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Year in Review: Top 5 news stories for Global Kitchener in 2018 – Kitchener

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A house explosion, a brazen daylight shooting, municipal and provincial elections and the ION LRT delays were the biggest stories to emerge in Waterloo region in 2018.

Kitchener home blows up house, body found, man later charged with murder

On Aug. 22, a Kitchener neighbourhood was rocked by an early morning home explosion.

WATCH: Neighbour captures dramatic moments following explosion in Kitchener






A house on Sprucedale Crescent was destroyed and surrounding homes were also damaged.

READ MORE: Death of woman at scene of Kitchener house explosion ruled a homicide by police

The body of 58-year-old Edra Haan was found in the backyard while her husband, Udo Haan, 58, was airlifted to a hospital in Hamilton with critical injuries.

Police later revealed that she was killed prior to the explosion.

WATCH: Residents in Kitchener return to their homes following house explosion






The following day, Waterloo Regional Police declared her death to be a homicide investigation and said they had no clear suspect although they were looking to speak with Udo Haan about the incident.

READ MORE: Udo Haan charged with murder, arson in connection to Kitchener home explosion

On Thanksgiving Day, police arrested Udo Haan at Grand River Hospital. He was charged with first-degree murder, arson with disregard for human life and two counts of arson with damage to property.

Provincial election brings four new MPPs to Waterloo Region

To no one’s surprise, the Liberals long reign of power in the province of Ontario finally came to an end on June 7.

On that night, four of the five ridings in Waterloo region saw new MPs elected.

READ MORE: Mike Harris Jr. wins tight race in Kitchener-Conestoga

A familiar name was elected in Kitchener-Conestoga although it was a different face.

WATCH: Doug Ford’s PCs win majority government in Ontario; NDP in opposition






Mike Harris Jr., son of the former premier of the same name, narrowly won, filling a seat formerly held by PC MPP Michael Harris.

Harris Jr. was appointed as the candidate in the riding by party Leader Doug Ford on April 21, Michael Harris initially announced he would step down for health reasons but was later cut loose by the party on April 21 amid a texting scandal.

READ MORE: Belinda Karahalios returns PCs to power in heavily-eyed Cambridge riding

In other area ridings, NDP candidate Laura Mae Lindo came out on top in Kitchener-Centre while NDP incumbent Catherine Fife held on to her seat in Waterloo. PC candidate Belinda Karahalios won the Cambridge seat, unseating Liberal incumbent Kathryn McGarry while in Kitchener-Hespeler, Conservative Amy Fee won the night’s closest race in the area.

Man gunned down in downtown Kitchener, police chase ensues

Just over a month after the house exploded on Sprucedale Crescent, Kitchener was the scene of another high profile murder that would capture national attention.

On Sept. 20, 20-year-old Isaiah Macnab was gunned down at a picnic table in a parking lot near the New Directions halfway house.

WATCH: Fatal shooting in downtown Kitchener leads police on high-speed pursuit






The shooting, which occurred in broad daylight near the intersection of Pandora Avenue and King Street, would be followed by a police chase.

It would run across several regions before police would lose sight of the vehicle in Mississauga.

READ MORE: Isaiah Macnab identified as victim of ‘targeted’ downtown Kitchener shooting

During the police chase, a Waterloo police SUV would collide with a civilian vehicle leaving the driver and the officer with minor injuries.

Municipal elections brings major change to local council

There were two elections that brought major changes through Waterloo region this year.

A few months after the provincial election, municipal elections were held across the province and there were a few major changes in the region.

READ MORE: Kathryn McGarry unseats Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig

In Cambridge, longtime mayor Doug Craig was ousted by Kathryn McGarry, a former Liberal MP in a move the surprised some. Craig had held the office for 18 years.

The other major change was at the regional level, as Waterloo regional chair Ken Seiling retired after 33 years at the helm.

READ MORE: Karen Redman wins race to replace Ken Seiling as Waterloo regional chair

His replacement, Karen Redman, collected more than 60 per cent of the votes in her battle with former North Dumfries mayor Rob Deutschmann, former Waterloo councillor Jan d’Ailly and local business owner Jay Aissa.

In Kitchener, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic was easily re-elected as was Mayor Dave Jaworsky in Waterloo.

READ MORE: Berry Vrbanovic easily wins second term as Kitchener mayor

But there were also three new councillors elected in Kitchener and all were women.

The additions of Christine Michaud, Margaret Johnston and Debbie Chapman meant that the council is now made up of five woman and five men.

ION delayed yet again

Area residents were left exasperated once again when it was learned that the ION LRT system which was scheduled to launch in December, would be delayed until Spring 2019.

In April, it was announced that the ION trains would not be launched until December 2018.

READ MORE: ION trains delayed, now scheduled for Spring 2019

Initially scheduled to launch in July 2017, the launch is now expected to be almost two years off of the initial launch date.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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