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Eat and dance your way across the GTA this weekend

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND SAMANTHA KNIGHT | posted Friday, Jul 6th, 2018

The city is finally getting a bit of relief this weekend from the hot and humid weather, which makes it a perfect time to head outdoors and check out some of the great eats and beats around the GTA!

But keep in mind, there is a partial subway closure this weekend.


Events

Taste of Lawrence

The annual Taste of Lawrence Festival will be taking over the Wexford Heights BIA this weekend for three days of non-stop food and entertainment. The event is Scarborough’s largest street festival, featuring over 130 vendors, midway rides, music and welcoming roughly 200,000 people. Taste of Lawrence stretches along Lawrence Avenue East, from Warden to Birchmount. It kicks off on Friday night and runs through Sunday. Admission is free.

Salsa on St. Clair

One of the largest Latino-themed cultural celebrations returns to St. Clair Avenue West this weekend. Salsa on St. Clair is now in its 14th year. The event stretches between Winona Drive and Christie Street, transforming the area into a fiesta and salsa party. Guests can enjoy Latin music, non-stop dancing, Latin foods and other entertainment, including dance lessons and a parade. Salsa on St. Clair kicks off on Saturday afternoon.

Summerlicious
With summer in full steam, this is the perfect time to sit to sit on a patio and enjoy Summerlicious — the city’s annual summer food festival. Starting on Friday, more than 200 restaurants will be serving up three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus from $23 to $53. This year, 14 new participating restaurants will be taking part, including Chez’s and Northern Maverick Brewing Co. The foodie event runs until July 22.

Toronto Veggie Parade

Vegans, vegetarians and veggie lovers will be gathering at Queen’s Park this Saturday afternoon for the 8th annual Veggie Parade. The event celebrates the veg lifestyle, while creating a place for Veggies to come together and build community, and educate others about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. The event gets underway at 11a.m., with the parade taking off and finishing at the south end of Queen’s Park.

Beaches International Jazz Festival
“Life can be so sweet on the sunny side of the street.”
When one jazz festival in Toronto wraps up, another one is just around the corner. The Beaches International Jazz Festival kicks off on Friday and runs until July 29, showcasing musicians from Toronto and across Canada. The festival started 30 years ago as a small gathering at the Kew Beach Bandshell in the Beach to larger venues in the area and a street festival. Starting Friday and over the weekend is the Riverside Block Party on Queen Street East in Leslieville and the Sounds of Leslieville in Jimme Simpson Park. It concludes with the Streetfest later this month.
Temporary partial street closures will take place nightly on Boulton Avenue, Saulter Street, Degrassi Street, Booth Street, Verral Avenue and a section of Morse Street from 6pm to 10pm Friday, 12pm to 9pm Saturday and 12pm to 5pm Sunday.

Junction Night Market

The Junction Night Market will take to the streets this Saturday between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. The event is held on Pacific Avenue, north of Dundas and it takes place rain or shine. There will be tons of vendors, musicians, food and activities all night long. Admission is free, but food and drink tickets cost $5.00 each. All proceeds help support local food security programs in the Junction and across the GTA.

La La Land Under the Stars

Watch La La Land under the stars this Saturday night at the Aga Khan Park. The event is part of the Aga Khan Museum Dacing in the Park series. Guests can watch the flick for free, starting at 9 p.m. The Musical rom-com starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling has won more than a dozen awards. It was written and directed by Academy Award nominee Damien Chazelle.

TTC service

Partial Line 1 closure 
Subways won’t be running between Lawrence and St. Clair stations this weekend due to work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and track work in the area of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue.

Line 2 late opening
Subway service between St. George and Broadview stations will start at 10 a.m. on Sunday because of beam replacement work on the Prince Edward Viaduct. Shuttle buses will run.

Trudeau suggests Ford doesn’t fully understand Canada’s refugee system

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jul 6th, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is suggesting Ontario’s new premier doesn’t fully understand Canada’s international obligations when it comes to dealing with refugee claimants.

Trudeau met with Doug Ford in Toronto this afternoon, and said afterwards he spent some time explaining to the premier how the asylum-seeking system works.

“It didn’t seem to me that the premier was quite as aware of our international obligations to the UN convention on refugees as he might have been,” Trudeau said.

He said he also stressed the need for collaboration, saying officials from both levels of government should get together to make sure the immigration and refugee system is being applied “in its integrity.”

Shortly before the meeting, the provincial government said Ottawa is to blame for a housing crisis caused by people crossing the border illegally and should pay all the costs.

A spokesman for Ford said the federal government has encouraged people to cross into Canada illegally and continues to usher people across the U.S.-Quebec border into Ontario.

The federal government recently pledged to give Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba $50 million to help offset some of the costs incurred due to the influx of asylum seekers illegally crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

The provinces, however, have asked for much more support.

Quebec, which has seen the bulk of asylum seekers arrive this year, has said its costs are closer to $146 million, though that tally includes projections for future expenses. The province is set to receive $36 million from Ottawa.

Ontario has been promised $11 million by the federal government but Toronto Mayor John Tory has said the city alone needs $64 million to recoup costs.

Federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has said the money is meant to help address some of the immediate temporary housing needs in those provinces.

Ontario’s former Liberal government signed an immigration agreement with Ottawa in November of last year.

More human remains found at home linked to Bruce McArthur

Christine Chubb | posted Friday, Jul 6th, 2018

More human remains have been found at a Leaside property linked to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur.

Toronto police returned to the property on Mallory Crescent Wednesday morning after cadaver dogs indicated possible locations to excavate.

“Yesterday afternoon, human remains were located at one of the first digging sites,” Det.-Sgt. Hank Idsinga, with the Toronto police homicide unit, told the media on Thursday morning.

“These remains have been brought to Ontario Forensic Pathology Services for further examination.”

Idsinga said it was too early to tell if the remains belonged to one of the previously identified victims, someone else or even multiple people. He said identification could take “days, weeks or months” depending on the method of identification used.

The remains were found near a ravine at the back of the property.

“Several weeks ago, canine units conducted a search of the ravine at the rear of the premise,” said Idsinga.

“Several locations of interest were identified.”

Igsinga said crews were only able to begin excavation after arrangements were made with the City of Toronto, which looks after the ravine, and some trees were removed to allow better access to the site.

There was also no word on how long the remains had been on the property.

Idsinga admitted they were surprised to have found more remains so quickly.

“We anticipated being here for weeks, quite frankly, digging. (When) we found them that quickly, it was a bit of a surprise,” he said.

Idsinga now estimates they will remain at the property until at least next week.

The Leaside property has been a focal point of the investigation for several months.

At the start of the year the remains of seven men, believed to be killed by McArthur, were located in planters that were stored on the property.

After weeks of intensive investigation, police cleared the property in February.

Officials conducted searches at 100 properties linked to McArthur, who worked as a landscaper. No evidence of human remains were found at any of those properties.

They then returned to the Mallory property.

McArthur is facing eight charges of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Abdulbasir Faizi, Skandaraj Navaratnam and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam.

Most of the men had connections to Toronto’s Gay Village.

 

TTC peer support program helps workers who witness subway suicides

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Jul 6th, 2018

Kevin Freeman was driving a train into Toronto’s Bloor Station when a man dressed in black burst through the crowd and jump onto the tracks.

It was 9:45 a.m. on June 26, 2008.

“There was no way I could stop the train,” says the 52-year-old who has witnessed two suicides during his career as the Toronto Transit Commission subway operator.

He recalls ringing the bell once _ a message to the other TTC worker at the back of the train to keep the doors closed _ and then picking up the radio and telling his co-worker: “We just had a jumper.”

The first three weeks after the incident were bad, Freeman says in an interview. He slept little and couldn’t tamp down his anxiety. Being around crowds bothered him.

“I tried going grocery shopping and had to run out of the store because I was having a panic attack,” he recalls.

When he finally saw a therapist, he was told his feelings were normal after a traumatic experience.

“That’s when it would have been nice to hear from someone who lived through it,” he says.

Two years later, when the TTC put out a call to start a peer-support group to help workers who witnessed suicide on the tracks, Freeman signed up. The program has since expanded to helping anyone in the company struggling after traumatic experiences.

“Something good has come out of something awful,” says Freeman. “I’m helping other people heal.”

The idea is simple. It allows anyone to contact a list of volunteers like Freeman to talk freely, confidentiality being a key component. And after a suicide, the volunteers try to reach out within 24 hours to check in on their colleagues.

The program is working, says TTC spokesman Stuart Green. “It allows us to have our employees connect on a much deeper level than with a counsellor or someone on the outside.”

Time off work following such incidents has been reduced by 45 per cent, Green says.

Peer supporters fill the gap between the counselling arranged through the TTC employee assistance program and professional help from the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

So far this year, there have been seven suicides and 12 attempts, according to the TTC’s data.

The issue came into the spotlight again last month after a 73-year-old man was pushed in front of a subway train, which led the TTC to reiterate its desire for platform barriers, something that would cost more than $1 billion to retrofit the entire system.

Until that happens, suicides on the tracks will remain a reality for subway operators.

Now there are 73 TTC workers, including supervisors and management, who support their colleagues across the organization for any traumatic experience. They undergo three days of training, paid for by the company, for critical incident stress support, ethics and guidelines.

Jason Banfield, 47, is a streetcar driver and a peer supporter. He cannot forget his shift on Nov. 23, 2003. It was a grey, rainy day when he drove his streetcar south along Spadina Avenue near Richmond Avenue West.

A young woman darted across the street trying to catch the streetcar going the other way. She never saw Banfield’s streetcar when it struck and killed her.

“It changed me as an individual,” Banfield says.

He went back to work the next day, which, looking back, he says was a mistake. He struggled with anxiety, sleepless nights and vivid nightmares that plagued him for months.

“It forced me to re-evaluate life and understand how precious it is and how short time can be _ and it’s part of the reason I’m involved with safety to this day,” he says.

He spoke to his doctor and casually to a few colleagues at work, but it wasn’t formal like it is now. He says he leaned on his dad, who operated a subway for 32 years and who had been involved in three suicides himself.

So he thought he would pay it forward by joining the program.

“It’s just nice to talk to someone who’s in the trenches with you, someone who understands the subtle nuances, the lingo and the way things work at the TTC,” he says.

“It’s the kind of program that I think could be applied to just about any occupation on Earth.”

Fare inspectors didn’t abuse authority, discriminate against teen: TTC

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jul 5th, 2018

A TTC report has found three fare inspectors who pinned a young black passenger to the ground during an arrest earlier this year didn’t abuse their authority and didn’t discriminate against the teen.

“The investigation … found there was insufficient evidence to support that the transit fare inspectors engaged in unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority, or that they engaged in conduct amounting to discrimination and/or harassment,” the TTC said in a report released Wednesday.

The agency did, however, find one of the three inspectors had engaged in unprofessional conduct by smiling at the teen condescendingly during a tense exchange.

The incident happened on the afternoon of Feb. 18, after the fare inspectors boarded the streetcar at St. Clair Station en route to the Hillcrest Yard.

“(The inspectors) were not conducting (proof-of-payment) inspections as it was the end of their work shift,” the report said.

According to investigators, the teen boarded the streetcar and stared at one of the inspectors, who was standing on his own at the time. The inspector tried to speak to the teen, but didn’t get a response.

The passenger and the inspectors got off at Bathurst Street and then the teen got back on the streetcar.

It was at this point that one of the inspectors smiled at the teen.

“The investigation found that (the inspector) smiled at a time that could have been considered the climax of a tense interaction between himself and the customer,” the report said.

The teen then reportedly reopened the streetcar doors, got off the vehicle again and headed toward the inspectors, getting in the inspector’s personal space.

The inspector pushed the teen back into the streetcar. The teen then went at the inspector again, swinging his fist as the inspector pushed back and deflected the punch, the report found.

The passenger then ran at the inspectors again, and that’s when they arrested him, pinning him to the ground.

Police were called to assist, and when the officers arrived, they handcuffed the teen apparently because he was resisting and refused to put his hands behind his back.

Police found the boy hadn’t committed any criminal offence and immediately released him.

Days later the TTC announced it was launching an investigation and had suspended the main inspector involved pending the outcome.

Investigators said the inspector had resigned for “unrelated reasons” and would therefore not be disciplined.

The report recommended, however, that the TTC provide inspectors with clear direction and training about their role, and particularly the use of force.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video, interviewed the inspectors and witnesses and considered a written statement for their investigation.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Ombudsman will review the TTC’s probe to make sure it did a proper job.

Susan Opler said she has asked the TTC for its investigation file and will examine it to see if it is thorough, fair and transparent and if its conclusions are reasonable.

Police uncover ‘items of interest’ at Leaside home connected to Bruce McArthur

Christine Chubb | posted Thursday, Jul 5th, 2018

Police will return the Mallory Crescent property connected to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur on Thursday after “items of interest” were removed on Wednesday and sent to the chief coroner’s office for further testing.

There is no confirmation on the nature of the items at this time.

Months after declaring there were no more human remains at the home, police returned to the scene to resume excavation Wednesday morning.

“Over the last several weeks we have been sending our police dog services out to a number of properties – about 100 in total – that were associated to Bruce McArthur,” Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray explained.

“Nothing was found at those properties, but the dogs did show some indication in different places on the Mallory property and that’s what’s brought us to start excavating there today.”

Gray said the excavations are expected to take place over the next two weeks. After that, police will provide on update as to what, if anything, was found.

The remains of seven people were found in large planters located on the Leaside property earlier this year.

McArthur is facing eight charges of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Abdulbasir Faizi, Skandaraj Navaratnam and Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam.

Most of the men had connections to Toronto’s Gay Village.

Mayor John Tory speaks with public safety minister over Toronto gun violence

Peter Goffin, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jul 5th, 2018

Toronto’s mayor has spoken with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale about the need to address a string of shootings that has left three dead and others injured in recent days.

“Minister Goodale and Mayor Tory … are anxious to work together with the province to bring criminals to justice and enhance crime prevention efforts,” Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Goodale’s office, said Wednesday.

“When people do not feel safe, when they feel that random attacks can take the lives of innocents just walking down the street, that’s obviously a deep concern,” Bardsley said.

Tory spokesman Don Peat said the mayor and Goodale spoke about “all aspects of gang-and-gun violence” and further ways the city and the federal government could work together to address the issue.

“The minister pledged to co-operate in any way he can to help Toronto,” Peat said Wednesday in an email.

Gun deaths have accounted for 23 of Toronto’s 52 homicides so far this year — a figure inflated by the deadly van attack that killed 10 people in April.

By contrast, there were 27 total homicides at this point last year, and 16 fatal shootings by the end of June 2017.

Tory has said that Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world, but that he has “grave concerns” about the number of shootings this year and is focusing his efforts on making sure all three levels of government work together to keep perpetrators of gun crime off the city’s streets.

“One of the reasons we have to get together as three governments and as the police service to talk about these things is because it does require multiple efforts on the part of multiple governments and agencies,” Tory told reporters Tuesday.

Toronto will apply for federal funding available to municipalities working to reduce crime, Tory said.

The government of Canada is accepting applications for a cut of the $10 million National Crime Prevention Strategy, Bardsley said.

Ottawa is also designing a “guns and gangs” initiative with provinces and municipalities, which will see $327.6 million over five years, then $100 million per year after that, invested in community-specific initiatives, and border security, Bardsley added.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has said the vast majority of shootings in the city this year have been gang-related.

Officers in Toronto and surrounding jurisdictions laid more than 1,000 charges against 75 alleged members and associates of the Five Points Generalz street gang last month.

Police said the Generalz, linked to several shootings in the Greater Toronto Area, were “significantly disrupted” by the sweep, but acknowledged that gang activity would persist.

“We realize that drugs equal easy money and that there will always be people willing to step in and fill that void,” Acting Insp. Don Belanger said at the time.

Saunders has said he has a plan to target gangs in Toronto surgically and strategically, rather than flooding at-risk neighbourhoods with a police.

Overall, 11 people have been shot in Toronto since Friday morning when, police said, a driver near Shuter and George Streets took a shotgun out of her trunk and opened fire at a pedestrian, injuring the 21-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man on a bicycle.

Two men associated with the local rap scene — 21-year-old Jahvante Smart, also known as Smoke Dawg, and 28-year-old Ernest Modekwe — were killed in a separate incident near Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue on Saturday evening.

And police said Wednesday that one of four people injured in a shooting in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood Sunday night had died in hospital.

Investigators have also asked for the public’s help in finding an unidentified man who fired nine shots during a dispute near King Street West and Portland Street early Tuesday morning, sending one man to hospital with a bullet wound to the hip.

Investigators said they have no description of the shooter, but they believe he is violent, armed and dangerous.

What would you do if you found $10,000?

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jul 5th, 2018

Torontonians are buzzing about a post on the website Reddit where someone claims they found a bag of cash in Kensington market Wednesday.

“Found a bag in Kensington market today tied to the Kensington sign. Just opened it, there was 10,000 cash,” the headline of the post says.

CityNews spent the morning speaking to store owners and community members around the market, attempting to learn more about the bag of cash, but the claim has not been verified.

The Reddit poster indicates he or she “bought a coffee and a Jamaican patty and turned in the rest of the police,” but when we called police, they told CityNews they don’t have any reports of someone turning in the money.

The Reddit post has hundreds of comments, with many people weighing-in on what they would do with the money and others speculating on where the cash originated from.

“If it’s illicit money, no one will claim it anyway. May as well have just kept it,” wrote one poster.

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