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Streetcar service shutdown on Queen Street; buses running

News Staff | posted Thursday, Nov 28th, 2019

Damage to 25 streetcars has forced the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to shut down streetcar service on Queen Street.

On Wednesday, the TTC announced it had found damaged brake systems on seven vehicles. That number rose to 25 by Thursday morning.

The TTC said they suspect damaged tracks may have made contact with the streetcars’ brake systems.

Crews worked overnight to inspect tracks to find what has caused the damage. In a tweet, TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the main Queen Street route passed inspection.

 “Crews continue to inspect tracks on diversionary routes, but main Queen route passed inspection. Overnight a total of 25 cars found with same damage so buses will continue on Queen for now. Further updates this afternoon,” Green tweeted.

Routes 501, 501L and 508 have been replaced with buses until the issue has been resolved, the TTC said. There are streetcars running west of Roncesvalles Avenue via The Queensway and Lakeshore Boulevard.

“We recommend customers normally using 501, 501L and 508 seek alternative routes where possible,” the TTC said in a statement Wednesday. “Buses will likely be crowded.”

‘Numerous fatalities’ in small plane crash near Kingston

News Staff | posted Thursday, Nov 28th, 2019

Police in Kingston say there are “numerous fatalities” after a small plane crashed in a wooded area almost 14 km northwest of Kingston.

The police force says in a tweet Wednesday night that the aircraft has been located and officers have secured the scene until Transport Canada arrives to join the investigation.

Const. Ash Gutheinz says the aircraft went down around the supper hour on Wednesday in the area of Bayridge Drive and Creekford Road, just south of Highway 401. He added that residents in the area were not at risk.

The Transportation Safety Board says the aircraft involved was a Piper PA-32. Investigators have not released information on how many people were on board but the aircraft seats up to six people.

The TSB says a team of investigators is expected to arrive on scene Thursday morning.


Energy Minister cites blog questioning man-made climate change in Question Period

MEREDITH BOND | posted Wednesday, Nov 27th, 2019

Energy Minister Greg Rickford has defended the provincial government’s decision to cancel green energy projects in the legislature by quoting an article from a blog that questions human-caused climate change.

A CityNews investigation revealed the PC government was spending $231 million to tear down and cancel 751 renewable energy projects, including a wind turbine project expected to cost the government $141 million.

Facing criticism from the NDP over the decision during Question Period this week, Rickford has twice quoted an article on Germany’s wind energy industry from the blog Climate Change Dispatch.

On Monday, Rickford called the blog, “one of his favourite periodicals,” and quoted the article, saying, “Power grid operators had been struggling to keep the grid stable due to erratic feed-in and the subsidized feed-in of wind energy caused German electricity prices to become among the most expensive worldwide.”

He used the same quote again on Tuesday.

The blog says its goal is to share “all the studies and papers that consistently contradict the theory of CO2-driven global warming,” and to “deconstruct the man-made global theory propagagted by ex-VP-turned-green-activist Al Gore and the highly politicized IPCC.”

According to the website, the blog is run by Thomas Richard who describes himself as a contributor to the far-right website Breitbart News and articles are written by “private citizens … doing it part-time and for free.” Some of the other articles featured include headlines like, “The Myth of Climate Change,” and “How Al Gore Built the Global Warming Fraud.”

The article Rickford cited in the legislature takes the position that “wind parks had scarred the German landscape.”

When asked afterwards by reporters about the credibility of the blog he quoted, Rickford said, “We do a scan of periodicals … all the time and in this, we found a suitable quote about a situation that’s going on in Germany right now and I though it was appropriate to do that … The kind of literature that says that those actions were taken supports what we are doing.”

Rickford said he believes in climate change, but also said “It’s important that you consider all periodicals and sources of literature with differing views and that’s was the consideration that was given.”

CityNews asked Rickford if he agreed with the blog’s view that climate change is not man-made, he responded, “I agree with the view that the solutions moving forward are a dynamic energy supply in Ontario that is cost-effective and simple and easy for people to understand.”

Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said it was shocking to hear Rickford quote the blog. “I’m just shocked and disappointed that the person in charge of our energy system would be freely saying that a website that denies climate change is one of his favourites to read.”

Ontario’s auditor general also announced Tuesday she has looked at the government’s $231 million estimate of the cost of cancelling green energy contracts and deemed it reasonable.

She says the office will revisit the costs again in March 2020 as part of its audit of this year’s financial statements, but for a full special audit, that request has to come from a cabinet minister, the legislative assembly or a legislative committee.

Energy Minister Greg Rickford says the auditor has done her work and was satisfied.

With files from The Canadian Press

Suspect wanted in three feces-throwing incidents arrested

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Nov 27th, 2019

Toronto police say the suspect wanted in three separate incidents in which a bucket of feces was dumped on a person over the past four days has been arrested.

The first incident happened at the University of Toronto’s Robarts Library on Friday, where a man assaulted a woman and a young person and poured a bucket of “liquefied fecal matter” he was carrying onto them while they were seated in the library.

In the second incident, a man assaulted a man and woman at York University’s Scott Library and again dumped a bucket of feces on one of them on Sunday around 5 p.m.

The third incident occurred outside a building at the University of Toronto shortly before midnight on Monday. Investigators once again said a bucket of feces was dumped on a female on the street. The orange bucket from Home Depot was left at the scene.

Samuel Opoku, 23, of Toronto was arrested in the Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue area on Tuesday evening.

Tips from the public led to the arrest. A police source told 680 NEWS the suspect was arrested at a shelter after someone recognized him from photos and called authorities.

Opoku has been charged with five counts each of assault with a weapon and mischief interfering with property.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

Don’t be alarmed: emergency alert system test coming Wednesday

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 27th, 2019

OTTAWA — Don’t be alarmed — it’s only a test.

Provincial and territorial emergency management systems will send test signals to your wireless device Wednesday, as well as to radio and TV stations.

Depending on where you live, the tests will be conducted mid-morning or early afternoon in every part of the country except Nunavut.

The emergency alerts have become a familiar sound since the national public alert system was first tested in early 2018.

Since January, Canada’s telecom regulator says 125 emergency messages have been issued, warning Canadians of potentially life-threatening situations including tornadoes, floods and Amber Alerts.

Some of the alerts were issued late at night, prompting a few people to complain that they are an annoyance — and face a massive backlash on social media from others who support the alerts.

Woman seriously injured in Ajax hit-and-run

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Nov 27th, 2019

Durham police are searching for a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run in Ajax Tuesday night.

According to police, a woman, believed to be in her 20s, was struck on Taunton Road, east of Salem Road, at around 8:30 p.m.

She was taken to hospital with serious, but not life-threatening injuries.

Police say they don’t have a description of the vehicle involved, but debris and car parts were found at the scene.

UN: `Quick wins’ needed to keep climate goals within reach


GENEVA — Countries have procrastinated for too long and need to begin making steep cuts to their greenhouse gas emissions immediately, or risk missing agreed targets for limiting global warming, top United Nations officials said Tuesday.

The appeal by Inger Andersen, who heads the U.N. Environment Program, and others came days before governments gather in Madrid for an annual climate change meeting.

“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020,” Andersen said, as her agency published its annual `emissions gap’ report showing the amount of planet-heating gases being pumped into the atmosphere hitting a new high last year, despite a near-global pledge to reduce them.

“We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” she said.

Over the coming decade, worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases will have to drop more than 7% each year to stop average global temperatures from increasing by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) this century compared with pre-industrial times, the agency said. Scientists say that target — contained in the 2015 Paris climate accord — would prevent many of the more dramatic consequences of global warming.

“What we are looking at is really that emissions need to go down by 55 per cent by 2030,” said John Christensen, lead author and director of the UNEP-Danish Technology Institute Partnership. He warned that CO2 levels have begun to rise again after several years of stabilization.

“If you look at the global emissions, they are still going up,” he told journalists at a briefing in Geneva. “(Carbon dioxide) has started to increase again, and it doesn’t look too good.”

Even the less ambitious goal of capping global warming at 2C (3.6 F) would require annual emissions cuts of 2.7% between 2020 and 2030, the UNEP said.

As part of the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to review their efforts for cutting greenhouse gases by 2020.

Current national pledges would leave the world 3.2 degrees Celsius (5.8 Fahrenheit) warmer by 2100 than pre-industrial times, with dramatic consequences for life on Earth, the U.N. agency said, adding that getting the world back on track to 1.5 C would require a fivefold increase in measures pledged so far.

“The world is facing a climate emergency. It cannot be solved by governments alone,” said Katia Simeonova of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “2020 is our last best chance to turn the tide,” she told the Geneva news conference.

Last week, UNEP published a separate report which found that countries are planning to extract more than twice the amount of fossil fuels from the ground than can be burned in 2030 if the 1.5C target is to be met.

“(What) countries are saying about supply doesn’t match up with what they’re saying about reducing emissions,” said report co-author Michael Lazarus, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

This includes countries like the United States which, despite announcing its withdrawal from the Paris accord, claims to be reducing emissions even as it expands oil and gas production. But it also holds true for countries that tout their green credentials, such as Norway, which continues to drill for oil in the North Sea.

Christensen, the lead author, said the main cause of a recent increase in carbon dioxide emissions was economic growth in developing countries.

Officials appealed to governments that have already laid out targets for reducing their emissions to see if they can do more, and insisted that industries like power, transport, building and shipping can find opportunities to lower their emissions too.

“As individuals, we have a choice about how we live, what we eat and how we go about our business … and opportunities to live a lower-carbon life,” added Andersen.

Experts agree that the longer countries continue burning fossil fuels, the more warming will be “locked in” as emissions stay in the atmosphere for years or even decades.

Conversely, the sooner countries take steps to wean themselves off gas, coal and oil — such as by ending government subsidies for fossil fuels — the more warming will be prevented in the long term.

“If you’re in a hole, you should start to stop digging,” said Niklas Hagelberg of the U.N. Environment Program.

What parents need to know about teachers’ administrative work-to-rule campaign

CRISTINA HOWORUN | posted Tuesday, Nov 26th, 2019

After months of negotiations, teachers and educational workers from the two biggest teachers’ unions — The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO)  — will be engaging in an administrative work-to-rule campaign as of Nov. 26.

What does this mean for parents?

If your child attends a public elementary or public high school, their teachers will be engaging in work action. This means that their teachers and educational workers will not:

  • Attend after hours meetings
  • Provide individualized comments on report cards
  • Engage in EQAO preparations
  • Attend professional development events for ministry or board initiatives, but they will continue to engage in self-directed professional development.

What will not be disrupted?

  • Classes — they will continue as usual
  • Sports, clubs and after-school activities led by teachers will continue
  • Grades will continue to be issued and assignments will be marked

What happens next?

  • Teachers’ federations have several negotiating dates scheduled with the minister of education over the next few weeks
  • If a deal isn’t reached, teachers could choose to take further strike action. If that is the case, parents will have a minimum of five days notice before a strike begins.
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