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Woman, 19, accused of throwing a chair off downtown Toronto balcony, turns herself in

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A 19-year-old woman has turned herself in to police, four days after a widely viewed video showed a chair being tossed off a downtown Toronto highrise balcony, sparking huge outrage.

Marcella Zoia, a Toronto resident, walked in to 52 Division around 7 a.m. this morning. She has been charged with mischief endangering life, mischief involving damage to property and common nuisance.

Det. Todd Higo said Zoia was alone when she turned herself in.

She is scheduled to appear in College Park court today in room 505.

Police said in a news release that they started an investigation into the incident that happened 10 a.m. Saturday in the Harbour St and York St. area.

A video of the incident, which was widely shared online, shows a young woman picking up a folding chair and tossing it over the railing hundreds of feet in the air.

The video follows the chair as it hurtles towards the busy Gardiner Expressway and ends just before it hits the ground. Police later said a second chair and other items were tossed as well.

Const. David Hopkinson on Wednesday said detectives are investigating whether the apartment unit was being rented as a short-term rental.

In a short statement, Airbnb spokesperson Ben Brait said the company is investigating whether any of its users were involved in the incident.

“We are outraged by the blatant disregard for community safety on display in the video,” he said.

“We will be suspending any guest accounts that appear to be connected to this incident. Additionally, we have reached out proactively to Toronto police to offer our full support to help them investigate this abhorrent behaviour.”

Ajax woman Tyler Walton told the Star she believed she rented the same unit Saturday night, the same day as the chair-throwing incident, through AirBnB.

She said she saw the broken chairs on the street in front of the condo tower’s Lake Shore Blvd. W. entrance and later noticed the unit did not have the balcony set shown in the online listing. She said she didn’t put two and two together until she saw the video.

“I saw the chairs outside on the street and joked to my boyfriend that they looked like they were thrown,” she said. “He didn’t think anyone was dumb enough to do that.”

The online listing for the unit — Walton said it’s a south-facing apartment on the 45th floor — includes pictures of a patio set that appear to match the chairs in the video.

Walton said she asked the AirBnB host if the unit should have had a balcony set, and was told yes.

Walton said the AirBnB host told her to arrive later than the regular check-in time because the previous guests had left it “a disaster.”

Read more:

Toronto police investigating ‘reckless’ video of woman throwing chair from downtown highrise

Opinion | Emma Teitel: Toronto’s chair thrower is a symptom of a bigger problem

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Fairbnb researcher and spokesperson Thorben Wieditz said it’s not unusual to hear residents in downtown highrises in the area complain about problems caused short-term rentals.

“It’s very common for partiers and Airbnb guests to throw stuff off the condos. What we haven’t seen yet is something like those two chairs that could have very well caused death,” he said, noting the group is “desperately” waiting for the city’s regulations on short-term rentals to come into effect.

Hopkinson said Monday that he was “outraged” at the incident.

“Anybody could’ve been walking underneath,” he said, adding if someone was hit, they could have suffered “catastrophic” injuries.

A conviction for mischief endangering life could result in jail time, Hopkinson told the Star earlier.

With files from Gilbert Ngabo

Jack Hauen is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jackhauen

Alexandra Jones is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @AlexandraMaeJ

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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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