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EU agrees to delay Brexit until Jan. 31

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Oct 28th, 2019

The European Union agreed to delay Brexit until Jan. 31 next year on Monday — just three days before it was due to take place.

European Council president Donald Tusk said on Twitter that the EU’s 27 other countries agreed to accept “the UK’s request for a Brexit flextension until 31 January, 2020. The decision is expected to be formalized through a written procedure.”

The term flextension means that the U.K. will be able to leave earlier if the Brexit deal secured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ratified before Jan. 31.

Tusk’s announcement came as European Union diplomats met in Brussels to sign off on the new delay for Britain’s departure, which had been on Oct. 31.

Leaving the envoys, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “it was a very short and efficient and constructive meeting and I am happy the decision has been taken.”

He declined to provide details of the talks.

It’s the second time the Brexit deadline has been changed since the 2016 referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU.

In London, British politicians are later set to vote on whether to hold an early election to try to break the country’s deadlock over Brexit. Johnson wants a Dec. 12 election, but looks unlikely to get the required support from two-thirds of lawmakers.

Two opposition parties plan to push for a Dec. 9 election if Johnson’s proposal fails.

Ontario legislature resumes after longest break in nearly 25 years

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Oct 28th, 2019

Ontario’s legislature resumes session Monday, after the longest recess in nearly a quarter century.

Politicians normally return for the fall session in early September, but the five-month break meant the house didn’t sit during the federal election campaign.

Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government returns not only to the new session, but to a different political landscape than when Queen’s Park was shuttered in June.

Ford shuffled his cabinet last spring in what was a major reset for his government, which had been plagued by months of public backlash and negative headlines.

The criticism was mostly due to funding cuts and a $30-million court battle against the federally mandated carbon tax — a fight the province says it intends to continue.

The Tories are promising to strike a new tone this session, with House Leader Paul Calandra saying the government wants to move away from the partisan squabbles and regular standing ovations that were a fixture in the legislature during its first year in power.

2 boys arrested after armed car-jacking, gas-and-dash in Rexdale

CARL HANSTKE | posted Friday, Oct 25th, 2019

Toronto police have arrested two boys and are looking for a third suspect after an armed car-jacking and gas-and-dash in Rexdale.

Police said just before 10 p.m. Thursday a food app delivery driver had his Hyundai stolen while making a delivery near Islington Avenue and Bergamot Avenue, north of Highway 401, by three armed young males.

A couple of hours later, three males in the Hyundai stopped for gas at a gas station at Kipling Avenue and Rexdale Boulevard and drove off without paying.

Officers in the area spotted the vehicle, which the suspects then abandoned and ran off.

After a brief foot chase, police arrested two suspects but the third male got away.

Police won’t release the ages of the two boys caught but said neither of them are old enough to drive.

Ford government’s offer to lower class sizes called misleading by union

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Oct 25th, 2019

The Ford government has proposed lowering class sizes in contract talks with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation.

At a hastily called news conference on Thursday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the government has put an offer on the table which would see class sizes lowered from 28 to 25.

Currently, class sizes are capped at 22 at the high school level.

In exchange, Lecce says he wants the union to follow along with the government’s 1 per cent cap on public sector salaries.

OSSTF president Harvey Bischof calls the government’s “olive branch” offer misleading, noting it would see the government remove all reference to class size limits, essentially allowing the province to see the number of students per class climb indefinitely.

“A move from the current class size ratio of 22:1 to 25:1 would still remove roughly 5,000 teachers from our high schools. And with the removal of locally-enforceable class size caps, there would essentially be no limits on the size of classes into which Ontario students could be squeezed.”

“We cannot and will not accept the government’s proposal on class sizes. We will instead continue to advance proposals that are good for students, good for public education and good for the future of Ontario,” said Bischof.

The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association says while it is “encouraged” by Lecce’s flexibility when comes to class size, they still have concerns with the government’s latest proposal.

“Such an increase would still cause a number of challenges for students. The smaller average increase in class size we saw in September (22 to approximately 22.5) led to significant challenges for students and school boards, and we expect that the situation will only get worse if it were to move to 25:1,” said OPSBA President Cathy Abraham.

The issue of class sizes is one of several creating tension as the government and the union work towards striking a new labour deal.

Contracts with all of the province’s education workers expired at the end of August, and the government has been embroiled in testy negotiations with all of the province’s education unions since the school year began.

It narrowly averted a strike with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing 55,000 workers such as custodial staff and teaching assistants.

Both the OSSTF and its counterpart representing elementary school teachers have all sought conciliation as labour talks continue.

Strike votes have been happening over the few days in the GTA and they’re expected to wrap up province wide on November 15th.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

1 male seriously injured in midtown shooting

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Oct 25th, 2019

One person was seriously injured in a midtown shooting on Thursday night.

Police responded to the area of Vaughan Road and Oakwood Avenue around 9 p.m. for reports of multiple gunshots.

A male victim was found and taken to hospital in serious but non-life threatening condition.

Police say shell casings were located in the area and two suspects were seen in a laneway in the area.

An investigation is ongoing.

Ontario to ban vaping ads at convenience stores, gas stations: report

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Oct 25th, 2019

The Ford government is reportedly taking action to stop teens from vaping, amid growing health concerns.

Health Minister Christine Elliott is expected to release a statement at 9 a.m. on Friday regarding vaping.

The Toronto Star reports the province will impose a ban on ads for vaping products in places like convenience stores and gas stations.

Under the new rules, vaping ads will only be allowed in specialty vape and cannabis retail stores where customers must be at least 19 years old to enter.

The ban would come into effect on Jan. 1.

Back in September, Elliott ordered all public hospitals to report vaping-related cases of severe pulmonary disease. On that same day, health officials in London, Ont., said a teen who was using e-cigarettes daily suffered a severe case of pulmonary illness.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said the teen was initially on life support but is now recovering at home after being treated in an intensive care unit.

New neighbourhood planned at former Mr. Christie site, but some residents foresee traffic woes

Cristina Howorun | posted Thursday, Oct 24th, 2019

At Parklawn and Lake Shore, the Mr. Christie plant is down, and as many as 15 condos are slated to go up.

First Capital Realty, which bought the lands with an unnamed partner in 2016, submitted its official plan application to the City of Toronto earlier this week.

If approved, the company would build a neighbourhood from scratch.

The proposal includes 7,500 new units in 15 condo towers, some as high as 71 stories. There would also be one-million square feet of retail, restaurants and commercial opportunities and new parkland.

The developer envisions the neighbourhood as a transit hub, and if the province says yes, it would include an integrated Parklawn GO/TTC transit hub.

“This has been a very, very well thought out master-plan,” says Jodi Shpigel, First Capital’s Vice President of Development.

“All decisions have been about how to build the best community that fits within Humber Bay Shores — that delivers transit, that delivers a place for people to live in, work in and shop and enjoy themselves.”

Humber Bay Shores has witnessed a nearly 65 per cent population increase over the past eight years, the developer says, as dozens of condos have risen in the area.

Many residents are concerned that the conversion of former employment lands to mixed use will result in a significant increase in traffic.

“Fifteen more condos? We’ve got lots of condos here already,” says Kin, a long-time resident of the area. “Are they going to do something about the traffic? It’s very congested.”

“I’m definitely not happy about that. There’s already quite a bit of congestion in the area, traffic wise,” says Varia, who owns two units in the area.

The 28-acre development would have its own network of streets connecting elements of the site and a new road would run along the northern edge of the property to alleviate traffic at Parklawn and Lake Shore. That road would connect the Parklawn Gardiner access ramp to the east Gardiner ramp.

“Traffic is horrible in the area,” says Andre, who has lived in the area for years. “Its always bad. Lakeshore, Parklawn, the Queensway. It’ll definitely make things worse.”

“This area has needed more transit for years and that’s been recognized by all levels of government,” says Shpigel.

Metrolinx put the brakes on plans for a Parklawn GO station a few years ago. The Mimico station is only 1.4 kilometres away and has one of the lowest ridership rates across the Lakeshore line. Last year, Metrolinx announced it was reconsidering and Shpigel says they have been in constant communication with the transit organization, and the TTC, over the past few months.

“Putting a GO station there? Most of the people are going to be driving there. Most of the people around here won’t really use it,” Andre adds.

But not everybody in the community finds the proposal unappetizing. “I have always been supportive of intensification,” says Robin Clay, who administers a large Facebook group for the community.

“It brings things closer to my home so that I don’t have to leave my community to access services and shops.”

“So many of the anti-high rise, ‘no more condos’ crowds forget how we already benefit with new services and restaurants that would not be viable without the population to sustain them,” Clay adds.

The City has planned for a November 12th community consultation meeting on the proposal.

Man hit by car in 2-vehicle collision in Brampton

News Staff | posted Thursday, Oct 24th, 2019

A pedestrian was struck by a car while crossing the street at a crosswalk in Brampton on Wednesday evening.

Peel police were called to the area of Steeles Avenue and James Potter Road around 7:40 p.m. for a collision.

Police say two vehicles collided within the intersection. One of the vehicles lost control and struck a man walking at a crosswalk.

The man was taken to a trauma centre in life-threatening condition. His condition has since been upgraded to non-life threatening.

Roads in the area were closed for the investigation but have since reopened.

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