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Top 5 things to do in Toronto this weekend

SAMANTHA KNIGHT AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Oct 12th, 2018

Hooray for another weekend! There are several events taking place in the city, so you have plenty of things to choose from. Below are some suggestions. If nature is more your thing, you can also check out the lovely colours of fall.

If you are heading out on Sunday, a portion of Line 2 will open later than usual. Scroll down for details.


Spice Girls Dance Workshop
‘Spice Up Your Life’ and relive the ’90s at the Spice Girls dance workshop at City Dance Corps this Sunday. Attendees will learn the routine to one of the Spice Girls’ popular songs. The high-energy, throwback class is open to all levels and runs from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ’90s-inspired outfits are encouraged.

Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship
French fries, cheese curds and gravy will be taking over Yonge-Dundas Square this Saturday for the ninth annual Smoke’s Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features three eating competitions with Professional Major League Eaters, Amateur Eaters and a very hungry group of CEOs in the CEO Charity Challenge supporting Friends of We Care. Joey “Jaws” Chestnut holds the ULTIMATE Poutine Eating World Record, devouring 25.5 pounds of poutine in just 10 minutes. Last year’s champion Carmen Cincotti is ranked second, eating 20.25 pounds of poutine in 10 minutes.

Toronto South African Film Festival
The fifth annual Toronto South African Film Festival (TSAFF) returns to the TIFF Lightbox this weekend. The festival presents features and documentaries that explore the culture, history and politics of South Africa. TSAFF is a non-profit event organized entirely by volunteers. All proceeds from the festival support the educational development work that Education without Borders has been doing in South Africa since 2002.

Vegan Oktoberfest Market
Get ready for some bier and brezel! The city’s Vegan Oktoberfest Market is back for its fourth year this Sunday at The Great Hall. The market offers all the best vegan foods and plant-based products. The event is open to all ages and kids under 12 years old are free. Doors open at noon.

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience
Scotiabank Arena will be filled with the sounds of Game of Thrones this Sunday night, for the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. This is the last show of the World Tour. The tour’s title, “Music is Coming,” refers to House Stark motto “Winter is Coming.” Ramin Djawadi is the composer of the Game of Thrones score — he won an Emmy this year for the season seven episode “The Dragon and the Wolf.” The concert gets underway at 8 p.m.

Road and TTC closures

Late opening on Line 2
Subway service on Line 2 between St. George and Pape stations will start at noon Sunday due to beam replacement work on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Bay, Sherbourne and Chester stations will be closed. Shuttle buses will run.

Road closure
The eastbound curb lane on Lake Shore Boulevard West, between First Street and Norris Crescent, and the cycle track lanes will be closed at certain times starting Friday and into Sunday for the StreetARToronto Barrier Painting Project. Below are the dates and times:

  • Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A sneak peek inside the Ontario Cannabis Store website


It’s the final countdown until the legalization of marijuana across Canada and to show off their preparedness, the provincial government gave the media a sneak peek at the official Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website where weed will be sold starting Oct. 17.

When the website goes live at 12:01 a.m., customers will first see a simple black and white front page that asks for your age. Once the customer proves they are 19 years of age or older, the main page will appear with the following four options:

Cannabis: Where customers can filter their search using categories such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) percentage, CBD (cannabidiol) taste, plant types and price (taxes included).

Accessories: Products customers will need to consume cannabis such as vapour, papers and pipes.

Learn: This page takes the customers to long format editorial content on cannabis, such as “How Cannabis Works,” “Facts about Cannabis Consumption”, “How to Choose Cannabis Products” and “What’s Legal?”

FAQ: Where customers will find simple answers to popular cannabis-oriented questions, as well as health and safety information.

The website will be viewable on mobile but only through a browser — the government has not announced plans for an OSC app.

For a complete look at the website, see the photo gallery below.

According to the province, the website will have 70 types of marijuana available for purchase at launch. That number will soon expand to 150 types.

The OSC website will only take Visa or Mastercard on the day of launch and the website won’t require an account or password to make a purchase. The province says it will be a single guest purchase every time.

It will take between one to three days for cannabis purchased through the OCS website to be delivered through Canada Post.

There will be no restrictions on delivery addresses, however, identification proving proof of age must be shown at the time of delivery. If the customer isn’t home, a delivery slip will be left behind and the customer will have to pick it up at the nearest Canada Post location. But if someone else of legal age is at home, they can sign for the delivery after providing proper ID.

Cannabis available for purchase at the OCS comes in four categories;

  • Dried
  • Pre rolled (rolled by licensed producers – the companies that grow the marijuana)
  • Oils
  • Casuals (pills)


But what if you buy some marijuana and then have regrets? Good news! The OCS will have a return policy. Unopened product can be returned to the OCS for a refund up to 14 days after purchase.

Keeping with federal laws, customers will only be able to order 30 grams at a time.

However, there are no restrictions on opening another window and ordering another 30 grams.

There has been no word what the price of marijuana will be sold for through the OCS website but the province says some products will be competitive with the black market while others will be higher quality and a higher price. A $5 delivery charge will also be added to each order.

Should there be a Canada Post strike, the province says it has contingency plans.

Premier Doug Ford says he plans to privatize the sale of cannabis across Ontario but those stores won’t open until 2019.


Riding the elevator with Big Brother: How digital displays in your condo are targeting you with ads

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Oct 12th, 2018

It’s a fact of modern life: whether you’re driving down the Gardiner, sitting on the subway, or surfing the internet, you’ll likely end up staring at an advertisement.

But what about when an advertisement stares back?

That’s an uncomfortable reality residents at a Liberty Village condo are now grappling with after learning that video screens placed in their condo elevators are equipped with cameras that are collecting data for advertisers.

The screens, installed by Visio Media, scan the faces of residents as they watch ads, and share the information with advertisers, providing statistics on gender and age.

The cameras can detect the presence of people in the elevator and display ads that are catered to their demographic.

According to Visio Media’s website, that even includes ads that appeal to children, like the one below for a root beer flavoured tooth polish.

“Elev8 is the world’s first digital out of home platform with the ability to tailor ads to a person’s gender or age (alongside many other targeting metrics),” the company’s website explains. “Using our patented technology, you’ll be able to fine-tune your messages to connect with your target audience.”

The screens have been installed in four elevators at 38 Joe Shuster Way, near Queen Street West and Dufferin Street, raising privacy concerns among some residents who recently brought the issue up during a heated condo board meeting.

No privacy issues: Visio Media

Bruce Johnson, executive chairman of Visio Media, says privacy concerns are unfounded.

“There is no facial detection (or) recognition going on,” he stressed in a phone interview with CityNews. “There is no video information, recorded, stored, it never leaves the elevator. All we are doing is counting people, so we can report back to the advertiser and say ‘Your ad was seen 2500 times and it was like 45 per cent female, 55 per cent male,’ or that sort of thing. But there is no video information, there’s no privacy issues here because we couldn’t identify anyone.”

“This is aggregate information, it’s numbers, there’s no pictures.”

Johnson adds that condos can opt out of the advertising, but they would then be giving up their share of the revenue, which can be considerable.

According to Visio Media’s proposal to Bridge Condos, which owns the complex at 38 Joe Shuster Way, the condo company would receive 8 per cent of advertising revenue per year, over five years. That could ultimately range anywhere from $27,993.60 to $506,250, according to Visio Media.

“The primary purpose of the Elev8 platform is to allow condos to communicate with their tenants and to display news, weather, sports and entertainment content,” Johnson said. “What we do is we offer them that functionality and we charge a fee for that, or they have the option of saying actually no we will do advertising-sponsored content.”

The company’s website shows examples of ads catered by gender.

Ben Newey, who has lived at the condo for about a year, believes there wasn’t enough transparency surrounding the screens and the connection to data collection.

“It’s a little strange. You don’t know where the data is being sent,” he said. “It doesn’t actually say that the cameras are there but you can see it. It’s a little unsettling.”

Former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Ann Cavoukian, agrees.

“Yes they (residents) should be concerned because they have no assurances that their facial images aren’t being captured and retained somewhere,” she told CityNews. “That leads secondly to identity theft, it can lead to a lot of other issues. I always say be aware of unintended consequences. So of course people should be alerted to this, and obviously their consent wasn’t obtained and they haven’t been notified of this new practice that they object to.”

Cavoukian believes Bridge Condos should have posted a prominent notice, alerting residents about the nature of the cameras and what type of information is being gathered.

CityNews reached out to property management at the condo, but they didn’t want to comment.

Cavoukian said concerned residents can file a complaint with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner.

Winners picked in contest to design 2 new parks on Toronto’s waterfront

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Oct 11th, 2018

Toronto’s waterfront is about to get a little more love … literally.

Designs for two brand-new and innovative parks have been chosen after an international competition that drew proposals from more than 40 design teams from across the globe.

‘Love Park’ by Claude Cormier et Associés out of Montreal was the winning design for what’s currently known as York Street Park — located where the former Spadina off-ramp from the Gardiner Expressway used to be.

The park will feature a heart-shaped water feature which will apparently be visible to those flying in and out of Bill Bishop airport, and enough greenery to create a downtown oasis. The design team is also the brains behind other Toronto parks including Sugar Beach and Berczy Park.

To see the complete proposal for Love Park, click here.

In addition, a parking lot at the corner of Rees and Queen’s Quay — just south of Rogers Centre — will soon become Rees Street Park.

A joint collaboration between New York’s Why Architecture and Toronto’s Brook Mcllroy, Rees Ridge takes its design inspiration from one of Toronto’s geographical landmarks — the Scarborough Bluffs.

The view behind the design was to have a park to both look at and look from.

“Rees Ridge provides experiences that are unparalleled on the waterfront by affording dramatic and unimpeded views to the lake while providing a truly unique botanical experience along the waterfront,” the design proposal reads.

To see the complete, winning proposal for Rees Ridge, click here.

The two winning designs followed strict criteria, including being able to welcome people of all ages and abilities, both office workers and residents.

Some of the must-have features were market spaces, water features and space for public art.

Designs for the two proposed parks came from as far as Vancouver, New York and Stockholm.

The public was given 21 days to look over the proposals and submit comments. From there a jury of design experts chose two winners.

Construction for York Street Park and Rees Street Park is slated to begin in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Ottawa to spend $4.1 million on Toronto cannabis public education projects

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 11th, 2018

The federal government says it will spend $4.1 million on three cannabis-related public education campaigns aimed at youth in Toronto.

John Oliver, parliamentary secretary to the federal minister of health, announced the funding as part of Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.

Oliver says the program will help educate young people about the health effects of cannabis and the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

Three Toronto-based organizations — Operation Springboard, the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, and St. Stephen’s Community House — will receive the funding over the next three years.

The federal funding was announced a day after the Ontario government said it will launch an advertising campaign to promote social responsibility and highlight the dangers of using recreational cannabis.

The Ontario government has said it will sell recreational cannabis online when it is legalized on Oct. 17, with private retail stores set to be in place by April next year.

Ontario government to allow Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 11th, 2018

Ontario plans to allow turban-wearing Sikhs to ride motorcycles without helmets.

The Progressive Conservative government says the helmet exemption will recognize Sikh motorcycle riders’ civil rights and religious expression.

Premier Doug Ford says road safety will remain a priority but his government also believes that individuals have personal accountability and responsibility with respect to their own well-being.

Last week, Tory legislator Prabmeet Sarkaria tabled a bill to amend the Highway Traffic to allow the exemption.

Turbaned Sikhs are already exempt from wearing motorcycle helmets in Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia.

The Ontario government says the United Kingdom also implemented a motorcycle helmet exemption for Sikhs in 1976.

Markham crossing guard, 70, roughed up by off-duty officer, witnesses say

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Oct 11th, 2018

The daughter of a Markham crossing guard said an off-duty Toronto police officer roughed him up on Tuesday morning — and her father was the one who ended up in custody.

Safra Najeemudeen said her father Muhammad Hameed was helping children cross the street near Mount Joy Public School, close to Bur Oak Avenue and Markham Road, around 8:15 a.m. when a driver failed to stop and proceeded through the intersection.

Hameed, 70, reportedly tapped the car with his stop sign as it passed him.

According to witnesses, the passenger, an off-duty Toronto police officer, got out of the car. They said he flashed his badge, grabbed Hameed by his reflective vest, and pushed him against the car.

The officer reportedly told Hameed he was arresting him for mischief.

“I could see it in my father’s face he was very distraught,” Najeemudeen said, who arrived at the scene at that point.

“I could see he was so stressed.”

The officer allegedly held Hameed against the car, which the officer’s son had been driving, until York Regional Police officers arrived around 8:30 a.m.

“When the police came, instead of the officer who assaulted him getting charged … they immediately come and start handcuffing him,” Najeemudeen said.

“For everyone looking it was very confusing, like why is he getting arrested when he is not the person who did the assault?”

Police removed the handcuffs before putting Hameed in the back of a cruiser. He then passed out and officers took him to a local hospital.

They released him from custody without charges.

Toronto police spokeswoman Caroline de Kloet confirmed the officer who first detained Hameed is part of the force.

York regional police are investigating, but wouldn’t say whether charges are pending against the officer. His son won’t be charged as no York officers witnessed him failing to stop at the crossing.

“We know that many members of our community are upset about … what they were seeing,” said Const. Laura Nicolle. “We want to make sure that our community knows that we take that incredibly seriously and we are listening.

“We’re going to be going through this very, very carefully and making sure that we have a full understanding of … what happened and determine what offence took place here and who’s responsible for that.”

Parents of students at Mount Joy gathered on Wednesday to show their support for Hameed.

“He loves this job,” Najeemudeen said. “That’s his passion.”

“If you get arrested for doing your job, then how do you do your job?”

Michael charges into Southeast after slamming north Florida


PANAMA CITY, Fla. — The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida’s Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn’t nearly finished Thursday as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.

A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category 4 monster packing 155 mph (250 kph) winds. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.

Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and according to WMAZ-TV, an 11-year-old girl was also killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia. Search and rescue crews were expected to escalate efforts to reach hardest-hit areas and check for anyone trapped or injured in the storm debris.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Thursday that the eye of Michael was about 90 miles (144 kilometres) northeast of Macon, Georgia and about 45 miles (72 kilometres) west of Augusta. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 mph (80 kph) and it was moving to the northeast at 21 mph (33 kph). The core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning.

After daylight Thursday residents of north Florida would just be beginning to take stock of the enormity of the disaster.

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home, Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and his ears even popped when the barometric pressure went lower. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

“It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time,” Beu said.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

“It’s absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic,” Crown said. “There’s flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered.”

A Panhandle man was killed by a tree that toppled on a home, Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anglie Hightower said. But she added emergency crews trying to reach the home were hampered by downed trees and debris blocking roadways. The debris was a problem in many coastal communities and still hundreds of thousands of people were also left without power.

Gov. Rick Scott announced afterward that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. He said “aggressive” search and rescue efforts would get underway.

“Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida,” Scott vowed.

Michael sprang quickly from a weekend tropical depression, going from a Category 2 on Tuesday to a Category 4 by the time it came ashore. It forced more than 375,000 people up and down the Gulf Coast to evacuate as it gained strength quickly while crossing the eastern Gulf of Mexico toward north Florida. It moved so fast that people didn’t’ have much time to prepare, and emergency authorities lamented that many ignored the warnings and seemed to think they could ride it out.

In Panama City, plywood and metal flew off the front of a Holiday Inn Express. Part of the awning fell and shattered the glass front door of the hotel, and the rest of the awning wound up on vehicles parked below it.

“Oh my God, what are we seeing?” said evacuee Rachel Franklin, her mouth hanging open.

Based on its internal barometric pressure, Michael was the third most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, behind the unnamed Labor Day storm of 1935 and Camille in 1969. Based on wind speed, it was the fourth-strongest, behind the Labor Day storm (184 mph, or 296 kph), Camille and Andrew in 1992.

It also brought the dangers of a life-threatening storm surge.

In Mexico Beach, population 1,000, the storm shattered homes, leaving floating piles of lumber. The lead-grey water was so high that roofs were about all that could be seen of many homes.

Hours earlier, meteorologists watched satellite imagery in complete awe as the storm intensified.

“We are in new territory,” National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Dennis Feltgen wrote on Facebook. “The historical record, going back to 1851, finds no Category 4 hurricane ever hitting the Florida panhandle.”

The storm is likely to fire up the debate over global warming. Scientists say global warming is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme weather, such as storms, droughts, floods and fires. But without extensive study, they cannot directly link a single weather event to the changing climate.

After Michael left the Panhandle late Wednesday, Kaylee O’Brien was crying as she sorted through the remains of the apartment she shared with three roommates at Whispering Pines apartments, where the smell of broken pine trees was thick in the air. Four pine trees had crashed through the roof of her apartment, nearly hitting two people.

Her biggest worry: finding her missing 1-year-old Siamese cat, Molly.

“We haven’t seen her since the tree hit the den. She’s my baby,” a distraught O’Brien said, her face wet with tears.

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Freida Frisaro in Miami; Brendan Farrington in St. Marks, Florida; Russ Bynum in Keaton Beach, Florida; Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland, contributed to this story.

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