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Construction zone safety pilot project launches Monday in midtown

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Dec 2nd, 2019

The city is launching a pilot project on Monday, aimed at keeping traffic and workers moving efficiently through construction hotspots.

The Construction Hub Coordination pilot will begin at Yonge and Eglinton, where multiple work sites have resulted in gridlock and been blamed for a number of pedestrian fatalities.

An on-the-ground hub coordinator will review construction management plans, connect travellers with real-time information, collaborate with enforcement officers, and communicate any changes to local businesses and community members.

A similar project in Seattle is credited with saving the city more than $15 million and significantly speeding up construction days.

The pilot is set to run through 2020.

Snow hits the GTA overnight, slow commute expected

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Dec 2nd, 2019

Snowy and slippery conditions are on tap for the first rush hour commute of December.

Environment Canada is warning of hazardous travel conditions on Monday morning — a day after wicked weather caused hundreds of crashes on GTA highways.

A weather advisory remains in effect for parts of the GTA, including Toronto, York and Durham regions and Mississauga to Burlington.

“An area of moderate snowfall is affecting areas near Lake Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area early this morning. Accumulations of up to five centimetres or so are possible,” the national weather agency said.

Some school bus cancellations were reported in the GTA, click here for details.

Environment Canada said the snow is expected to taper off after 6 a.m. However, 680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said the precipitation will change to flurries and then end around 9 a.m.

But as the snow moves out of the area, colder temperatures are heading to the GTA. The windchill will be near -6 this afternoon and further drop to -13 overnight.

A messy mix of wintry weather started early Sunday morning, bringing with it several hours of freezing rain or ice pellets before transitioning to snow or freezing drizzle in the afternoon. The changeover to snow happened early Monday morning.

On Sunday, Toronto police said officers were sent to 376 collisions and 38 were referred to collision reporting centers.

Winter officially arrives in just under three weeks on Dec. 21.

3 children among 7 killed in small plane crash near Kingston

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Nov 29th, 2019

Seven people, including three children ranging in age from 6 to 16, are dead following a small plane crash north of the Kingston airport Wednesday night.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it is examining weather as a possible factor in a crash and indicated seating configurations on board the aircraft would figure into its ongoing investigation of the tragedy.

Ken Webster, the TSB investigator heading up the probe, said the aircraft was registered in the United States and had taken off from the Toronto area shortly before the crash, which occurred as the plane was approximately seven kilometres from its destination.

“There were seven people on board this aircraft,” Webster said at a news conference. “This type of aircraft has a provision for seven seats in some configurations, however we found six seats at the accident site…. We do look closely at this kind of information.”

Webster offered few details about the people on board the aircraft but Khudoyor Ortikov tells CityNews that his best friend of 20 years, Otabek Oblokulov, along with his wife and three kids, aged 16, 10 and 6, were on the plane along with his brother-in-law and his wife. The family of five were visiting Canada from Texas for the American Thanksgiving. Oblokulov was likely piloting the Piper PA-32.

Webster said the Board had also heard reports of deteriorating weather conditions in the area at around 5 p.m. when the plane crashed into a wooded area. He said those conditions would also be a part of the investigation.

A team of four TSB investigators would comb the wreckage of the Piper PA-32, which appears to have hit the ground at a “very steep” angle, he said.

Webster said early indications are that the plane was making plans to land in Kingston but was ultimately bound for Quebec City.

Const. Ash Gutheinz of the Kingston police said the area was under a wind advisory at the time, and while the conditions may not have been as bad as predicted, it was certainly “blustery.”

A spokesman for Canadian Forces Base Trenton, meanwhile, said a military helicopter dealt with high winds while it searched for the crash site.

Maj. Trevor Reid said the helicopter crew found the wreckage thanks to an emergency beacon on board the plane.

Residents in the area also noted there was heavy rain and strong winds around the time of the crash.

“I was amazed that anybody was even flying last night because there was lots of notice that this windstorm was coming,” said Rob Gibson, who lives near the site of the crash.

Gibson said in an interview he could hear a helicopter searching for the downed aircraft Wednesday night, but didn’t hear any sounds from the crash itself.

The TSB says while this aircraft does not require installation of a flight data recorder, there may be other devices on board that will be able to provide information leading up to the crash.

Eaton Centre shooter back in court for sentencing hearing

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 29th, 2019

The sentencing hearing for the Eaton Centre shooter is expected to continue on Friday.

Christopher Husbands was found guilty earlier this year of two counts of manslaughter in the 2012 mall shooting that killed two and injured six people.

His sentencing hearing began in August and has since gained attention for its notably lengthy and drawn out process.

Husbands’ defense is now arguing that he should be granted extra credit for time-served because of difficult prison conditions. He’s been behind bars for the past seven years.

Prosecutors, however, are asking for the maximum sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

Husbands admitted at trial that he was the shooter but his lawyers argued he should be found not criminally responsible due to mental illness. The Crown acknowledged Husbands suffered from PTSD due to a stabbing months earlier but said he was carrying out a vendetta against his attackers.

The trial was Husbands’ second in connection with the shooting. The first one saw him convicted of second-degree murder after being charged with first-degree.

Ontario’s court of appeal overturned that ruling and ordered a new trial after finding the judge had made an error in law regarding jury selection.

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.

Events

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.

Transit

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

ANNE D’INNOCENZIO AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Nov 29th, 2019

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.

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