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Toronto lights up first weekend of December

BT Toronto | posted Friday, Nov 29th, 2019

The first weekend of December and the city is marking it with the annual Cavalcade of Lights, including the highly-anticipated lighting of the Nathan Phillips Square Tree. The holiday season barrels ahead with a multitude of events across Toronto.


Toronto’s official tree lighting

The city will be decked with boughs of holly on Saturday for the Cavalcade of Lights. The 50-foot tree will be lit at Nathan Phillips Square just after 8 p.m. but the event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-show skating music and live music. The tree will be decorated with 525,000 energy-efficient lights and 500 ornaments. After the tree lighting, stick around for some more live music and circus acts, another skating party and a fireworks show.

Hanukkah market of fun

The holiday of Hanukkah arrives in less than a month, so it is time for a celebration at NoshFest — a Hanukkah market taking place at Artscape Wychwood Barns on Sunday. The market includes Jewish food vendors and traditional treats, as well as artists and artisans, live music and cooking demos.

A holiday village in the city

Experience the homey feel of the holidays in a big city at the historic Brick Works. As part of Evergreen’s Winter Village, which starts on Saturday and runs until Dec. 22, check out the holiday market, enjoy some warm drinks and comforting treats, and take a skate on the outdoor rink.

Swim like a polar bear

It is not for everyone but some will be taking the plunge in the cold waters of Woodbine Beach on Saturday for a charitable polar bear dip. Brainfreeze raises awareness and money for youth mental health. Money raised from the event will go to Jack.org’s youth mental health programs. After the polar dip, everyone will celebrate their accomplishments at a local pub.

Christmas at the castle

Holiday magic will be all around you at Casa Loma’s A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. If you love Christmas trees, you will have nine decorated ones to marvel at including a 40-foot tree in the Great Hall. The festivities start on Sunday and continue until Jan. 5. The castle will be adorned with plenty of other decorations, as well as Santa’s workshop, and starting on Dec. 15, an outdoor holiday market and a lights display in the gardens.

Road closures

Cavalcade of Lights

Queen Street West from Yonge Street to University Avenue, and Bay Street from Dundas Street West to Richmond Street, will be closed from 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday. Click here for a full list of the closures. The 501 Queen streetcar and the 6 Bay bus routes will be diverting in the area.


Partial Line 1 closure

Subways won’t be running on Line 1 between Lawrence and St Clair stations stations this weekend due to signal upgrades. Shuttle buses and Wheel-Trans service will be running. Riders travelling south who require an elevator should exit the train at York Mills Station.

Holiday retail season ramps up with Black Friday


This is Black Friday — a day that not so long ago had no significance in Canada — but today it does.

Canadian shoppers craving a deal increasingly turn to the sales bonanza imported from America, where retailers long slashed prices the day after their Thanksgiving holiday — at the expense of another sales spree in Canada — Boxing Day.

The shift comes as consumers increasingly plan to spend before Christmas and check gifts off their holiday lists, industry watchers say, and the change offers retailers a slight edge.

Michael Leblanc, a senior retail adviser with the Retail Council of Canada, says Black Friday now fills a Canadian need.

He says it gives consumers the chance to secure deals on presents rather than shop after the gift-giving season is over.

Forty-three per cent of respondents to the group’s second annual holiday shopping survey planned to purchase items today — up from 40 per cent the previous year.

Only 34 per cent of respondents intended to shop on Boxing Day.

A survey by Deloitte Canada showed a similar disenchantment with the Boxing Day sales day.

84-year-old man critically injured in hit-and-run dies

News Staff | posted Thursday, Nov 28th, 2019

An 84-year-old man who was struck by a vehicle last Friday night has died in hospital.

Police said the man suffered life-threatening injuries after he was struck while crossing St. Clair Avenue West near Christie Street at around 11:21 p.m.

Police say the driver of the vehicle slowed down for a moment before fleeing the scene westbound on St. Clair. It has been described as a blue Volkswagen SUV, possibly an Atlas or Tiguan model, with Ontario license plate CKKE 113.

Investigators say the vehicle likely has front-end damage.

Police are still seeking security or dash cam footage from anyone in the area or who may have witnessed incident to contact investigators.

The unidentified man is the 54th traffic fatality of 2019.

Suspect in three feces-throwing incidents makes court appearance

News Staff | posted Thursday, Nov 28th, 2019

A 23-year-old man charged in three separate incidents in which a bucket of feces was dumped on a person over the past four days made a brief court appearance on Wednesday.

Samuel Opoku was arrested in the Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue area on Tuesday evening following tips from the public.

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.

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.

Close to 100 people, including a number of students from the University of Toronto, showed up for the hearing which necessitated an almost six hour delay as officials looked for a bigger court room which could handle the unusually high number of spectators.

Once inside, they watched as Opoku – dressed in a blue denim shirt, grey pants and wearing no shoes but only socks – sat with his head down in the holding box throughout the proceeding.

The judge has issued a publication ban in the case and ordered Opoku to return for a bail hearing next Tuesday.

Outside court, Opoku’s lawyer Jordan Weisz noted there was little he could share due to a publication ban protecting information presented during a bail hearing, but said he understands the degree of interest in the case.

“As things progress, I’ll certainly be prepared and willing to provide information to the public, who understandably is concerned and interested to get the full story,” he said. “Obviously the public doesn’t have the full story at this point.”

Asked whether his client had any underlying mental health issues, Weisz noted “the nature of the allegations suggests that,” but declined to provide more details other than to say Opoku was shocked by the allegations against him.

“He was in shock, I think that’s probably a fair characterization,” he said. “Understandably, to say the least, it’s not a pleasant situation to be sitting in a courtroom with the public scrutiny that he’s currently having to endure.”

First-year student Tina Yang says curiosity drove her to the courtroom on Wednesday, adding she wanted to get a sense of the reasons behind his alleged actions.

“During the first incident, we thought it was a joke,” Yang said outside the courtroom. “We thought it was funny and disgusting. But then there was the second and the third one, so we thought it was getting terrifying.”

“There were students from Ryerson, from U of T, York. It was interesting how we kind of united on this,” said Ruth Masuka, a second-year U of T student who waited upwards of four hours for Opoku to appear.

The students bonded over the fear that they might have been the next victim, she said, noting that tensions were already high due to impending exams.

“Every space is unsafe. It was a very public setting,” Masuka said. “It’s just a recipe for a scary energy.”

Felipe Santos, a recent grad who still spends a lot of time on the University of Toronto campus that was the scene of one attack, said most people who turned up for the hearing were “morbidly curious.”

“I felt a bit of the fear that everybody felt, so I was here out of curiosity of what would bring somebody to do this kind of thing,” said Santos.

Flames coach Bill Peters apologizes for using ‘offensive language’

News Staff | posted Thursday, Nov 28th, 2019

Bill Peters has apologized for using “offensive language” in a letter to the Calgary Flames organization.

In the letter addressed to general manager Brad Treliving, which was released to multiple news outlets Wednesday night, Peters called the incident isolated but accepted responsibility for what he said.

“The statement was made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values,” Peters said. “After the incident, I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team. I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words.”

This is the first time Peters has addressed the incident since it surfaced earlier in this week.

In the letter Peters did not specifically apologize or mention Akim Aliu, who wrote that Peters directed racial slurs towards him when both were with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in 2009-10.

“I meant no disrespect in what I said, and it was not directed at anyone in particular,” said Peters. “It was hurtful and demeaning. I am truly sorry.”

When contacted by Sportsnet to see if he wanted to respond to Peters’ apology, Aliu declined.

Peters said he appreciated and fully supported the thorough review of the situation currently being undertaken by the Flames.

“I accept the reality of my actions. I do believe that we must strive to act with integrity, and to take accountability for what we say and do.”

Treliving confirmed to reporters after Wednesday’s game that he had received the letter from Peters.

“We want to make sure we are doing a thorough job and looking under every stone, rock, and doing all the things that need to be done. So the letter tonight is part of this that we will obviously review,” he said. “And I’m hopeful that we will have an update for you tomorrow.”

Peters remained employed by the Flames as of Wednesday night.

The Flames attempted to keep things tight to the vest as they continued their investigation Wednesday, but one of Peters’ former assistants added to the intense scrutiny.

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, who spent four seasons behind Carolina’s bench with Peters, confirmed his boss confronted players in a physical manner.

“It for sure happened, the two issues that are in question,” Brind’Amour told reporters in New York before his team’s game against the Rangers.

Another former player has alleged Peters kicked him and punched a teammate when they were all with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Peters did not address the two physical altercations that allegedly occurred in Carolina in 2015-16 in his apology.


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

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