Canadian embassy closed as violent protests in Haiti trap Quebec tourists

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Canada’s embassy in Haiti remains closed amid violent street protests that have trapped dozens of Canadians in the Caribbean country.

The closure of the embassy Wednesday came a day after Global Affairs Canada updated its travel advisory to advise against all non-essential travel to Haiti.

READ MORE: Quebecers trapped in Haiti as violent protests continue

“We will continue to evaluate the security situation over the coming days to determine what steps are necessary to ensure that our diplomats and their families are safe,” Global Affairs said in a statement.

WATCH BELOW: Haitians claim gang members dressed as police carried out massacre







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It said it has people on the ground to provide assistance to Canadian citizens in Haiti as needed.

A group of tourists from Quebec are stuck in a Haiti hotel, unable to make it to the Port-au-Prince airport because of violent street protests.

READ MORE: Men in police garb massacred civilians in Haiti

The only highway linking the all-inclusive Royal Decameron Indigo Beach resort to the airport is considered extremely dangerous, and people are staying off it. The hotel on the Caribbean country’s Côte des Arcadins is about 75 kilometres north of the capital.

Air Transat, which sold package tours to the resort, says its flights between Montreal and Haiti are continuing, but it has been unable to provide safe ground transport from the resort to the airport.

WATCH BELOW: Protesters urge feds to declare moratorium on Haiti deportations






Marie-Christine Remy, said her mother, Terry Watson, and her mother’s partner, Sylvain Limoges, were supposed to fly home last Sunday but could not make it to the airport.

They were switched to a flight Wednesday but again could not get out.

READ MORE: Canadians told to ‘shelter in safe place’ as violent protests erupt in Haiti, travel warning issued

“It’s really troubling,” Remy said from Sherbrooke, Que.

“I called the Canadian government and they told me that it was best to stay at the hotel, which is safer. It is the highways that are particularly dangerous.”

Some tourists have told Quebec media helicopter transport is available to the airport but at a very high cost.

READ MORE: Montreal protesters urge Ottawa to halt Haiti deportations after travel advisory issued

Protests demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise have claimed several lives over the past week.

Protesters are angry about skyrocketing inflation and the government’s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to Haiti.

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It’s a snow day! All TDSB and TCDSB schools closed in Toronto

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Kids across Toronto are jumping for joy after a snow day was declared Tuesday morning, shutting down both public and Catholic schools for the day.

It’s the first snow day for the Toronto District School Board in eight years. The last time TDSB schools were shut down because of snow was in February 2011, the night before a potential storm coined by the public as “Snowmageddon.”

A woman gets blasted Tuesday morning by wind and snow in the West Don Lands, at Lawren Harris Square and Lower River St.
A woman gets blasted Tuesday morning by wind and snow in the West Don Lands, at Lawren Harris Square and Lower River St.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

That decision drew sharp criticism as countless parents were left scrambling to find backup care for their young children. What made it worse was that the storm never came that day, angering parents even more.

Eight years later, the TDSB tweeted Tuesday that it would shut down shortly after 6 a.m. Not a snowflake had hit the ground when the decision was announced. But this time, the storm did start rolling in at around 8 a.m.

“We always make the decision the morning of, so that we have the absolute latest available information,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird. “There have been cases in the past where there has been a forecast, but it hadn’t (arrived) or was delayed later in the day.”

The TDSB sent an email to parents Monday about the pending storm.

“As I hope you can appreciate, the decision concerning whether to keep schools open or closed has a major impact on the lives of thousands of families across Toronto and that is why we strive to keep them open whenever possible,” wrote John Malloy, director of education, before the storm hit. “Should all schools be closed, it causes significant hardship for many families, some of which have no other options readily available for their children.”

The region’s two French-language public school boards, Conseil scolaire Viamonde and Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, have both also closed schools across the GTA.

On Monday, Environment Canada had issued a winter storm warning for Toronto, calling for high winds and between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow, ice pellets and possible freezing rain.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” Environment Canada said. “Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas.”

Pearson airport and Billy Bishop airport are experiencing delays and cancellations Tuesday morning. There have already been more than 400 flights cancelled at Pearson as of 9 a.m. Travellers are advised to check in with their airlines to confirm flight status before leaving for the airport.

Click here to check on status of your flight

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt called the highways “a mess.”

“We’ve got about a dozen crashes right now in the GTA,” said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

All northbound lanes of Highway 400 are currently closed at Teston Rd. because of an earlier multi-vehicle crash that left the male driver of an SUV with life-threatening injuries, Schmidt said.

Other GTA school boards rolled out various cancellations.

Universities and colleges also cancelled classes ahead of the storm’s arrival.

  • Ryerson University is closed, including all classes, university-run events, research labs, business services and administrative operations.
  • The University of Waterloo closed all campus locations. Classes, events, labs and administrative operations are cancelled.
  • George Brown College and Centennial College campuses are closed. George Brown tweeted that child care lab centres will also be closed and continuing education classes will be cancelled for Tuesday evening.
  • All of Centennial College campuses will be closed, including Ashtonbee, Downsview, Morningside, Progress and Story Arts Centre. The college tweeted that the closures include all daytime and evening classes, child care centres and other services. Campuses are expected to reopen Wednesday.
  • Seneca College is closed. In a tweet, the school said it expects to reopen Wednesday.
  • Durham College remains open and all activities are expected to continue as scheduled, although the college said it’s keeping a close eye on the weather.

“We are expecting quite a bit of snow,” Environment Canada meteorologist Gerald Chang said. “If you can plan to avoid going out altogether, that’s the ideal way to deal with it.”

The snowstorm was so bad, even the Raptors cancelled their scheduled practice at the Toronto Raptors Training Facility, their last chance to hold a practice before the NBA all-star break.

The city, police and the TTC say they are keeping close track of the storm and preparing to take extra precautions — especially in light of the city’s last serious snowstorm in January.

The TTC is reminding riders to give themselves extra time for their commute — and asking drivers not to park in the paths of streetcars, which caused massive delays last time.

Toronto police plan to remove vehicles blocking streetcar tracks “as expeditiously as possible” by patrolling the most problematic routes, and making tow trucks readily available, spokesperson Brian Moniz said.

“Depending on the snow level and the degree of obstructions and infractions that may take place, we’re ready to mobilize our staff and provide dedicated resources to the routes,” he said.

City staff will be monitoring streetcar corridors to clear snow “as quickly as possible,” spokesperson Eric Holmes said.

“Every vehicle we have is on the road,” said Holmes. “Typically for this kind of storm, the average amount is 10,000 tonnes of salt city-wide.”

The city has 1,100 vehicles at its disposal, which includes on road plows, driveway machines, snow plows and salt trucks to cover 5,600 streets, 7,000 km of sidewalks and separated bike trails.

The highest priority routes for snow-clearing are expressways, which the city has promised to clear within two to three hours of snowfall. Arterial roads and streetcar routes will take six to eight hours; collector roads, bus routes and all other local streets will be clear after 14-16 hours, according to the city’s levels of service commitments.

With files from Jack Hauen

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

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

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Highway 7 closed by ‘serious’ collision southwest of Saskatoon: RCMP – Saskatoon

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Traffic on Highway 7 is currently being diverted around a motor vehicle collision at the west exit at Vanscoy, Sask.

Warman RCMP described the crash as “serious” in nature. No injuries have been reported.


READ MORE:
3 dead following head-on crash near Melville, Sask.

Both westbound and eastbound lanes of traffic are blocked. Police said it’s unknown when the highway will be reopened.

Vanscoy is roughly 20 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon.

Stay connected with Global News as this story develops.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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New Year’s in Toronto: What’s open and closed – Toronto

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Here is your guide for what services, attractions, major businesses and institutions are open and closed in Toronto on New year’s Eve and New Year’s Day:

Attractions

Art Gallery of Ontario
New Year’s Eve – 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Casa Loma
New Year’s Eve – 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CN Tower

New Year’s Eve – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Ontario Science Centre
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
New Year’s Eve – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Royal Ontario Museum
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Toronto Zoo
New Year’s Eve – 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Alcohol 

Beer Store
New Year’s Eve – Open at regular hours, closes at 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

LCBO
New Year’s Eve – Most stores open until 6 p.m. or 8 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

Malls 

CF Fairview Mall
New Year’s Eve – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

Scarborough Town Centre
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

Square One
New Year’s Eve – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CF Sherway Gardens
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

CF Shops at Don Mills
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

CF Toronto Eaton Centre
New Year’s Eve – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Vaughan Mills
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Yorkdale
New Year’s Eve – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

Public transportation 

Go Transit
New Year’s Eve – Early homebound late-night service and free rides after 7 p.m. The UP Express runs on normal schedule and is also free after 7 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Operating on a holiday schedule.

TTC
New Year’s Eve – Operating on a Sunday schedule with most routes beginning operations at 8 a.m. You can ride for free after 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. New Year’s Day. Service on most routes will be running until around 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m.
New Year’s Day – Operating on a Sunday schedule, meaning most routes will start around 8 a.m.

Other transit services in the GTA will also be offering free service the night of New Year’s Eve, including Mississauga’s MiWay, Brampton Transit, Oakville Transit, York Region Transit and Durham Region Transit.

Services 

City of Toronto garbage collection – no collection on New Year’s Day and all pick up dates beginning on Tuesday will be shifted by a day (i.e. Tuesday’s pick up will be on Wednesday).

City of Toronto operations and municipal offices – offices will be closed on New Year’s Day.

Toronto Public Library
New Year’s Eve – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
New Year’s Day – Closed

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

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What’s open and closed in Ottawa on Boxing Day – Ottawa

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Do you have a list of post-Christmas Day chores to get through?

Look no further — Global News Ottawa has you covered with a list of what’s open and closed on Boxing Day in the capital, including city services.

Food and drink

Some grocery and liquor stores are open on Dec. 26. Please call individual store locations to double-check their hours.

  • Loblaws on Rideau Street downtown is open 24 hours.
  • Loblaws on Isabella Street in the Glebe is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Metro on Rideau Street is open as of 8 a.m.
  • Metro on Bank Street in the Glebe is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Whole Foods at Lansdowne Park: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • All LCBO store locations closed on Boxing Day.
  • Two Beer Store locations in Ottawa are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1860 Bank St. and 515 Somerset St. W. The rest are closed.

Other shopping

  • Call any independent businesses for their store hours.
  • Some drug stores like Shoppers and Rexall are open, but it depends on the location. Contact a specific store to double-check its holiday hours.
  • Mall hours:
    • Rideau Centre: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • Bayshore Shopping Centre: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    • St. Laurent Shopping Centre: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    • Place d’Orléans: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
    • Billings Bridge Shopping Centre: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    • Tanger Outlets: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Museums

  • The National Gallery of Canada: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Canadian Museum of Nature: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Canada Aviation and Space Museum: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Canadian War Museum: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The Canadian Museum of History (in Gatineau): 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m

Other

  • Banks are closed.
  • The ByTowne Theatre, Mayfair Theatre and all Cineplex movie theatres are open.

City of Ottawa services (find the full list here)

  • Ottawa City Hall and all seven client service centres are closed. They’ll reopen with regular hours on Thursday.
  • The Provincial Offences Court, including the courts located at 100 Constellation Cres., are closed.
  • Christmas Day’s garbage, recycling and green bin pickup will take place on Boxing Day. All collection will be delayed by one day for the remainder of the week.
  • All Ottawa Public Library branches and services are closed.
  • The Ottawa Public Health Sexual Health Clinic and satellite clinics are closed.
  • All municipal child care centres are closed.
  • City of Ottawa arts centres, galleries, theatres and museums are closed — except for the Karsh-Masson Gallery, the City Hall Art Gallery and the Barbara Ann Scott Gallery, which will operate on a regular schedule throughout the holidays.
  • Pools, arenas and fitness centres are operating on modified schedules throughout the holidays. Check ottawa.ca for details.
  • The 311 contact centre is open for urgent matters that need the city’s immediate attention.

Transit

  • Free parking is available at the city hall underground garage from Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. to Dec. 27 at 6 a.m.
  • The ByWard Market garage at 70 Clarence St. and the Dalhousie garage at 141 Clarence St. offer free parking from Dec. 24 at 5 p.m. to Dec. 26 at 7 a.m.
  • All other City of Ottawa parking regulations and restrictions apply.
  • OC Transpo is operating on a reduced schedule from Dec. 24 to Dec. 28. Check timetables at octranspo.com
  • OC Transpo operations:
    • The customer service centre at the Rideau Centre is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
    • The other customer service centres at the Lincoln Fields, Place d’Orléans and St-Laurent stations are closed.
    • The transit information centre (613-741-4390) is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Para Transpo is operating a holiday service on Boxing Day. Regularly scheduled trips are automatically cancelled. Para Transpo riders can book trips for Dec. 26 by calling 613-244-7272.
  • Para Transpo operations:
    • The taxi coupon booking line (613-842-3670) is closed.
    • The line for reservations and cancellations (613-244-7272) is open regular hours.

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

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What’s open and closed in Ottawa on Christmas Day – Ottawa

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While most retail locations and all public offices will be closed there will still be some places to get your last minute fixings for Christmas dinner.

Here’s what’s open and closed in Ottawa for Christmas Day.

Shopping

  • The LCBO and Beer Stores close at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve and will remain closed for Christmas Day and Boxing Day
  • All grocery stores in the city will be closed on Christmas Day but will reopen on Boxing Day
  • Most corner stores and a few Shoppers Drug Marts will be open with modified hours
  • Malls in the city, except Westgate shopping centre, will be open on Boxing Day
  • Some Starbucks and Tim Hortons locations are open on Christmas day
  • Cineplex theatres will be open Christmas Day
  • All ski locations will be closed
  • All banks are closed
  • No mail service
  • The War, Nature, Science and Tech and Civilization museums are all closed on Christmas Day

City of Ottawa

  • Ottawa City Hall and all seven client service centres will be closed
  • The City’s Provincial Offences Court will be closed
  • The City’s 311 Contact Centre will be open for urgent matters requiring immediate attention
  • There will be no curbside or multi-residential green bin, recycling, garbage or bulky item collection on Christmas Day
  • The Trail Road waste facility will be closed on Christmas Day
  • Christmas trees will be picked up on regular garbage day
  • All branches and services of the Ottawa Public Library will be closed on Christmas Day

Getting around

  • OC Transpo will operate on a reduced schedule from Dec. 24-28
  • Free parking will be available at City Hall from 6 p.m. Christmas Eve to 6 a.m. on Dec. 27
  • The ByWard Market Garage and Dalhousie Garage will have free parking from 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve to 7 a.m. on Dec. 26
  • The Rideau Centre OC Transpo Customer Service Centre will be closed on Christmas Day
  • Para Transpo will operate a holiday service on Christmas Day

 

 

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

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What’s open and closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day in Toronto – Toronto

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Here is your guide for what services, attractions, major businesses and institutions are open and closed in Toronto on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day:

Attractions

Art Gallery of Ontario
Christmas Eve – 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Casa Loma
Christmas Eve – 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CN Tower

Christmas Eve – 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Christmas Day – 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Boxing Day – 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Ontario Science Centre
Christmas Eve – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Christmas Eve – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Christmas Day – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Boxing Day – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Royal Ontario Museum
Christmas Eve – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Toronto Zoo
Christmas Eve – 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Alcohol

Beer Store
Christmas Eve – open at regular hours, close at 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

LCBO
Christmas Eve – open at regular hours, close at 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – select stores will be open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Malls

CF Fairview Mall
Christmas Eve – 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Scarborough Town Centre
Christmas Eve – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

CF Sherway Gardens
Christmas Eve – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

CF Shops at Don Mills
Christmas Eve – 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

CF Toronto Eaton Centre
Christmas Eve – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Vaughan Mills
Christmas Eve – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Yorkdale
Christmas Eve – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Public transportation

GO Transit
Christmas Eve – Early homebound schedule
Christmas Day – Sunday schedule
Boxing Day – Saturday schedule

TTC
Christmas Day – Sunday schedule, subways and many routes start at 8 a.m.
Boxing Day – Sunday schedule, subways and many routes start at 6 a.m.

Services

City of Toronto garbage collection – no pick up on Christmas Day, all pick up dates beginning on Tuesday will be shifted by a day (i.e. Tuesday’s pick up will be on Wednesday).

City of Toronto operations and municipal offices – most offices are closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day, 311 and emergency services unaffected.

Toronto Public Library
Christmas Eve – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – closed

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

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Closed for renovations: The home of Canada’s democracy

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OTTAWA—It has been home to Canada’s democracy, the scene of momentous debates and landmark decisions that shaped the nation. And now it’s heard its last political debate, at least for a decade.

Centre Block, the heart of Parliament Hill, is closing its doors for a massive — and costly — renovation.

When MPs and Senators return from their holiday break, it will be to new homes in West Block and Ottawa's former train station.
When MPs and Senators return from their holiday break, it will be to new homes in West Block and Ottawa’s former train station.  (Bruce Campion-Smith / Toronto Star)

Parliament has recessed for the holidays. When MPs return on Jan. 28, it will be to a new home in West Block, itself transformed with a $863-million renovation to build a Commons chamber in what used to be a courtyard.

Senators are moving as well. Ottawa’s former train station, transformed once into a conference centre and the scene of past political drama itself, has been repurposed again at a cost of $219 million into a temporary Red Chamber and Senate offices.

For many employees and politicians, the Centre Block closing is bittersweet. By the time it reopens in a decade or more, their time on the Hill will be over.

“Every day when you come into this building, you pinch yourself and say, ‘How the heck did I get here?’ It is hard to believe,” House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan said.

“There is so much history here and so many decisions, so many famous debates … So many things that make up what we consider as fundamental parts of our country today that were decided upon here,” he said in an interview.

There’s no price tag yet for the renovation. There’s not even a full outline of the work to be done.

Public Works officials say they can’t estimate the cost until they have a plan for the renovation and get a handle on the building’s current condition. For example, Centre Block was one of the first steel-frame structures ever in Canada and there are worries whether water infiltration has rusted the steel.

“We’ve already started invasive openings to get a better understanding of what’s behind the walls and floors and ceilings,” said Rob Wright, assistant deputy minister, parliamentary precinct branch, with Public Works and Government Services.

The refurbishment is meant to overhaul the mechanics of the century-old building, such as the electrical and heating systems, and install air conditioning, new IT systems and seismic protections.

But any work beyond that, such as a rethink of the interior spaces, the committee rooms and offices, remains a question mark.

Throughout Centre Block, intricate stone carvings tell stories of Canadian people and places. Spaces were deliberately left blank so that future generations could add their own tales.
Throughout Centre Block, intricate stone carvings tell stories of Canadian people and places. Spaces were deliberately left blank so that future generations could add their own tales.

At a recent Commons committee meeting, MPs made clear they want a say in how Centre Block is redeveloped. And NDP MP David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre) said Canadians deserve a voice as well.

“As everybody else has given their professional input, how about one step back, put the whole thing out there to the nation and say, ‘OK, Canadians, what do you think?” Christopherson said.

At a recent committee meeting, Liberal MP David Graham (Laurentides-Labelle) wondered if the renovation could extend to a dramatic reimagining of the Commons itself.

“Is it important that we keep the chamber in the same physical shape as it is today or is it the opportunity to rethink how chamber itself is structured?” he asked.

It’s a question others are asking too. Writing in Policy Options, editor-in-chief Jennifer Ditchburn lamented the lack of discussion about the future of Centre Block or the possibilities for a new Commons seating arrangement to replace the current adversarial design that has politicians facing off across an aisle.

Regan said that decision will rest with MPs.

“If members decide they want a different shape chamber, the House could decide that. I don’t expect that. I think it would be very difficult to change it,” he said. “But we have to leave that to the future.”

Another possibility is to keep the chamber in West Block when Centre Block eventually reopens, using it for so-called “parallel debates,” as happens now in Australia and the U.K. parliament.

Following the example of those jurisdictions, it would operate in concert with the Commons, allowing more time for debate on private member’s business and committee reports.

As people making nostalgic last visits crowded Centre Block hallways on one recent day, Regan stressed that the House of Commons isn’t a physical space. Rather, it’s the idea of representatives, elected by Canadians, to run government, he said.

“That’s a very important idea in democracy and it’s one that continues, whatever building you’re in,” he said. “However, this is a beautiful building and we’re going to miss it.”

Centre Block and the Peace Tower were built between 1916 and 1927, replacing the ruins of the previous building that had been gutted by fire on Feb. 3, 1916. It was conceived by Toronto architect John Pearson at a time when a younger Canada was coping with war, its aftermath and emerging nationhood.

“I think it’s really stood the test of time and I think those kind of ideals about what we are and what we want to say still resonate today,” said Johanna Mizgala, curator of the House of Commons.

There is history at every turn here.

The Commons chamber has seen speeches by British prime minister Winston Churchill, Nobel Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai, U.S. presidents Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy; Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India; and South African president Nelson Mandela.

The Speaker’s wood-panelled office is where photographer Yousuf Karsh plucked a cigar from Churchill’s mouth and captured the now-famous image of a scowling prime minister.

In the Centre Block's second-floor cabinet room, successive prime ministers have met with ministers debating and deciding national issues of their time.
In the Centre Block’s second-floor cabinet room, successive prime ministers have met with ministers debating and deciding national issues of their time.

In the second-floor cabinet room, successive prime ministers have met with their ministers. The cabinet table is surprisingly scratched and worn by the politicians who have sat around it debating and deciding the momentous decisions of the day.

Throughout the building, intricate stone carvings tell stories of Canadian people and places. Spaces were left blank so that future generations could carve the tales of their time.

“The history of our country and of this place is carved into its very walls. But I think the intent of the architects was to remind members of Parliament of the people of Canada … to remind us who we work for,” Regan said.

During the renovation, some of the memorable experiences will be lost to visitors — going up the Peace Tower, taking in the majestic surroundings of the Library of Parliament, seeing the Senate chamber and its eight large paintings that depict scenes from the First World War.

Officials hope to keep other parliamentary symbols accessible as the work unfolds. The Peace Tower bells will ring until at least 2022. It’s hoped the flag atop the tower will continue to flap in the breeze, apart from one brief interruption when the flagpole is replaced.

Workers began cleaning out the House of Commons Friday, getting ready to move MPs desks to the new chamber.

“I will miss this building. I will miss everything that it signifies,” Mizgala said as she walked the building’s Hall of Honour.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

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Artists fear paintings lost after long-running Vancouver gallery closed

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Artists across Canada are left hunting for their work after Vancouver’s Harrison Galleries quietly shut its doors in April. 

The gallery represented more than 40 artists including Bill Schwarz of Cambridge, Ontario and Drew Kielback of Langley, B.C. 

Schwarz started consigning his work through Harrison Galleries and its owner, Chris Harrison, in 2013. 

Harrison Galleries was a popular venue for artists and locals in Vancouver. (Marc Smith/Marc My Travels)

« He said all the right things. He said, ‘I’d like to see some of (the) paintings originally…because I want to see brush strokes.’ To an artist, that means the guy knows what he’s talking about, » Schwarz said in an interview at his studio. 

In March this year, after he asked for an inventory of 44 paintings he had consigned to the gallery, Schwarz says Harrison told him he was closing the gallery, because the landlord had quadrupled the rent but that he would try to open in another location.  

That didn’t happen. 

Chris Harrison took over Harrison Galleries from his father who opened it in 1958. (Marc Smith/Marc My Travels)

Lost paintings

After what Schwarz says was a lot of prompting, Harrison eventually sent back 33 paintings, but 11 are missing.

When he couldn’t get a clear answer as to where they might be, Schwarz decided to contact other artists.

« He has about 44 artists. so, at random, I picked 10 of them, sent emails to them and said this is my story. Within three hours, I had a deluge from the 10 of the eight saying exactly the same story, » he said.

Drew Keilback was one of them. 

He had met Alex Harrison, Chris’s father — who founded the gallery in 1958  —  years before and was thrilled to be able to consign his paintings there in 2010.

‘It was a big name in Vancouver,’ says B.C. artist Drew Keilback who sold his work through Harrison Galleries for eight years. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

« It was the gallery I wanted to get into and finally when I had enough paintings we went in, and Chris looked them over and accepted them and I thought, ‘oh that’s great’ … it was a big name in Vancouver, » he told CBC. 

When the gallery closed, Harrison eventually returned several paintings, but Keilback says some were damaged, and he’s still missing six paintings.

« He said they were in storage and that he would get to it, but when I phoned him back I never got another answer, » he said.

The coffee shop at Harrison Galleries. (Marc Smith/Marc My Travels)

CBC News has been unable to contact Chris Harrison  by phone or email despite several attempts. Those who know the industry say the lack of written agreements between galleries and artists is a problem.

Business of art

« Unfortunately, artists are not necessarily always thinking about things like paperwork and contracts. The scene being what it is, oftentimes, it’s more by verbal agreement, » said Annie Briard, an instructor at Emily Carr University. 

Bill Schwarz has filed reports with Waterloo Regional Police and Vancouver police in an effort to find his paintings. 

« Title never really transfers to the gallery. The gallery is really kind of an agent acting for you to sell the paintings and then retains a commission, so the paintings are always yours, » he said.

Keilback says the loss of his work is hard to take.  

« You’re pouring your heart and soul into it more or less and you’re trusting them to represent you, » he said.

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‘Would have been a step backwards’: Winnipeggers vote to keep Portage and Main closed

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Winnipeggers have voted nearly two-to-one to keep the city’s iconic downtown intersection closed to pedestrian traffic. 

Voters were asked to mark « yes » or « no » in response to the question, « Do you support the opening of Portage and Main to pedestrian crossings? » 

On Wednesday, 65 per cent said « no. » 

While the results of the plebiscite are non-binding, Brian Bowman, who was re-elected mayor, promised during the campaign that he would honour the result.

Coun. Jeff Browaty, re-elected Wednesday night, was a vocal opponent of opening Portage and Main. 

« I don’t think we’re saying ‘no’ to progress and improvements to our downtown. I think what Winnipeg didn’t approve of was the dramatic impacts it would have on our traffic, » Browaty said. « I think this would have been a step backwards. »

The intersection was closed to above-ground pedestrian traffic in 1979, sending pedestrian traffic to an underground concourse.

Vote Open campaign spokesperson Adam Dooley called the results « super disappointing. » 

It would be difficult to win support for any public works project through a plebiscite, he said. 

« I think we’ve raised a lot of issues, and … this issue isn’t going away, and I don’t think we’ll be going away, either, » Dooley said.

« At some point those barricades have to come down, when the intersection is repaired, and I think that there’ll be an opportunity to continue discussion. I just hope it isn’t by a plebiscite and I hope it’s not as divisive as this one has been. » 

Dooley said he also hopes the new city council deals with some of the downtown traffic and accessibility issues identified during the campaign.

John Giavedoni, a Vote Open volunteer and a resident in the Exchange District, said the group fought an uphill battle and were disappointed with the result. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

John Giavedoni, executive director of the Residents of the Exchange District, also volunteered for Vote Open and was disappointed by the result, but said he’s not giving up. 

« We knew it was a big hill to climb, » he said. « It’s very difficult to ask people to spend money for something that may delay their commute, in an area they might not even go to. » 

‘The whole city got to vote’

People didn’t have enough information before this plebiscite, he said, and he expects when cost estimates to fix the concourse come out next year, council may take another look. 

« I don’t vote on a roundabout in River Heights and I don’t vote on a traffic light in Charleswood, and yet the whole city got to vote on a very small expenditure at Portage and Main, » he said.

« I don’t blame this on the voters — this is on city council. »

Council approved the plebiscite question — the first in Winnipeg in 35 years — in July.

Vote Open spokespeople, Adam Dooley (left) and Brent Bellamy (right), took their loss in stride after the city voted in favour of keeping Portage and Main closed on Wednesday. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Downtown successes

« When it comes to our downtown, I believe that all Winnipeggers have a stake in it, » Browaty said. « Public perception of Winnipeg, I think a lot of that comes from downtown. » 

He cited developments in the Exchange, The Forks and True North Square. 

« I don’t think Portage and Main needs to be open for our downtown to succeed. »

Reopening the intersection to pedestrians was part of Bowman’s successful 2014 mayoral campaign, but Browaty pushed for the plan to go to a vote.

Watch re-elected Mayor Brian Bowman speak on the Portage and Main vote:

‘Winnipeggers on both sides of the issue care passionately about our city,’ says Brian Bowman, who was re-elected as Winnipeg’s mayor on Oct. 24. 0:51

Motkaluk said the plan was nothing more than a vanity project for Bowman and the money could be better spent on other things.

Initially, reopening the intersection was projected to cost $11.6 million, including the cost of purchasing more buses to offset rush-hour transit delays.

Plebiscite results aside, the city will still go ahead with $2 million in repairs to the intersection.

The city said earlier this year that even with a « no » vote on reopening the intersection, the repairs, both above and below ground, could result in the removal of some of the concrete barricades.

A CBC-commissioned Probe Research poll conducted in August found a majority of respondents — 67 per cent — opposed the idea of reopening the Portage and Main intersection. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Poll showed strong opposition

CBC-commissioned Probe Research poll conducted in August suggested most people opposed reopening the intersection for three main reasons: concerns about traffic delays, costs and the potential for collisions between cars and pedestrians.

Those who said they wanted the intersection reopened cited concerns about accessibility for people in wheelchairs, the need to design downtown for pedestrians as well as cars, and concerns about safety in the underground concourse and stairwells.

After council approved putting the question on the ballot, a group of Winnipeggers started a Vote Open campaign and pushed for the removal of the barricades, saying reopening the intersection would help revitalize downtown.

​​With files from Bartley Kives and Holly Caruk.

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