Stiff Penalties to Combat Auto Theft: licence suspensions including lifetime ban for repeat offenders

By Staff

May 14th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario government is cracking down on auto theft by introducing legislation that, if passed, would suspend driver’s licences for people convicted of the crime. With auto thefts and carjackings on the rise across the province, the legislation would help deter potential thieves and make it more challenging for criminals to re-offend.

Auto thefts are now part of organized crime groups

“Car theft is a cowardly and often violent crime that can traumatize victims and communities who experience it,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is sending a clear message to those who commit these crimes and using every tool in our toolbox to keep them off our streets.”

Under the proposed legislation, thieves convicted of motor vehicle theft under the Criminal Code would face a 10-year licence suspension for a first offence, a 15-year licence suspension for a second offence and a lifetime licence suspension for a third offence. Licence suspensions would apply to convictions where the court found that aggravating factors were involved in the commission of the offence, such as violence, use of a weapon, use of force, threat, or pursuit of financial gain.

“Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is taking bold action to stop what is a serious and often violent crime,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “Criminals who want to steal a car in Ontario need to know there will be severe consequences for doing so.”

Stunt driving is also getting out of control.

In addition to stiff penalties for auto theft, the province is also proposing to strengthen penalties for stunt driving. The proposed legislation would ensure that anyone convicted of stunt driving receives a minimum mandatory licence suspension – one year for a first conviction, three years for a second conviction and a lifetime suspension, reducible to 10 years under certain criteria, for a third conviction.

Quick Facts

  • Every 14 minutes, a vehicle is stolen in Ontario, with Toronto experiencing a 78 per cent increase in violent carjackings since 2021.
  • The federal mandatory minimum prison sentence for a third auto theft offence is six months.
  • In 2023, over 12,000 immediate roadside licence suspensions were issued for street racing and/or stunt driving – the highest number since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Ontario government is investing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft.
  • Together with the federal government, Ontario has invested more than $250 million through the Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy (GGVRS) to fight gun and gang crime, including auto theft.

 

 

 

 

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Getting anything from the Land Tribunal that helps tell the story - pull teeth from hens is easier

By Pepper Parr

May 14th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario Land Tribunal hearing on the plans for two 31 and 36 storey towers will resume on Thursday.

The plan is to tear down the existing hotel and build the two towers on the left – one at 31 storeys and the other at 36 storeys – each sitting on a 3 level podium. The two towers will be separated by a wide pathway leading the the eastern side of Spencer Smith Park.

They are close to hearing all the expert witness testimony and the cross examination of each witness.  Tedious stuff until we are able to match up with what a witness says and what comes out when that witness is crossed examined.

There are all kinds of images, renderings and designs that help tell the story.

Using that material has proven to be a problem.

As media we are required to work with the media specialists at the OLT.  Turns out they have a bunch of rules that we are required to follow – failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $20,000 – which is a little on the rich side for us.

In order to publish what we hear we have to get permission from the OLT Member (Member is the tile given to the person(s) hearing the case before the tribunal.

Problem with that is – we can’t communicate with the Member.

A meeting last week started with the Member saying:

 “In accordance with the tribunals rules of practice and procedure, specifically rules 22.5 to 22.7. No person shall take or attempt to take a photograph a motion picture of video recording, or other recording capable of producing audio or visual representations by electronic means, or otherwise at any Proceedings of the tribunal open to the public, unless the presiding tribunal unit number authorizes the recording.

“The tribunal’s rules require any such request to be made prior to the start of the hearing. And no requests have been made, nor authorized and as such, any of these actions are prohibited in this hearing. Failure to respect this prohibition constitutes an offence under Section 29 of the statutory powers and Procedures Act and potentially exposes a person to significant fines if found in contravention.”

Here is what the OLT media people have told us – they are very firm in the instructions they give.

Please note that contacting a Tribunal Member outside of the hearing event is not allowed as doing so could compromise, or appear to compromise, the neutrality and independence of the OLT and its Members, and their ability to provide natural justice.

If a member of the public wishes to make a request to record, they may contact the Case Coordinator. Requests from media, should be sent to our media inbox media.olt@ontario.ca.

Please see the answer to your questions below:

Question: May we have permission to use some of the images that appear?

During the examination of one of the City witnesses we learned that the grading of the slope that is part of the pathway between the two towers is expected to be similar to the terracing at the Bridgewater development yards to the east. Are people going to be able to get down steps like these easily? Photo credit: Gazette photo bank

The Member presiding over the Hearing in respect to Case No. OLT-22-003866, has advised those in attendance and observing the video hearing that in accordance with the Tribunal’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, specifically Rules 22.5 to 22.7, no person shall take or attempt to take a photograph, motion picture, video recording or other recording capable of producing audio or visual representations by electronic means, or otherwise, at any proceedings of the Tribunal open to the public, unless the presiding Tribunal Member authorizes the recording.

The request has been denied by the presiding Member.

Failure to respect this prohibition constitutes an offence under section 29 of the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act, and potentially exposes a person found in contravention to significant fines.

Please note that images contained in the case documents that are not subject to a confidentiality order are public records and can be shared pursuant to open court principles. However, using images captured via screenshot during a video hearing event is prohibited. As an alternative, please feel free to reach out to us to request images or documents that may be part of the public record for this case, and we will be happy to share them with you.

This is the part of the development that will present all kinds of problems. The entrance to the Pearle Hotel is on the left – the entrance to the hotel that will be part of the development will be on the right. Photo credit: Gazette photo bank

The difficulty with this is – in order to get the picture we want we have to tell them when the picture was shown and tell them which book of documents it is in and any other data needed to identify the picture.  This is not a small task. The documents at this point are in the thousands of pages.

However, this development is important and the public should know what is planned and what information was used to make whatever decision the tribunal is going to make.

The tribunal instructs us with this statement:

If you need to quote from this statement, please note that quotes should be attributed as an Ontario Land Tribunal spokesperson.

 

 

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Part of the Joseph Brant land grant will become a pathway to the Lake

By Staff

May 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Reverend Cannon Stuart Pike and Rick Reycroft

There is a long stretch of property that leads from the front of St.Luke’s Anglican Church down to the Lake.

The land was part of a land grant given to Joseph Brant for his services to the British.  It was a huge tract of land.

The piece that is in front of the church has sat there unused for well over 150 years.

The patch of land that has been unused for decades will become a lovely place to walk and just enjoy being outdoors.

The St. Luke’s congregation decided they wanted to make the land accessible to the public and came up with an idea they took to their ward Councillor.

Those early meetings resulted in an idea that was on the today’s Council agenda.

It is going to require a little jiggling of parking space and some effort to figure how any of the costs can be covered – none of which appeared to be a serious problem.

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Hassaan Basit: How did he do on his first day in the public eye?

By Pepper Parr

May 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

City Manager Hassaan Bait

So – how did he do on his first day in the public eye?

Newly minted City Manager Hassaan Bait sat quietly at his place around the horseshoe; saying very little.

He is in that listen and observe stage of his getting the feel of the job.

Expect this to last for a number of months.  When he has acclimatized himself to the culture at city hall and knows the senior people well enough – expect him to let people know what he is thinking.

Right now – he is doing what he said he would do before he even had his business cards printed up.

 

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What might a new Civic Square look like? Council discusses three options

By Staff

May 14th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The plan for a new look for Civic Square has three options labelled canopies, atrium and portals.

Each option has different features.

What you get and what you don’t get with each of the options.

Getting to the point where a recommendation could be put before Council Staff met with groups that had a stake in the land.

Detailed graphics of each option are set out below.

Option 1 Canopies:

Existing split entries maintained, primary focal point provided at Brant Street and James Street intersection, secondary focal point provided at Elgin Street façade. Covered canopies direct visitors to the entries.  Three exterior rooms created to support programming. Existing parking area reduced. Landscaped transition between Civic Square and 400 Brant Street (private). All internal stairs, ramps, barriers removed.

Option 2 Atrium

Consolidated entry created at proposed atrium feature. Focal point provided at Brant Street and James Street intersection. Covered canopies provided along building façade. Secondary shade element provided adjacent to 400 Brant Street. Three exterior rooms created to support programming. Existing parking area reduced. Partial landscaped transition between Civic Square and 400 Brant Street (private). All internal stairs, ramps, barriers removed.

Option 3 Portals

Consolidated entry created at proposed entry vestibule. Primary focal point provided at Brant Street and James Street intersection (dual height, freestanding structures). Secondary focal point provided at Elgin Street façade. Building walls exposed / visible. Two exterior rooms created to support programming. Existing parking maintained with minor reduction in area around focal point.  Partial landscaped transition between Civic Square and 400 Brant Street (private).  All internal stairs, ramps, barriers removed.

We will report tomorrow on how Council reacted to the Staff report.

They did promise that there would be all kinds of citizen engagement.  Expect the city to put out a survey asking for public input.

 

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You will have to pay for parking in the Beachway starting the 19th.

By Staff

May 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is summer here yet?  How do you know?

Because starting on the 18th – you will have to pay for parking at the Beachway.

The City is expecting more visitors to its popular Beachway Park – they will have to pay for parking; including the overflow lot at Lakeshore Road and Willow Avenue.

Summer in the City

Fees will be charged from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays until the last weekend in September: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2024.

Parking fees can be paid using the HONK mobile app. Visitors do not have to download the app but can scan the QR code on parking lot signage to pay for parking.

Weekend and holiday parking is available for an hourly rate of $2.50 or a daily flat rate of $20. There is a transaction fee of $0.35 for each payment. Dashboard tickets are not needed as every payment is linked to a license plate number.

Halton residents have 10 days of free parking per year at Beachway Park.

Residents should wait to fill out the parking exemption form once they’ve arrived at the beach and parked in a legal parking spot. The exemption doesn’t guarantee a spot, but it does give residents parking for the day at no charge.

With this much beach – you know there is going to be a significant need for parking.

There is no charge for parking in most municipal lots in Downtown Burlington on weekends and holidays. Beachway visitors are encouraged to extend their walk or use the drop-off zone, park for free in the downtown and meet their party at the beach.  Consider taking Burlington Transit, cycling, walking or rolling to the beach and leave the car at home.

Illegally parked vehicles will be issued tickets and/or towed. Drivers are reminded not to park illegally, especially on Lakeshore Road shoulders and the grass boulevard over the pipeline: they will be towed.

Charging for parking has improved parking and traffic flow since it was introduced in 2021. If you are planning to visit the Beachway, plan ahead and prepare to park in another location if the lots are full. Please make sure you are parked in a legal parking spot. City bylaw officers must ticket and tow those parked illegally to help manage parking and traffic flow. Most importantly, this keeps everyone safe.

There is also an overflow lot west of the Beachway. It has 30 more parking spots in an unsurfaced lot. Visitors using this overflow lot need to pay for parking and the fees are the same as the Beachway lots.”

 

 

 

 

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Civic Square renewal plans go before Council this week

By Staff

May 13th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We get to see a first look at what the city plans to do with Civic Square today.

Civic Square renewal

Architectural changes to City Hall Brant Street entrance and colonnades; Streetscape improvements:

Brant Street from Ontario Street to Elgin Street

Elgin Street from Brant Street to Locust Street

Aerial view of the space that will undergo redevelopment once approved. Three designs proposed.

Through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Government of Canada is investing $1,984,900 and the Government of Ontario is investing $1,653,917.

The city has already committed capital funding of $884,744 with an additional $808,750 forecasted in the 2025 Budget.

Capital funding in the amount of $2,365,000, to support changes to City Hall related to this project, was approved in the 2024 Budget.

Construction budget is set at $6,000,000.

Three design possibilities will go before Council this week.

 

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'I find it infuriating, distressing, overwhelming,' said one expert. , 'I’m relieved that I do not have children, knowing what the future holds,” said another

By Staff

May 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Global heating is likely to soar past internationally agreed limits, according to a Guardian survey of hundreds of leading climate experts, bringing catastrophic heatwaves, floods and storms.

Only 6% of the respondents thought the 1.5C limit could be achieved, and this would require extraordinarily fast, radical action to halt and reverse the world’s rising emissions from fossil fuel burning.

However, the experts were clear that giving up was not an option, and that 1.5C was not a cliff-edge leading to a significant change in climate damage. Instead, the climate crisis increases incrementally, meaning every tonne of CO2 avoided reduces people’s suffering.

We have yet to hear, read or be aware of an occasion when the Burlington MPP, Natalie Pierre spoke of Climate Change and what the provincial government was doing about an world wide emergency. For MPP Pierre, the photo op is the medium she chooses to get her massage out. Just what is the message?

The task climate researchers have dedicated themselves to is to paint a picture of the possible worlds ahead. From experts in the atmosphere and oceans, energy and agriculture, economics and politics, the mood of almost all those the Guardian heard from was grim. And the future many painted was harrowing: famines, mass migration, conflict. “I find it infuriating, distressing, overwhelming,” said one expert, who chose not to be named. “I’m relieved that I do not have children, knowing what the future holds,” said another.

“Climate change will not suddenly become dangerous at 1.5C – it already is – and it will not be ‘game over’ if we pass 2C, which we might well do,” said Prof Peter Cox, of the University of Exeter, in the UK.

Dr Henri Waisman, at the IDDRI policy research institute in France, said: “Climate change is not a black or white question and every tenth of a degree matters a lot, especially when you look at the socioeconomic impacts. This means it is still useful to continue the fight.”

Out of control fire burns in southeast Manitoba -May 8th, 2024

The scientists’ responses to the survey provide informed opinions on critical questions for the future of humanity. How hot will the world get, and what will that look like? Why is the world failing to act with anything remotely like the urgency needed? Is it, in fact, game over, or must we fight on? They also provide a rare glimpse into what it is like to live with this knowledge every day.

The climate crisis is already causing profound damage as the average global temperature has reached about 1.2C above the preindustrial average over the last four years. But the scale of future impacts will depend on what happens – or not – in politics, finance, technology and global society, and how the Earth’s climate and ecosystems respond.

The data reflects something we are all responsible for.

It is not as if we didn’t know – we have always known – we just aren’t at the point where we fully realize how much trouble we are in. Hopefully then we will begin to make smarter decisions and not panic and do really really stupid things. Do you know what the Provincial Climate Warming Plan is ?

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Moving Freeman Station from its current location, if at all possible, would be very very expensive

By Alan Harrington

May 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada built The Freeman Station in 1906 in typical fashion with a tall roof design.

When the discussion arose in 2010 as to where to relocate the Station, the tall roof posed a major challenge.

The station in the early evening after a rainfall.

It is too tall to fit under any railway bridges along the QEW – requiring it to remain south of the QEW.

A suggestion was made to remove the roof, however the roof and its large overhang supported by rafter tails is the structure that holds the walls and whole thing together.  Just moving the roof separately, it would probably still be too tall.

Another idea was to haul it to the lake and launch it on a barge to destination unknown?

The only way to escape north of the QEW intact – is along the level crossing at Burloak  – which means going east along New Street to Burloak then north on Burloak over the tracks and QEW.  This would require stopping the trains from running along past Burloak.   Not easy with GO trains running each way every 15 minutes.

Steel beams had to be slid under the building that was sitting on Fire department land preparing for a move 75 yards away.

Doing it again at the other level crossing at Mainway and Walkers would run into the same problems.

Existing rail lines are in yellow; the route from the current location to Ireland Park is in pink. The blue/green is where the move from the original site on the Grand Truck Railway line to the current site. The station was never very far from its home.

Rail lines are in yellow.

Theoretically – the route in pink to arrive at Ireland Park. It means moving power lines, telephone + cable wires. traffic signals. Police escort. Stopped traffic.  The truck carrying the structure moves at about walking speed.

When the station was moved originally – it was on the May 24 weekend of 2005 –  19 years ago along the green route.  Cost estimate was $25,000

When it moved again in 2014 it was about 75 yards along the blue route and cost estimate was again $25,000.

To move it from the current location would probably mean slicing it up into smaller pieces and reassembling it at the destination.  A move would include the signal mast, stonework around the base and the two rail cars – caboose and a boxcar.

Switching gear is now part of the complex that now includes the station, a caboose and a box car and tracks that they can be moved along. The yellow cab was used to inspect the condition of the rail lines. The red vehicle was used by track repair crews.

Rail track and switches would have to be moved as well.

The poured concrete basement would need to be ripped up and sent to landfill.

Quite often when buildings are torn apart – with the expectation to be rebuilt in a new location, the rebuild gets delayed and never happens.

The Freeman Station is located in the (former) Village of Freeman beside the railway lines.  Easily accessible by rail disembarking at Burlington GO Station and walking an easy two blocks west.

A lot of damage was done to the building while getting it mounted on the float during the 2005 Victoria day weekend move.  Basically the floor was destroyed and a completely new floor had to be installed.  The brickwork around the base was removed for transport – and had to be put on afterwards.

It is theoretically possible to move the Station to Ireland House intact – but the cost including insurance would be astronomical.  Add to that the cost to reinstall all the electrical, gas heating, plumbing, sewer and flooring – there are better uses in the community for such funds.

 

Alan Harrington, an accountant in his normal life, has been part of the team that created Friends of Freeman Station – the group that saved the station from being sold off as kindling.  The City once actually ran an advertisement to do just that – no one took up the opportunity.  Harrington is also a long time Director of the Burlington Historical Society

 

 

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Mountsberg Raptor Centre to celebrate 30 years of bird of prey rehabilitation and community education

By Staff

May 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Mountsberg Raptor Centre; they  officially opened on June 3, 1994, as both an education centre and a bird of prey rehabilitation hospital.

On June 1, 2024, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. visitors are invited to join in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Raptor Centre. The Pride in Nature Birds of All Feathers celebration will be happening at the same time. Park visitors can enjoy a slice of cake with the Animal Care team, meet roving birds of prey, say hello to the resident raptors, take a photo at the Birds of ALL Feathers photo station, check out the bio-artifact display, and pre-register to participate in the Talons and Tailfeathers educational program.

When the Raptor Centre first opened, it featured educational displays and a theatre where public and school programs were hosted. The theatre had a one-way viewing window that allowed guests to see into the raptor hospital and follow the birds’ rehabilitation journey. Birds that had been injured and were deemed non-releasable were housed in enclosures along a trail for guests to view.

Amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act in 2000 changed the laws surrounding the keeping of wildlife in captivity and the regulations surrounding rehabilitation. It was at this time that the raptor hospital closed, and the Raptor Centre transitioned to being a dedicated educational facility.

Over the years, the Raptor Centre has grown and changed as more was learned about how to provide the best quality of life for birds of prey in human care. Where once the centre only housed permanently injured birds, it now houses a mixture of both non-releasable birds and birds that were raised in human care. The number one priority of the centre is to provide the highest level of welfare possible for every bird that comes to call the centre home. The centre now houses 35 birds, representing 21 different species. Many of the birds at the centre interact with the public through educational programs—from curriculum-based school programs to small group immersive experiences.

Turkey vulture using its massive wing span to float while to looks for the next meal.

“The raptors in our care are truly remarkable to meet up-close,” said Craig Machan, Director, Parks & Operations at Conservation Halton. “Just as remarkable is our Animal Care team that looks after the birds’ training and overall well being 365 days of the year. Through this team’s expertise and dedicated care, our raptors can live long, fulfilling lives while engaging and inspiring the thousands of individuals who pass through the Raptor Centre’s doors.”

Thirty years ago, the Raptor Centre was made possible by a donation from Ms. Marguerite Gray, a descendant of the Cameron family who once owned the Mountsberg Conservation Area property. Upon opening, the centre was named the Douglas G. Cockburn Centre for Birds of Prey, in honour of Ms. Gray’s brother. Today, the Conservation Halton Foundation helps support the Raptor Centre with donations made through the Adopt-a-Raptor program. By symbolically adopting one of our featured raptors, the community can help to provide birds with a wholesome diet, veterinary care, training, enrichment, and more.

Staff working with an owl – notice the thick leather glove worn by the trainer.

While celebrating 30 years of working with birds that needed special care what doesn’t get mentioned is the superb program offered.

Watching staff work with the birds to that are caring for is a real treat.  They are fed raw meat from the hands of a trained staff is exciting.  A bird will be let go to fly around and then when it sees the food in the hands of the trainer they swoop in for the food.  It is really exciting – Not to be missed.

Non-members of the Conservation authority have to pay a gate fee in addition to the Raptor Encounter fee.  worth every penny

Address:- 2596 Britannia Rd, Burlington, ON L7P 0G3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The State of eSports in Canada

By Irina O’Connor

May 12th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The continued growth of the gaming market has led to various market opportunities and segments in Canada in recent years. According to data from Statista, the country’s eSports market is projected to reach $138.9 million (CA$187.6 million) by the end of the year, with a projected market volume of $177.8 million (CA$240.2 million) by 2028. Market researchers also predict that the number of users in the market is expected to amount to 14.8 million users by the end of the research period in 2028.

A sport where brains are what is needed. Endurance is a skill set as well.

Among various factors associated with the rapidly growing eSports market, Canada has seen increased investments in eSports-related infrastructure and the formation of various professional teams in many competitive titles. Canada is also home to various eSports stakeholders such as OverActive Media, Rivalry, and Enthusiast Gaming. Thanks to the country’s location, Canada’s eSports scene also benefits from easy connectivity and online play with North American player bases.

Some of the most talked about eSports pros in the scene today hail from the Great White North, including Valorant superstar Tyson “TenZ” Ngo, who recently celebrated a long overdue victory at the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Americas Kickoff tournament after a two-year slump with an all-new roster at North American organization Sentinels. Ngo and his team are set to compete in VCT’s Masters stage in Madrid shortly as the only North American representative team that qualified. Retired Canadian CS:GO pro and legendary Twitch streamer Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek is also a prominent figure in the scene, even years after leaving pro play.

Today, alongside various game releases and major tournaments taking place globally, Canada’s eSports scene continues to grow. Below, we’ll be taking a look at the state of eSports in Canada and what we may expect in the future:

A budding eSports culture

It was pure pandemonium in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Confetti sprinkled through the sky, a roar ran through a crowd of thousands, and a team of six, the London Spitfire, all took their hands off their keyboards and mice to embrace each other in celebration of their victory while their opponents, the Philadelphia Fusion, hung their heads in defeat.

As highlighted above, many of the most popular eSports pros and personalities today are Canadians. In addition to the likes of TenZ and Shroud, Canada is also home to some of the most popular eSports and gaming streamers and content creators. These include Felix “xQc” Lengyel, who made his name competing in Overwatch leagues for various North American teams. xQc boasts an extremely high viewership, with ten million viewers as of 2021 and remains a dominant personality among gamers.

Aside from birthing eSports pros and streamers, Canada is also home to prominent eSports tournaments across different titles. This year, Toronto is set to host the Call of Duty Major 3, with the team Toronto Ultra set to benefit from the home advantage and lift the prestigious CDL Major trophy. Canada has also hosted many other eSports tournaments, including the Konami Arcade Championship, NBA 2K League, and the now-defunct Overwatch League.

Aside from bringing competition and entertainment into the country, Canada’s presence in eSports contributes significantly to the community by boosting viewership. Gamers and fans who may not be able to compete can still participate in the scene by placing bets on favored teams and players. According to these eSports betting tips, watching, listening, and learning from tournament broadcasts are great ways to research, understand betting odds, and improve predictions. As such, the increasingly popular betting scene in the country comes hand-in-hand with the growing eSports scene.

Building eSports arenas

Another factor contributing to the growth of eSports in Canada is the continued investment in eSports-related infrastructure, such as eSports arenas. Building and designing eSports-specific centers and locations are crucial for hosting events and tournaments locally and providing an avenue for budding and experienced pros to connect and develop skills.

There are training schools for students that want to learn the fundamentals of eSports. These students will have a lot more than a high school diploma when they are ready for college or university

In 2021, Valhallan Esports Training, the largest and fastest-growing youth eSports franchise, opened its first arena in Whitby, Ontario. The arena was designed to provide a space for competitive gaming for gamers 7-17 years old, where they can train and compete in tournaments for titles like Overwatch, Fortnite, Rocket League, and Valorant. The arena also provides coaching and team collaboration so players can learn skills outside of gaming, including teamwork, communication, and leadership.

Of course, this isn’t the only prominent eSports arena in Ontario. As of 2023, OverActive Media Group provided updates on the previously delayed Toronto eSports Arena, set to house 7,000 seats in downtown Toronto. The eSports venue would also double as a concert hall. The arena is set to be opened by 2025, pending further updates.

Collegiate eSports

Finally, aside from the big guns, Canada also actively encourages aspiring eSports athletes through various collegiate eSports programs and local events. These are crucial for developing young talent in the eSports scene while ensuring they get the best exposure and experience competing professionally at a young age.

Windsor’s St. Clair College has an Applied Science program that is usually fully registered.

Currently, Windsor’s St. Clair College has made a name for itself short of a major championship. The team, affectionately called the Saints, has come closest to lifting trophies at the National Association of Collegiate Esports’ (NACE) tournaments for titles such as League of Legends and Valorant, as well as the National Esports Collegiate Conference’s (NECC) Nationals League of Legends championship. The Ontario school emerged as runner-up at these championship runs, with strong top-four finishes in NACE championships for Overwatch, Rocket League, and Call of Duty.

 

 

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Mental Health Awareness Week: 70% of a doctors patient visits related to mental health issues

By Pepper Parr

May 12, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A colleague wrote recently and said when he visited his family doctor for an annual physical in December, the doctor commented that 70% of his patient visits were related to mental health issues, not physical issues.

That is a staggering number, and if it is indicative of what most doctors are hearing we, as a society, have a serious problem on our hands.

I make this mention because May 13-19 is Mental Health Awareness Week.

I think everyone knows of someone who is struggling to cope with the burdens and the changes that are taking place.  Learning to deal with these changes is more than a challenge.

Don Fletcher, part of the team that created Plan B, the citizens group that has had a significant impact on how the city’s planning department reacted to the development proposal that would put two very very high towers on the south side of the Lakeshore Road and Brant intersection.

While that keep Fletcher busy he has added to his volunteer work the decision to serve on the board and as Treasurer of Eagles Nest of Waterdown: don’t let the Waterdown mention get in the way of how you see the organization.

They work with individuals and families looking to make those who have to deal with changes happen in a supportive and positive environment. “We help people understand themselves, care for their mental health and learn new tools for healthy relationships. We offer counselling, coaching and support programs to adults, youth and children. Our services are low-cost or subsidized to help make them accessible to everyone.”

Fletcher explains that “this is  a 20 year old charity that provides mental healthcare & family support services for those in need in our community who cannot afford these services, all provided in the spirit of true Christian compassion and love.

“Their clients are looking for a hand up, NOT a hand out, which resonates with me.”

The group is having an online fundraising auction that will run through to Sunday, June 2nd.

Fletcher describes the Nest as a “local hero” in the fight against mental illness.

Amanda DeVries: Executive Director Eagles Nest Waterdown

Amanda DeVries, a resident of Burlington, has been with Eagles Nest for eight and a half years and currently serves as the Executive Director of the organization. As Treasurer Fletcher found himself learning Quickbooks which he says “isn’t as painful as I originally thought it would be”.

The Eagles Nest has been added to the list of charities supported by United Way of Hamilton & Halton.

 

 

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Beyond the City Lights: Exploring Ontario

By Irna Flood

May 14th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

Travelling the roads of Ontario is just mile after mile of great scenery.

 

Ontario, the most densely populated province in Canada, offers enough space for exploration and many possibilities for discovery, thanks to its huge wilderness regions and over a thousand streams. Ontario is an excellent starting point for your next thrilling journey, whether you choose exhilarating activities, experience the gaming culture, peaceful seclusion, or something in the middle.

Niagara Falls

Despite common honeymoon stereotypes, this location is a must-visit. Niagara Falls has remained unchanged in its fundamental character for ages—it is an awe-inspiring location where one may see the immense force of nature. Charles Dickens once stated that it would be more challenging for a man to be closer to God than in this place.

The Falls – one of the wonders of the world. You never forget the experience

Like Dickens, contemporary tourists see, perceive, and physically experience the immense force generated every second as 739,682 gallons of water from the Niagara River cascade over the Horseshoe Falls and descend into a turbulent basin around 13 stories underneath. Visitors are led through tunnels that provide close interactions with the cascading water, and a journey to this place is considered incomplete without experiencing a ride on the renowned Maid of the Mist. Since 1876, the ship has navigated a wet passage with spray to reach the foot of the Horseshoe Falls.

Explore the Parks near the Great Lakes

Embark on a journey to the Unique Parks of Georgian Bay, a hidden gem on the shores of Lake Huron. Each park is a world of its own, with French River Provincial Park offering thrilling kayaking and fishing and Killbear providing a family-friendly beach experience. Bruce Peninsula National Park and the Marine Park of Fathom Five, near Tobermory, beckon with their exceptional hiking and swimming opportunities. Fathom Five, with its crystal-clear waters and sunken ships, is a diver’s paradise and a must-visit for glass-bottom boat excursions.

Part of the La Cloche Mountain Range

Killarney Provincial Park is an exceptional treasure within the province. The La Cloche Mountain Range consists of white quartzite, contrasting with its woods’ green tones and the vibrant blue colour of its lakes. The lakes in this area are adorned with stunning pink granite cliffs that provide a distinctive colour palette. These cliffs have been captured in paintings by the Group of Seven, immortalizing their beauty.

Caesars Windsor

Perhaps your thirst for entertainment, you can find it that using online casinos in Ontario doesn’t match a brick-and-mortar establishment’s bright lights and social atmosphere. Fear not; The Caesars Windsor, established in 1998, is unquestionably the most prominent casino resort in Ontario. This location offers top-tier entertainment options, including more than 2,200 slot machines, 85 table games, and a specialized poker area with 14 tables.

Caesars in Windsor – thrills at the slots; fine dining as well

The Caesars Windsor is a very wealthy casino located in Ontario. It is renowned for its sophisticated ambience and prime destination for those seeking an elevated gambling experience. Additionally, it serves as a venue for indulging in exquisite cuisine, captivating performances, and tranquility.

Venture Through the Wine Country

Embark on a comprehensive wine tour across Canada’s premier wine-producing region to broaden your knowledge and experience of wines. Ontario has over 180 wineries, many of which offer tastings, tours, and other activities, including vineyard strolls and guided tours.

Utilize Wine Country Ontario’s Wine Route Planner to carefully plan a route through Niagara, Prince Edward County, and Lake Erie North Shore. Visit prominent wineries like Inniskillin, where you can sample their cab franc ice wine, and boutique vineyards such as Stratus, the world’s first fully LEED-certified winery.

Thousand Islands 

Are there really 1000 islands?

Stretching for many kilometers downstream from Kingston, the expansive, azure St. Lawrence River is dotted with over a thousand islands adorned with trees. The result is a picturesque setting suitable for boating, swimming, fishing, and scuba diving in frigid, transparent seas. Discover the islands quickly by navigating them in your boat or kayak.

Alternatively, you may choose a guided trip from Kingston, a grand metropolis made of limestone that served as the capital of Britain’s Province of Canada for a short period. Individuals who prefer maintaining the dryness of their feet may still enjoy the picturesque views along the Thousand Islands Parkway. Please be aware that the region is situated on the border with the United States, so it is necessary to have your passport readily available, regardless of whether you are travelling by land or sea.

In Conclusion

Ice Wine; a unique Ontario product.

In conclusion, Ontario offers a diverse array of experiences for travellers seeking adventure, natural beauty, cultural exploration, and entertainment. From the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls to the tranquil parks near the Great Lakes, the province boasts a rich tapestry of landscapes and activities waiting to be discovered. Whether exploring the wilderness, savouring fine wines in the picturesque wine country, or enjoying the excitement of Caesars Windsor, Ontario invites visitors to embark on unforgettable journeys filled with wonder and delight. So, whether you’re drawn to the thundering power of nature or the glitz and glamour of city life, Ontario promises something remarkable for every traveller.

 

 

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Developer going through the traditional 'giving back' exercise

By Pepper Parr

May 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Alinea, the organization that holds significant parts of  the Paletta International holdings has been spreading their cash around lately.

They have “invested” major dollars at the Art Gallery of Burlington.  They have chosen to get behind specific events rather than pass along a lump sum.

In their media release the AGB said: “The Art Gallery of Burlington (AGB) is thrilled to announce a significant donation by Alinea Land Corporation. The Burlington-based group will be the presenting sponsors for the next two exhibitions in the Lee-Chin Family Gallery: We Who Have Known Many Shores by artist Alize Zorlutuna (May 10 – September 1, 2024) and David Harper (September 13, 2024 – January 5, 2025).

Art Gallery benefits from developers financial support.

“We are excited to announce this important partnership with the AGB,” said Paul Paletta, President & CEO of Alinea Land Corporation. “Our goal at Alinea is to enhance prosperity within the communities and by investing in the next two exhibitions at the AGB we continue the work our parents started. Arts and culture can make a positive, meaningful, and lasting influence for people within our community and we hope we inspire every person to come down and visit these exhibitions.”

The Art Gallery people were “delighted”.  Every little bit counts.

Alinea also supported the Bay Area Climate Change Council annual Forum held recently at the RBG’s Rock Garden building. Give them credit for choosing a great location.

Jennifer Keesmaat – sharing her experience as the one time Chief Planner for the City of Toronto

Jennifer Keesmaat was the keynote speaker.

Keesmaat will be the speaker at Mayor Meed Ward’s Speaker Series taking place late in May – assuming the manages to find the sponsorship money she is going to need.  Her colleagues at City Council were not prepared to go beyond the endorsement the Mayor was asking for.

Our tipster, who asked to be anonymous, said Alinea was the big sponsor.

Part of the Alinea executive team discussing a matter with the former city Manager (his back is to the camera).

Alinea  currently has one of the largest developments, the 1200 King Road development, before the City. The 57 hectare site, nestled between Hwy 403 and the railway line between King Road and the Aldershot GO station is the biggest thing the city has seen in decades.

The development is expected to be a combination of housing, sports facilities and office space.  The intention is to create a community the likes of which the city has never seen before.  Bigger than the Alton community.

The 1200 King Road site.

 

An early rendering that represent some of the thinking going into the 1200 King Road development.

 

 

 

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Moving Freeman Station: Have they any idea what is in the basement?

By Pepper Parr

May 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was a time when the Friends of Freeman Station had to scrounge to get a couple of thousand dollars to take the next step.

Today, Council is going to consider a report that could see spending more than a million dollars to perhaps move the building.

This is a story that is going to take some time to explain in detail.

In the report that Council has the following options are on the table:

The saving of the Freeman Station happened because volunteers put their shoulders to the wheel. Now that the bureaucrats are getting their hands on it – who knows what will happen to the station.

Proposed Interim Solution:

Some of the people that saved the Freeman Station: hopefully they involves themselves in whatever decision is made.

Given the imminent dissolution of FOFS, an interim solution is imperative to ensure the continued operation, upkeep, and maintenance of Freeman Station. This interim solution includes having city staff assume immediate responsibility for the operation, upkeep, and maintenance of Freeman Station. This includes ensuring the safety and security of the premises, conducting essential maintenance tasks, and managing any ongoing commitments or contracts where possible.

Options Considered

The Future of Freeman Station (FOFS) is currently at a critical juncture, requiring decisions regarding its future. This report evaluates two potential options: keep Freeman Station in its current location or relocate the Station to another location on city- land. Each option presents distinct challenges and considerations that need to be addressed.

Option 1: Keep Freeman Station at 942 Brant Street

Items on site include, Freeman Station, train car shed, rail tracks, box car, caboose and decking.  There are three Sea Containers on site which must be removed. It is unknown at this time what contents are within the containers and where/if they will be disposed/donated. The current zoning of the property is MXC, Mixed-Use Corridor Zone, therefore, a Community Institutional Use is permitted.

The City has two pathways forward if the Station were to remain at 942 Brant Street:

  1. City complete minimal renovations and site improvements for site to function as a community facility to be programmed by the community or the Museums.
  2. City complete substantial renovations and site improvements for the site to continue to operate as a museum.

The renovation was complete – all volunteer labour from people who put their hearts into the job.

In both pathways forward the site will require the City to submit planning applications. It should be noted that a requirement of approval will be the asphalt paving of the site to accommodate approximately 10 parking spaces.

If the Station is to remain at 942 Brant Street, there are several items from a property standpoint which should be noted:

  • The site is Licensed from the property owner Solenis. The property owner must be agreeable to the improvements. If desired, the cost to purchase the land would be in addition to the costs outlined in the Staff have not discussed any changes to the current agreement with Solenis at this time.
  • The site does not have vehicular ingress/egress, access to the site is shared with the Fire Station.

Option 1 (A): Convert Station into a community facility

In Consultation with Asset Management, renovations to be in compliance with a Community Institutional Use and planning applications will be required to receive an occupancy permit.

The Station has a maximum occupancy of 36. An occupancy of only 36 poses a challenge for its use. Community facilities typically require larger capacities to accommodate visitors and facilitate engaging experiences. Therefore, this limitation may need to be addressed through creative design solutions or alternative arrangements to maximize the station’s potential as a facility.

The Museum feels that there are opportunities for additional programming to be developed and delivered onsite. The subject matter and the important story that Freeman Stations talks about Burlington could be explored and experienced by the community through tours, community programming, events and family activities. The Museum could provide limited programming to small home school groups, youth groups and smaller interest groups.

Total initial capital investment to convert the Station into a programmable community facility use managed by the Burlington Museum is approximately $250,000.

The Operating Costs associated with this option will require an annual investment by City of approx. $30,000 in addition to staff resources estimated to be approx. 2 weekend PT positions, 2 PT educators, 1 part time maintenance position. Once again, these resource requirements would be spelled out through the 2025 Budget development process.

Option 1 (B): Convert Freeman Station into a museum

In addition to the site improvements and planning applications mentioned in Option 1 (A), the City will have to engage with Museums of Burlington and an external consultant to determine the necessary renovations required to meet applicable building code requirements for community facilities such as museums and safety standards. A cursory review by Asset Management indicated renovations may include structural repairs and accessibility upgrades.

A volunteer posing as the Station Master

The Station has a maximum occupancy of 36. An occupancy of only 36 poses a challenge for its use as a museum. This constraint may restrict the scope of exhibits, events, and educational programs that can be hosted within the space. Museums typically require larger capacities to accommodate visitors and facilitate engaging experiences. Therefore, this limitation may need to be addressed through creative design solutions or alternative arrangements to maximize the station’s potential as a museum.

Total initial capital investment to convert the Station into a Museum is approximately $1- 1.5 Million.

The Operating Costs associated with this option will require an annual investment by City of approx. $30,000 in addition to staff resources estimated to be approx. 2 weekend PT positions, 2 PT educators, 1 part time maintenance position. Once again, these resource requirements would be spelled out through the 2025 Budget development process.

Option 2: Move Freeman to City owned lands

Is there another ride in store for the Freeman Station?  Details are sparse but there is something afoot.

Relocating Freeman Station to other City Owned land requires hiring a structural engineer to ensure the building’s integrity for the move. A full site plan and building permit process would be necessary along with the retention of qualified professionals to design foundations specific to the new location and connections to utilities. Duplicating the current foundation and basement adds to the complexity and cost. Transporting such a large and historically significant structure involves expenses like specialized contractors, permits, and overcoming logistical challenges such as highway overpasses and hydro line clearances. Additionally, potential costs for restoring the current site include removing the basement and restoring the land.

Option 2 (a): Move Station to Ireland House, 2168 Guelph Line

The $3.5 million price tag to move the Freeman Station to Ireland House should be enough to take that idea off the table.

Staff have performed a cursory inspection of the Ireland House site. If it is determined following a structural review of the Station that it can be moved, Ireland House has land to accommodate the structure to continue as a museum.

It is crucial to assess and potentially address any trees in the vicinity that may obstruct the relocation process. This could involve pruning, trimming, or even removing trees to create a clear path for transportation. Additionally, if any of the trees are deemed purebred and subject to protection regulations, additional costs may be incurred for measures such as creating protection zones.

The Museum feels that there are opportunities for additional programming to be developed and delivered onsite as occupancy would not be a barrier. These program opportunities could include, increased school trips, additional day camp programs and large-scale community events. Shared resources, staff and programming could reduce some costs.

Total initial Capital investment to relocate the Station to Ireland House is approximately $3-3.5 Million. In addition to this, Museums of Burlington would also require an operating budget to cover program and facility expenses in addition to resources to operate, maintain and offer programming in the space. These additional resource requirements would be further developed in a business case through the 2025 budget process if this option is preferred by Council.

Option 2 (b): Move Station to a City Park

In 2010, staff thoroughly examined options for relocating the Station, identifying numerous obstacles. They evaluated 16 locations against various criteria, shortlisting 5. However, the Council decided against pursuing any of them. Prior to 2010, over 20 other locations were also investigated. Staff now anticipate difficulty in identifying another suitable location for relocating Freeman Station. If this option is chosen, the base cost to move the Station to a proximate park will have similar financial implications as Ireland House minus the cost for duplicating the current foundation and basement.

The railway displays in the basement, paid for by a teacher’s association would be lost if the structure were removed.

This option would likely mean the retirement of the Station as a Museum.

Total investment to relocate the Station to a City Park is approximately $2 Million.

 

 

 

 

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Farmer's Market at Burlington Centre opens on the 15th - starting their 66th year

By Staff

May 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Burlington Centre Lions Farmers Market opens for its 66th season on Wednesday, May 15, at 8 AM.

It will be open every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 AM to 2 PM until October 26.

Over 50 vendors offer fresh produce and specialty items including meats, cheese, eggs, baking, wine, and more.

It’s still early in the season, so exactly what’s there on a given day is still subject to the climate.

 

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Mother's Day - free entry to War Plane Museum or be compassionate

By Pepper Parr

May 10th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We celebrate our Mother’s on Sunday.

Every single one of us will have thoughts – they will range all over the map.

The War Plane Museum is letting Mother’s enter free.

The province has said that Mother’s can fish without a license.

The Compassion Society has made the day just a little different for those who live below the poverty line or far too close to that poverty line for comfort.

They refer to the women they serve as guests and support them with food, clothing and other necessaries.

This week, guests were given a purse, yes a purse that would have things that women carry in purses.  A tube of lipstick is one example.

Oneil Edwards, the Executive Director at Compassion explains that the idea was to give the more than 80 people they have registered something different, something they might not be able to afford.  Something that recognizes them on a day that might bring some emotional pain instead of the love and adoration most other Mothers will be getting.

You might want to consider supporting the Compassion Society financially. You can do that HERE

 

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'Words matter', a phrase used at the opening session of Land Tribunal hearing: How much that matters is becoming clearer

By Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Chris Barnett, the lead lawyer the city hired to argue before the Ontario Land Tribunal hearing on the re-development of the Waterfront Hotel site said: “words matter” during the opening day of what is expected to be a 10 day event.

He was absolutely correct.

We are not sure just how broad that statement was meant to be – the words that are being used at the hearing start with policy decisions made at the provincial, Regional and municipal levels.

Members of Burlington’s seven member City Council produce documents that set out policy.

A number of those document are being used as evidence by both the developer and the lawyers representing the city.

During the hearings to date we have yet to see one member of Council sitting in virtually to hear what is being said and being able to see the visuals of what the development site could look like if it is approved.

We are told that one member of council said she/he was taking part by listening to the hearing on their cell phone.  Possible, but to get any sense at all as to what is taking place – the visuals are critical.

The Parkland Dedication Criteria document was used in testimony over just how much parkland was being provided by the developer.  Turns out it was nowhere near what was required.

There are consequences to the decisions made at the municipal level.  One would like to think that members of Council would want to be aware of how the decisions they made were put to use. We will return to just how much parkland was being offered and where it was located.

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348 charges were laid in a large-scale child exploitation investigation across the province where 34 child victims were identified

By Staff

May 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario Provincial Police say 64 people have been charged in a large-scale child exploitation investigation across the province where 34 child victims were identified.

Another 30 children were “safeguarded,” police said, which means removing a child who is in a dangerous position and who could be offended against.

The investigation, dubbed Project Aquatic, involved 27 police forces across Ontario who identified and arrested several people for allegedly making, possessing and distributing child sexual abuse material, police said.

Police said more than 348 charges were laid and 607 electronic devices were seized.

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Parking and traffic congestion problems make any approval of the re-development of the Waterfront hotel site problematical

By Pepper Parr

May 9th, 2024

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What does a train wreck waiting to happen look like?

The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) is currently hearing from expert witnesses and the lawyers representing the Pearle Hotel and Spa and the owners of the Waterfront Hotel.

Their interests all converge on that portion of Elizabeth Street that runs south from Lakeshore Road.

The eastern boundary of the proposed development will be on the right hand side where there will be the three traffic entrances and one for pedestrians to walk into the hotel part of the development.The southern boundary will be about where the pickup truck is parked.

The photograph above is the field, as it were, that these interests are going to be presented to a single OLT Member.

On the left hand side you have the Pearle Hotel which is part of the Bridgewater development that consists of two condo towers, one 22 storeys and the other seven stories and the hotel.

Parking for all four parts of the development is through the one garage entrance at the very south end of Elizabeth Street.  When we say parking we include the garbage trucks, the moving trucks and the delivery trucks that serve the needs of the hotel.

There is a very small layby for people that are registering as guests.   Valets will take their cars to the parking location.

Layby parking outside the Pearle Hotel

There is layby is very limited.

Traffic congestion around the hotel is already a problem, manageable bu a problem nevertheless.  You expect this kind of thing in Manhattan – but this is Burlington.

The OLT hearing is about what is going to be built on the other side of the street where the entrance to the hotel will be located.

There will be two lanes to the underground parking space for the hotel guests and the residents of the two tower that are proposed.  One tower is to be 36 storeys and the other 31 storeys.

There will be 500 + residential units and some office space in those two towers.

The two towers will soar to 36 and 31 storeys. The hotel will be at the bottom of the right hand tower.

There is also an entrance for the garbage trucks and the big moving trucks.  During the OLT hearing we learned that the garbage trucks might have to back out of the building on to Elizabeth Street.

The City has decided that there will not be any traffic going into the development off Lakeshore Road.

Picture all that taking place on the Elizabeth Street shown above.

Add to that those occasions when snow or freezing rain covers the streets.

If the development is approve by the single OLT Member that is hearing the appeal this is what the city could be looking at.

The hearings are expected to end on the 17th of May with a decision at least four months away.

 

 

 

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