline would take five days.

“I came to go on a vacation wanting to feel like a normal person, blending in with everyone else,” Hatch said.

“Then you get reminded, maybe you’re not.”

Ontario to allow pot smoking wherever tobacco smoking allowed

SHAWN JEFFORDS AND PAOLA LORIGGIO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 27th, 2018

Ontario residents will be able to smoke recreational cannabis wherever the smoking of tobacco is permitted, the Progressive Conservative government said Wednesday, loosening rules established by the previous Liberal regime.

The details were announced by Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli a day before new legislation on pot rules was set to be tabled.

Under previous consumption rules, those over 19 would have only been able to smoke cannabis in a private Ontario residence when pot becomes legal Oct. 17. The proposed legislation eases the regulations to allow marijuana to be smoked in the same places as cigarettes.

“We’re aligning with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act,” Mulroney said, referencing the provincial set of rules on tobacco use. “If you’re able to smoke tobacco in your home then you’ll be able to use cannabis as well.”

Smoking pot in vehicles or boats that are being operated will be prohibited. Breaking the rules would see people subjected to fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 upon conviction.

Robert Schwartz, a University of Toronto professor specializing in cannabis distribution and public health, said the government’s move to align consumption rules around the laws that already apply to tobacco consumption make sense.

“It’s going to create challenges for people who live in multi-unit dwellings, but it’s already a challenge,” he said. “There are already a lot of people in these dwellings who are complaining about second-hand smoke from cannabis and therefore there are some condominiums that are going smoke-free completely which is a good thing.”

Schwartz, who is also the executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, said the government needs to stress to people that smoking cannabis is not healthy.

“It’s really important to communicate to people that they should not be smoking,” he said. “They should be using it in another ways. Preferably, you’d have a distinction between smoking and vaping, not that vaping is benign but it’s undoubtedly better than smoking.”

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