Delaying Waterfront LRT would cost billions in lost tax revenue, productivity: BIA report


Call it Toronto’s forgotten transit line.

While council has officially endorsed the Waterfront LRT as one of its priority transit projects, talk of the proposed light-rail line along the city’s lakefront has consistently been drowned out by debates about more high-profile schemes such as the relief line or Scarborough subway extension.

Tim Kocur, head of the Waterfront BIA, is trying to rally support for an LRT on Queens Quay E.
Tim Kocur, head of the Waterfront BIA, is trying to rally support for an LRT on Queens Quay E.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

The Waterfront Business Improvement Area is hoping to change that. On Wednesday, the group is releasing an economic analysis it says shows the urgent need to move ahead with the line in the next few years.

“This is a huge opportunity to build transit first for a neighbourhood that is already growing but has even more growth potential. It’s truly staggering,” said Tim Kocur, executive director of the Waterfront BIA, which covers the lakeshore area bounded by Stadium Rd. and Yonge St.

The report was prepared for the BIA by Hatch, an engineering consultancy firm. It contemplates a seven-kilometre version of the Waterfront East LRT that would run between Union Station and Coxwell Ave., connecting downtown to the Port Lands and the Beach. Designs drafted by the city have the line running in a dedicated right-of-way along Queens Quay East from Bay St. to Parliament St.

The Waterfront East line would cost upwards of $1 billion, and is part of a larger $2-billion light-rail network that would stretch as far as Long Branch in the west. Some parts of the network are still in early design phases and, according to timelines presented to council, wouldn’t be complete until sometime after 2028. City staff are expected to provide an update on the project in the second quarter of this year.

The BIA report contends the Waterfront East LRT could be built as early as 2025, and compares that accelerated timeline to a worst-case scenario in which the project would be delayed until 2045.

It concludes that not building the route until then would cost $1.8 billion in lost productivity between 2025 and 2045. The delay would also cost more than $20 billion in foregone tax revenue to the city, provincial and federal governments.

The figures are based on projected waterfront development the report says would take place sooner if the line were built over the next six years.

Queens Quay East is already seeing significant construction, and the long-planned redevelopment of the Port Lands is expected to create a new commercial and residential hub almost equivalent in size of the existing downtown.

Sidewalk Labs, which is planning to build a high-tech test community on Quayside, has described the LRT as “critical to the future and success” of the project.

The BIA report claims moving forward the in-service date for the Waterfront East LRT would accelerate the creation of 19 million square feet of office space, 25,000 new housing units, and 1.3 million square feet of retail along the waterfront, which could support more than 135,000 new jobs and 67,000 residents.

Kocur conceded that much of the development would likely happen regardless of whether the LRT is built, but said without the transit line it wouldn’t happen as fast. He argued that by pairing new builds with new transit, the city has the opportunity to avoid repeating mistakes made in areas such as Liberty Village, where rampant development hasn’t been matched with new lines.

“This is a chance to build transit first as opposed to trying to catch up after the development has already happened,” he said.

Council voted in 2016 to designate the Waterfront LRT as one of the city’s priority projects eligible for federal funding, along with the relief line, Eglinton East LRT, and Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan.

Although the provincial and federal governments last year announced $9 billion in combined funding for Toronto transit projects, there is not yet a formal agreement to fund the Waterfront LRT.

City and provincial leaders have expended much more energy championing other projects council has endorsed, raising the possibility the waterfront project will be pushed to the back of the line.

Councillor Joe Cressy, who represents the ward that would cover much of the Waterfront East LRT route, said nothing should dislodge the relief line’s position as Toronto’s top transit priority.

But the councillor, who sits on the Waterfront BIA’s board, said that with the Port Lands development expected to start coming online over the next decade, the city can’t afford to wait to build transit to that area as well, and the clock is already ticking.

“We are building new commercial and residential neighbourhoods all along the waterfront east,” he said, and “the longer we wait to invest in transit the more productivity we’re losing.”

In the run-up to the June 2018 provincial election, the now-governing Progressive Conservatives were the only party not to make a specific pledge to fund the line.

Mike Winterburn, a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek, said Tuesday the province is aware the city is working on a final design for waterfront transit, but has not yet “formally requested provincial funding.”

“Should the province receive a funding request, the business case would be considered in the context of other provincial infrastructure and budget priorities.”

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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‘We are trying to explain … we don’t make this kind of money,’ says couple who won, then lost, a housing lottery


Sarah Bankuti was eight months pregnant and had been hospitalized for a health scare when she got news that should have changed her growing family’s life for the better: they had been randomly selected out of thousands of people to apply to move into a new affordable rental building in Regent Park.

Toronto Community Housing, they were told by email, had pulled their names in a housing lottery of sorts and if they cleared the next round of paperwork they would move out of their cramped one bedroom in the east end and into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in March and pay just $1,358 a month.

It was welcome news during a frightening time. They were in Michael Garron Hospital and she had been hooked to multiple monitors because their baby girl hadn’t moved for two days. Then they read the Oct. 26 email.

“The baby started kicking right away,” says Bankuti, 33. “We were so happy, because we couldn’t believe we got picked.”

This wasn’t their only reason to celebrate. Her husband, John Bankuti, 36, started a new job with Canada Post in August. His last job was as a dog-walker. He is now a full-time relief letter carrier. Training started in mid-August and in the fall he received a minor bump in overtime pay as well as hundreds in bonus pay for delivering flyers and Christmas catalogues.

They’d entered the lottery on a whim in September, filling out a simple one page form that outlined the maximum gross income to be considered. After winning, they filled out detailed paperwork, attached pay stubs from September and October and planned for the future.

But that elation didn’t last. Bankuti got another email from TCH early in December informing them the pay stubs they submitted showed their combined gross income was roughly $15,000 above the $65,184 threshold for a 3-bedroom unit and they were being pulled from the list. There is no option to appeal.

The couple insists that even with his new job their combined annual gross income, particularly because she was going on maternity leave, is not guaranteed to exceed the threshold. They believe their gross income will actually be less, they told the Star.

“We would be fine with it if they denied us for a valid reason. We are not unreasonable people,” says Bankuti, who works as a nanny and spoke with the Star on Wednesday, two days before a scheduled C-section. “I find it impossible that there is no appeal process,” for people whose income is not guaranteed, or who could have a sudden surge in income at different times of the year, she says.

“If I knew that I would have told my husband to not get this job.”

A full-time relief carrier, Canada Post confirmed, at that early salary level makes at least roughly $42,500 gross each year. The slips Bankuti submitted also included an inflated gross of several hundred dollars from the extra hours and flyer delivery. Her pay slips showed she made a gross income of about $27,060 by the end of November. Together, even without his extra pay, that still puts them over the threshold, but her salary is never guaranteed, she says, and on maternity leave she’ll take in about 55 per cent of whatever her weekly income is.

They reached out to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office and a representative from that office contacted TCH to find out if appeals were an option. They were told it was not but that housing staff considered everything they were sent.

Toronto Community Housing, who had reviewed their pay stubs multiple times including additional ones they were sent in November, says people are judged on what they are making at the time of the application and those slips clearly show they do not qualify.

The couple have offered to provide TCH with past and future tax returns, additional payslips and letters of employment to defend their case — but those offers have been rejected.

A spokesperson for the housing corporation told the Star that there is no formal appeal process and overtime and bonuses are factored into the equation.

“All applicants are assessed for eligibility and must meet the income criteria for the program at the time of application; past and future earning potential is not considered,” says Daniele Gauvin, a senior communications adviser with the housing corporation in an email. “The documents submitted by the Bankuti household showed that their household income exceeded the eligibility limit for a three-bedroom unit at 110 River Street.”

Bankuti met with the Star in her narrow one-bedroom apartment near Gerrard St. E. and Greewood Ave. She and her husband pay $1,350 a month and share the space with his 4-year-old daughter Gwendolyn, who lives with them part time, and a mini-dachshund cross named Tiberius.

When the little girl stays with them she sleeps on a pullout couch in the living room. Tiberius and his bed are small but the narrow layout means he, the bed and the stuffed shark he sleeps with are underfoot. The baby will sleep in the bedroom, currently packed with a bassinet, a double bed and a chest of drawers from Ikea that serves as a changing table.

Bankuti bought it after Googling “how to have a baby in a small area.”

What would have been their new home was 110 River St., a brand new 29-storey building in the heart of the largely redeveloped neighbourhood of Regent Park.

With close to 2,780 people eligible to apply for 75 units they never thought they had a chance at winning and, they say, honestly believed that even with his new job they were not guaranteed to exceed $65,184.

In a city facing a severe lack of affordable housing the lottery the couple entered was framed as one way that people trying to survive on lower incomes could get ahead, which in Toronto means skipping the centralized wait list.

The current wait list for subsidized housing in Toronto — which includes Toronto Community Housing, co-operatives and private non-profit housing — is close to 99,000 households and about one-third of those waiting are seniors.

The River St. building is close to a new recreation centre and the TTC, and the rent is fixed. Three-bedroom units are $1,358, two-bedrooms are $1,141 and one-bedroom units cost $962. Utilities are included.

Average market rents for a three-bedroom purpose-built rentals in the Census Metropolitan Area is $1,633, according to data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Those figures use occupied units — landlords can charge what they want for newly empty units — and don’t factor in pricier options like condominiums. Research firm Urbanation recently published a report showing that the average cost of renting a studio condominium averaged $1,800 and a two-bedroom condominium went for about $2,700.

The Bankuti family has been on a wait list for a two-bedroom in co-operative housing for about a year but has been told they could be waiting anywhere from two to five years.

He says they haven’t given up entirely on pleading their case to get into an affordable home. “We are trying to explain in an open way that we don’t make this kind of money.”

For now he is looking forward to meeting their new daughter and working for a company he respects. She is deeply concerned about whether she will be able to take on work after the baby is born. Two children she regularly cared for are moving, upsetting her plans to bring her new baby along when she’s caring for them, she says.

Both know they can’t afford to move.

“Two bedrooms are so expensive now and especially because I am going to be on maternity leave we literally can’t afford anything else,” she says.

With files from Donovan Vincent

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter covering affordable and precarious housing. Follow her on Twitter: @emathieustar


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Lost gifts prompt act of kindness at Calgary store


It’s not the start to Christmas that Kyle Larocque had pictured.

Two bags of presents worth thousands of dollars disappeared from his truck while traveling from Lumsden, Sask., to Calgary.

“We pulled up to the driveway and started unloading the gifts,” said Laroque. “[The bags were] right at the back and they were gone.”

Larocque believes the suitcases were stolen sometime during the eight-hour drive. He said there’s no way the suitcases could have been tossed from the truck.

“We had our bungee cords and straps holding stuff down but we didn’t think about people.”

Calgary pets pose with Santa to raise awareness about animal testing

Larocque was determined to make sure an early Christmas still went ahead as planned and made a trip to Sunridge Mall. His hope was to replace some of the stolen presents.

One stop for a few kitchen supplies brought him to Think Kitchen to pick up gifts meant for his children and spouse.

When he was asked by an employee what he was looking for, and said he was re-buying some gifts, he was met with a generous surprise.

“It was time for me to pay so I said: ‘How much is it?’” said Larocque. “They just smiled at me… They shook their heads and smiled and said: ‘Merry Christmas.’”

Ali Ahamadi and Natasha Spencer had split the $22 bill for the gifts as a way to help out the family.

Volunteer ‘elves’ from across Calgary prepare for Christmas at Santa’s workshop

Both employees said past experiences helped them realize that even the smallest gesture can help during the holidays.

Ahamadi said he’s no stranger to stolen presents ahead of the holidays.

“A couple years ago my family’s house got broken into,” he explained. “Even when people helped us a little bit, that felt really good.”

Spencer said the recent kindness of customers prompted her to help out.

“We’ve had a couple incidents where customers have come in, bought stuff and given us gifts. So it was us paying it forward,” said Spencer.

Larocque’s partner said the small but meaningful act of kindness has inspired them to help out in the future.

“I think we’ll try and come up with something to help someone else in need or who’s fallen on hard times,” said Kerstin Johnson. “Maybe not even at Christmas, but throughout the year.”

Brooks RCMP said they investigated but because there’s no way to find the gifts or whoever stole them, the case has been closed.

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


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This 5-year-old gave her birthday presents to 2 kids who lost their home to fire


Olivia Legge was hoping there’d be a lot of presents at her sixth birthday party on Sunday, but she wasn’t hoping to keep them for herself.

Instead, she’s giving them to two children — a two-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy — whose house burned down Friday night near Lethbridge.

« She’s always been super giving and super kind, » said her mother, Krista Legge.

Olivia Legge and her mother Krista Legge and father Michael Legge. (Submitted by Krista Legge)

Krista first heard about the fire on Facebook on Friday night when a friend of hers who works with the fire department in Lethbridge posted about it. The Legges live in Clarenville, which is in the area.

« Clarenville as a town, and our little communities surrounding, we try our best to come together and help anyone who’s [in] need, » Krista said.

Not every five-year-old is going to give up presents.– Krista Legge

She thought perhaps there was something her family could do, especially with Olivia’s birthday party a few days away. She and her husband approached their daughter the next day, and told her that fire had taken a family’s home, including all the Christmas presents for the two children. 

« We didn’t even have the words out of our mouth. She said, ‘Mommy, Daddy, I don’t need presents. I have a lot of stuff, let’s give my presents to them,' » Krista said.

A community party

With the help of her parents, she opened up her Pokémon-themed birthday party to the community at large, encouraging people to bring donations and gifts for the two kids. Her mom posted a video of Olivia asking people to come.

By late Sunday morning, before the party had even started, $200 worth of donations had poured in, Krista said. By the time the shindig was over, Olivia had a pile of toys ready for the kids, as well as a couple gift cards and a total of $535 in cash donations.

« It just shows the true colours of being five years old. »

The plan is for Olivia and her parents to deliver all the gifts and donations to the family themselves, « so that Olivia can really see the difference that she’s making. »

Olivia’s actual sixth birthday isn’t until later in the month and her mom said there is definitely something a little extra special in store for that day, to celebrate her incredible generosity.

« Not every five-year-old is going to give up presents, » Krista said.

Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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How Ontario’s doctors lost faith in Doug Ford — and each other


Ontario doctors are mad.

Mad at the last Liberal government.

Mad at the present Progressive Conservative government.

Mad at the Ontario Medical Association.

Mad at their fellow doctors.

Mad at themselves.

Or mad at all of the above.

Doctors do God’s work looking after patients. But they have not been looking after themselves on the labour front of late, which is most maddening of all.

After going for years without a contract, many MDs grew to hate the Liberals in power, prompting the membership to reject a 2016 agreement negotiated by their OMA leaders at the time. Dissident doctors pined for a Progressive Conservative government that promised a good-faith negotiation — with arbitration if necessary.

“The Liberals created a toxic relationship with our doctors by making unilateral decisions,” the premier’s spokesperson declared after the Tories took power. “Doug Ford is committed to respecting Ontario’s physicians and fixing the relationship.”

Be careful what you wish for. Hoping for healing is not enough.

The Tories took Ontario’s doctors for a wild ride this week. Despite Ford’s personal promise to respect physicians and protect the process, the premier’s office pulled the plug: It would no longer be legally bound by binding arbitration. A lawyer’s letter abruptly declared the process dead and buried. The government tried to dismiss its own appointee to the three-member arbitration panel the next day.

Just like that. Promise made, promise broken.

Read more:

Ford government to return to arbitration with Ontario doctors

Tories cut cultural funding, revamp tribunals in scramble for savings

Schism within government on how to deal with the Ontario Medical Association puts premier and health minister at odds

The OMA exploded. Doctors went ballistic. Labour lawyers were apoplectic, accusing the government of not only losing its way but flouting the law.

Both sides are prone to grandstanding in labour negotiations, walking away from the bargaining table or unleashing ultimatums. But aborting arbitration, after agreeing to abide by it, is not part of the playbook if it violates a formally agreed legal framework.

The Tories’ self-serving explanation was that the OMA is now riven by divisions, and could no longer be counted upon to deliver its members if they ever reached a deal. In short, the government declared non-confidence in its bargaining opponent.

As outlandish as that assertion might be in law, it is not outrageous in reality. For it is a fact that the OMA, in a previous incarnation, reached a tentative agreement two years ago with the previous Liberal government, only to fumble the ball.

It was a compromise, as all negotiations are. But the OMA executive, having sealed the deal, couldn’t sell the deal to its members — in short, it couldn’t deliver.

Dissident doctors, led by the best-paid specialists (who resisted taking a haircut so that lower-paid general practitioners could catch up), whipped up opposition to the deal. They won the vote, defeated the deal, and ousted the OMA’s old leadership on the promise of getting a better bargain after the next election.

While the doctors were playing tough, another group of professionals took a different tack: Ontario’s teachers’ unions, who are no slouches in contract negotiations, opted to take the best deal they could get from then-premier Kathleen Wynne, who wanted to avoid pre-election labour strife.

Teachers took the money and ran — before time ran out on the election clock, and before the province’s fiscal situation deteriorated. Doctors, by contrast, rejected their own deal, rebelled against their own organization, and turned against each other.

A civil war among physicians has culminated in a secession attempt by highly paid specialists who want to create the “Ontario Specialists Association,” or OSA, to rival the OMA. The latest round of internal warfare provided the pretext for the government to opt out of binding arbitration — escalating the conflict to a nuclear war.

The stakes are high for doctors and patients, politicians and taxpayers. MDs get more than $12 billion a year — roughly 10 per cent of the annual budget at a time when the Tories are retrenching.

Having accused the Liberals of fostering a “toxic relationship,” Ford has personally poisoned the well by going back on his word. Perhaps the premier could not resist exploiting the weakness of a faction-ridden OMA — an organization that never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity with the Liberals, reposing its faith in Ford for a panacea on pay.

By week’s end, the Tories had done another U-turn. Facing ferocious pressure from doctors, or perhaps a second opinion from their lawyers, the government undid its ultimatum — and agreed to arbitration again.

Just like that. Promise made, promise broken, promise remade.

No doubt doctors are hoping for healing again. But we should all have learned by now to be careful what we wish for.

Martin Regg Cohn is a columnist based in Toronto covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn


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He found her lost purse but didn’t want a reward. Instead he asked her to give kids ‘the magic of Christmas’


What began as a merry family outing last Sunday, capped by a visit to Nathan Phillips Square’s Holiday Fair, turned into a frantic search for a missing purse.

And no wonder the search was so desperate. The purse held all the essential stuff of modern life, as well as cash for Christmas expenses, payments and donations.

Gary Fish didn’t want a reward for returning Elizabeth Marquez’s lost purse — he asked her to make a donation to the Star’s Santa Claus Fund instead. “I believe every kid should know the joy of having a gift at Christmas,” he said.
Gary Fish didn’t want a reward for returning Elizabeth Marquez’s lost purse — he asked her to make a donation to the Star’s Santa Claus Fund instead. “I believe every kid should know the joy of having a gift at Christmas,” he said.  (Henry Stancu / Toronto Star)

As it turned out, Elizabeth Marquez had nothing to worry about. Her purse would be returned that evening by a “unique soul” who turned down her offer of a reward, asking instead that she donate the money to the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund so “kids could experience the magic of Christmas.”

Marquez, her daughters, Lily, 5, and Mariana, 7, and husband Victor, had taken advantage of last Sunday’s mild weather to have brunch at a west-end Toronto restaurant followed by a streetcar ride to city hall, where ice skaters packed the outdoor rink and seasonally spirited kids, teens and adults were drawn to the holiday fair in the square.

Moments after stepping off the Queen streetcar, the family posed for a group selfie by the rink. It was then that the stay-at-home mom noticed her purse was missing.

“I felt weak in the knees, like my whole world was crashing,” said Marquez. “Everything is in my purse, all the credit and access cards, OHIP cards, mine and the girls’, driver’s licence, all our keys, and my phone with all of the information about my life — mom’s brain is basically in there — and $2,000 cash I had just taken out of the bank. Unfortunately the cellphone battery was dead, so I couldn’t (use GPS to) locate it.”

She decided her husband and daughters should go home, just in case someone found her purse and took it there. Then she checked at the city hall security desk, on the chance it had been turned in.

Just moments before realizing her purse was missing and the start of her frantic search for it, Elizabeth Marquez, left, posed for a happy family photo with her daughters, Lily, 5, beside her, and Mariana, 7, missing her front teeth, and husband Victor, at the Nathan Phillips Square Holiday Fair on Sunday.
Just moments before realizing her purse was missing and the start of her frantic search for it, Elizabeth Marquez, left, posed for a happy family photo with her daughters, Lily, 5, beside her, and Mariana, 7, missing her front teeth, and husband Victor, at the Nathan Phillips Square Holiday Fair on Sunday.

Marquez and a security guard looked in and around garbage containers in the square and in city hall’s washrooms but had no luck. Thinking she may have left it on the streetcar, Marquez decided to get back on to see if a driver could help her. “I told the driver what happened and he called in a report.”

It was only when she got home that her dismay turned to jubilation, as her husband told her the purse had been brought to their neighbourhood police station.

It turned out Gary Fish had boarded the streetcar at Bay St. just as Marquez and her family were stepping off, and noticed the purse on an empty seat. He first thought it belonged to a woman paying her fare at the ticket machine, but when she sat at another seat he realized it wasn’t hers.

“As more people were about to get on a few stops later, I decided to take temporary possession of it and started looking for clues as to who owned it,” said Fish, who has worked in Canadian Tire’s marketing department for 16 years.

“Looking inside and seeing all the contents that are a big part of someone’s life made me realize how important it was to get it to the owner, and getting it to a police station made the most sense.”

Fish got off at Parliament St. and headed to the 51 Division station at Front St., where he handed in the purse. A police officer phoned him about an hour later, asking whether he would mind having his number passed on to the owner, who wanted to personally thank him.

“When I called and offered to compensate him for all he did, he asked me to make a donation to the Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund instead,” said Marquez.

She thinks acts of kindness that result in happy endings should be shared because they refresh our faith in humanity: “Gary is a unique soul, and I think this story should be spread.”

Asked why he suggested a donation to the Santa Claus Fund, Fish said “it’s important for all kids to feel the magic of Christmas and the surprise of getting a gift — even if they are kids who don’t understand Christmas, who come from other cultures, because it’s something they would hear about in the schoolyard and from other kids.

“Looking back to when I was little, my parents may have had some financial struggles, but I always got to experience the magic of a Christmas morning. And although I didn’t receive a Santa Claus Fund gift box from the Star, I believe every kid should know the joy of having a gift at Christmas.”

Henry Stancu is a Toronto-based business reporter. Reach him on email:


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‘Making up for lost time’: Stampeders celebrate Grey Cup 3 years in the making


EDMONTON — This time, they didn’t flinch.

There wasn’t heartbreak, a fumble or interception that would leave the Calgary Stampeders wondering what might have been.

It was only pure joy and celebration for the Stamps, who defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 27-16 to capture the 106th Grey Cup.

And when the clock finally hit zeroes inside Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday night in Edmonton, Calgary players galloped onto the field, raced to the stage and hoisted the trophy that had eluded them the past two seasons.

They danced around for what seemed like an eternity as red-and-white confetti shot into the calm, crisp night. None of the players were leaving the stage. They weren’t in a hurry. It was a championship moment three years in the making.

« Those emotions flooded over us. We were making up for lost time, » said Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

A special kind of win

Mitchell was named the Grey Cup MVP for the second time in his career. He was named MVP during his first Grey Cup win four years ago in Vancouver and is now 2-2 as a starter in the championship game.

But this win was different. The heartbreaking sting of the last two Grey Cup defeats left the Stampeders wondering if they’d ever get back to the top.

« It’s been hard, » Mitchell said. « The amount of time you put in. There is so much sacrifice and sometimes it feels worthless when you get to the championship and lose. »

When the Stampeders finally made it inside their locker room, the champagne sprayed, cigar smoke swirled and beer shot in all directions. The players went wild — their dancing, singing and celebrating told the story about how difficult the past three seasons have been.

« I think everyone knew tonight nothing was going to hold us back, » Mitchell said. « We were all going to do this for each other. That’s the difference. »

Mitchell, centre, sprays champagne in the dressing room as Calgary celebrates its Grey Cup victory. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Changing the narrative

There were times throughout the game the Stamps could have faltered or went « here we go again. »

Mitchell threw two first-half interceptions and Calgary let Ottawa stay in the game. The score was 14-11 Calgary with time ticking down before halftime — but it felt like the Stamps should have been leading by much more.

Then Calgary punt returner Terry Williams changed the story for a team that so badly needed a big play in a Grey Cup game.

Williams caught the Ottawa punt at his own 23 yard line with 20 seconds left and started to rumble on the icy turf. Players had trouble with their footing all throughout the game — Williams did too at the beginning of his run. He braced himself, got his feet under him and never looked back.

Williams ran straight to the end zone. His 97-yard punt-return touchdown was the longest in Grey Cup history. More importantly, it swung the momentum back to Calgary — something they just couldn’t do in the previous two title games.

Watch highlights of Calgary’s Grey Cup victory over Ottawa:

After back-to-back Grey Cup defeats, Bo Levi Mitchell and the Calgary Stampeders rode off to a 27-16 win over Ottawa, avenging their loss to the Redblacks in the 2016 championship game. 2:49

« I wanted to show the world what I could do, » Williams said. « That field is horrible. It was slippery. I couldn’t wear the cleats I wanted to.

Williams gave the Stamps a 21-11 lead going into halftime and instilled confidence in a team so fragile from two previous Grey Cup defeats.

« We said all week there’s no way we’re going to lose this game. We weren’t going to choke. »

Most Outstanding Canadian

Resilience is what the Stampeders preached all season long. Calgary wanted to be a team that fought through adversity and found ways to win.

Lemar Durant needed to be resilient when it mattered most. He dropped two easy passes for the Stampeders early in the game and looked shaken.

But Mitchell never gave up on his receiver. And Durant wasn’t about to drop the ball a third time.

He made a spectacular leaping catch and dove into the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to give the team a 14-3 lead.

« Bo trusted me, threw it up and I made the play, » Durant said.

« Being the competitor I am, those drops hurt. It’s hard for me to get those drops out of my head. But then at the same time I worked way too hard to get here and let that affect me. »

You always dream of winning championships but to get it done is awesome … We were going to die on that field if we had to.– Lemar Durant

Durant rebounded after those first two drops, catching the next four passes thrown his way. He finished the game with 30 receiving yards, along with 22 rushing, and was named Most Outstanding Canadian.

« You always dream of winning championships but to get it done is awesome, » Durant said.

« We were going to die on that field if we had to. »

Sweet victory for Calgary coach

As the party spilled into the locker room, head coach Dave Dickenson was in the middle of it all.

He was doused with champagne, cracked opened a beer and then sprayed a bunch of his players. His relief, happiness and emotion were clearly evident as he celebrated with his players.

« There’s been a lot of frustrated guys these last few years, » Dickenson said. « It felt like we had to get it done and we did. »

This was Dickenson’s first Grey Cup win as a head coach and his third consecutive appearance — but the previous two trips have haunted him. The former quarterback won Cups before as a player and lost them too, but the defeat last year to Toronto was the worst ever for him.

« Last year was the hardest loss of my life. Player or coach, » he said. « I didn’t know if we’d get back and I really didn’t want to think what three losses in a row would feel like.

« This first win is sure sweet. »


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Canada Post lost this Toronto woman’s $1,100 phone and she won’t get most of the money back


A Toronto woman has been waiting for Canada Post to deliver her $1,100 smartphone for almost a month after the parcel made several stops on its 100 kilometre journey marred by the rotating strike. 

Amanda Birch, 30, described the experience as a « nightmare » and said the carrier won’t compensate her for the full price of the missing parcel because she had insufficient insurance.

She bought a HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro on Oct. 28 through a two-year plan with Rogers. 

But since the Chinese-made phone is attached to a family plan, the provider had to send it to her mother’s house in Cambridge, Ont., west of Toronto, because that’s the address associated with the account. 

« I was just really excited to have a new phone because my other one just wasn’t working as well, » Birch told CBC Toronto on Friday. 

Birch has been waiting for her new phone to arrive since Oct. 31. (John Grierson/CBC)

Three days later, Birch’s mother sent the expensive device to her apartment in the city’s Queen Street West area through Canada Post. 

She paid $14 for Xpresspost shipping. The package was guaranteed to arrive within two days, by Nov. 2.   

But 22 days later, her phone still hasn’t arrived. Its journey was marred by the Canada Post strike, according to tracking information sent from the carrier.

Now, the parcel has been declared lost. 

« My Canada Post tracking record … was the longest one they’ve ever seen, » Birch said of a postal worker’s reaction to her situation. 

‘Big disappointment’ 

Canada Post does offer insurance for similar incidents, but the family didn’t buy enough to cover the full cost of the phone. 

The tracking log shows the phone in Cambridge, then Stoney Creek, Mississauga and finally « out for delivery » in Toronto on Nov. 5. 

« Every single day someone … promised us it wasn’t lost or stolen and it would be delivered the next day. And then nothing, » Birch said of the response she received from customer service agents at Canada Post. 

Each update warned « delivery may be delayed due to labour disruption, » until a customer service inquiry determined on Nov. 22 that the mail item could not be delivered. Carriers hit the picket lines on Oct. 22 — more than a week before Birch’s mother mailed her phone. 

Canada Post workers have been on rotating strikes for the past month, shutting down delivery service in specific locations at a time. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

« It’s just a big disappointment, » said Birch. 

On Thursday, Labour Minister Patty Hajdu tabled emergency legislation in the House of Commons that would force Canada Post carriers back to work.

Around 550 trucks full of parcels have been piling up and deliveries from other countries have been suspended until Canada Post can clear a 30-day delivery backlog. 

‘I will never use them again’

Knowing the strike had just started, Birch said her mother asked the Canada Post worker on Oct. 31 if the targeted work stoppage would delay the package.  

« Unfortunately, the girl assured her it wouldn’t affect it, » she said. 

« Maybe we should have known better, but why wouldn’t we believe that was the case? »

Canada Post did not immediately respond to CBC Toronto’s request for comment. 

According to the Crown corporation’s website, customers have the option to purchase additional liability coverage. This add-on would cover up to $5,000 if the item was lost or stolen and it’s sold in increments.

Although Birch’s mother insured the parcel, it only covered $114. 

With no other way of recouping the cost, she is still out around $1,000. 

« I will never use them again, » Birch said of Canada Post. « It’s just been a nightmare. » 


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Artists fear paintings lost after long-running Vancouver gallery closed


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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Poppy’s meaning not lost on most Canadians


The Royal Canadian Legion poppy campaign has begun.

For a group of Kelowna boys handing out the red lapel pins Tuesday, the symbol is a reminder of the sacrifice Canadian soldiers made for our country.

“I’m proud of doing it,” Max Finley said as he handed out poppies.

Finley was one of several members of the PeeWee Tier 1 Rockets taking donations for poppies outside the Kelowna Superstore.

“It shows the symbol of what the soldiers did for us to keep us safe,” Aiden Bruce said.

‘I was lucky enough to survive’: Afghan war vet reflects on importance of poppy campaign

For one of the few World War II veterans left in the Okanagan, the poppy is a reminder of not only the lives lost fighting for Canada during the war but that there are fewer people who still remember the sacrifices first-hand.

“If there’s a veteran or veterans relative in hospital, they get visits through our poppy campaign,” George Barr said.

Barr began his 35-year career in Canada’s military as a tank gunner in 1943.

“You lived in a tank. You slept in a tank. You fought in a tank. You ate in a tank,” said Barr. “That was it. You were a tanker. Our job was to support the infantry.”

Where there used to be 61 Korean War veterans living in Kelowna, Barr said there are now six.

Montreal students make poppies to honour war veterans

“We just lost one six days ago and we’re about to lose two more,” he said.

Barr said the visits he makes to his counterparts are beginning to take a toll on him.

“I know I visited the hospital yesterday and I said to myself, ‘I don’t think I’m going to go back again,’” he said. “I like to remember them as I knew them.”

Donations collected during the Poppy Campaign are held in trust at the branch level to directly support veterans and their families within their community and to help ensure Canadians “never forget,” according to the Royal Canadian Legion campaign organizers.

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


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