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Toronto announces start of construction season

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Toronto has announced the start of this year’s construction season, which will involve restoring the eastern part of the Gardiner Expressway and work on a multi-use trail, among other projects.

The city said it will spend $720 million in 2018, including $360 million to fix roads, expressways and bridges and almost $300 million on sewers and watermains.

Another $61.2 million is earmarked for basement flooding protection.

“Like last year, 2018 is going to be a busy year on our roads for construction,” said Coun. Jaye Robinson, chair of the City’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.

“This is critical work that needs to be done. We need to make sure that we’re renewing our aging infrastructure to improve the quality of our network of roads, bridges, sewers and watermains.”

The city plans to replace the TTC tracks at the intersections of Gerrard and Parliament streets and Dundas and Broadview, as well as work on the streetscape and multi-use trail at Harbour Street.

Later this year, crews will start restoring the Gardiner from Jarvis to Cherry streets.

“As always, I will be pushing to make sure the work is done as quickly as possible to minimize any disruptions for pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists and drivers,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

For a full list of projects, check the City of Toronto website.

EXCLUSIVE: Hidden camera found in Starbucks washroom in Toronto’s financial district

Meredith Bond | posted Thursday, May 10th, 2018

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Starbucks Canada has confirmed to CityNews that Toronto police have launched an investigation after a hidden camera was found in the washroom of one of their coffee shops in the financial district, at the corner of Yonge and King Streets.

A customer told the store’s manager there was a camera in the electrical outlet in one of the unisex washrooms at the Starbucks at 4 King on May 2.

Starbucks spokesman Tim Gallant told CityNews, “Our records indicate as soon as the partners were notified of the device, they contacted police immediately. The police showed up the next day to collect the device.”

Toronto police originally told CityNews they were not notified about the hidden camera until 24 hours after it was discovered, but they now confirm Starbucks did call them about an hour after the device was found.

Officers went to the store the next day and collected the camera.

In a statement, Gallant said “employees regularly clean and stock the washrooms multiple times a day. Employees are told if they notice anything or are alerted to anything unusual to immediately report it to police.”

No notices informing the public about the hidden camera have been put up at the Starbucks location. When asked about why they haven’t notified the public, Starbucks Canada would not comment and deferred any questions on the subject to Toronto police.

The spokesman said they have alerted other managers in the area and no other recording devices have been found.

A Starbucks employee posted a screenshot online of a message from a Starbucks managers’ chat group that acknowledges a recording device was found in the washroom.

The employee told CityNews they posted the message after becoming “concerned” by the company’s failure to notify the public.

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Realtor calls dilapidated Leslieville home a ‘rare opportunity’ at $700K

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 10th, 2018

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A Leslieville home that can’t even be entered due to its dangerously derelict condition is on the market for $699,000, and at least one realtor thinks the dilapidated digs could be a steal.

The boarded-up eyesore at 28 Woodfield Rd., near Queen Street East and Coxwell Avenue, has been vacant for years, but a recent price drop of $100,000 has drawn a sudden surge of interest, with a handful of offers already on the table.

The listing doesn’t attempt to dress up the visual disaster. It states: “**Do Not Enter The Home** It May Not Be Safe. It Has Been Vacant For Some Time. There Is No Key.”

There may not be a key, but realtors are hoping to unlock the property’s profit potential by tearing it down and rebuilding on the 20-by-117-foot lot.

Trevor Bond of Bosley Real Estate said the property became intriguing after the price was recently lowered from $799,000.

“If you have the tenacity and the know-how to build a house, this is almost a rare opportunity in the city,” he emphasized. “You are going to resell a house for over $1 million on this lot, well over $1 million.”

The home was last sold in March 2013 for $490,000. In July of the same year it went back on the market for a hefty $1.1 million with a photo of the home’s future design (below). That development never happened, much to the chagrin of neighbour Greg Lehman.

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Lehman has lived next door for the last four years and admits that he even considered putting in an offer when the home recently went back up for sale.

Instead, he’s patiently awaiting the day when the family of raccoons that currently calls the structure home is replaced by amicable human beings.

“You get used to it, but of course it’s an eyesore,” he said. “You don’t have a neighbour. It’s just this dodgy, old house. Well, we do have neighbours — they’re just raccoons and other vermin.

“It would of course be better if it was gone and it was a nice family or couple. That’d be nice to clean it up.”

For now it’s real estate agents who are looking to clean up and cash in. Despite reports of a cooling housing market, Bond said it all depends on location.

“There are areas that are on fire and areas that are not,” he said.

“Any vacant land is an opportunity in Leslieville.”

Peel police marine unit made dramatic rescue during Friday’s windstorm

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 10th, 2018

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Thanks to the Peel Regional Police Marine Unit, the captain didn’t go down with the ship.

The unit received a distress call just after 4 p.m. last Friday for a sailboat that had experienced mechanical issues and was caught in the truculent waters of Lake Ontario during an intense storm that battered the Greater Toronto Area, toppling trees and knocking out power to thousands.

Within a half hour, the marine unit spotted the vessel offshore from Mississauga.

Battling winds approaching 100 km/h and crashing waves up to four metres high, Const. Adam Nicol boarded the sailboat and secured a towline.

The marine unit towed the vessel for about three kilometres before the winds became even stronger and changed direction, forcing them to abandon the sailboat so they could make it to shore safely.

“They could no longer make any headway and the towed vessel had to be abandoned,” Peel police explained in a release. “The captain, who was alone, was rescued from his vessel and the officer re-boarded the marine vessel.”

The crew, along with the rescued sailor, safely made it back to land and docked at Port Credit harbour.

The marine unit found the abandoned sailboat the next day. It had drifted about 16 kilometres toward Niagara Falls.

Campaign for Ontario’s June 7 election officially kicks off today

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

A woman runs on a path along the Assiniboine River as the Provencher pedestrian bridge towers above her in Winnipeg, Man., on Monday November 30, 2015. Manitoba's latest flood forecast predicts the province is at a relatively low risk for major spring flooding. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The campaign for Ontario’s June 7 election officially kicks off today.

Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell signed a proclamation on Tuesday dissolving the province’s 41st Parliament and paving the way for the vote.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne starts her day with a couple of events in Toronto before attending an evening rally in Ottawa.

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford makes an announcement this morning in Toronto, then heads to Carp, Ont., for an afternoon meet-and-greet followed by an evening rally in Renfrew, Ont.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath spends the first day of the campaign in Toronto, with a morning appearance focused on health care followed by an afternoon campaign event.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner starts the day by campaigning at a Toronto subway station and is scheduled to open his Guelph, Ont., campaign office in the evening.

More than $550K in luxury vehicles crunched in crash

Adrian Ghobrial | posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

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A six-figure crash caught on camera is prompting questions about whether there should be training required for luxury car drivers.

The crash occurred on April 21 when an exotic car club gathered at Polson Pier for a photo shoot.

When a few cars were running late, the driver of a Mclaren 720 was taking passengers for a drive up and down Polson.

One of the passengers pulled out his phone to record a video and that’s when the driver hit the gas, spun out, and slammed into a parked Audi R8.

 

“I don’t know what happened but as soon as I get in I start filming, then he just punched it all the way. You have to have some experience to be able to control those kind of high-powered vehicles,” says the person who shot the video from the passenger seat in the McLaren.

His first name is Mike — though he asked CityNews not to reveal his full identity.

It was a scary experience, yeah, especially, like I said, I was not even looking at the speedo (speedometer), did not know how fast we were going, so I couldn’t even gauge what kind of impact to expect,” he adds.

Mike says all he knew about the driver when he got into the McLaren was that his name was Neil.

In the video, the driver of the McLaren runs up to the Audi R8 shortly after the crash. He runs back to the Mclaren before running away. Mike says that’s the last time he saw him.

“He was nowhere to be found,” says Mike. “However, when the police came, they found the passport, they found the Chinese passport and then he just disappeared. Like, we have not seen the driver, I guess, since then.”

Two people were also inside the Audi at the time of the collision. Thankfully, everyone was able to walk away uninjured.

There have been multiple incidents involving sports cars in the GTA in recent weeks.

On April 28, the driver of a Porsche hit a Toronto police vehicle before fleeing on foot.

On April 1, one woman was killed when a Lamborghini crashed in Stouffville.

One of the country’s top drivers, Leo Urlichich believes the McLaren driver turned off his traction control and might have also been missing some important training.

Urlichich is the Canadian Rally Car champion and the founder of Race Lab.

“These cars are being sold because people buy them 99 per cent of the time for show-off, but those are proper cars. McLaren has how many world championships in Formula One?” says Urlichich

“You cannot expect young guys….to police themselves,” he adds. “So the system has to almost mandate the driver training, especially for somebody with that kind of car.”

But Mike says incidents like this one aren’t representative of the local luxury car community as a whole.

“It’s just a one-off, it’s an outlier, it does not depict the entire car community, especially here in Canada, we do try to be safe,” says Mike. “It’s not about driving recklessly, it’s not about showing off, or stunt driving. It’s none of those. It’s just about enjoying or appreciating other vehicles.”

The base price for a McLaren 720 is more than $366,000 Canadian, while the Audi R8 starts at $215,000.

Toronto police say an investigation into the crash is ongoing and they hope to have more information in the coming days.

Toronto rent affordability tanking as prices skyrocket: report

Amanda Ferguson | posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

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Toronto rental affordability continues to become almost out-of-reach for many GTA residents.

The 2018 Canadian Rental Housing index out Monday says nearly one quarter of all renters in the GTA are now spending more than half of their gross income on rent. 

Jill Atkey, spokesperson for BC’s non-profit housing association, says increased spending habits is becoming the new normal for people.

“We’ve seen 30 percent (of income spent on rent) is our commonly accepted threshold, but what’s becoming the new normal is that more people are spending more than 30 percent of their income,” she said.

For the first time in a decade, the demand for rental housing is outpacing ownership — driving rent prices higher. The average price for a two bedroom condo for rent in the GTA now sits at just over $2,300 a month.

Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Markham are among the Canadian communities joining Toronto as places where roughly one-third of renters are spending around half their income on rent — statistics that worry financial experts like Darren Coleman.

“The amount of personal debt that Canadians are carrying just keeps on rising, ” he said. ” We all want a nice lifestyle, and if we can’t afford them out of our day-to-day cash flow, we’re going to borrow to do that, so as our cost of living is going up, so is our debt.”

Something Coleman adds is stopping Canadians for saving for retirement.

“We’re going to see people working longer in their working lives. But certainly for many people, having a balanced plan is the goal and when one or two things are out of balance something else is going to have to give,” Coleman said. “Having a plan and knowing what the right ratio is for you specifically is really critical.”

 

Actors posed as Ford supporters at leaders debate, Ontario Tories confirm

News Staff | posted Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

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Actors were brought in to pose as Doug Ford supporters at a leaders debate held at CityNews on Monday, the Ontario PC Party has confirmed.

“Doug Ford has attracted record crowds since entering the race for PC leader,” spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman said in a statement. “This has become even stronger since winning the leadership. A local candidate made a decision to engage a casting agency. This was unnecessary and a mistake. It will not happen again.”

The Castme background agency solicited people to stand outside the downtown studio to make it seem as if the PC leader had more admirers than he actually did. The job posting mentioned Toronto Centre candidate Meredith Cartwright.

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While speaking to reporters earlier on Tuesday, Ford said he didn’t know anything about people being hired and didn’t think his team needed to boost the size of the crowd.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that,” he said. “We don’t need to pay anyone. When we have events we’re packed. We have standing room only.”

 

He said he would be talking to Cartwright.

“I assure you I’ll be calling Meredith and ask what’s going on.”

Cartwright, who had shared posts on social media showing photos of the crowd outside the debate, said she had no comment when reached by phone on Tuesday.

The #CityVote debate Monday night was the first time all three main party leaders, including Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, squared off in a televised debate ahead of next month’s provincial election.

Ontario voters head to the polls June 7.

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