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Enbridge pipeline ruptures, sparks fire near Prince George, B.C.

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 10th, 2018

About 100 members of a First Nation community in northern British Columbia were evacuated from their homes Tuesday evening after a gas pipeline ruptured, sparking a massive blaze.

The rupture happened on a natural gas transmission pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge about 13.5 kilometres from Prince George on Tuesday evening, Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said in an emailed statement.

It ignited at the site, which is in a rural area. There are no reports of injuries, he said.

“Enbridge emergency crews have responded, have isolated and are currently depressurizing two natural gas transmission lines in the vicinity to contain the incident,” he said. “The incident area has been cordoned off to maintain public safety.”

The evacuees largely belonged to the nearby Lheidli T’enneh First Nation and were asked to leave their homes as a precaution, he said.

“Enbridge is working with area communities to ensure public safety,” he said.

British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment said it had been notified of the incident Shelley, B.C., and involved an 900 PSI pipeline.

Prince George resident Dhruv Desai said he was driving up a hill toward the nearby University of Northern British Columbia when he noticed several cars had pulled off the road taking photos of something.

He pulled over as well and snapped his own shots of a massive blaze.

“I was able to see it very clearly from the hill,” he said. “It was huge even from this distance.”

Meanwhile, National Energy Board spokesman Tom Neufeld said the fire was along Enbridge’s Westcoast main line, which falls under the board’s jurisdiction.

The Westcoast Transmission System transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in B.C. and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States.

“NEB inspectors have been deployed to this area. They’re going to monitor and oversee the company’s response to the incident, and they’re going to determine the impact and extend of the fire and release,” Neufeld said.

The NEB has also activated its emergency operations centre in Calgary, he said.

It will work closely with the Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating the incident, Neufeld said.

Advance polls open today ahead of Toronto municipal election

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 10th, 2018

Eager voters will cast the first ballots in Toronto’s municipal election today as the polls open for advance voting.

City elections are being held across the province on Oct. 22, but timing for advance voting is not standardized between municipalities.

In Toronto, two voting locations in each of the city’s 25 wards, and an additional one at city hall, will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today until Sunday.

Toronto’s election campaign has been at the centre of a political storm for nearly two months, ever since Premier Doug Ford announced his plan to slash the size of city council from 47 to 25.

The city says that in 2014, just over 160,000 people cast their ballots in Toronto’s advance vote — making up about 16 per cent of the total.

That election saw current Mayor John Tory unseat incumbent Rob Ford, who did not run for re-election because he was undergoing treatment for cancer.

This year, Tory is going up against former city planner Jennifer Keesmaat.

Toronto election: What voters need to know

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Oct 10th, 2018

It’s been a dramatic lead-up to the Toronto municipal election with the uncertainty over the number of wards and which candidates would stay in the race. But now that the dust has settled, the outcome is in the voters’ hands.

Voters will head to the polls during advance voting and on election day Oct. 22, to cast their ballots for mayor, councillor, and school board trustee. Below is everything you need you know before you head out to your polling station.

Who am I voting for?

  • Mayor
  • Ward Councillor
  • Toronto District School Board trustees
  • Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees
  • Conseil scolaire Viamonde trustees
  • Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir trustees

Click here for a full list of candidates.

When do I vote?

Advance voting runs from Oct. 10-14 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can vote at one of two locations in your ward or at City Hall. A voter assist terminal will be located at each location.

On election day, you can vote from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. but only the ward you live in.

Where to vote?

With the 25-ward system, you may not know where you should vote. Click here to find your ward and polling station.

Who can vote?

You can vote in Toronto’s municipal election if you are:

  • A Canadian citizen
  • At least 18 years old
  • Reside in the City of Toronto
  • Do not reside in Toronto, but you or your spouse own or rent property in the city
  • Not prohibited from voting under any law

What do I bring to vote?

Voter information cards were already mailed out, so bring that with you, along with one piece of identification that shows your name and address in Toronto. If you have misplaced your voter information card, you can print it at home or download it to your phone. To start, click here and enter your address.

What forms of identification are acceptable?

  • Government-issued document, such as a driver’s licence or photo ID card
  • Credit card statement, bank account statement, cancelled personalized cheque, or a loan agreement
  • Hydro, telephone, cable TV, water, or gas bill
  • Pay stub or T4 statement

Click here for a full list.

What if I didn’t receive a voter information card?

Not a problem — it just means you are not on the voters’ list. The deadline to add yourself to the list has since passed, but you can show up to vote with acceptable forms of identification on election day and your name will be added. Click here for more information.

What if I am not able to vote?

If you are an eligible voter but are not able to cast your ballot on the voting days, you can appoint another eligible elector to vote on your behalf. For everything you need to know about that process, click here.

Is the voter toolkit only available in English?

The voter information has been translated into 25 languages, and is available online or at the polling station. Click here to learn more.

Doorman known as ‘Mayor of Bloor Street’ passes away

MALEEHA SHEIKH | posted Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2018

For over 21 years, Tom Hargitai greeted celebrities and regular customers outside of Holt Renfrew on Bloor Street.

His grandson, Daniel Nemes, said it was a job he loved dearly.

But back in 2011, Hargitai was let go. The company never explained why, despite hundreds protesting the move online.

“When he finished working at Holts, a lot of people were like what’s going on, where did he go? He was called the Mayor of Bloor Street. That’s no small feat to have your slice of a city pretty much,” said Nemes.

Nemes said his grandfather was devastated to lose his job, but commented Hargiati had a fulfilling career.

Before working at Holt Renfrew, he owned and operated an ice cream store in Montreal in the 1980s.

But after he was let go from the department store, Hargitai was uncertain what to do.

Eventually, he moved to Hungary with his wife to retire.

Recently, he was diagnosed with cancer and things took a turn for the worse. He passed away at the age of 65.

Daniel posted the news online and all these years later, people still remember the iconic doorman.

Reddit user @nerdwatcher wrote, “I worked at Holt Renfrew with him just before he was let go. Nice guy unfortunate. Thanks for posting.”

Another commented, “I was thinking about him last week. So sorry to hear this. He made walking through those doors a lovely experience. Was sad when he was no longer there.”

Tom Hargitai is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.

No serious injuries in oil refinery explosion in Saint John, N.B.

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2018

Irving Oil says all their employees and contractors have been accounted for after a massive oil refinery explosion that shook the historic port city Monday and sent flames and plumes of black smoke into the air.

Saint John Regional Hospital was treating two patients from the explosion, the local health authority confirmed Monday afternoon.

“Several contractors are being treated for non-life threatening injuries in relation to this incident,” Irving said in a tweet.

Residents described feeling an explosion shortly after 10 a.m. AT, and said flames and smoke could be seen from a great distance from the refinery, on the city’s east side.

One worker at the refinery, who didn’t want to be identified, said the blast had been enough to knock him down.

“There was quite a shockwave when the blast happened,” he said as he left with co-workers hours later.

Litsa Daeres, 34, who lives nearby, said she just started preparing Thanksgiving dinner when she heard a “loud bang.”

“My whole house shook,” she said. “I thought my furnace had exploded.”

But then Daeres opened her curtains and saw the flames and thick, black smoke, she said.

No flames were visible by 2:30 p.m. AT, with four separate sources of water being poured on the blaze. Ambulances could be seen coming and going, but without their emergency signals.

The employees said the explosion happened in an active part of the refinery, and not in a section currently undergoing a maintenance shutdown.

The refinery is near several residential neighbourhoods about five kilometres from the city core, known as Uptown.

“Praying for the safety of all involved,” Saint John Mayor Don Darling said on Twitter.

Geoffrey Downey, spokesperson with the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization, said there were only “couple minor injuries at this point, but nothing serious.”

Downey said no evacuation orders had been issued, but there was an “order to shelter in place for anyone living in the direction of the plume.”

The Saint John Regional Hospital had issued an “orange alert,” meaning it was preparing for a possible influx of patients.

But the health authority later tweeted that the hospital “is running as usual today.”

According to the Irving Oil web site, the refinery produces more than 320,000 barrels of “finished energy products” every day, with more than half going the U.S. northeast.

“We refine a wide range of products for our wholesale and retail markets, including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, jet fuel, propane and asphalt,” the website says.

“Our refinery opened in 1960, on a 780-acre site and has been upgraded throughout the years. We have also led in the development of cleaner and more efficient fuels and processes.”

Nate Guimond, 36, said he was doing house repairs when he looked outside and saw the scene.

“There was thick, pitch black smoke mixed with white smoke,” said Guimond. “I heard a rumbling, roaring sound.”

He decided to drive by the refinery, and said he was nearby when he felt the vibrations of what he assumed must be a second explosion.

Michael Steeves, who lives in Saint John, said he was driving about a kilometre away when he noticed what was happening at the refinery.

“From where I was, you could see flames — I would expect they were about a hundred feet in the air — and you’ve got a huge plume of black smoke,” he said about an hour and a half later.

He said he saw hundreds of residents watching the situation unfold from a distance.

Saint John Police tweeted that they were responding to the incident, and asked people to stay away from the area. Several streets have been closed down.

Steeves said the incident reminded him of a similar event in the late 90s, when the same refinery suffered a similar explosion which left one person dead.

“Just seeing the clouds, and what they’ve got closed off, it just seems to be a pretty similar level of event,” he said.

Irving Oil said it would release more information when it became available.

“Thank you to all first responders who are working in response to this incident,” it tweeted.

“On behalf of all New Brunswickers, our thoughts are with the workers affected and with the community of Saint John,” Premier Brian Gallant said in a tweet.

With files from Alex Cooke in Halifax and Alanna Rizza and Nicole Thompson in Toronto.

Man suffers serious injuries after shooting near Eglinton and Dufferin

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2018

A man has been rushed to hospital after a shooting in the city’s northwest end.

Emergency crews were called to a home on Ennerdale Road, near Dufferin Street and Rogers Road, on Tuesday morning.

Paramedics said the victim, a 32-year-old man, was found suffering from a gunshot wound.

He was taken to a trauma centre with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Police are searching for two male suspects.

It’s believed the suspects may have forced their way into the home before the shooting.

Police said the suspects may have fled the scene in a black vehicle.


Man dies after being pinned underneath a streetcar on Queen Street

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Oct 9th, 2018

A 61-year-old man is dead after he was pinned underneath a streetcar on Queen Street.

Officers were called to the scene just after 8:15 p.m. Monday to reports of a man being struck in the area of Queen Street and Broadview Avenue.

Police said it appears the man was riding his bicycle when, for an unknown reason, he lost control of his bike and struck a parked car.

The man fell off his bike and landed on the streetcar tracks, where he was then hit by the streetcar.

The victim was pronounced dead on the scene.

Queen Street was closed between Broadview Avenue and the Don Valley Parkway, but has since re-opened.

Young cat discovered with duct tape wrapped around its face

MICHELLE MCQUIGGE, THE CANADIAN PRES | posted Friday, Oct 5th, 2018

An Ontario woman says she’s shocked by the depths of human cruelty after discovering a young cat with duct tape wrapped around its face.

Nicole Paling of Burlington, Ont., says only fortunate chance brought her to the cat’s aid on Tuesday night roughly an hour after it had been dropped off in the parking lot of a local veterinary clinic.

Paling says she originally thought someone had left a carrier in the lot by mistake, confusing the clinic for animal control.

But when she looked inside, she says she saw the three-year-old tabby with her head encased in silver duct tape, leaving only enough room for her nose.

A shaken Paling summoned her boyfriend to the clinic, who spent a painstaking 10 minutes carefully removing the multiple layers of tape that had constricted the cat’s ears and mouth.

The cat has been named Lucky and is making a full recovery, but Paling says she and her boyfriend are still grappling with the shock and horror of the incident.

“We’ve never seen this kind of abuse,” said Paling, founder of the Every Life Matters Cat Rescue in Burlington. “We’re used to seeing sick cats and we’re used to dealing with feral cats, but we’re not used to seeing torture.”

Paling said she had not originally planned to stop by the clinic where she works as a volunteer, but did so shortly after 8:30 on Tuesday night in order to tend to the medical needs of one of her other rescued animals.

Discovering the cat carrier on the curb outside the clinic, she said, brought on a wave of panic and revulsion that left her trembling and barely able to punch in the access code for the building.

Her boyfriend, Brett Norton, came to the scene after receiving Paling’s urgent call for help. In a video shot by Paling, Norton is seen calmly trying to reassure both his girlfriend and the cat while he uses a pocket knife to find an opening in the tape.

Paling said he performed his delicate task under difficult conditions.

“Her ears were folded as well, so he had to do it millimetre by millimetre at some points because he didn’t want to cut her ears,” she said. “We couldn’t see where her eyes were. It felt like forever, but it probably wasn’t more than 10 minutes to get it entirely off her face.”

The next day, while clinic staff examined Lucky, Paling said she combed through video surveillance footage from neighbouring businesses.

She said she believes she has pinpointed a car that pulled into the lot at around 7:25 p.m. and remained for less than five minutes before dropping off the carrier.

Paling said she has been in touch with Halton Regional Police, who have told her they’re investigating the incident. The police force did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Paling said hundreds of adoption offers have flooded in for Lucky, who must remain at the clinic for a couple of weeks for more evaluation.

She said the outpouring of support and compassion will hopefully help dull the memory of what the cat endured.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Paling said. “I’m trying to look at her and see her beautiful green eyes and know she will be going to a wonderful home.”

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