Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Man in serious Condition After Shooting Outside Steakhouse Near Mississauga Square One

A man has serious injuries after being shot outside a steakhouse near Square One in Mississauga Monday evening.

It happened outside the main doors of Ruth's Chris Steak House located at City Centre Drive and Burnhamthorpe Road shortly before 8 p.m.

The circumstances surrounding the shooting were not immediately clear.

Police officers are seen outside a restaurant at City Centre Drive and Kariya Gate following a shooting on Monday, July 18, 2018.

“We just heard the manager say to get out of the restaurant,” Marty Gaudet, who was in the restaurant at the time, told CP24 at the scene.

“By the time I got up, I saw a guy come in bleeding.”

The victim, believed to be in his early 20s, sustained two gunshot wounds, paramedics said. He was transported to hospital in serious, but stable condition.

Gaudet said he helped the man into the kitchen where he tried to help stop the bleeding prior to the arrival of paramedics. The man was shot in the arm and the leg, Gaudet said.

“He was panicking, calling for an ambulance, basically. He was asking for help.”

The suspect fled the scene in a grey vehicle, police said. No further suspect information was immediately provided.

Police continue to investigate at the scene.
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Man dead Following Fight Near St. Lawrence Market in Toronto

One man is dead following a fight near St. Lawrence Market Monday night, police have confirmed.

It happened in the Front and Market streets area at around 9:30 p.m.

According to preliminary information provided by police, the victim was knocked unconscious during a fight involving as many as six people.

He was transported to hospital without vital signs, where he later died.

“This is now a homicide investigation,” police said in a Tweet at around 10:30 p.m.

One man is currently in custody in connection with the incident.

Another person was also transported to hospital, Toronto police Insp. Steve Molyneaux told CP24 in an update provided late Monday night.

The area is blocked as police continue to investigate.
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Will Power Wins Toronto Indy 2016 Beats out Castroneves, Hinchcliffe

The drivers predicted a wild one.

And that’s precisely how it played out on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the streets along Lake Ontario, with Australian Will Power surviving a race that truly had a bit of everything on his way to capturing career win No. 3 at the Honda Indy Toronto.

Ageless Helio Catroneves finished second to give Penske a 1-2 finish and the top three drivers in the overall standings. Canadian James Hinchcliffe crossed the line in third to secure his best result on home soil and keep his comeback campaign on an upward trajectory following a near-fatal injury more than a year ago. And the spills and thrills came early and often throughout the 30th running of the Indy along the famed temporary downtown circuit.

When defending champion Josef Newgarden lost his bid for another Toronto title, hitting a damaged curb that earlier forced a yellow caution flag to drop, his day was done. It was one of several heart-stopping moments on an 11-turn mixed-surface track known for its element of surprise. Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jack Hawksworth headed up the hit parade with car-to-car contact, while the likes of Power and Hinchcliffe made hay with their overall race strategies, particularly in the late stages.

Power pitted on Lap 57 of 85. Just as he did that, Newgarden crashed on Turn 5, injuring his hand. It brought out a caution and spelled ruin for pole-sitter Scott Dixon, a former two-time winner who dominated for most of the race, ultimately finishing eighth.

Dixon had yet to pit and was behind Power and in a traffic jam when he and several others did make their stop.

“There’s always a risk in the first stop if you stay out. We had enough fuel to go a couple more laps, but we opted to pit on the same lap as Dixon,” said Australia’s Power, the series champion in 2014, who won previous Toronto races in 2007 and 2010. “But, you know, that worked out for us in the last stop. The team called me in just at the last minute. Perfect timing. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times it has gone the opposite way for me at this place, and many other places.”

It has gone sour for Hinchcliffe in Toronto more times than he wishes to remember, but the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver had to be smiling when a caution with four laps remaining — stemming from Hawksworth smashing into a tire barrier, and then Montoya doing the same — set up one final restart with a lap to go.

“It is the nature of IndyCar racing. It’s what kind of throws us these off-results every once in a while,” Hinchcliffe said. “As I said before, Will has been on the losing side of that one a bunch of times. He caught it today. Same as Helio. Less times for me. I’ve done it, too. I had an almost certain win in Houston taken away to a sixth place because of the way the cautions fell.

“If it shows some shocking results once in a while, that’s good for entertainment,” Hinchcliffe added. “It’s going to bite you some days, it’s going to help you some days. I think it kind of shakes out over the course of the season.”

Hinchcliffe equalled his best finish of the season — he was also third at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May — and picked up the 10th podium finish of his career while vaulting into eighth in the overall championship picture as the series resumes in two weeks in Ohio.

It was the 28th career victory for Power, who missed the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Fla., with what was later discovered to be an ear infection. He finds himself just 47 points back of Penske teammate and overall leader Simon Pagenaud, who finished ninth.

“As my engineer says, it’s so hard to win. It’s not simply qualify, pole, drive away,” Power said of racing in Toronto. “It’s always mayhem, yellows falling at odd times. It’s a tough one to win.

Staying patient is key, and Power, a veteran on the circuit, said he has learned to keep an eye on the bigger picture rather than focusing simply on each race.

“Yeah, I would say I’m driving differently to the way I would drive in 2014 when I won the championship, when I just went for it all the time,” the 35-year-old said. “Now I just let the races come to me. I don’t seem to ever get desperate or feel desperate to make something happen. I just do it. Push when you need to push. Always stay within your limits.”

Debris was flying early and there were two full-course cautions at just past the halfway mark of the race. While the sunny conditions were favourable all weekend, the course, which was realigned this year due to a hotel being constructed in the middle of the Exhibition Place grounds, was not so kind. Drivers voiced concerns about the lack of width around Turn 8. That was rectified overnight on Saturday. But shortly after pieces of asphalt curbing came loose along Turn 5 — bringing out a yellow flag — Newgarden hit the damaged curb, his wheels locking up and the Ed Carpenter Racing driver hitting the wall on the 59th lap. Newgarden, who was nursing a hand injury sustained several weeks ago in Texas, appeared to reinjure himself. He was to be re-evaluated on Monday, at which point his driving status would be determined.

“I didn’t know it was concrete until I saw the repairing. I thought it was a piece of rubber. I was attacking pretty hard that curb, to be honest,” said Castroneves, who overcame a flat tire earlier in the race. “When I realized that was the track coming apart, I was like: ‘Wow!’ I was kind of shocked.”

Added Hinchcliffe of the 9-10-11 turn sequence: “If we could find a way to make 11 a little wider, that would not be awful. The fact that we got away with it this year doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Just because it wasn’t an issue this year doesn’t mean it couldn’t be in the future.”

A VICTORY OF SORTS FOR HINCHCLIFFE

James Hinchcliffe is always on.

But he’s about to shut off for a little while.

“I think we’re going to run up to the cottage probably and enjoy some dowtime up on the lake,” the 29-year-old Oakville native said following his third-place finish at the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday. “Turn the cellphone off for a few days and just try to recharge a little bit.”

Hinchcliffe held the sixth position off the starting grid, fell back early, then worked his way into third, seemingly in a flash. Having opted against using his final allotted pitstop when several others were doing so, Hinchcliffe ultimately benefitted from a full-caution flag coming out with four laps remaining. He held on to third when the race was re-started with one lap remaining to secure the best result by a Canadian at the Indy since Paul Tracy’s second-place finish in 2006.

“For once in my career here in Toronto, we caught a lucky break. It’s not just that I haven’t had great luck here, I’ve had insanely bad luck here,” said Hinchcliffe, whose previous best Toronto finishes of eighth came in 2013 in 2014. “Today, we were on the other side of that. It’s part of IndyCar racing. It’s the nature of the beast. For the number of times it goes against us, we’ll take the time it goes to us.”

Australian Will Power continued his surge up the standings with his third win in four races, while Helio Castroneves, the series’ oldest full-time driver at age 41, finished in second for the 40th time in his career, which is the second-most runner-up finishes in series history.

“We’re one, two, three in the championship now,” said Castroneves, who sits third in the overal standings along with fellow Penske drivers Power and leader Simon Pagenaud. “That’s what we want. We want to keep pushing this way. Mid-Ohio is next and we have some work to do.”

It was the 10th career podium finish for Hinchcliffe, who said in the leadup to the race he puts an immense amount of pressure on himself to perform at his hometown event. He was able to breathe a sigh of relief on this day.

“No doubt, this will be a highlight in the career reel, memory reel. Hopefully, we can better it in the future,” he said. “It would be so great to win here. I’ve just always wanted to give the Toronto fans a good result because they’ve been so supportive day in and day out from the start of my IndyCar career. Finally good to give them a good result to cheer for.”

In some ways, it felt like a win for the Canadian.

“We walked away with a podium. We had our best qualifying effort here. Top Honda. Best finish here. It’s very rewarding and gratifying,” he said. “A win is a win. You can’t take that away. But truly to be up on the podium is almost as good a feeling here.”

Hinchcliffe, always aware of his surroundings, was true to form until the end in Toronto, peeling the label off a water bottle that awaited him upon sitting down for his post-race news conference. It’s something he started doing back when he raced with Andretti.
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Guns N’ Roses Rock Toronto With Reunion Gig

TORONTO - Reunions can be tricky affairs, even at the best of times.

And when mercurial rocker Axl Rose is involved, you might expect even a few more hiccups than usual.

But surprise, surprise, Guns N’ Roses 2016 reunion trek, the cheekily-titled Not In This Lifetime tour, landed at Rogers Centre on Saturday night for its only Canadian stop with classic lineup members Slash on lead guitar and Duff McKagan on bass joining frontman Rose for the first time since 1993, and it pretty much went off without a hitch.

OK, there was that little matter of a gun discovery at the border that the sold-out audience of 50,000 didn’t find out about until close to the end of GNR’s two-hour-and-45-minute performance.

“Not that we were arrested, more like we were detained,” joked Rose, 54. “Hey, sometimes you forget you have a gun.”

Then he added with a smile: “It wasn’t my gun.”

Otherwise, the tight-sounding group - rounded out by rhythm guitarist Richard Fortus, drummer Frank Ferrer and keyboardists Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese - began their marathon set just ten minutes after their scheduled start, which is a miracle by the notoriously late Rose’s standards, launching the night with It’s So Easy.

“Look at all these Canadians,” said the singer, who was downright chatty.

The emphasis was on the music, with the production a relatively simple if striking affair that included an enormous stage dominated by large video screens on each side, a staircase in the middle and the occasional firework or fireburst.

Rose made the most of a simple platform at the front of the stage, jumping up on top of it often so the crowd, made up of many Rose and Slash imitators (women included) right down to the bandanas, top hats, long afros and sunglasses, could see him strut his stuff.

He certainly had a penchant for black T-shirt changes, while donning many an unusual hat - everything from a black sombrero to a straw cowboy hat with a red bandana underneath - and black leather jackets that had both studs and fringe.

Rose even went for the classic look of torn jeans and a plaid flannel shirt wrapped around his waist, but had a near Liberace moment while he played the ballad November Rain on the piano with those video screens providing closeups of his oversized diamond ring.

All that was missing were the candelabra.

November Rain was eventually saved by Slash’s guitar work and a big finish that included the extro of Derek and the Dominos’ classic Layla.

Much more successful were such highlights as Mr. Brownstone, Welcome To The Jungle, Sweet Child O’ Mine, Night Train, Patience and the show ended Paradise City, plus covers of Wings’ Live and Let Die and Bob Dylan’s Knockin' on Heaven’s Door (with Rose asking Toronto to “represent Canada” in a singalong).

Major kudos to Slash, a superstar on guitar all night long, doing The Godfather Theme solo en route to Sweet Child O' Mine, and both he and Fortus handling a instrumental cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.

Opening for the Gunners were local rock heroes Billy Talent, whose frontman Ben Kowalewicz was clearly stoked about the opportunity.

Joined by Ian D’Sa on guitar, bassist Jon Gallant and Alexisonfire’s Jordan Hastings filling in for drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, who is dealing with an MS relapse, Kowalewicz said: “If you’d told me 23 years ago in our Mississauga basement that we’d be here opening for Guns N’ Roses, I’d have had a fit.”

Instead, Billy Talent, who release a new album, Afraid of Heights, on July 29, rose to the occasion and even managed to give The Tragically Hip’s frontman a shout out in the process.

“We’d be remiss to not keep Gord Downie in our thoughts!” Kowalewiz said of The Hip’s singer, who has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer but will head across Canada this summer for one final tour.



SET LIST

    It’s So Easy
    Mr. Brownstone
    Chinese Democracy
    Welcome to the Jungle
    Double Talkin’ Jive
    Estranged
    Live and Let Die
    Rocket Queen
    You Could Be Mine
    Attitude (with You Can’t Put Your Arms…)
    This I Love
    Civil War (with Voodoo Child outro)
    Coma (with band introductions)
    Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)
    Sweet Child O’ Mine
    Sorry
    Better
    Out Ta Get Me
    Wish You Were Here
    November Rain (with Layla …)
    Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
    Nightrain

ENCORE:

    Patience (begins with a bit of Angie)
    The Seeker
    Paradise City

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Toronto Transit Debates of the Past

Alfred St Germain’s 1898 proposal for a new Toronto-Richmond Hill “express” connection was to feature the Toronto designed and built electric-powered 25-passenger “Autocar”. Interestingly, the word Autocar was one of several terms suggested by inventors of the day to describe what we know today simply as the car or automobile.

St. Germain (1827-1909) had great plans to provide a form of “rapid” passenger transportation between Toronto and Richmond Hill.

Unfortunately, his dream to have a fleet of autocars replace the “erratic and ill-managed” Metropolitan Radial Railway (that operated electric streetcars that would eventually connect the city with communities as far north as Keswick near Lake Simcoe) failed to materialize. One of the reasons was that just as many of today’s “all electric” vehicles have a limited range, so too would St. Germain’s Autocars. It would be necessary to stop and recharge. Obviously this would be time consuming. Meanwhile the north Yonge streetcars were constantly powered through overhead wires.

Steep hills, like the one north of Thornhill, was also a problem especially when the Autocar carried a heavy passenger and freight load. St. Germain lived on a large piece of property on Yonge St. north of Toronto. When subdivided one of the new streets carried his surname (St. Germain) while another (Old Orchard Grove) recognizes the large orchard that surrounded his residence.

OK, here’s my question, how many of you are tired of the on again, off again, on again, off again discussion about the construction of the Bloor-Danforth (Line 2) subway extension into Scarborough, something that is apparently on again?

I have a newspaper report dated June 29, 1977 that confirms that council had given its approval to go ahead with the construction of a $108.7 million light rail to connect the future site of today’s Scarborough Town Centre with the eastern (Kennedy) station of the TTC’s Bloor – Danforth subway, and to have it open sometime in 1980. Am I missing something?

Actually, what prompts this “after the fact” column (in case you hadn’t heard that the $3 billion connection got the go ahead last Thursday with the Town Centre extension opening scheduled to take place in 2025 — Yikes, I’ll be in my 80s while that little kid over there playing Pokemon will be a teenager) is a proposal to build another subway.

This new project will be a 7.4-km, $4 billion five station line connecting the TTC’s existing Finch station on the Yonge line (Line 1) with the Richmond Hill Centre (near Yonge and Hwy 7).

Let’s see, 48 years to build that extension into Scarborough? The Richmond Hill extension better have a waiting room with really comfortable chairs.
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Man Seriously Injured in Antibes Drive Stabbing in North York

A man in his 30s was rushed to hospital after being stabbed in the city’s Westminster neighbourhood early Sunday.

It happened at a high rise building on Antibes Drive, in the Bathurst Street and Finch Avenue area, at around 1:30 a.m.

Toronto Paramedic Services said one person was rushed to hospital in serious condition. Police described his injuries as non-life-threatening. Reports from the scene suggest the man was stabbed in the arm.

Police said one person was taken into custody in connection with the stabbing.

The victim and the person who was arrested are known to each other, police said.

There was no immediate word on possible charges.
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Metrolinx Challenges City of Toronto Over Etobicoke Rezoning Vote

The provincial transit agency is taking the rare step of initiating legal proceedings against the city, over a council vote that would allow townhomes to be built next to a south Etobicoke rail yard.

In a dispute that has implications for the mayor’s signature SmartTrack project, the Star has learned that Metrolinx delivered a notice of appeal to the city clerk Tuesday. It alerted the city that the agency is challenging council’s June 9 decision on the Mimico-Judson lands to the Ontario Municipal Board.

The notice asserts that council’s decision to redesignate a strip of land north of GO Transit’s Willowbrook rail yard as “mixed use” was made contrary to provincial and city planning policies, occurred without any public consultation, and “does not represent good land use planning.”

In voting 21 to 15 for the redesignation, a majority of councillors ignored the advice of city staff who had recommended retaining the property north of the rail yard as employment lands, which permit industrial, commercial and institutional use.

Metrolinx officials had also warned that allowing homes next to Willowbrook would limit the agency’s ability to expand activity at the rail yard to accommodate its regional express rail (RER) project.

Although Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan is a part of RER, Tory voted in favour of the mixed-use designation.

Asked about the OMB appeal Friday, the mayor’s spokeswoman said in a written statement that “SmartTrack is moving forward, thanks in part to our strong working relationship with Metrolinx and the provincial government . . . These appeals are not unusual, and we will continue to work with Metrolinx as the OMB process unfolds.”

Councillor Gord Perks said that the mayor and his allies “made a terrible, terrible mistake. And now we’re going to have to waste public money fighting each other about it.”

Because city staff are already on record as opposing council’s decision, the city would have to hire outside planners to support its case at the OMB, which would increase legal costs, Perks said. He added that it’s possible Metrolinx could subpoena the city’s own planners to make the agency’s case.

“This is one of the dumbest planning decisions I’ve seen in my career,” he said.

In a Marchreport to the planning and growth management committee,staff said keeping the Judson lands’ employment designation was important to “protect and support existing operations and future expansion opportunities” at the rail yard.

But at a May meeting of the planning committee, Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Justin Di Ciano moved a motion — which was approved the next month by council — to designate the lands for mixed use.

As first reported by CBC, a company named Dunpar Developments has applied to build 72 townhomes and lowrise commercial buildings at the site, which is not in Di Ciano’s ward.

Metrolinx’s notice of appeal charges that “no public consultation had taken place prior to this change” at committee, and because Di Ciano moved his motion from the floor it didn’t appear on a public agenda beforehand.

Di Ciano has ties to the developer through his twin brother, Julien Di Ciano, who lists Dunpar as a former employer.

In response to the questions about his motion and the OMB appeal, Councillor Di Ciano said Friday these are complex planning issues and he didn’t have time to adequately reply by the Star’s deadline. He previously told council that he has sought “expert legal advice” on this issue and that advice was “crystal clear” that he was not in a conflict of interest.

Councillor Mark Grimes, who is the local councillor for the area, told the Star that his constituents are bothered by a concrete plant that currently occupies the employment lands near the rail yard, and redesignating the area would allow for more suitable redevelopment.

“The community wants them out of there, this is light at the end of the tunnel. In my mind this is how we’re going to get them out of there,” he said.
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How Public Transit Affects Home Values in Toronto

Business student Karan Kundra doesn’t own a car, and doesn’t expect to buy one anytime soon. He has, however, purchased a condo at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, the terminus for the Spadina subway extension scheduled to open late next year.

Kundra won’t take possession of his one-bedroom-plus-den in the Cosmos tower until 2019. But whether he goes on to grad school at York University, where he is studying at the Schulich School of Business, or he gets a job downtown, his subway ride is only metres from his front door.

The Cosmos development is part of a residential building boom tied to Toronto’s new transit lines. These are the kinds of homes that planners and developers say will blur the line between urban and suburban living.

Public transit access boosts property values, and is increasingly a must-have for GTA homebuyers.

Kundra’s condo will be located deep in the suburbs, near Jane St. and Highway 7. But it will live like a city apartment, he said.

“I’ll have everything at arms’ length so I wouldn’t need to be purchasing a car. Cars are the biggest money pit,” said the Brampton student.

The location is also close to theatres, shopping and even golf courses, said Kundra, 19, who says the golf simulator in Cosmos is one of its best amenities.

Could he afford a bigger place further from the subway line? Maybe. But when it comes to space, Kundra says less is more.

“A lot of people my age think they should be living within their means. Having a huge house is not something that most people are interested in, just because there’s no time to maintain it. Cutting the lawn and those kinds of things add on to the amount of tasks you have to be able to do within a day. Being able to live in a condo where everything is accessible is something a lot of people are attracted to,” he said.

Cosmos “is probably the fastest-selling, highest-volume project we’ve done,” said Liberty Development’s Marco Filice.

His company bought the site about five years ago in anticipation of the subway. It’s an exciting time in the GTA, with increased possibilities of people living near their workplaces, he said.

“These opportunities didn’t exist 10 years ago,” said Filice. “People are more aware of the benefits of having the choice between transit and relying on the automobile. Our product provides behaviour modification for automobile dependents.

“The younger generation is not so enthused with the automobile,” said Jordan Teperman of Haven Developments, which is building a boutique condo called SIX25BV near Bayview Village, with easy access to the Sheppard subway.

“People want to be where transit is. They want to hop on a line and get anywhere. Every site we’re developing, you could get on a train at Union Station and get” there, said Teperman, who believes residents will accept less space in return for that convenience.

An enthusiastic booster of provincial transportation agency Metrolinx, he says Toronto’s been crying out for more transit for a generation.

“When we strategize where we want to buy products, this is a key consideration,” he said.

Transit proximity “is the single most important characteristic of development today,” said Peter Freed of Freed Development, which is building the 150 and 155 Redpath condos with Capital Developments at Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave., where the Crosstown LRT will intersect with the subway.

In addition to the Redpath buildings, Freed and Capital are behind the Art Shoppe Lofts and Condos and the Sherwood town homes near Yonge and Eglinton. The area is evolving dramatically thanks in large part to the new transit, said Freed.

He figures the pedestrian flow will double in the next decade, as transit attracts stores and restaurants bolstered by new residential and commercial development.

The Crosstown will also turn the area east of the Don Valley Parkway on Eglinton into a “major mid-town hub,” said Michoel Klugmann, vice-president of Lindvest. It bought the site for its Sonic tower at Eglinton and Don Mills Rd. from another developer in 2014.

“People talk about transit. They talk, talk, talk, but you can feel it. The stations are coming, people are watching the progress and they see it moving east on Eglinton,” he said. Condo buyers “expect real estate prices to rise and they want to be the first in,” said Klugmann.

Sonic, which will be near the Science Centre, Wynford and Agha Khan Crosstown stations, includes a public walkway that will allow neighbours as well as residents to access the transit. The landscaping also features a walkway with outdoor exercise equipment and a children’s play area.

“People say they want to live downtown but they want something a little quieter,” he said.

Nida Shahid, 31, and her husband rent an apartment near the Sonic, driving down the nearby DVP to their downtown jobs. But she is anxious to give up the traffic and take the Crosstown to work.

“I hate to be in traffic on the DVP. At the moment I can’t help it because the bus route is really crazy. Coming in late to work is not something I like, but sometimes I can’t help it,” she said.

Plus they know the area. They have friends there. “We were just waiting for this,” said Shahid of the 785-square-foot, two-bedroom unit they bought.

Her rental has a pool and a gym, but Shahid is already planning how she will use the amenities in the new building. “I’m very social. They’re going to have a rooftop terrace with a barbecue. I’m so excited about that,” said Shahid.

The couple have no children, but that could change. “That’s why we bought a two-bedroom,” she said.

It used to be that condos were for people who couldn’t afford to buy a house. That’s no longer the case, said Terry Lustig, development manager at Malibu Investments, which is building the Southside Residences at Gramercy Park near the Wilson subway station.

“More and more people are choosing the condo lifestyle even for families,” she said. “The more we improve the transit system, the more we will see people figuring out that getting to a transit-oriented location is the way to go.”

Home buyers are going to opt for convenience over space as the city and traffic grow.

“It’s really hard to find a house that has a subway in its back yard,” she said.

For Teperman, it’s only a matter of time before every transit station in the city becomes a hub of activity. He recently went to a trendy restaurant with his wife, who pointed out a TTC station nearby and wondered aloud why the corner hadn’t been developed.

“Two and a half weeks later, we put an offer on the site. I don’t want to tell you where but it’s a great area and it’s just going to bet better.”
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Friday, July 15, 2016

Le Roi Wisdom Saul 30, of Toronto Arrested in Yorok and Toronto Sex Assaults, BLM Black Lives Matter

York Regional Police say a male suspect wanted for allegedly sexually assaulting three women in the GTA has been arrested.

Authorities said the first reported incident took place when an 18-year-old woman was attacked in front of her home around 1 p.m. on May 26 in Vaughan after getting off a bus in the Keele Street and Rutherford Road area.

Police say the suspect ran towards her and sexually assaulted her before fleeing the scene.

The second attack happened on June 8 around 11 p.m. when a 33-year-old woman was approached from behind in the area of Whitmore Avenue and Fairleigh Crescent in Toronto and sexually assaulted.

The third incident took place on June 21 at 11:15 p.m. when a 29-year-old woman was also approached from behind in the area of Brooke Avenue and Yonge Boulevard in Toronto.

Police say she was dragged on a driveway, pinned to a fence and sexually assaulted.

Surveillance video of the suspect was recorded in the first reported sexual assault and released to the public last month.

Police say the suspect in all these incidents has been identified as 30 year old Le Roi Wisdom Saul, of Toronto.

York police say the suspect was arrested at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor as he attempted to return to Canada.

He is now charged with 4 counts of sexual assault and 1 count of criminal harassment.

**********************************************************************************

A 30-year-old family man is accused of four violent sex attacks on women in Toronto and Vaughan.

York Regional Police and Toronto Police have been working together to track down the alleged predator since last month after noticing similarities in a number of sexual assaults in the two jurisdictions.

In one terrifying incident, a man stalked an 18-year-old for several kilometres on May 26, following her first in a car and then on foot as she walked home from a bus stop near Keele St. and Rutherford Rd.

“As she reached her front door and attempted to open the door, she was up against the door by an unknown man who sexually assaulted her,” Det.-Sgt. Michael Mulville, of York’s Sex Assault Unit, said Friday. “The victim was, however, able to fight off her attacker and he ran from the residence.”

In the wake of the broad daylight attack, investigators released images captured by a nearby security camera of a suspect jogging near the victim’s home and of a suspect vehicle — a white car with a Transformers logo on its gas cap.

Meanwhile, Toronto cops were investigating three starkly similar attacks that occurred in the city on Mar. 24, June 8 and June 21.

Like the attack in Vaughan, Det. Raj Patel said the victims were accosted from behind and sexually assaulted by a man who fled in a white car.

“His actions were slowly escalating,” the Toronto Sex Crimes Unit officer said, explaining the attacks were “getting more and more aggressive.”

Investigator ultimately identified a suspect earlier this month but they learned the wanted man was out of the country, possibly in the U.S.

But on July 7, Canada Border Services Agency officers detained the suspect as he re-entered Canada at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor.

Le Roi Wisdom Saul, 30, of North York, now faces four counts of sexual assault and one count of criminal harassment.

Det.Sgt. Cindy Laidlaw, of York’s Special Victims Unit, said sex assaults “often go unreported” because of fear or embarrassment, so there is concern there may be other victims.

She pointed out there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault and urged any victims to come forward.
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory Get an Earful at "anti-racism" Meeting

It was more an ANTI WHITE meeting, big surprise.
 
“If it wasn’t for Black Lives Matter, we wouldn’t be here.”

That was one of the first things heard by the 500 or so attendees of a hotly followed anti-racism community meeting held by the Ontario government on Thursday night.

The first of several community meetings to be held this year by the province’s newly created anti-racism directorate saw a packed crowd at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park venting their frustrations through microphones set-up inside the auditorium.

“We’ve heard you tell us racism is real,” said one young man when it came to his turn at the mic. “It’s time for action.”

It was a sentiment echoed by several others, including some who proclaimed “Black lives matter” to the sound of applause before beginning their own remarks.

“The people sitting at the table need to look like and sound like us,” said one woman.

The province announced the creation of the anti-racism directorate in February of this year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged it’s “not a new conversation.”

“Part of my job is acknowledging that we haven’t done enough,” Wynne told the audience before the microphones were opened up to the audience.

People were not afraid to speak out from their seats and address Wynne, Michael Coteau - the minister responsible for anti-racism - and Mayor John Tory.

“I’m not angry, I’m disappointed,” said one person during Wynne’s remarks. “What you need to do is your job.”

When Coteau revealed the budget for the directorate is $5 million, someone quickly spoke out: “$5 million is peanuts!”

And as Tory sat writing notes, one woman at the mic called him out: “You are here and you can’t even address us. You are a coward.”

Tory eventually took the mic and informed the audience there will be more meetings this year.

In an e-mail sent to Black Lives Matter Toronto, the mayor’s office notes both he and the city want to consult on “systemic racism, specifically anti-black, anti-aboriginal, and anti-Islamic racism,” and that these consultations will begin in September.

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Laura Rd. North York Murder Victim ID'd as Abdirizak Hersi, 20

A young man killed in a wild broad daylight shooting involving two moving cars in North York this week is just the latest victim in a year that has been rife with gunplay.

Toronto Police say the two cars were heading south on Laura Rd., approaching Sheppard Ave. W., when the mayhem unfolded around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

It’s believed a gunman opened fire from one vehicle, possibly a Honda, as it overtook the other vehicle, a Mazda, on its driver’s side in the residential neighbourhood.

In an apparent effort to evade the gunfire, the Mazda swerved to the right and jumped the curb into a park. Both occupants were hit by bullets and the car travelled to the far side of the park before crashing into a chain-link fence.

“When police arrived at the scene, they found a vehicle with two men in medical distress,” Homicide Det.-Sgt. Sue Gomes said in a statement released Thursday. “Both men were taken to hospital.”

One man was pronounced dead soon after and has now been identified as Abdirizak Hersi, 20.

His cousin, also 20, suffered minor injuries and has since been released from hospital.

Hersi is the city’s 37th murder victim of the year and 24th to be killed by a gun.

Last year at this time there had been 27 homicides, 12 of which were gunned down. And the 202 shooting occurrences so far in 2016 are 34.7% higher than last year at the same time and well above the 95 shooting occurrences that the city endured over the same period in 2014.

Homicide investigators are anxious to track down the dark, four-door sedan that fled the deadly shooting scene in North York and they’re urging anyone with information to come forward.

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Toronto City Council OKs Safe Injection Sites

Toronto City Councillors said yes, in a big way, to creating three safe injection sites.

The sites, often deemed controversial, sailed through Thursday’s council meeting with a 36-3 vote in favour.

Council gave the OK to safe injection sites operating at The Works, located at Yonge and Dundas Sts.; the Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre in the Queen-Bathurst Sts. area; and South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Queen and Carlaw Sts.

Ahead of the vote, Councillor Joe Cressy, chairman of the Toronto Drug Strategy, called on his fellow councillors to get behind the sites and give them a solid endorsement. They will help improve community safety and prevent overdoses that have become commonplace in alleyways, laneways and school yards, he said.

“Supervised injection services will work,” he said. “They do work. They will improve public health and improve public safety. They will save lives for people who use drugs.”

Cressy, who spearheaded the initiative since his arrival on city council in 2014, said he felt “sadness and anger” that it’s taken the city so long to act.

“Addiction does not discriminate,” he said. “Stigma kills too. Behind those numbers and those people are names.”

While the council’s approval is key, the sites still require provincial funding and the locations need a special exemption to operate from the federal government.

Council headed off a move to kill the sites by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. He wanted to see the work shifted to hospitals, pharmacies and medical clinics where he felt addicts could be treated in a more appropriate setting without risk to the community. In the end, his motion failed by a 2-36 vote.

“I do believe that we’re putting three communities at risk here,” he said. “In an attempt to try to help those that need a lot of help, I think we’ve found the wrong mechanism to do it.”

Mayor John Tory clashed with Mammoliti over the sites, saying that during his run for mayor in 2003 he had felt some “discomfort” with them. But since that failed campaign he’s changed his mind and believes they will help the city.

“These are people needlessly dying alone ... on the streets of our city, in the neighbourhoods and they are using drugs in our neighbhourhoods, leaving their syringes in our neighbourhoods,” he said, arguing with Mammoliti. “I want to take every reasonable step we can to try to eliminate those needless deaths if we can.”

Councillor Gord Perks, who has worked on the issue for years, said that addicts are often treated as though they have no rights because of the stigma surrounding illicit drug use. In spite of that, many drug users have spoke up and worked with police and health officials to help create these sites, he said.

“I just wanted to take my time here to salute the courage of the drug users in the city of Toronto who have fought for so many years to get this service here,” he said. “You are the best of us.”

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Toronto Argos Attendance Problem

I feel I need to preface this entry by stating I'm not a CFL-hater. I was at Pinball's last game, I took my son to see Ricky Williams and I generally root for the Argonauts' success. The fact is, my overall interest in both the CFL and NFL has waned over the past decade. I've learned I'm not really a football guy.

Periodically, someone will argue with me that the Argos are more popular in Toronto than the Raptors. Almost all evidence points to the opposite, and when I'd mention the fact the Argos struggle mightily at the gate, I'd always be told "wait until they're at BMO!".
Well, the Argos played their second regular season game at BMO Field last night in front of 12,373. Last August, when 14,748 attended a game at the dome, The Toronto Star wrote it was "the team’s smallest draw for a Rogers Centre regular-season game since 2003". The excuses for that 14,748 were plentiful, from a lack of marketing dollars to a transfer of ownership.

With an even smaller crowd last night at BMO Field, there are precisely three excuses being bandied about. The first is that it was a hot night, even though it was actually a pleasant temp at BMO Field, which is close to Lake Ontario. The second is that it was a Wednesday night. Funny, but the Raptors never had a problem selling out on Wednesday nights, and they play 41 regular season games at home vs. the Argos' 10. So let's focus on the third excuse, which is that Toronto doesn't particularly care for its CFL team.


I wish this wasn't true, and hoped the move to BMO Field would result in the buzz and attendence TFC enjoys, but 12,373 is a telling number. Afterall, it was only the second regular season game at BMO Field, and the excitement is already gone. And that number, 12,373, is less than the self-imposed Raptors cap on seasons tickets. That's right, there are more Raptors season ticket holders than there were people at the second ever regular season Argo game at BMO Field.

I was kindly offered passes to the first game at BMO Field, but had to decline to attend my son's graduation ceremony. I engaged the Argonauts PR person, suggesting that perhaps I take my kids to last night's game instead, so I could write about the experience here. By all accounts, it's a great venue for football. The response from the Argos left me rather dismayed.

The next time someone tells me Toronto prefers the Argos to the Raptors, I'm not even going to engage. It's not even close, and 12,373 for game number two speaks volumes.
Good luck, Argos. You have plenty of work ahead of you.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rosie DiManno, Toronto Star columnist, charged with assault

BIG Rosie Throws Her Weight Around :)
OPP says 60-year-old was involved in 'physical altercation' in Ontario cottage country

Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno has been charged with assault, a spokesperson for the newspaper confirmed.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) charged DiManno, 60, with assault following a July 12 incident. The OPP said the alleged assault took place on Finnegan Lane in Wollaston Township, Ont., which is approximately 230 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

In a news release, the OPP said a "physical altercation" had taken place between two people who were visitors to the township located in a popular cottage area.

Police have released no details about the incident or alleged victim. Nor did police say if children had been involved in the incident, as DiManno insinuated on Twitter.

The longtime writer tweeted to Toronto radio personality Mike Bullard that: "Children need defending. Can't just allow abuse."

In a separate tweet, DiManno wrote that she "will always defend kids."

DiManno is scheduled to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Bancroft on July 26.

The news of DiManno's arrest broke shortly after Canada's largest newspaper said it had agreed to an independent review of its newsroom culture in the aftermath of the suicide of prominent environmental reporter Raveena Aulakh.

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Man Killed in North York Shooting on Laura Rd. Near Jane st and Sheppard Ave West

One young man was killed and his cousin was wounded in a wild shooting involving two moving vehicles on a North York residential street in broad daylight Wednesday.

Toronto Police say 911 callers initially reported the occupants of the two cars appeared to shooting at each other as they drove south on Laura Rd., near Sheppard Ave. W. and Jane St., just before 5 p.m.

But investigators later determined bullets were only fired from one car.

“There was a black vehicle southbound on Laura Dr., another black vehicle overtook it on the left side and opened fire on it,” Sgt. Rob Duthie, of 31 Division, said at the scene.

He said the car that was being shot took evasive action, steering to the right, jumping the curb and travelling west through Silvio Colello Park before crashing through a chain-link fence and ending up partially in the backyard of a home on Lomar Dr.

Responding officers found one vehicle with two men inside suffering from gunshot wounds.

One victim, 21, was rushed via an emergency run to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The second victim, also 21, was treated in hospital for minor injuries.

Duthie said the two men are cousins and the survivor is cooperating with police.

The shooting is believed to have been targeted.

The second car with the gunman inside fled the area after the shooting, possibly heading east on Sheppard Ave. W.

It is described as a black, four-door, newer-model Honda.

In the aftermath of the shooting, several empty shell casings were strewn across Laura Rd.

A large area, including the street and park, was cordoned off as police gathered evidence and spoke to area residents.

Homicide detectives have taken over the investigation.

The dead man, whose name was not immediately released, is the city’s 37th murder victim of the year and the 24th person killed by gunfire.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Teens and Presto to Blame For Fare Evasion: TTC Union Boss

Teenagers and a poorly-introduced Presto plan are to blame for wide spread fare evasion on the TTC, says transit workers’ union president Bob Kinnear.

Since the TTC stopped requiring children 12 and under to pay to ride the transit system in March 2015, there has been a “free-for-all” as drivers lack the ability to require children to produce identification, said Kinnear, head of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113.

“Children 12 and under have suddenly tripled in our ridership,” he added. “You’ve got 15-year-old kids that have moustaches and beards saying, ‘I’m 12 years old,’ knowing full well ... there’s nothing you can do.”

TTC’s own website even states: “If you are between 13 and 15 years old, you do not need identification to travel.”

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) offers select students with longer travel distances 10 free TTC tickets each week but some don’t even use them.

One 13-year-old, who didn’t want to be named, said his friends never pay to ride the TTC.

“I’ve had a couple of friends who are taller and they’ve stopped them and just said, ‘You’ve got to pay next time.’”

Kinnear, meanwhile, said he believes the Presto card transformation has been “extremely detrimental” to TTC ridership numbers, essentially offering up freebies.

He added that “90% of our system isn’t set up for Presto although we’re recognizing it on 100 per cent of the system.

“I’ve been told for the last couple of months that (TTC operators) are being advised that if anybody has a Presto card, you’re to let them go through if the station or vehicle is not equipped.”

Kinnear said it doesn’t help that while the TTC reports a $25 million budget shortfall and officials threaten a crackdown on fare evaders, TTC employees are given a totally different message.
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Andre Stubbs 'hit me' and demanded money: former prostitute, Toronto BLM Black Lives Matter

She was ripe pickings for the wily scavengers that are human traffickers.

It was 2008 and D.S. — her identity protected by a publication ban — had just been released from jail in Penetanguishene.

Originally from Northern Ontario, the 19-year-old had had a rough childhood — her mom was an addict, her father was unknown and she had been sexually abused as a child.

She was free but now what?

“I didn’t have no money. I was on the street. I was scared,” she told a Toronto court Tuesday.

A vivacious girl who she met on the inside told her to call Andre “Blue” Stubbs if she wanted to make a lot of cash.

“She said I have someone nice for you to meet and he’ll take care of you. She didn’t tell me exactly what ‘making money’ meant. I didn’t know what the game was.”

When D.S. ended up in Toronto — abandoned by a guy when she refused to give him oral sex — she called Stubbs’ number.

It would be the biggest mistake of her life.

Police alleged Stubbs choked her into unconsciousness, burned her arm with a lit cigarette and sliced her Achilles heel with a broken glass while forcing her to work as a prostitute from 2008 until she was discovered bleeding in a midtown apartment in July 2014.

Stubbs has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including human trafficking and sexual assault.

She is 27 now, a beautiful woman who clutches a tissue that she uses often to dab at her eyes.

She works helping victims of sexual violence but now she is describing her own ordeal allegedly at the hands of the man taking notes in the prisoner’s box, who lifts his head of cornrows every so often to smirk at her pain.

“He seemed really nice,” D.S. said, testifying at his judge-alone trial. “I had some hope.”

Stubbs and a friend picked her up, she said, and took her to a hotel in the east end.

Stubbs forced himself on her, despite her insisting that she didn’t want to have sex.

“I was 19. I’ve never slept with anybody. Ever. I’ve never had a boyfriend ever in my life.”

He apologized for hurting her, bought her food, paid for the hotel room, purchased new clothes to replace the jailhouse ones she had left with.

He wooed her — and she fell for it.

“No one had ever bought clothes before,” she said. “I thought I’d found someone really nice to be with.”

But once he reeled her in, he slowly changed.

In a voice she had never heard before, she said Stubbs began by demanding her first welfare cheque.

She refused.

“He hit me on my left cheek and then I gave him the money,” she recalled, pausing to wipe the tears that stubbornly fell. “I felt scared. I’d never been hit in my life by a guy. He was so nice. I never thought he would do something like that.”

It was the first time he had backhanded her, she said, but it wouldn’t be the last.

Stubbs continually told her she needed to start making money.

He bought her several scanty stripper outfits and stiletto heels and took her to a “massage parlour” on Dufferin St. to get a job.

“I didn’t know what it was,” she recalled. “I found out myself what goes on in there.”

Stubbs demanded whatever money she made and struck her when she didn’t immediately hand it over, D.S. said. She didn’t have a choice; she had nowhere else to go.

“I felt broken. I didn’t understand why he had to hit me and take my money. I just didn’t understand.”

He was her boyfriend, she thought. In 2009, she had his nickname tattooed on her shoulder. He refused to do the same.

It was only later that she realized she had been branded as property.

Her testimony continues Wednesday.
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Monday, July 11, 2016

Toronto Real Estate Board Appealing Letting Realtors Post Sales Data

TORONTO - The Toronto Real Estate Board is appealing a landmark ruling by the Competition Tribunal that would allow its realtor members to post sales data online, arguing that the decision violates the privacy of homebuyers and sellers.

The quasi-judicial tribunal ruled back in April that the board stifled competition and digital innovation by preventing its realtor members from posting information on their websites about home sales from its Multiple Listing Service.

The board was ordered last month to include in its home sales data feed information it currently does not disclose, including sales figures, pending sales and broker commissions. Under the tribunal's ruling, realtors would be allowed to share that information, as long as users are required to register to access it, though sellers would be allowed to opt out of having their addresses and listings posted online.

The case, which has been ongoing since 2011, has been closely watched across the country, as it's expected it could affect how other real estate boards provide services to their customers online.

The Toronto Real Estate Board, which filed its appeal with the Federal Court on Friday, said the tribunal "erred in fact and law" when it ruled that the board's practices lessened competition.

"The Toronto Real Estate Board has never done anything but support competition amongst our members, and we've always supported innovation as well," board CEO John DiMichele said in an interview.

The board, which represents about 45,000 realtor members, says its policy is intended to protect personal financial information and argues that posting that online would amount to a breach of consumer privacy laws, including the new Digital Privacy Act that came into effect last year.

"Are you OK with having the sold price of your property, even before it closes, put on the Internet for anyone with an email address to have access to?" said DiMichele.

"If you were in that situation, how would you feel about that?"

The tribunal gave the board until Aug. 3 to comply with its ruling. The board has applied for a stay to postpone that until its appeal is resolved.

"We are working to meet the order deadline and comply," DiMichele said. "But we have serious concerns, as we've laid out, so yes, we are appealing and asking for a stay."

Several realtors said they oppose the appeal, calling it a waste of money and arguing that providing access to the data will make for more informed consumers.

"I'm really not excited about having to pay for an appeal I completely stand against," said Ara Mamourian, owner of real estate brokerage SpringRealty.ca and a member of the Toronto Real Estate Board.

"They've already spent millions of dollars fighting, they've lost and now they're going to spend more money to appeal a decision that's already been made. ... I'm not really sure how much value they're providing to their members by appealing."

Mamourian brushed off the board's assertion about consumer privacy, noting that the information is already available through public records, such as land title documents.

Toronto real estate agent Derek Ladouceur said it's good for consumers to have more information at their fingertips.

"There are a lot of agents out there that don't want to hold back that information," Ladouceur said. "We want our clients to be armed with it, because we want them to make better choices." 
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TTC Brass Blame Economy for Ridership Drop

So Wynn and Tory are Not Doing a Good Job?

TORONTO - It’s the economy, stupid.

At least that’s what TTC brass think might — in part — be behind a steady drop in ridership which has put the agency in a $25-million budget hole.

CEO Andy Byford says May’s ridership numbers, which dropped by .05% compared to May 2015, point to somewhere between 8 million and 13 million fewer rides than the 553 million projected in the 2016 budget.

Byford said that while the city’s economy isn’t the only reason for the drop, it does play a role.

“A lot of the jobs that have been added have been part-time jobs and those people don’t buy Metropasses,” Byford told TTC commissioners at a meeting Monday.

The agency has started belt-tightening exercises to battle the budget gap. That includes cancelling plans for some service enhancements.

Byford has also restricted all out-of-town travel, and existing job vacancies will be subject to scrutiny before being filled.

Councillor Joe Mihevc pressed Byford for more details on the shortfall.

“Toronto is an isolated case, we’re booming,” Mihevc said to Byford. “We’re going up but TTC ridership is going down. I’m just finding that to be a weak argument.”

“It’s not an exact correlation,” Byford replied. “But what you tend to find if the economy drops off, then the ridership drops off.”

Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong said the agency needs to have a more precise way of understanding drops in ridership. If the TTC can’t do it now, it should look at developing a way in the future, he said.

“Large organizations that spend money in the billions of dollars can generally assess with a high level of accuracy where they’re losing money so they can correct that action,” he said. “I would like to see that same precision applied to the TTC.”

In the end, the commission asked TTC staff to examine the issue of falling ridership and report in the fall. It also adopted a recommendation to beef up enforcement of fare evasion.

TTC Chairman Josh Colle warned that inspectors will now start handing fare evaders tickets instead of engaging them in “educational encounters.”

“I think the measure we’re trying to get out today is that the current approach is going to change,” he said. “Fare evaders be warned: The education period is over and you’re going to be getting a ticket.”
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tackling Toronto Community Housing Thugs Still Stalled

TCHC Canada's Worst Slum Landloards.

TORONTO - He talked tough about getting rid of drug-dealing thugs who have taken control of some Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) properties when his task force released their report last July 15.

Mayor John Tory said at the time that he’d like to see some of the legislative changes “in process” by the end of 2015 — ones that would make it easier to not only keep convicted drug dealers from coming back to live in public housing but also from trespassing on TCHC property.

“This is urgent. This affects the safety and security of the thousands of people who live in these communities, so by the end of the year I want to see some progress being made,” he said.

Former Task Force secretary Phil Gillies, now a consultant with Enterprise Public Affairs, says the need to evict drug dealers was “front and centre” in their July 2015 report.

But the Toronto Sun has learned that one year later almost nothing has been done to tackle the very legislative changes to the Housing and Trespass to Property Acts that TCHC officials say are preventing them from evicting drug dealers (and gangbangers) known to police or convicted in court — and ensuring they stay out.

Inquiries to TCHC, city and provincial officials last week revealed the province has not even been approached to enact any changes. Exactly what shape those changes will take appears to be stalled at City Hall.

Mark Cripps, a spokesman for the municipal affairs and housing ministry, confirmed they have not received any “formal request” to change the legislation.

According to TCHC reports, interim CEO Greg Spearn sent a letter to Toronto’s city manager last September outlining the changes needed.

Peter Notaro, an executive director in the city manager’s office, said officials have since discovered that the proposed changes will have an impact on the entire homeless service system and need to be considered “within the broader context” of the city’s final response to the task force (which won’t be releasing its report until the end of 2016).

“City staff also agreed any direction to advocate for change in legislation would need to be approved by council,” he added, noting legislative changes won’t happen in 2016 (never mind the end of 2015).

This shameful exercise in foot-dragging doesn’t surprise me. Nevertheless, tell that to the many TCHC residents I’ve interviewed in the past year who say they’re being held hostage in their buildings by drug dealers and other criminals.

For example, one Lawrence Heights resident I spoke to last week has been living in fear since an 18-year-old who helped stab another man to death two years ago came back to TCHC to live with his mom following a plea bargain.

She said she’s constantly concerned about her 13-year-old daughter’s safety.

“I haven’t slept in two years,” she told me. “We don’t invite visitors over either because we don’t want to compromise their safety.”

Gillies said that while working on the task force, he staked out buildings late at night and saw dealers drive up in their BMWs with wads of cash, making “no secret of what they were doing.”

“They know all the tricks ... they squeeze as much money out of these people (with addiction problems) as they can,” he says. “It’s appalling.”

TCHC officials have tinkered around the edges of the problem by beefing up their complement of community safety officers from 81 to 99, installing high-resolution security cameras, conducting safety audits on buildings, and working to more than double the number of joint TCHC/police patrols this year.

After the establishment of a committee last year to look at at-cause evictions, Graham Leah, TCHC’s vice-president of resident services, created a new procedure at the end of May to “ensure the appropriate action is taken” to address anti-social behaviour and illegal activity in TCHC units.

TCHC spokesman Lisa Murray said the new procedure set out which staff members are to carry out each specific step and the timelines in which they are to be completed in order to pursue evictions.

“The new eviction-for-cause procedures strengthen the overall management of evictions-for-cause matters so that the best cases possible can be taken to the LTB (Landlord and Tenant Board) ... and (we can) successfully secure eviction orders,” she said.

But a TCHC insider wonders why TCHC hasn’t done this before considering the provincial tribunal responsible for mediating landlord and tenant disputes hasn’t changed its requirements.

The insider said it’s not difficult to evict for cause — but landlords need to be careful “to present a good case.”

“They’re (TCHC officials) just not motivated to do it,” added the insider, who believes the culture at TCHC is to deny the seriousness of the “problem of gangs, drugs and prostitution” at their properties.

The insider also said officials are unable to respond in a “flexible and creative” manner to address the criminality as soon as it comes to their attention.

“TCHC really needs to get serious about getting dealers out,” insisted Gillies. “They have any number of excuses for not doing it and I say nonsense.

“Why should law-abiding residents have to put up with it?”

EVICTIONS FOR CAUSE FROM TCHC UNITS



•Legislation that needed to be changed:

    The Housing Services Act: The act must be changed to ensure those evicted for criminal activity are not allowed back as a resident in a TCHC building for a certain period of time.
    The Trespass to Property Act: The act must be changed to allow landlords to bar drug dealers and gangbangers from any building common areas.

•Types of eviction notices:

    N5: Ends tenancy for interfering with others (noise), damage or overcrowding.
    N6: Ends tenancy for illegal acts.
    N7: Ends tenancy for causing serious problems in rental unit or complex.

•Notices served in 2015:

    N5: 236.
    N6: 103.
    N7: 139.

•Number of cases in 2015 where units returned to TCHC: 80 (Sometimes agreements reached without having to pursue eviction process).

•Number of evictions for cause in 2015: 42 (breakdown between noise issues and illegal acts not provided*).

•Number of incidents reported in 2015:

    Crime against persons: 768 (up 10% from 2014).
    Crime against property: 2,406 (up 40% from 2014*).

*Figures taken from 2015 annual performance report
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Story Behind Casa Loma, Toronto

The other evening my wife and I attended a wonderful performance by the Toronto Concert Orchestra led by maestro Kerry Stratton at a local venue that many people would never consider being all that appropriate for Viennese waltzes, rousing polkas and beautiful vocals. That is unless you’ve been to Schönbrunn in Vienna or The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia where castles do offer a perfect setting for this type of music. While the venue we attended for the concert isn’t a real castle, at least not in the true meaning of the word, Casa Loma is as close as this city will ever get to one. And to think we almost lost this incredible landmark for few dollars to pay back taxes.

But let me start at the beginning. As noted, the “author” of our castle story was the bizarre yet fascinating Henry Pellatt.

Born in Kingston in 1839, young Henry moved with his family to Toronto where he attended Upper Canada College back when it was on King St W. Henry eventually joined his father’s very successful brokerage firm where he was to become one of the young nation’s most successful businessmen.

In an effort to outshine his fellow millionaires Sir Henry (his knighthood was awarded in 1905 to honour Henry’s commitment to and promotion of Canada’s military of the day) commissioned a 98-room mansion on which he spent $1.7 million (today more than $40 million). After living in his “castle” for about a decade, Sir Henry realized that the burden placed on his financial resources following the city’s market value re-assessment and the subsequent huge increase in his property tax bill. He decided to abandon the place. Sir Henry died in 1939 in the backroom of his former chauffeur’s Mimico residence.

For the next decade several plans for Casa Loma were put forward by several developers but none panned out. Fed up with this “white elephant” several city politicians demanded it be torn down and the money received placed in the city coffers.

Fortunately, the majority of city council really didn’t know what to do with the place until years later it was thrown a rescue line by the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto. In 1937 Kiwanis committed to operating Casa Loma as a tourist attraction which its members did for the next 74 years. During that time the city spent millions on the castle’s upkeep.

However, times were changing and the city wanted out of the tourist attraction business. To that end in 2012 local city councillors Josh Matlow and Joe Mihevc helped negotiate a business arrangement whereby the highly successful Liberty Group (Rosewater Club, Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place) would commit to spend more than $7 million (more than four times what Sir Henry spent on building and fitting out the place) to upgrade the castle in various ways. A concert venue in the Casa Loma’s “Glass Pavilion” is just one of those ways.

If you haven’t visit Casa Loma for some time you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what the Liberty Group has done with the place. And I’m told there’s more to come.
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Toronto Mayor John Tory Pledges to Support Some 'revenue tools' Later This Year

John "Cacciatore" Tory is really a "Tax and Spend" LIEberal.

Transit doesn’t come cheap.

And it certainly isn’t free says John Tory. So council will have to pay for it with new taxes, the mayor said, speaking candidly to the Toronto Sun about his plan to pay for 15 years worth of transit construction.

“I will come forward and it will be this year, calendar 2016, with my own thoughts,” he said on the so-called “revenue tools” he favours to raise the cash.

Tory has promised property taxes will remain at or around the rate of inflation. But he’s not ruled out a slew of other measures including a hotel tax, alcohol tax or entertainment tax for example. All of the options have been explored in a report from accounting firm KPMG which goes to council this week.

“It will be largely focused on long-term stuff,” Tory said his eventual plan. “These are not meant to be remedies for short-term issues.”

In all, council has a $29 billion capital shortfall for promised city projects, including Tory’s SmartTrack transit plan and the downtown relief line.

Tory also said he’d like to get a third-party review of the costs of those projects, and the Scarborough subway, to ensure the estimates are accurate. City staff have said that with only 5% of planning and design work done on the transit projects, their multi-billion dollar price tags could escalate by as much as 35%.

“I think you need to get someone who is totally objective and ask them to look because I’m optimistic there’s a chance you could actually bring the cost down for beginners,” he said. “And then whether it went up after that because time goes on, I can’t say. I hope not.”
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Thursday, July 7, 2016

CNE in Toronto Nixes Decision to End Free Admission for People With Disabilities

Admission to the Canadian National Exhibition will remain free this year for those with disabilities.

The Ex made headlines earlier this week after posting on its website a change of policy that would have ended free admission for those with disabilities.

The original posting — which has now been removed from the CNE’s website — said individuals with disabilities would be charged an admission fee while their caregivers would continue to receive free entry.

The CNE said it was “seeking to align our policy with those in place at other attractions and events in the region.”

But on Thursday, the organization said on its website that the admissions policy will remain the same for 2016.

“Those with disabilities, along with their attendants, will be granted free admission,” the new post from the CNE said.

“Over the last couple of days, CNE customers and members of the broader community have shown considerable interest in, and provided valuable feedback regarding the proposed changes to the admissions policy.”

The annual fair will be hosting public consultations in the fall regarding admissions for persons with disabilities.

The CNE runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5 at Exhibition Place.
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Toronto Councillor Mark Grimes Broke Bode of Conduct: Integrity Commissioner

Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner has ruled Councillor Mark Grimes violated city rules twice in his dealings with developers, including appearing in a promotional video for one.

Integrity Commissioner Valerie Jepson found that the Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Ward 6) councillor violated council’s code of conduct in two separate incidents involving developers — one in 2011 and another in 2014. While she says council should adopt her findings at its session next week, no formal penalty is recommended.

Jepson investigated a complaint lodged by a member of the public related to Grimes, in one instance, appearing in a promotional video for a developer and, in another separate case, lowering community benefit fees to the tune of $100,000 for another developer outside of regular city practices.

Jepson said that Grimes should not have appeared in the promotional video for developer Empire Communities to help promote a project on Lakeshore Blvd. in 2014. The video is one of a series which encourages people to buy condos and while Jepson rules Grimes did not stand to gain monetarily, it was an improper use of his influence as a councillor.

When a councillor supports a developer in this way it creates the perception he has a stake in the project’s interest, she said.

“This perception can be damaging to the trust and confidence that the public has in City Council’s decision-making processes as it relates to land use planning,” she said.

Grimes told Jepson when he appeared in the video his intention was to promote the ward, not the developer.

In the second instance, Grimes moved a motion at the July 22, 2011 city council meeting that lowered the community development fees paid by a developer, Davies Smith Developments, from $250,000 to $150,000. Grimes had negotiated a “verbal agreement” with the developer to cut $100,000 from the agreement in exchange for work on a nearby park.

The complainant accused him of misleading council during the meeting by saying city staff was “OK” with the change. City staff testified during Jepsen’s probe that the matter was an issue for council to resolve, not something staff should weigh-in on.

“Councillor Grimes could have more accurately explained the context of the Motion; however, I find that he did not intentionally misrepresent staff’s position on the merits of the Motion,” Jepson writes, noting there is no evidence Grimes gained any private advantage.

But Jepson ruled that the way in which Grimes negotiated lowering the fees for the developer was outside of, and contrary to, the Community Benefits Policy, which is a violation of council’s code of conduct.

In both instances Grimes apologized for his conduct, she notes.

“The investigation has caused the Councillor to review his practices and to learn from this experience, all of which will cause him to approach these kinds of circumstances differently in the future,” Jepson said.

Request for comment from Grimes was not returned by press time on Thursday.
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Postmedia aims to eliminate $307 million in debt with recapitalization plan

Postmedia Network Inc., has proposed a recapitalization plan that would reduce its total debt obligation by $307 million, putting the country's largest newspaper publisher on sounder financial footing.

The plan, announced Thursday, would extend the maturity date on Postmedia's first lien notes -- 80% of which are owned by Richmond Hill, Ont.- based Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. -- by four years to July 2021, reducing them to $225 million with a cash repayment of $78 million at par.

For Postmedia's second lien notes, the deal would write off US$268 million in debt by exchanging them for shares, turning those creditors into the company's majority shareholders. New York-based investment firms GoldenTree Asset Management LP and Riverpark Advisors LLC, as well as Berlin-based firm Allianz SE, are among the current second-lien debt-holders.

The proposed deal would also bring in $110 million of new capital invested in the form of U.S. dollar-denominated second-lien notes, which will come due in July 2023.

The plan would provide Postmedia -- owner of the Sun newspapers -- with some breathing room amidst financial turmoil for the newspaper business in general as print advertising revenue declines.

"This will result in a stronger company with reduced indebtedness," CEO Paul Godfrey said. "We've got new money being poured into this business. There's a sense of confidence. This gives us a lot of hope for the future."

In April, the company announced it would undertake a review to consider asset sales, as well as debt and equity restructuring, after it incurred losses of $225.1 million in the the second quarter of the 2016 fiscal year. On Thursday, Postmedia reported a loss of $23.7 million in the three months ending May 31.

The newspaper publisher currently owes about $650 million to its creditors -- half of that in U.S. dollars -- and has faced double-digit year-over-year declines in print advertising revenues.

The debt, under current arrangements, must be paid or refinanced by July 2018, including a $313-million debt maturity in August 2017.

Godfrey said meetings will take place in August to consider and vote on the plan of arrangement. He said the company has the support of "more than 80% of the first-lien noteholders and second-lien noteholders for the recapitalization transaction." Godfrey said that approximately 75% of Postmedia shareholders support the proposal.

If implemented, Postmedia said the transaction will see its annual cash interest expense reduced by approximately $50 million.

On a conference call for investors, Godfrey said the ownership change that would result from the proposed debt for stock swap will not impact Postmedia's ability to meet regulatory requirements limiting foreign ownership.



Godfrey said the new second-lien notes will allow the company to mitigate "the risk associated with the upcoming maturities" on its existing first- and second-lien debt. Among investors in the new second lien notes is New Jersey-based Chatham Asset Management.

Godfrey confirmed that GoldenTree, which was reported to be shopping around its stake in Postmedia, is not involved in the purchase of new notes.

Both GoldenTree and Canso declined to comment.

"After a thorough review process, consultation with our advisers and careful consideration of all of our options, the special committee has recommended, and the board of directors has unanimously approved, the proposed recapitalization transaction," said Rod Phillips, chair of Postmedia's board in a statement.

"We believe that the recapitalization transaction allows Postmedia to move forward with a much stronger capital structure."

In April 2015, Postmedia completed a $316-million deal to buy 173 Sun Media publications from Quebecor Media Inc, which it said would improve its financial strength and free cash flow.

In January of this year, Postmedia announced it was merging newsrooms in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, and laid off 90 staff. Godfrey said the company has no plans to sell or merge any more of its newspaper operations, although it has put real estate up for sale which is says is worth $40 to $50 million.

"We will have the ability to invest more," said Godfrey. "It will probably be in the area of the digital world rather than the print world. But everything at this time is hypothetical: the crystal ball we have is not totally clear."

Postmedia's third quarter revenue was $218.3 million, up 6.4% from $205.1 million last year. However, excluding the impact of the Sun acquisition, revenue fell 12.9% to $128.8 million.

The company also reported substantial decreases in print advertising revenue of $14.7 million (19.4%) and print circulation revenue of $3.1 million (6.8%), as well as a marginal decline in digital revenue of $0.5 million (2.4%).

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Inside the Mississauga explosion blast site at 4201 Hickory Dr. near Dixie and Rathburn

Eight days after a home explosion rocked a quiet Mississauga neighbourhood, all residences have been released to their homeowners.

But residents who live in at least 69 homes — 37 houses and 32 units in an apartment building across from the blast — still can’t move back in.

Around 700 homes were originally evacuated in the wake of the June 28 blast.

Mississauga Fire Chief Tim Beckett said the return of residents to the remaining 69 addresses depends on what work needs to be done on the homes.

“There’s a number of work orders that need to happen,” he said Wednesday. “It can be as simple as the windows in the window frames need to be taken care of, to the point where they have engineers and structural assessments done.”

Beckett joined Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and local councillor Chris Fonseca on a media tour of Hickory Dr., in the Dixie-Rathburn Rds. neighbourhood.

It was Crombie’s first time surveying the scene since the blast claimed the lives of two people and obliterated one home. Nine people suffered minor injuries.

“I think we were also very fortunate that the blast happened at 4:20 p.m.,” Crombie said. “In another hour, more residents would have been home from their workplaces and we could have sustained more (injuries).”

Meanwhile, authorities still can’t say what caused the explosion. That investigation is being led by Peel Regional Police and the Ontario fire marshal’s office.

Peel police confirmed they had no update for the media on Wednesday.

Plywood covered windows and doors of some homes on Hickory Dr.

The two homes on either side of what the fire chief called “ground zero” were severely damaged.

“Structural engineers will come in and start to assess if anything can be saved, but by looking at the damage, we know there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on this,” said Beckett.

A neighbouring townhouse complex was also affected — one brick wall directly behind the blast site was taken out by an air conditioning unit.

“We saw a bath tub on a roof,” Beckett said. “We were picking papers up from quite a distance.”

Debris still littered the roofs of some homes around the blast site, where the bodies of Robert Nadler and Diane Page were uncovered last week.

Back in the 1980s, Nadler pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of a friend.

The city of Mississauga said any residents looking for information can call 311, or visit a mobile community information centre at the corner of Rathburn Rd. and Hickory Dr.
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