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Police say car dangling off Millwood Bridge likely a prank

CityNews | posted Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Toronto police say a car found dangling from a bridge near a busy highway during the morning rush hour was most likely a prank.

Around 7 a.m. emergency crews and police were dispatched to Millwood Bridge, west of the Don Valley Parkway, following reports a burnt out car was hanging from a wire.

Just before 8:30 a.m. Toronto police tweeted that the dangling blue sedan was for a movie shoot. They later sent a correction, saying no movie shoot had been authorized.

“Through our sources at City Hall and other sources we’ve confirmed that it was not a movie shoot,” said Sgt. Glenn Russell.

Wednesday afternoon, police indicated that the incident was most likely intended as a prank.

“This incident resulted in the use of significant resources that were not available to attend to genuine emergency calls for service,” read a brief statement from police.

Images from the scene show that the car was empty, with no windows or windshield, and its underbelly had been stripped.

“It’s a shell of a car. It was a Honda Civic, pretty much just a body and a frame,” Russell confirmed.

“You’re always very puzzled as to how a car would have got into that particular situation,” said Mayor John Tory when asked about the dangling car. “Fortunately the land that is right beneath that is not a neighbourhood or another street, I think it’s basically green space and the Don Valley. I just saw some of the pictures myself and I was mystified as to how the car ended up there.”

According to the Twitter account @WhatsFilmingON, a similar scene was staged near the Port Lands in the last couple of days but that was an authorized movie shoot.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

Suspect charged with murder, attempted murder in Toronto van attack

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2018

A 25-year-old man has been charged with 10 counts of attempted murder in connection with the deadly van attack in Toronto on Monday.

Alek Minassian, who is from Richmond Hill, appeared in court on Tuesday morning, where he also faced 13 charges of attempted murder.

Minassian was arrested after a van plowed into pedestrians on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue East and Sheppard Avenue.

A motive for the horrific attack is not yet clear.

He will be appearing in court again, via a video link, on May 10.

10 killed, 15 injured after van plows through pedestrians at Yonge and Finch

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Apr 24th, 2018

The death toll in the horrific van attack in Toronto on Monday afternoon has risen to 10, with 15 others injured.

A van drove down the sidewalk on Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard, plowing through pedestrians and indiscriminately hitting almost everything in its path.

The driver was apprehended by a single officer shortly after at Yonge and Sheppard. He is now in custody. Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders identified the suspect as 25-year-old Alek Minassian, and says he appears to be from Richmond Hill.

York police have taped off a portion of Elmsley Drive near 16th Ave and Bayview Ave in Richmond Hill, the street where Minassian reportedly lives.

Mayor Tory advised the public to stay away from the area and asked businesses in the immediate vicinity to close.

Public safety minister Ralph Goodale said that Canada’s risk level remains unchanged at Medium.

“On the basis of all available information at the present time, there would appear to be no national security connection to this particular incident,” he said.

Witness Cam Clark explained to 680 NEWS how quickly the idyllic afternoon was shattered by screams.

“Everybody was out enjoying the sunshine and all of a sudden there was this Ryder van coming south on the sidewalk … plowing people down,” he said. “There was a girl near me just 10 feet away and he just ran right over her. I’m sure she’s dead. He just kept on going and people were flying everywhere.”

“There was a guy on the sidewalk and one of his legs was totally mushed, nothing left of his leg. There were people lying there motionless and people screaming.”

Another witness named Mark described a horrific scene that stretched several blocks and left the area littered with victims.

“We heard a loud crash and someone screaming,” he told 680 NEWS.

“A couple blocks further there was a man lying in the road. He had been hit by a (vehicle). His shoes were like 100 feet away up the road, he’d obviously been hit very hard and flung far. I checked for vital signs, he appeared to be deceased.”

“A couple blocks up there were another couple of people lying on the sidewalk being attended to by emergency personnel,” he added.

Kenneth Wu was driving nearby when he says he watched in shock as the van ran down an older woman. Wu said the driver looked him directly in the eye at one point.

“He looked at me face to face, that’s when I saw that he was a very angry and scared young guy,” Wu said. “I don’t know what his motives are.”

In a press conference on Monday evening, Mayor Tory commended police and said they “responded in a heroic fashion.”

“They did their very best and continue to do their very best,” he said. “This kind of tragic incident is not representative of how we live or who we are or anything to do with life in this city on a day to day basis,” he added. Earlier in the day Tory called for a “spirit of unity” to prevail in the city.

Tory will move a motion on Tuesday morning to adjourn city council for the day out of respect for all those affected by the tragic incident.

Premier Kathleen Wynne echoed Tory’s sentiments.

“This is a frightening thing that — as Mayor Tory said — does not, is not emblematic of who we are as a city or as a province but it is a tragedy…that we will work through but there will be a lot of sadness and pain before that happens,” she said.

Chief Mark Saunders asked for the public’s assistance and asked anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

Subway service has been suspended on Line 1 between Finch and Sheppard stations and OPP and Ministry of Transportation crews closed ramps from Highway 401 to Yonge Street to assist police.

Security has also been heightened around the Air Canada Centre ahead of the Maple Leafs playoff game against the Bruins.

York Street will be closed between Lake Shore Boulevard and Front Street and there will be no eastbound traffic allowed on Bremner Boulevard from Simcoe Street.

The playoff tailgate event at Maple Leaf Square will be going ahead as planned.

York police have taped off a portion of Elmsley Drive near 16th Ave and Bayview Ave in Richmond Hill, the street where alleged van attack suspect Alek Minassian reportedly lives.

Security heightened, roads closed outside ACC prior to Maple Leafs game

CityNews | posted Monday, Apr 23rd, 2018

Toronto police and MLSE are taking extra security precautions outside the ACC following the van incident at Yonge and Finch today that left nine people dead and 16 injured.

York Street will be closed between Lake Shore Boulevard and Front Street and there will be no eastbound traffic allowed on Bremner Boulevard from Simcoe Street.

The playoff tailgate event at Maple Leaf Square will be going ahead as planned.

The Maple Leafs are facing off against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 tonight in Toronto. The Bruins leads the series 3-2.

Full statement from Toronto Maple Leafs and MLSE below:

The Toronto Maple Leafs and MLSE are keeping all of those impacted by today’s tragic incident in Toronto in our thoughts and prayers. Our organization continuously works in close partnership with Toronto Police Service, and other security agencies, to ensure the safety of all fans attending games at Air Canada Centre, including playoff tailgate events at Maple Leaf Square. In addition to the safety measures already in place, Toronto Police Service will be implementing a number of additional measures including road closures surrounding Air Canada Centre tonight to create the safest environment for our fans watching in Maple Leaf Square, as well as providing enhanced security inside Air Canada Centre.  For more information about road closures, please visit the Toronto Police Service web site.

Highlights from federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 27th, 2018

Highlights from the federal Liberal budget tabled Tuesday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau:

– “Proactive” pay equity legislation, as well as $3 million over five years for a “pay transparency” measure, to close the wage gap among federal workers and in federally regulated sectors, impacting some 1.2 million people.

– The “Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare,” to be headed by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, which will explore ways to establish a national drug program.

– $3.2 billion over five years for Canadian science and research, including money for granting councils and Canada Research Chairs, upgrading outdated laboratory facilities and harnessing the power of “Big Data.”

– $2.6 billion over five years for a wide array of measures to encourage and foster scientific innovation and gender equality in the field, including encouraging female entrepreneurs and business leaders, revamping procurement and expanding access to broadband internet.

– A federal deficit of $18.1 billion, including a $3-billion “risk adjustment,” down from $19.3 billion last year, that’s projected to decline slowly over the next several years, reaching $12.3 billion ($9.3 billion without the $3-billion cushion) by 2022-23.

– About $1.4 billion over six years to support Indigenous children in foster care and promote family reunification, plus $400 million over 10 years to upgrade and expand Inuit housing and $500 million for Metis housing.

– Higher excise taxes on tobacco products, including a $1 increase on a carton of 200 cigarettes and an adjustment that would see taxes increase with inflation every year, rather than every five years.

– $1.2 billion over five years and $344.7 million a year afterward for a new employment insurance parental sharing benefit that would provide additional “use-it-or-lose-it” benefits for non-birthing parents to encourage women to re-enter the workforce.

– $2 billion over five years for international aid through a new International Assistance Innovation program, designed to come up with flexible new financing arrangements, and the Sovereign Loans program.

– $155.2 million over five years for a new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and $116 million over five years for the RCMP to create a National Cybercrime Co-ordination Unit.

– $448.5 million over five years to double the number of placements under the Canada Summer Jobs program by 2019-20.

– $172 million over five years and $42.5 million a year afterward for the Canada Media Fund to foster the growth of Canadian-produced content.

– $50 million over five years to support “local journalism in underserved communities,” and plans to explore new models that would allow private and philanthropic support for “non-profit” journalism, including allowing Canadian newspapers to receive charitable status.

– $75 million over five years, with $11.8 million a year afterward, to bolster Canada’s trade ties with China and Asia.

– $191 million over five years to support jobs in the softwood lumber industry, including litigation under the World Trade Organization and NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanism.

– $90.6 million over five years to track down tax evaders and avoiders, plus $41.9 million over five years and $9.3 million a year thereafter to help Canada’s courts deal with the additional caseload.

– Changes to income sprinkling, passive investment income and the small business tax rate that are expected to save the government $925 million a year by 2022-23.

– $173.2 million in 2018-19 to support claim processing and to improve border security to better manage the increased number of people seeking asylum in Canada.

Women, science among top priorities in latest federal budget

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 27th, 2018

Women, science and conservation are among the dominant themes of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s latest federal budget, which charts a clear course for the Liberals to the next election in 2019.

Morneau’s budget includes a $18.1-billion deficit for 2018-19, including a $3-billion adjustment for risk, down slightly from the previous year but without any plan for a return to balanced books.

Instead, the Liberal government is doubling down on the idea that spending money – even borrowed money – is good for the long-term future of Canadians.

The budget aims to increase the participation of women in the workforce, part of a longer-term plan to grow the economy and brace for the consequences of an aging population.

It provides up to five weeks of leave for new fathers, worth $1.2 billion over five years, to help break the pattern of mothers automatically taking on the greater share of child-rearing responsibilities.

It also includes major investments in science, the environment and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, all areas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government sees as part of its progressive vision for the country and the world.

Competition Bureau takes on Ticketmaster, Live Nation over alleged deceptive pricing

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 26th, 2018

Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. allegedly used a deceptive practice known as “drip pricing” that saw customers pay sometimes more than 65 per cent above advertised costs, the Competition Bureau said Thursday.

The law enforcement watchdog filed an application with the Competition Tribunal, asking it to end the alleged practice and make the companies pay an administrative monetary penalty.

Findings from its investigation allege that Ticketmaster’s advertised prices deceived consumers by adding more mandatory costs – like service fees, facility charges or order processing fees, depending on the ticket – later on in the purchasing process.

This so-called drip pricing allegedly caused consumers to pay much higher prices than advertised.

“Ticketmaster’s mandatory fees often inflate the advertised price by more than 20 per cent and, in some cases, by over 65 per cent,” the bureau said.

In its filings, the bureau said it’s misleading to reveal the true cost of tickets after fans use the original price representation to decide which seats to buy. Consumers often don’t want to lose their tickets once they learn the truth, the document reads, and in certain cases the companies use a countdown clock that increases pressure on consumers to finish their purchase.

In Quebec, where provincial law makes all-inclusive pricing mandatory, the companies do not use drip pricing, the filing said.

“This model demonstrates that the internet buying process can be structured in a way that is transparent and not misleading,” the document reads, adding that companies choose not to use this model elsewhere in Canada.

A statement from Ticketmaster said that it “remains committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans and has long practised transparency to enable informed purchasing decisions.”

The ticket sales and distribution company added it is working closely with provincial governments to enhance consumer protection.

Live Nation did not immediately responded to a request for comment.

In July, the bureau asked sports and entertainment ticket vendors to review their marketing practices and display the full price up front.

“Together, these actions send a strong signal to online retailers: consumers must have confidence that advertised prices are the ones they will pay,” Commissioner of Competition John Pecman said in a statement.

One of the Competition Bureau’s roles is to promote truth in advertising by discouraging deceptive business practices. The watchdog has previously called this “a priority.”

The case against the ticket sellers is consistent with action that the bureau has taken in other industries dating as far back as 2011, said Anita Banicevic, a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP in Toronto.

That year, the bureau reached an agreement with Bell Canada over what it said were misleading representations about the prices offered for Bell services due to additional mandatory fees. The telecom agreed to pay $10 million.

Since then, the bureau’s applied its view that such mandatory fees should be included in advertised prices in cases against companies in a range of industries, Banicevic said.

In recent years, the bureau reached agreements with multiple car rental companies to resolve concerns over their use of drip pricing.

In June 2016, Aviscar Inc. and Budgetcar Inc. agreed to pay a $3 million administrative monetary penalty and $250,000 towards the bureau’s investigative costs after an investigation found mandatory fees disclosed later when making a car reservation could boost the price by five to 20 per cent over the one originally advertised, a bureau statement said.

In April 2017, the bureau reached an agreement with Hertz Canada Ltd. and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Canada Inc., according to another statement. The companies agreed to pay a total of $1.25 million after an investigation found their advertised low prices were unattainable because mandatory fees boosted them by 10 to 57 per cent.

“All of the cases the bureau has brought in this area with respect to the disclosure of fees have to date been settled,” said Banicevic, with the exception of an ongoing case against Leon’s Furniture Ltd. and The Brick Ltd. that is still before the courts.

2 new homeless shelters, 1 permanent, to open in Toronto this weekend

CityNews | posted Friday, Jan 26th, 2018

Toronto is opening two new winter respite services this weekend which will be able to shelter up to 200 homeless people.

The announcement comes as the Moss Park Armoury is set to close on Monday.

At a news conference on Thursday, Coun. Joe Cressy announced a shelter will open at 348 Davenport Rd., near Dupont Street, on Saturday at 4 p.m.

After April 15, the site will be renovated as an accessible permanent shelter with up to 90 beds, and health and other support services.

The province has also made 354 George St. available until April 15. The site, which will be operated by Homes First Society, will begin accepting the homeless by 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The city will provide transportation to the two sites or other shelter beds for those staying at the Moss Park Armoury.

“Working to ensure these locations are located seamlessly in communities, and are part of their communities, is a collective effort which requires the cooperation and the sensitivity of every single Torontonian just as it is the responsibility

The city continues to grapple with expanding shelter spaces for the homeless, especially during the cold winter months. Critics have said there is a lack of adequate shelter for the homeless, which prompted both the City of Toronto and its ombudsman to launch formal investigations.

On Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the province is working with the city toimprove access to health services for people who are homeless or using shelters. Toronto is beginning with a project in five new shelters across the city that will provide more than 300 beds to vulnerable people with often complex health needs.

The new initiative comes at a crucial time as concerns are being raised over how the shelters are dealing with the health issues of the homeless.

On Wednesday, a man died after an outbreak of the what appears to be flu at Seaton House — Toronto’s largest homeless shelter. The cause of the man’s death has not been confirmed but it’s believed he was among 28 people at the shelter who have exhibited flu-like symptoms.

The city is also investigating after a homeless man was sent to hospital from the Moss Park Armoury shelter on Sunday.

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