Roofs collapse across Quebec after province struck by heavy snow, rain – Montreal


There have been several roof collapses across Quebec in recent days.

The most recent was in Saint-Jérôme, roughly 50 kilometres north of Montreal.

Firefighters were called to a two-storey building on La Salette Boulevard at around 10 p.m. on Saturday.

The mixed-use building houses a butcher shop on the ground floor and seven apartments on the second floor.

The residents made it out of the building before the arrival of emergency crews.

Officials searching building after roof collapses in Trois-Rivières

There were no reports of injury but the building will likely need to be torn down, according to Nicolas Stevi, chief of operations for the Saint-Jérôme fire department.

The Red Cross was assisting four of the building’s residents to find alternate accommodations, while two others sought help from family or friends.

WATCH: The biggest storm of the year so far has hit Quebec

On Friday, the roof a grocery store in the Québec City suburb of Lévis also partially collapsed, sending two people to hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

Then, on Saturday, an arena in Quebec City was evacuated as a preventative measure after a beam fell. In Trois-Rivières, the roof of a warehouse caved in.

A canine unit specializing in search-and-rescue operations was deployed Trois-Rivières to help search the debris. It was believed a person might have been inside, but officials later confirmed the building was empty.

The roof of a warehouse collapsed in Trois-Rivières on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. Courtesy TVAIt is believed heavy snow and rainfall in the past week may have contributed to the string of recent incidents.

On Sunday, however, the residents of Saint-Jérôme weren’t taking any chances. Global News spotted several people shoveling off their roofs.

St-Jérôme residents clearing snow from the roof of a building on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. Mike Armstrong/Global News

Mike Armstrong/Global

For its part, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) says that while our roofs are generally built to withstand the heavy snow of Quebec winters, it’s important to remain vigilant when snow accumulation is “exceptional or atypical.”

Signs to watch out for that could indicate stress on the structure include the following:

  • Cracks appearing on interior walls
  • Inside doors jamming or rubbing against the frame
  • Noticeable creaking noises
  • Warping or buckling of a ceiling
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In case of multiple signs, the RBQ says the first thing to do is to evacuate the building and then take the necessary measures to have the snow removed from the roof.

READ MORE: Officials searching building after roof collapses in Trois-Rivières

While it’s possible to do the job yourself in some cases, the régie strongly recommends hiring qualified professionals to do it for you.

It’s a hazardous operation, the régie warns, “as much for the person who is up on the roof as for anyone who circulates around the house.”

It is also reminding residents to be aware of electrical wires and installations that could be in close proximity when clearing snow.

— With files from The Canadian Press


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School buses cancelled as ice pellets, freezing rain hits the GTA


Winter is making a comeback.

Environment Canada has issued a winter weather travel advisory for Toronto and many of the surrounding areas. Ice pellets and freezing rain have begun in the GTA and surrounding areas.

Environment Canada is predicting an icy commute home to and from work Wednesday.
Environment Canada is predicting an icy commute home to and from work Wednesday.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star)

The travel advisory warns of ice pellets beginning in the morning, mixing with freezing rain at about midday. Toronto could see around 2 to 4 cm of ice pellets, the weather agency said.

As a result, buses were cancelled to schools in the Toronto District, Toronto Catholic District, York Region District, York Catholic District, Durham District and Durham Catholic District school boards Wednesday morning. Schools remain open.

All schools, offices and buses in the Peel District, Hamilton-Wentworth District, Waterloo Region District, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District, District school board of Niagara and Halton Catholic District school boards have been cancelled.

The University of Waterloo and Brock University cancelled their campus classes Wednesday.

The TTC is advising commuters to allow for extra travel time and prepare to seek alternative routes. Streetcars have been replaced with buses on the 506 Carlton and 512 St. Clair routes.

By 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, Pearson airport had cancelled almost 20 per cent of their departure flights and almost 20 per cent of arriving flights.

Icy roads are expected for the evening commute.

“We’re looking at a prolonged period of freezing rain, especially on bare roads it could mean formation of black ice. So, it could be complicated driving conditions for the return home,” Environment Canada meteorologist Marie-Ève Giguère said.

“The key element is that it will last several hours,” she said.

Wednesday’s daytime high will be -3 C, but with wind chill it will feel like -10 C.

The travel advisory is in effect for Caledon, Mississauga, Brampton, Kingston, Peterborough, York and Durham Regions.

“We’re looking at dangerous driving all across, from southwestern Ontario to the GTA, Kitchener, Waterloo, Oshawa,” Giguère said.

Giguère said that temperatures are supposed to dramatically warm up Thursday, seeing a high of 5 or 6 C.

However, Giguère said the changing weather patterns will continue.

“Thursday it will all melt, just in time for Friday when we go quite abruptly back to cold temperatures,” she said.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told reporters early Wednesday morning that “it looks like winter has arrived again,” citing a lot of ice pellets on the ground. Ramps on the highway are slippery, and the potential for crashes are “very real,” he said.

Drivers are likely going to be going a lot faster than they should and that is going to lead to a lot of problems, said Schmidt.

Friday’s daytime high in the city is expected to be -3 C and the low -11 C.

with files from Lisa Queen at and Emerald Bensadoun.

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


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Storm sweeps across Maritimes bringing snow, freezing rain and high winds


A winter storm is hitting the Maritimes with blowing winds, freezing rain, snow and rain expected through the day, with as much as 40 centimetres of snow in northern parts of New Brunswick.

Environment Canada has issued winter storm warnings for all of New Brunswick and western P.E.I. There are rain and wind warnings in effect across Nova Scotia but snow is expected before the transition to rain happens later in the day.

CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said warmer air Sunday afternoon will transform snow to ice pellets and freezing rain in southern New Brunswick, the eastern half of P.E.I. and all of Nova Scotia. 

Simpkin said most of mainland Nova Scotia will see five to 10 cm of snow, mixed with some ice pellets, before 10 to 15 millimetres of rain later on Sunday. An additional 30 to 40 mm of rain is expected tonight.

Cape Breton will see the storm arrive later in the day with heavy downpours resulting in about 25 mm of rain tonight, she said. 

Freezing rain as temperature rises

Southeastern parts of New Brunswick and P.E.I. will also see five to 15 cm of snow and ice pellets before the changeover, which wlll include freezing rain before about 20 mm of rain, Simpkin said.

Fredericton and northern New Brunswick will see more snow, but some freezing rain is also expected in the Fredericton area this evening. Up to 40 cm of snow is forecasted for northern parts of New Brunswick. 

High winds will peak tonight with gusts up to 90 to 100 km/h in parts of the Maritimes, she said. 

Travel affected

Environment Canada warns localized and flash flooding could cause water to pool on roads.

Airlines have issued travel advisories for aiports in all three Maritime provinces. Flights at some airports are already affected. 

The high winds are expected to create rough seas. Marine Atlantic is planning to sail ealier than usual this morning between North Sydney, N.S., and Port Aux Basques, N.L., to try to keep ahead of the messy weather.

Bay Ferries has cancelled its crossings.

The Confederation Bridge expects to start restricting traffic at noon. 

The weather system is expected to continue well into Monday.


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Years ago, Canada and the U.S. came together to end the acid rain threat. What changed?


Nobody talks much about acid rain anymore.

But the one-time scourge of North American lakes and forests got a mention yesterday at the funeral of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush.

Delivering a eulogy for his old colleague and friend, former prime minister Brian Mulroney singled out Bush’s environmental record as a lasting part of his legacy.

« President Bush’s decision to go forward with strong environmental legislation, including the Clear Air Act, that resulted in the Acid Rain Accord with Canada, is a splendid gift to future generations of Americans and Canadians to savour in the air they breathe and the water they drink, » Mulroney said.

The fact that the acid rain threat has been mostly eliminated testifies to how effective Canada and the U.S. once were in responding together to a complex, shared environmental problem.

After years of prodding and lobbying, the U.S. updated its Clean Air Act in 1990. New rules cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, key elements in the creation of acid rain. The reductions were achieved in part by introducing the United States’ first national cap-and-trade system aimed at major polluters.

That was followed by Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement signed by Mulroney and Bush in Ottawa in 1991. The agreement was aimed at reducing pollution on both sides of the border that caused acid rain.

And it worked. « It was, by and large, a success, » said John Smol, a professor in the Department of Biology and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queen’s University.

« I’m not saying acid rain is now completely no longer a problem. But (the agreement) actually did make major changes to the environment. And, in many ways, it’s a good example of how you can actually do this type of legislation, not devastate the economy, and help the environment. »

Climate change

Nearly three decades after Canada and the U.S. agreed to address the problem, Smol said, Canadian lakes are still in the process of recovering from acid rain.

« I think we caught it in time. With many environmental problems, if you wait too long you can’t go back. » he said.

Looking back on the fight against acid rain, Smol said he can now see it as a practice run for the much more daunting battle against climate change.

« Climate change is much more complicated and the consequences are far worse, » he said.

The comparison between the two environmental threats only goes so far, however. While acid rain was a relatively straightforward cross-border matter, climate change requires global action. And while acid rain was curtailed by reducing certain emissions, slowing down climate change likely will require much more: a complete phase-out of fossil fuel use.

Pulling out of Paris, reviving coal

Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, said he still believes there are important similarities that give him hope for progress on climate change.

« Acid rain was, relative to climate change, easier to solve, » he said. « But the key lesson from acid rain, I think, was when we stopped listening to industry lobbyists telling us this would destroy the economy. »

Stewart acknowledges one major difference between the fight against acid rain and the fight against climate change. The political climate in the United States has shifted dramatically since the days of the first President Bush — and the current White House tenant is much less interested in environmental causes.

President Donald Trump announced last year he was pulling his country out of the Paris climate accord. He also has actively campaigned to bring America’s coal industry back to life — the industry ultimately responsible for the emissions that contributed to acid rain in the 1980s.

Stewart calls Trump « a genuine problem » but said there’s still at least one good reason for hope:

« Donald Trump is keen on reviving the coal industry, trying to burn more coal. The silver lining is that he has proven remarkably incompetent at doing this, largely because the economics are against him. »

While Stewart questions the late president’s overall environmental record, he says there can be no doubt on this issue he was a success.

« On acid rain, he proved that conservatives can take environmental issues seriously and be part of that solution. And I think that’s something conservatives in Canada need to learn. »


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Rain or shine, this year’s Cavalcade of Lights remains radiant


This year’s Cavalcade of Lights shone at Nathan Phillips Square Saturday night, overcoming the damp conditions to continue a more-than 50-year tradition.

The event, a favourite among Torontonians, dates back to 1967. It kicks off the holiday season with the first lighting of the city’s Official Christmas Tree and lighting display at Nathan Phillips Square. Saturday also marked the opening of the rink outside Toronto City Hall and those at dozens of other across the city. More info on the rinks’ hours and locations can be found on the city’s website.

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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Douglas Rain, Stratford Festival pioneer and voice of HAL, dead at 90


A pioneer of the Stratford Festival, Douglas Rain, died Sunday at the age of 90 in a hospital just outside the city in which he first established his longtime classical career.

Rain spent 32 seasons acting at Stratford and was one of the few surviving founding members of the company. But his biggest mark on pop culture surprisingly came through another role: as HAL 9000, the unmistakable voice from the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick’s film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Rain died of natural causes at St. Marys Memorial Hospital outside Stratford, Ont, according to a press release from the Stratford Festival. The Winnipeg-born actor had more than a hundred television and film credits. 

After studying at Old Vic theatre school in London, England, he joined the Stratford Festival’s inaugural season in 1953 and continued until 1998. During that time, Rain performed myriad Shakespearean roles including Claudio in Measure for Measure, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Iago in Othello and Ulysses in Troilus and Cressida. 

One of his most notable stage roles was in Henry V, in which he played the title character. The rendition was adapted for television in 1966.

« Canadian theatre has lost one of its greatest talents and a guiding light in its development, » said the Stratford Festival’s artistic director Antoni Cimolino in a statement, adding Rain was « an actor deeply admired by other actors. »

Rain is survived by two sons, one daughter and a granddaughter.

Douglas Rain is shown as Henry V in the Stratford Festival’s 1966 production of Henry V. (Peter Smith/Stratford Festival)


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115,000 without power in Maritimes as winds and rain lash region


Tens of thousand of people across the Maritimes are without power this morning after the region was lashed by strong winds and heavy rain.

New Brunswick has been the hardest hit, with NB Power reporting more than 94,000 customers in the dark after 100 km/h winds swept across the province Saturday and into today.

READ MORE: Wind, rainfall warnings in effect for much of the Maritimes

Wind warnings had been posted Saturday and Environment Canada said parts of the province could also expect 15 millimetres of rain.

Nova Scotia, where wind and rain warnings were also posted, was hit with similar strength gusts overnight and into this morning along the Fundy coast and over northern sections of Cape Breton.

Nova Scotia Power reported this morning that more than 18,000 of its customers were waiting to be reconnected.

All of Prince Edward Island was under a wind warning Saturday and by this morning more than 3,000 Maritime Electric customers were without power.


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Rain, wind destroy huge landmark Canadian flag in Surrey


The huge Canadian flag in Surrey’s Guildford area ripped off during the storm Thursday night.

Flooding closes off streets in Maple Ridge

Larry Holcroft, the manager of the Barnes Wheaton General Motors dealership where the flag flies, said it’s not cheap to replace.

“This particular storm, it’s gonna be a whole flag that needs to be required, and typically it’s about 6,000 bucks,” he said.

Holcroft added the landmark flies 280 feet in the air.

Surrey city council votes against flying Pride flag

The flag is set to be fixed Saturday morning.

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


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