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OHL re-states anti-hazing policy in wake of allegations from early 2000s Sting

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 30th, 2018

The Ontario Hockey League re-stated its anti-hazing policy on Thursday night after former Sarnia Sting players revealed the abuse they suffered in their rookie season earlier this week.

Daniel Carcillo, Dave Pszenyczny, and Charles Amodeo said in separate interviews with The Canadian Press that several veteran players were physically and emotionally abusive to them when they were rookies in Sarnia for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

Carcillo complained to OHL commissioner David Branch at the time, which kicked off a league-wide crackdown on hazing.

On Thursday, the league re-stated its zero-tolerance policy in a statement.

“In light of the recent attention that has been paid to the issue of hazing, the league has spoken with team management and all of our member teams are providing a refresher to all staff and players about this most important topic,” read the statement.

“Our hope is that through conversation, education, and awareness, the attitudes that lead to hazing behaviour and these unthinkable actions disappear from sport and society.”

In October 2005, Windsor Spitfires’ Moe Mantha was given a one-year suspension as general manager and 25 games as coach for a hazing incident involving several of his players.

In 2006 the league’s anti-hazing policy was enhanced and now all OHL players are educated about it annually through their member team. All players must acknowledge in writing every year that they understand the OHL’s policy and are encouraged to bring any concerns forward without fear of reprisal.

Additionally, the OHL introduced a mental health program in 2014, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, designed to educate players on the importance of talking about issues and recognizing signs of struggle among their peers.

A Christmas wonderland in Toronto: weekend guide

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND MICHAEL GIBBONS | posted Friday, Nov 30th, 2018

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

Christmas Day is less than a month away and the holiday season is now in full swing. The malls are bustling, pictures are being taken with Santa, cider is mulling, gingerbread is baking, and people are out and about at Christmas events and festivals.

With all the hustle during this time of the year, the holidays can sometimes feel hurried. So slow down and enjoy the best of the season. Below are some events to help you plan your festive weekend.


Events

Holiday fair in the square
Nathan Phillips Square is already a hub of festive cheer with its grand Christmas tree and twinkle lights, but starting on Friday, a holiday fair will also take over the square. The Holiday Fair in the Square combines the small town charm of a Christmas market with an exhilarating winter carnival. After checking out all of the stalls and grabbing a bite to eat, skate on the rink surrounded by the beauty of the season. The fair runs until December 23.

Christmastime at the beach
A holiday tradition kicks off Friday in the Beach. More than 80,000 LED bulbs will be strung through the oak, maple, and willow trees that line the shores of Lake Ontario along the boardwalk for Light Up the Beach. Santa himself will be on-hand at 7 p.m. Friday to light each tree in sequence. The lights stretch from the Leuty Lifeguard House to the Balmy Beach Club, and will stay up until late February.

Christmas at the castle
Casa Loma will be transformed into Christmas wonderland starting this weekend for A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle. When you enter the castle, you will be greeted by a 40-foot tree in the Great Hall and eight other trees decorated by Canadian designers. Check out live shows by an illusionist entertainer and ice skaters, stop by and visit Santa in his workshop, decorate some festival treats, try some arts and crafts. Browse the outdoor holiday market as you hum tunes the orchestra is playing in the background. At night, the gardens around the castle will be lit up in all the colours of the season. Click here for hours and ticket information.

Holiday market in the Junction
The Junction will play host to a fun holiday market this weekend. Starting this Friday, residents will be able to enjoy pop-up shops, live music, holiday treats, and more throughout the neighbourhood. You can even take a photo with Santa Claus. The Junction Holiday Market takes place on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Winter village in the city
Starting this weekend, the Evergreen’s Winter Village will bring you the best of the holiday season. Lace up your skates and join the fun on the rink, search for one-a-kind gifts at the holiday market, and devour yummy treats from food trucks and local vendors. If you prefer a real Christmas tree, you can also pick up a sustainably grown one from the garden market. Admission to the village is free. It is open every weekend in December and the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Historic holiday at the fort
Fort York is offering the chance to go back in time this weekend with its Frost Fair. Families will be able to experience historic military and music demonstrations, shop for unique, heritage inspired reproductions, and even sample authentic recipes with the volunteer historic cooks. This free event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

TTC and road closures

Partial Line 1 closure
Signal work on Line 1 between Finch West and Lawrence West stations will mean no subway service on the portion of that line on Saturday.

Road closures
Canada’s Walk of Fame Awards: Front Street between Yonge and Scott streets is currently closed and will remain so until 3 a.m. on Sunday. The north curb lane of The Esplanade from Scott to Yonge streets, and the curb lane on Scott south of Front are closed until until midnight Sunday.

Toronto Christmas Market: The northbound and southbound curb lanes on Parliament Street between Lake Shore Boulevard East and Front Street East will be closed from 4 p.m. Friday to midnight Sunday.

Etobicoke Lake Shore Santa Claus Parade: Lake Shore Boulevard West will be closed between Dwight Avenue and Thirty Sixth Street from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

North Etobicoke Santa Claus Parade: Albion Road from Thistle Down Boulevard to Finch Avenue West will be closed on Sunday from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Canada’s emergency alert system tested Wednesday afternoon

BILL GRAVELAND, THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Nov 29th, 2018

It wasn’t perfect but officials say the second test of Canada’s new national public-alert system for mobile devices went better than the initial test six months ago.

Mobile phones, televisions and radios were abuzz across the country Wednesday as the Alert Ready system sent test alerts at 1:55 p.m. local time, with the exception of Quebec where the test was done an hour later.

Officials say not every mobile phone is compatible to the testing system and they recommended checking with your service provider.

“In terms of how it went, I would say it’s a significant improvement over May,” said Tim Warmington, a spokesman for Public Safety Canada. “The alerts were issued in every province and territory across the country on TV, radio and wireless.”

“This is a test of the Ontario Alert Ready System. There is no danger to your health of safety. If this was an actual emergency, you would now hear instructions for protecting yourself,” read the message that was sent.

Only 60 per cent of wireless users in Manitoba received an alert in the test of the system last May. In Ontario, some test alerts were heard and felt on mobile devices, but many wireless subscribers didn’t receive any signals.

The first test didn’t sound at all in Quebec due to a coding error, which the system operator said was fixed within a couple of hours.

Warmington said he doesn’t have data yet on how many Canadians received the latest alert. But he said you can be assured that it’s higher than last time.

“It was well documented the issue within Quebec, which has a quarter of the population right there. So just the fact the alert went out in Quebec means it absolutely will be better.”

An official with Pelmorex, which runs the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination (NAAD) system, said the test was successful in every province.

“We quickly validate and disseminate these alerts securely to television and radio broadcasters and wireless service providers for distribution to the public,” said Martin Belanger, director of public alerting.

“We can confirm that the NAAD system, part of Alert Ready, worked as intended for all test messages today.”

But not everyone received the alerts.

On the East Coast, users reported varying experiences, with some people not getting an alert. One Newfoundland resident got the alert on her work iPhone, but not on her personal Android phone.

In Nova Scotia, some Twitter users reported that they did not receive the emergency test.

“I guess I just remain in the dark!” wrote Twitter user Suzanne Rent from Halifax.

Nova Scotia Twitter user Nick Yorke tweeted: “My phone never seems to receive the emergency alert messages. I guess I’ll just die.”

There were also posts on social media from Manitobans who said they didn’t receive the alert.

But the province’s infrastructure minister, Ron Schuler, said the test went well and virtually everyone would have received it, unless their phone was off, on airplane mode or had older technology.

“(Providers) felt there was a 60 per cent coverage rate (in the May test), just because there were problems with the technology, and this time around, the technology worked flawlessly,” he said.

Warmington said testing of the system isn’t done.

“You’re always testing it. There’s always room for improvement. You always want it to be better.”

This is only the second time the emergency alert system has been tested. The previous test happened this past May.

With files from Steve Lambert in Winnipeg and Rob Roberts in Halifax

Majority of transit users in favour of expanding King Street pilot project to Queen Street: survey

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Nov 29th, 2018

It’s been over a year since the launch of the King Street pilot project and a new study reveals that some people would like to see the transit project replicated on another high traffic street.

The study, conducted by POTLUC, found 51 per cent would be in favour of bringing the controversial transit project — which gives priority to streetcars and limits driving traffic — to Queen Street.

The idea won over transit users, cyclists and pedestrians with “yes” winning in all three categories.

However, drivers overwhelmingly were against the idea, with 91 per cent saying the project should not be brought to Queen Street.

The pilot project, which started in November 2017, restricts vehicle traffic to driving the length of one block on King Street both ways from Jarvis Street to Bathurst Street.

The study found the project has meant a much improved experience for transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they actually visit the businesses along King Street as often or more often since the launch of the pilot project in November 2017 — with 32 per cent saying they visit multiple times a week.

The study found people using public transportation and those who walk on King Street West are the area’s most frequent visitors.

On the flip side, car users were the least frequent visitors of the shops and services in the area since the transit pilot was put in place — 25 per cent visit less than once a month and 31 per cent never visit, compared to 13 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, before the pilot started.

The most common reasons behind drivers abandoning the area were “difficult to drive there” and “hard to find parking.”

The data was compiled from 2,062 surveys completed by Toronto residents, conducted from August 17 to September 10, 2018. The company did not provide a margin of error for the survey.

King Street Pilot Project Survey by CityNewsToronto on Scribd

City staff propose fewer committees, reducing board appointments in 25-Ward system

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Nov 29th, 2018

As the new city council prepares for its first meeting on December 5, municipal staff have released their recommendations on governance changes based on the new 25-Ward system.

In their report, the City Manager and Clerk say the changes are necessary as councillors will now be serving wards of significantly larger geographic size with double the number of constituents which will place greater demands on both their legislative and constituency duties.

It estimates that without the changes, councillors would hold 97 seats on 14 committees as well as 388 seats on 170 City and external boards. They would also experience difficulty in attending all required meetings, potentially causing quorum issues and impair the ability of committees and boards to function effectively.

Among the key recommendations is to create an interim structure closely modeled on the existing one but recalibrated for the new 25-ward system, establish a Special Committee on Governance composed of five council members to review city council’s governance structure and reduce the size of the Executive Committee to eight members.

The report also recommends cutting the number of council committees down to nine, reducing the number of council appointments to several boards including Toronto Community Housing and Toronto Zoo – which would lose one member each – while Toronto Public Library and TTC would have two fewer council members, amend the public appointments process and change the community council boundaries.

“I think the staff have done a very good job in recommending ways in which you can take all the same responsibilities with everything from licensing and standards to housing to planning and have fewer elected officials addressing exactly the same responsibilities,” said Mayor John Tory. “So that means we’re going to have fewer committees, we’re going to have more work to be done by people on those committees.”

The report also has several recommendations on city councillors’ office and staffing budgets. Currently the total budgets for councillors is $275,000. Maintaining the status quo would save $7.42-million due the smaller size of council. One option to redistribute the budgets from the previous 44 councillors to the current 25 would amount to a 4.7 per cent savings while another option to double the budget of all councillors would result in a 5.4 per cent increase.

Premier Doug Ford has said that cutting the size of city council would save taxpayers $25-million over the next four years. While he didn’t dispute that number directly, Mayor John Tory said additional resources are going to be needed with the slimmed down council.

“The number of people being served, which is close to 3-million in the city of Toronto, has not changed. They’re still out there and they still need constituency service,” said Tory. “There are now fewer people to serve them and so I think those people will need to have at least the same amount of help that will allow them to provide the same amount of service – if not better – to people who live in the city of Toronto.”

Ahead of October’s municipal election, Premier Doug Ford and his government passed legislation to reduce the size of council from 47 to 25 seats.

Although the city fought to keep the 47-ward council, the Ontario Court of Appeal granted a stay in a ruling that struck down the province’s plan to cut the size of council.

Doug Ford’s climate plan to be released Thursday

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 29th, 2018

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan on climate change will be released on Thursday, the province’s environment minister says.

Rod Phillips made the announcement Wednesday during Question Period.

The government, which took power in June, had promised to implement its own plan to tackle climate change after scrapping the previous Liberal regime’s cap-and-trade system.

“Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how Ontario continues to do its part and how Ontario also prepares communities and families to deal with climate change. But we will do so in a way that looks at the best options and that does not include, Mr. Speaker, a carbon tax or a cap and trade,” Phillips said.

Ford has vowed to fight any move by the federal government to impose a carbon tax on provinces, launching a court challenge earlier this year.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said she is skeptical about the Ford government’s climate plan.

“It is very disappointing that the Ontario government thinks the best way to fight climate action so far is taking us to court to fight putting a price on pollution and making polluters pay,” McKenna said.

In September, Ontario’s environmental commissioner criticized the Tories for dismantling cap and trade without putting in an effective climate change program to replace it.

Dianne Saxe said the government’s decision could reverse the progress Ontario has made in cutting greenhouse gas emissions over more than a decade.

The province made close to $3 billion from cap and trade after the system was introduced by the Liberals last year.

Driver of stolen car crashes into another vehicle near Yonge-Dundas

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Nov 29th, 2018

Toronto police have arrested one person after a two-vehicle crash near Yonge-Dundas Square.

The crash happened on Dundas Street East at Victoria Street just after 5 a.m. Thursday.

One of the cars almost slammed into the CityNews studios but ended up coming to a rest next to the building.

The male driver in the car that was next to the building fled the scene.

A CityNews camera was in the area when he heard the slam of the crash and then saw a man running southbound on Victoria. He immediately notified police who were just arriving at the scene.

Police arrested the male shortly after on Victoria. There has been no word on charges.

Police say the suspect vehicle was reported stolen in the Toronto area.

The two people in the other vehicle were taken to hospital with minor injuries

EXCLUSIVE: Teachers say they are shut out of sex-ed consultations

CRISTINA HOWORUN | posted Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2018

It was launched with big fanfare – a comprehensive review of Ontario’s education curriculum.

According to an August media release, it was to focus on improving math scores, preparing students for future jobs, improve standardized testing and “build a new age-appropriate Health and Physical Education curriculum that includes subjects like mental health, sex-ed and legalization of cannabis.”

The consultations – which began in September and will end in mid-December – involve telephone town halls and online submissions, but no formal meetings with teachers, educators or the unions that represent them.

“It’s unclear to me that there was a real purpose to these consultations,” Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) told CityNews. “I don’t object to consultations, and I wish they would be consulting us more frequently because the ministry has largely closed its door to our input over the last few months, which is highly problematic when they’re not hearing the voice of front-line workers.”

Although any member of the public can make a submission or listen in on a telephone town hall, Ontario’s two largest teacher unions say there has been little effort to consult with their members – namely teachers and educators.

“No educators or unions were asked to participate or were notified. The government to-date has not even met with us,” Denise Hammond, a spokesperson for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario told CityNews in a statement.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath says she’s surprised the government wouldn’t actively be seeking teachers’ input.

“Those are the folks who know what the day to day looks like, who know what kinds of issues young people and children are raising in the classroom,” Horwath said. “And definitely representatives of those workers, their unions, should absolutely be a part of the consultations and I’m shocked, frankly shocked that the government has decided not to do that.”

But Education Minister Lisa Thompson says teachers can participate – and have been. “We have teachers. We have parents. We have trustees. We have people participating from across Ontario representing every aspect of education, so I feel very confident that voices are going to be heard loud and clear,” Thompson told CityNews.

But repeated requests for participation rates and projected costs of the consultation have been rebuffed from Thompson’s office.

“We are concluding our consultation on December 15 and then we will be providing a review of everything that has come out in it and trust that we will be making a nice announcement because we have had tremendous response,” Thompson said.

The legislature’s last schedule sitting date for 2018 is December 13. A review could take several weeks or months to complete.

Documents obtained by CityNews through a Freedom of Information request show that much of the answers the PC government is seeking through this consultation were already obtained by the previous government, over the course of several years.

According to a June 2018 briefing note prepared for the new Education Minister, the Health and Physical Education curriculum that was partially scrapped by this government was reviewed over several years – including extensive consultations with students, parents, educators and stakeholders. Parents were not only part of the curriculum consultation, but were actively engaged in its execution.

CityNews has learned that significant materials were prepared for parents to keep them engaged and informed about the sex ed changes – with an outline of the revised Health and Physical Education curriculum, guides on the human development and sexual health component curriculum for all grades and reference sheets on topics such as consent, online safety, the risks of sexting, and mental health.

The government had also translated these resources in eleven different languages, including Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Farsi, and Somali.

Thompson couldn’t explain why the ministry hadn’t reached out to the unions that represent over 150,000 teachers and educators, saying only that they were treating all those with an opinion equally.

“I’m not sure that (the consultations) had more than a political purpose in this case,” says Bischof. “But, by all means consult front-line workers who know what its like to be in a classroom, to be in a school”.

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