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Burlington residents hoping to raise $2M for flood relief – Toronto

TORONTO – The city of Burlington hopes to raise $2 million in a fundraising campaign to help homeowners who suffered damage from the August 4 flood.

The city estimates more than 5,000 basements were flooded, with almost 500 residents caught with insufficient or no home insurance.

Eric Edge is one of those in need.  In the three years he has lived in his home near Guelph Line and the QEW, he has had three sewage backups.

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After the second incident, he was cut off from flood insurance, leaving him with no coverage when effluent poured in through a drain on the August holiday.

Edge showed Global News the lingering effects:  mould inside a cabinet and along baseboards.  His bedroom is in the basement but he and his wife do not have the money to move out until it is fixed.

“It’s not healthy.  We’re stuck here,” he said.

Dry wall that was only installed a few months ago after the second flood now must be ripped out. He cannot afford to pay a recovery company to do the work, so he is calling upon friends to assist him in clearing out the basement.

He believes it makes no sense to do repairs again until a permanent solution is found to the continuing backups.

“I’ve had three city floods.  I don’t think I should be responsible for that,” he said.

Watch previous stories on the Burlington flood

02:01

News Hour Toronto

Burlington Flood Update

01:51

Basement

Neighbours help ease the burden following Burlington flash floods

03:25

Weather

Burlington residents pump, vacuum and dig out of mess left by Monday flood

01:04

Weather

Burlington hit with flooding after heavy rain

00:43

Weather

Radar timelapse of massive storm that hit Burlington

02:07

News At Noon Toronto

Burlington cleaning up after record rainstorm

04:48

News Final Toronto

Burlington under water




Edge was one of about 100 residents who attended a public meeting in which the city reported on efforts to assist the needy.  He demanded to know when affected homeowners could expect help.

City officials say they have already raised about $450,000 in donations and hope to reach $2 million by October 4.

“There’s only one solution: raise money quickly, period,” said campaign director Wayne Hussey.

Burlington has applied for further assistance from the province under the Ontario Disaster Assistance Relief Program. If approved, Queen’s Park could deliver up to $2 for every one raised by the city.

Mayor Rick Goldring said even if the city reaches their goal it would not cover all the losses but would mitigate the costs for those most affected.

Global News asked the mayor whether Edge’s continuing problems with sewage backups indicated that hard questions need to be asked about the adequacy of municipal infrastructure.

“Absolutely.  There needs to be a very detailed analysis of what happened,” said Goldring.

It can take up to a year for the province to decide whether a municipality qualifies for disaster funding, but the mayor said he is hopeful to get a ruling within months.  The Flood Disaster Relief Committee plans to start distributing cheques by mid-September.

Edge is talking to the city about installing a backflow preventer that could stop another deluge of sewage.  He would have to pay half, about $5000, but said his city councillor is lobbying to get it for him with no charge, given his repeated floods.

Burlington residents seeking information on how to apply for assistance can find the required form at: 杭州夜生活burlingtonfoundation杭州夜网.  Or call 905-639-0744, ext. 223

December? Later? Tories won’t say when they’ll respond to Ashley Smith recommendations – National

OTTAWA – The Conservative government refuses to say when it will respond to more than 100 recommendations made by a coroner’s inquest that ruled teenage inmate Ashley Smith’s death a homicide almost nine months ago.

While Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney indicated in May his government would respond in December, a spokesman for his department wouldn’t commit to a timeline this week.

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“The Government of Canada directed Corrections Service Canada to fully cooperate with the Coroner’s inquest,” spokesman Jean-Christophe De La Rue said in an email.

“Corrections Service Canada will respond to the Coroner’s inquest in due course.”

READ MORE: Prison officials won’t reveal Ashley Smith details, 7 years after her death

An Ontario coroner’s jury ruled in December the 19-year-old inmate’s death a homicide and made 104 recommendations aimed at preventing similar tragedies.

Smith, a self-harming inmate who was transferred 17 times during her 11 months in federal custody, died when she strangled herself at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont. Prison guards, acting on orders not to enter, stood outside her cell and watched.

“Every time you think it can’t get worse, it does,” said Kim Pate, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society, who advocates for female inmates.

“The Canadian public should be outraged that now, as we’re almost seven years since Ashley died, we still don’t have any assurances that these sorts of deaths won’t continue to occur.”

Key coroner’s recommendations include:

–  transferring inmates with serious mental health issues or self-injurious behaviour to federally run treatment facilities;

–  not requiring frontline staff to seek authorization if they determine immediate intervention is required to save a life;

–  abolishing indefinite solitary confinement, prohibiting long-term segregation of more than 15 days and making the conditions of segregation the least restrictive possible.

Last spring, Blaney tasked a deputy minister steering committee with reviewing the recommendations and improving mental health services for inmates.

The committee is comprised of public safety, health, justice and Parole Board of Canada officials, as well as the commissioner of Correctional Service of Canada, along with a second group at the assistant-deputy level.

The minister also announced a two-bed pilot project at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Brockville, Ont. After the project was put on hold, it appears a formal agreement is still not yet in place.

The provincial treatment centre has only recently received its first female inmate – Marlene Carter, a mentally offender from Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre.

READ MORE: Canada’s psychiatric prisons have highest death, assault rates

Howard Sapers, Canada’s prison watchdog, said he’s been in touch with department officials and they’re still going through the recommendations. He believes the work will be completed by December.

“As far as I know, the government is still working towards an end of December deadline. I have not been advised of anything to the contrary,” Saper said in an interview.

“The decision around the acceptance or the rejection of any of the jury’s recommendations will be made by the minister and the government of Canada.”

Sapers said he hopes the government can make some changes immediately, such as ending long-term segregation of mentally ill offenders and instituting 24/7 health care in all multi-level institutions. He’s been calling for both of these for years.

“I’m very hopeful that the government will be moving rapidly,” he said.

“I don’t believe that they have to wait until they’re in a position to positively respond to all of the recommendations when they can start working on some of them immediately.”

Sask. NDP wants provincial auditor to investigate smart meter program

REGINA – The Opposition NDP is calling on the Saskatchewan government to enlist the provincial auditor to do an investigation into the smart meter program.

Currently the Crown Investment Corporation is undertaking the investigation, but NDP leader Cam Broten says this is unacceptable.

The province ordered SaskPower to replace all 105-thousand installed smart meters after at least nine fires are believed to be related to the devices.

The minister responsible for SaskPower, Bill Boyd, says if the provincial auditor wants to investigate, the province won’t stop it.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Friends of hit-and-run victim fundraising for funeral expenses – Toronto

TORONTO -Munyaradzi Sithole was recently killed in a hit-and-run on St. Clair Avenue. Now his friends are trying to pay for his body to be flown back to his native Zimbabwe.

Sithole,  had just finished his master’s thesis at the University of Waterloo in Geological Information Systems came to spend his thirty-first birthday weekend in Toronto on Friday.

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That day he hung out with Gershem Muhlandhla and later that evening, he met up with some other friends at a bar. But things went terribly wrong as the night was coming to an end. Sithole was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run.

Muhlandhla says he was supposed to meet Sithole on Saturday morning, but when he didn’t show up, he started searching for him. When a friend called him to say he’d heard about an accident on St. Clair Avenue near Weston Road, on the radio, Muhlandhla went online to check the news.

“Immediately the camera went down to the ground and they showed this shoe, you see he had his own style, I knew the shoe right away,” Muhlandhla said as he stood by a roadside memorial.

Muhlandhla says he knows Sithole’s family back in Zimbabwe and has been trying to explain to them what happened,

“To try to fill in the gaps, why now, it was his birthday, I mean who dies on his birthday, the family wants to know, couldn’t somebody have been with him, who hit him, who’s this person did they stop,” he said.

Police recovered the minivan believed to be involved in the hit and run near Dixon Road and Highway 427 and on Tuesday, the driver turned himself into police. Thirty-three year old Owen Thompson has been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death.

Vee Chakabveyo, a cousin of Sithole’s in Cambridge says she spoke to the family on Wednesday morning.

“They are heartbroken but at the same time, they have this hope, of getting to say goodbye once we are able to send him back to them,” she said.

She says Sithole recently told his sister he was going to become a Canadian citizen.

Family and friends have now set up a memorial fund to help pay for funeral expenses including the cost of flying Sithole’s body back to Africa. The goal is $30,000. So far they’ve raised $18,000.

Deadline concern over Vendome metro $1.7 million overhaul – Montreal

MONTREAL — Montreal is planning a major overhaul of the Vendome metro station that will affect thousands of transit users from the West Island and improve access to the McGill University Health Centre superhospital… but some question whether the work will be completed on time.

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As many commuters already know, getting around Montreal by car is tough enough at the best of times; but the repeated call by public officials for people to use mass transit doesn’t always make commuting an easy alternative.

Now, some transit officials are trying to change that.

Montreal’s public transit corporation, the STM, is granting a $1.7 million contract to renovate the Vendome metro station and make it easier for commuters to navigate.

Some of the measures call for widening the stairwells, moving the turnstile to a new location and creating more space for commuters to move around.

“The station has to be changed so it’s easier for people to access and leave,” STM vice-chairman Marvin Rotrand said outside of the company’s head office.

Rotrand said that the STM projects a 35 per cent increase in ridership at the Vendome metro station alone by 2017.

The construction is slated to be finished in time for the scheduled opening of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) superhospital next spring.

The AMT is also supposed to award a $1.7 million contract in the coming weeks to build a tunnel beneath the commuter railroad tracks to link the Vendome metro station with the hospital.

But at least one Montreal city councillor isn’t impressed with the timeframe for the work.

Peter McQueen questions why the work hasn’t already been done. He fears it may not finish in time for the opening of the MUHC’s prized new health care facilities.

“That we’re doing this so late is ridiculous,” McQueen, the councillor representing NDG, said from the Vendome station.

While commuters welcome the pending changes to the station, some are concerned about meeting deadlines.

“You’re going to have to do it in stages because you have all these people using it, so you can’t do it all at once or else you’d have to shut the whole thing down,” Chris Buehrle said inside the Vendome station.

“So I think trying to redirect traffic is going to be a big challenge for them.”

Construction is slated to begin next month.

NSCC students hope for jobs at home – Halifax

HALIFAX – First year students at Nova Scotia Community College are hoping for jobs in the province when they complete their welding diplomas.

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In the past, students who completed skilled trades programs in Nova Scotia often went west to finish apprenticeships and find well paying jobs. Experts suggesting that out-migration significantly contributed to Nova Scotia’s so-called ‘brain drain’. In fact,  in his February 2014 report, Ray Ivany highlighted the impact of students leaving for work is having on the provincial economy.

Now, with a new semester beginning, the province and students are hoping that new opportunities will stem that tide and  bring some people back.

Chief among those new opportunities is the Irving Shipyard’s deal with the Federal Government to build ships that could be worth up to $25 billion.

“I’m planning on staying in Nova Scotia with my five year-old who’s just starting school and with the shipbuilding that does give me security to stay here,” said Chastity Husbands, a first year welding student.

The province says it’s not only hoping to keep young Nova Scotians who are getting their skilled trades training, but it’s also hoping to bring back those who have already left.

“It’s a one-two punch, you know getting our young Nova Scotians thinking about trades and its also about bringing some of the old folks home who have been training elsewhere,” said Labour and Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan.

$5k ticket for streaking? Police warn frosh week rituals can be costly – Toronto

TORONTO – Add mooning and prank calls to the list of back-to-school expenses university students should plan for.

A Toronto-area police force is warning students about the hidden cost of some questionable frosh-week rituals such as streaking and putting cement in a public washing machine – both of which carry fines of up to $5,000.

York Regional Police say forcing a pet to smoke marijuana, for example, could cost thousands in fines and involve jail time, while the price of “dropping excessive bass at 4 a.m.” depends on “how excessive” it is.

Among the most affordable offences are hiding in a Walmart after closing time and “climbing onto the roof of the math wing,” both punishable by a $65 fine.

Others – including mooning, defacing faculty portraits and urinating in a neighbour’s yard – carry much heftier price tags of up to $5,000.

And a few, such as buying beer for underage siblings or starting a bonfire with a dorm-room sofa, could land students behind bars.

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©2014The Canadian Press

Canadian militants reportedly involved in capture of U.S. journalists – National

Canadians who left home to fight with Islamist militant groups in Syria have been linked to the kidnapping of two U.S. journalists.

Three Canadians who are said to have joined the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nursra, were “directly involved in the holding and harsh interrogation” of Peter Theo Curtis and Matthew Schrier, according to CBC.

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Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, released Curtis on Sunday after 22 months in captivity. Schrier escaped from the extremist group in August 2013, after being held hostage for 210 days.

At the time of his abduction, Curtis was working as a freelance journalist covering the Syrian civil war. He was kidnapped in Turkey, in Oct. 2012, while trying to cross into Syria.

Schrier was covering the war as a freelance journalist, when Jabhat al-Nusra militants captured him.

CBC reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources, the Canadians involved in Curtis and Shrier’s captivity “reportedly forced the hostages to hand over their computers’ passwords and PINs, drained their accounts” and used their credit cards to buy computers and other electronics online.

The captors also posed as the hostages, writing messages to their families, the sources cited in the report said.

While Curtis has not discussed the identities of his captors, Schrier told the New York Times, in the wake of the Islamic State’s beheading of U.S. freelance journalist James Foley, he suspected his interrogators were Canadian.

READ MORE: Tech insider says firms plan to ‘scrub the web’ of grisly videos

The Canadian government has on several occasions expressed concern about Canadians travelling abroad to take part in terrorism-related activities, in particular those joining groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State.

The federal government, like those of the United States and United Kingdom, believe radicalized Canadians returning from the Middle East could pose a threat to national security.

In its 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, Public Safety Canada announced plans to carry out “targeted early interventions” against young people who “have not yet crossed the threshold into violent activity.”

READ MORE: John Baird pledges $15 million to help with Iraq security

The Canadian government said it is aware of at least 130 Canadian passport holders who are currently involved in “suspected” terrorism-related activities overseas. The CBC report suggests that number is more likely between 200 and 300, while approximately 80 who have returned to Canada for various reasons.

“Some may have engaged in paramilitary activities. Others may have studied in extremist schools, raised money or otherwise supported terrorist groups. Some had their travel interrupted by financial issues, injuries or outside intervention and may plan to travel again. Some extremist travellers never achieved their goals and simply returned to Canada,” the report stated, adding not all extremist travellers pose a direct security threat.

READ MORE: How the feds plan to stop Canadians from joining extremist groups

The federal government also made it a crime for Canadian passport holders who leave or attempt to leave Canada to fight with terrorist groups.

In July, Hasibullah Yusufzai, a 25-year-old man from Burnaby, B.C., became the first person charged under Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act.

Yusufzai reportedly left Canada for Syria in January. He was charged in absentia and will be arrested if he returns to Canada.

Here’s how the loonie’s plunge will hit consumer prices – National

A sideshow to oil’s dramatic plunge has been the no-less-meaningful decline in the Canadian dollar, a process that could counter many of the benefits falling oil prices bring consumers.

The dollar declined more than a quarter of percent to just under 83.5 cents U.S. Wednesday – the weakest exchange rate in nearly six years. Experts suggest the loonie will remain around the low-80 cent level for months, if not decline further.

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For every single product or service that’s imported into the country or priced in U.S. dollars, that means their real cost is climbing.

READ MORE: Here’s what’s in store for supermarket prices next year

New vehicles, machinery, agricultural products as well as fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, snack foods and red meat are just a few products that stand to feel upward pressure on prices amid the loonie’s fall.

Even the much-touted benefits of lower pump prices are diminished because of the dollar’s decline—Canada is a net importer of refined gasoline (which is priced in U.S. dollars).

“It could keep them a tad higher than they otherwise would be,” Robert Kavcic, an economist at Bank of Montreal said of gas prices.

Time of impact

Still, when prices will be affected by the most recent currency swings depends on what products you’re talking about.

There’s also a myriad of other factors that determine whether consumer costs move up or down, not least market-based dynamics like competition as well as supply of goods.

Durable goods

Big ticket items, like new vehicles, furniture and appliances may not feel the effect of the lower dollar for several months to come, experts say. That’s how long it will take for the weaker dollar to wind its way through the businesses making or producing the products.

Big orders and contracts have been signed months in advance at previously agreed upon prices. Those aren’t likely to be renegotiated.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” BMO’s Kavcic said. “It might take six to eight months to flow through.”

Then again, for durable goods being imported using U.S. dollars now, like foreign cars, they could immediately see their sticker prices rise as importers flow their increased costs onto retail prices.

Food and clothes

Food and clothing are two retail categories that will feel the heat more quickly from the currency’s swoon. So-called non-durable goods are imported in high volumes and are more subject to currency fluctuations than durable goods, experts say.

Experts at the University of Guelph said last month they expect meat and produce price inflation of between 3 and 5 per cent this year, or growth rates that could be double the pace of inflation.

That call still stands. For now.

“We were expecting the currency to drop against the greenback, but not this quickly,” Sylvain Charlebois, a food industry professor at the University of Guelph, said. “If the loonie continues its spectacular decent, we may need to revise our forecast.”

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The lower dollar also discourages cross-border shopping, meaning retailers aren’t competing with lower-priced retailers in the United States.

“There’s going to be a lot less pressure on retailers now to match that U.S. pricing,” BMO’s Kavcic said.

Inflation outlook

Still, determining whether or not the consumer benefits of lower oil are outweighed by the drawbacks from a declining loonie is difficult if not impossible task, experts suggest.

The official inflation reading, which tracks prices on a wide basket of consumer goods, is expected to come in around 2 per cent in 2015 – a slightly lower reading than last year. The loonie’s descent is being offset by oil’s, which has the opposite effect on consumer prices by cutting costs, Kavcic said.

“The flipside is that you have oil down 60 per cent and that’s going to dampen inflation.”

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Group want sculptures at Muzik nightclub moved onto public grounds – Toronto

TORONTO – A group of art lovers is petitioning the city to make public art available to the public.

The limestone sculpture garden, entitled Garden of the Greek Gods, was created by Canadian artist E.B. Cox who died in 2003. It had been on public display at Exhibition Place until Muzik Nightclub expanded their patio around the statues, dumping sand and mulch around each.

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“My father would be turning over in his grave if this had happened. He had a strong belief in the value of public art to the city, to tourism, to art lovers, to art lovers, to families with children. A place where people could go to a sculpture garden, admire the art, learn something about Greek mythology,” Kathy Sutton, the artist’s daughter said in an interview Wednesday.

“He never would have wanted people to have to go to a nightclub and pay the fees to look at the art in an inappropriate setting.”

The building and the surrounding property was put up for lease by the city over a decade ago and Councillor Mike Layton explained, no one asked about the art.

No one thought about the issue until the artist’s family wanted to see the now cordoned-off sculpture garden.

“Finally when it started coming back and the family came back and said the intentions of these was to be in the public domain so they could be enjoyed by everyone and I think we should respect the artist and the family’s wishes,” Layton said.

“It is unfortunate that these pieces of public art are essentially in a private collection.”

Some of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

Some of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

Some of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

Some of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

Some of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

Some of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

One of the sculptures outside Muzik Nightclub

Kathy Sutton / Handout

Exhibition Place currently doesn’t have a policy ensuring public art is actually available to the public, Layton said.

The artist’s great-granddaughter created a petition on Change杭州夜网 asking city council to move the sculptures out of the fenced-in patio area.

But it’s not clear if anything will come of the request.

The Exhibition Place Board of Governors signed off on a motion in May that delayed moving the 20 limestone sculptures. The motion suggested the process would cost nearly $500,000.

Sutton however says the sculptures could be moved for a tenth of that price.

Layton put forth a motion at the last Board of Governors that asked staff to look into the having scheduled times for public viewing or even moving the sculptures out of the patio.

“We have asked for a new plan for how exhibition place deals with its public art to ensure that it does in fact stay public,” Layton said.

But Sutton is worried about damages: the mulch, sand and “excessive cleaning” could lead to irreparable damage, she said.

“Many of the pieces have been buried, especially Hercules, almost up to his ankles, moisture is seeping into the rock, there is mulch around some pieces and the wood acid can deteriorate the stone,” she said.

She’s hoping councillors will address her concerns at the next Board of Governors meeting on September 10.

Exhibition Place refused to comment and Muzik Nightclub did not respond to phone calls and emails.

– With files from Christina Stevens