Money for Chateauguay St. Patrick’s Day parade allegedly stolen, organizers say – Montreal


It hasn’t been easy lately for the Chateauguay and Valley Irish Society.

“It’s been a long two weeks,” says group president Michael McGinn.

Two things happened.

Last Saturday, cash they badly need to help fund their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade was allegedly stolen.

“We lost about $4,500 cash and about $1,000 in cheques,” McGinn tells Global News.

That was right after a fundraising event.  The funds represent about a third of the total cost to run the parade, because not everyone is a volunteer. The bands, for example, have to be paid.

St. Patrick’s Day parade in Châteauguay honours the late ‘Parade Man’ (March 2018)

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This year’s parade, McGinn says, is special. “We tried really hard to raise enough money to have a really nice size parade this year,” he says, “because it’s our 15th year.”

They were hoping to have 150 floats, 30 more than they usually have.  Now they’re not sure.

“If we don’t get our money back, I’m not sure if we’ll have enough money to have a parade this year,” McGinn said.

Town Mayor Pierre-Paul Routhier says to not have the parade would be a blow to the community, because it’s one of the bigger parades in the town and it brings people together.

“There’s people coming from Monteral, from Kahnawake, there’s people coming from all around the place to participate in the parade. Not just to watch — to participate,” he stresses.

The other bit of bad luck for the Irish group struck just before the money went missing.

“Two weeks ago,” McGinn explains, “the building where we house our office was broken into.”

Doors to all the offices in the building were smashed and items stolen.  Luckily McGinn’s group didn’t lose anything too substantial.

Châteauguay gears up for St. Patrick’s Day with selection of queen and her court (2017)

“A can of 7-Up and some ink cartridges for our printer,” he grins, detailing their losses.

Even so, it’s an inconvenience, because the office has been without a proper door.

But since the money went missing two other things have happened.  The organization has been getting donations via an online fundraising effort and one local business has offered to host an event to raise cash.

“The Boulevard restaurant in Chateauguay since it happened has offered to have a spaghetti supper,” explained society member Shirley Deegan.

McGinn says he’s willing to drop the charges if the money is returned, but he’s not optimistic.


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This couple shares a 335-square-foot micro condo on Queen St. — and loves it


When Erwan Roux set out to work abroad in Canada, the native Parisian envisioned moving into a big North American house.

But when he and his partner, Mikael Martinez, arrived in Toronto this January, they instead opted to move into one of the city’s smallest condos — and they love it.

Erwan Roux (right) and partner Mikael Martinez recently moved to Toronto from France and are renting a 335-square-foot micro condo in the newly opened Smart House building.
Erwan Roux (right) and partner Mikael Martinez recently moved to Toronto from France and are renting a 335-square-foot micro condo in the newly opened Smart House building.  (Moe Doiron / Toronto Star)

“In Paris, there are a lot of very small apartments. It’s easy to find one that’s only eight square metres (87 square feet). We thought that living in Toronto, we’d have a big place. But when we saw this apartment, we fell in love and took it right away,” Roux said.

Roux moved into a “micro condo” in Smart House, a building that recently opened at Queen St. W. and University Ave. Their unit is technically a one bedroom, though it’s more of a studio because there’s only a sliding door that separates the bedroom from the rest of the living space.

It measures 335 square feet, and it’s not even the smallest unit in the building.

When Smart House, which bills itself as a place for people who love “small but well thought-out space,” was first announced in 2013, it garnered lots of press because its tiniest units, at 289 square feet, were to be the smallest condos ever built in Toronto. (Floor plans for current rental listings show a unit at only 276 square feet.)

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Critics called it a crazy consequence of the city’s red hot condo market and questioned who would ever live in such a small space. Urbanists countered that micro condos are the wave of the future because they’re cheaper, they have lower heating and cooling costs and they allow more people to live downtown.

“In the 1950s, the automobile and the creation of highways created this migration out to the suburbs. But there’s been a recent return of the population to the centre,” said Cherise Burda, executive director of Ryerson’s City Building Institute.

With more downtown jobs comes more people, and that in turn attracts more jobs, creating a “snowball effect” of people who want to move downtown, Burda explained. But this also creates affordability issues with skyrocketing demand for existing housing.

“Micro units offer affordability and an attractive lifestyle,” she said, adding that those who choose to live there trade long, stressful commutes for less personal space.

“Micro units shouldn’t be thought of as simply small, they’re better designed — a more efficient approach to managing space.”

Six years after it was first proposed, the Star decided to visit the newly opened Smart House to find out who ended up living there and why they chose the city’s smallest micro condos.

“Yes, it’s very small,” laughs Roux. “But we love the big windows and the view of the skyline. And you can’t beat the location.”

Living steps from Osgoode subway station and a short walk from numerous restaurants, bars, nightclubs and theatres means that you don’t actually spend that much time at home, he said.

“We are home to eat and sleep but the rest of the time we are out. It’s like this in Paris,” said Roux. “In the summer, it will be even better.”

Brian Persaud, real estate agent and author of Investing in Condominiums, said micro condos are the inevitable result of developers having higher land and construction costs, but wanting to keep the price of individual condos down.

“In Toronto, condos under $600,000 are more attractive and sell more easily than those priced at $700,000 and up,” he said.

But while development costs are rising across the city, micro condos will only fly in the heart of downtown.

“It’s OK for certain locations but you would not be able to get away with that outside the core,” Persaud said. “You will always get investors looking at them, but the question is whether end-users will want them.”

“If you’re on top of the subway in the core, you’ll always have people looking to buy or rent there.”

A floor plan for condo for a studio condo for rent in Smart House, with a floor to ceiling window in the washroom. It was listed on for $1,775 per month.
A floor plan for condo for a studio condo for rent in Smart House, with a floor to ceiling window in the washroom. It was listed on for $1,775 per month.  (Multiple Listing Service)

Mehrunisa Kadir has lived in a North York house and a downtown apartment tower. But when the York business student heard about Smart House, she knew she wanted to live there and put down a pre-construction deposit right away.

Three years later, she’s freshly moved into her two bedroom, 699-square-foot unit with her best friend as a roommate.

“It’s not that small,” she says. “They’ve distributed the space really well.”

In her previous lodgings, she had to buy shelves to store all her clothes and kitchen utensils. But at Smart House, the storage is so well designed that she doesn’t use all her closets and cupboards, even though she moved from a much bigger place.

“I’ve never had so much space — even in a house,” she said.

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Kadir says she has adapted her lifestyle to make more flexible use of her space. She uses the kitchen island as a dining room table, for example.

One bedroom is really small, she said, and fits a queen bed and not much else. But the other, bigger bedroom has a Murphy bed that converts into a couch, making it a living room when she’s not sleeping.

“We don’t need lots of room because we’re students,” she said. “It’s obviously too small for a family. But a young couple? It’s an ideal space for that.”

Like Roux, Kadir says the best thing about her apartment is the easy access to local restaurants.

“I used to use Uber Eats. But now I just walk out the front door to get my food.”

Three people who opted for micro living

"Essentially here you have to choose between price and space," says Larissa Costa, a resident of Smart House.
« Essentially here you have to choose between price and space, » says Larissa Costa, a resident of Smart House.  (Katie Daubs/Toronto Star)

Larissa Costa — ‘After I wake up I just close the bed’

Costa has been living in her compact studio apartment in Smart House less than a week. There is a Murphy bed that folds up into the wall. “After I wake up I just close the bed,” she says. The high ceilings also help to create space.

She wanted to live close to work and her office is a five-minute walk away. She moved to Toronto from Montreal. She had been staying in an Airbnb while she searched for an apartment.

“Essentially here you have to choose between price and space,” she says of Toronto. There were bigger apartments for the same price further out of the core, but she preferred location.

There is always something going on. She would be bothered “being in a place where there is nothing to do. Here and I can just go for a walk.”

Vanessa Hojda says her unit in the Smart House condo was more reasonable than other one bedroom and studio units downtown, but she does miss having a couch.
Vanessa Hojda says her unit in the Smart House condo was more reasonable than other one bedroom and studio units downtown, but she does miss having a couch.  (Katie Daubs/Toronto Star)

Vanessa Hojda — ‘When I start making more money I’ll get a bigger place’

The micro-unit is a small slice of freedom for Hojda. She lived with a few roommates at St. Clair Ave. and Avenue Rd. before moving into Smart House, and she likes the independence of her own place. Her commute to work used to take two streetcars and a subway ride, and now it’s a 10-minute walk.

Her unit is around 400 square feet and she found the price was more reasonable than other one-bedroom and studio units downtown, which were in the $2,000 a month range when she was searching in December. She pays $1,750 here.

When she walks in the unit there is a kitchen on the left, all tucked away in sleek cabinetry, with a washer/dryer combination machine (“I didn’t know they existed until I saw it in there,” she says.)

The bathroom is on the right, and then straight ahead down a small hallway is her bed, next to a computer desk, a storage shelf and the balcony (she’d trade the outdoor space for extra room in the unit.)

She does miss having a couch and a proper living room.

“When I start making more money I’ll get a bigger place,” she says.

Gulrez Khan and two of his friends are sharing a three-bedroom corner unit in Smart House.
Gulrez Khan and two of his friends are sharing a three-bedroom corner unit in Smart House.  (Gulrez Khan)

Gulrez Khan ‘Because we are new here … we don’t have a credit score’

Khan and two of his friends are sharing a three-bedroom corner unit at Smart House. He says the biggest room fits a queen-sized bed, but the other rooms are smaller.

Khan recently moved to Toronto from Bhopal, India. Because he and his friends are new to Canada, he said an agent helped them find this unit.

“We have visited quite a few houses, most of the times because we are new here we don’t get it. We don’t have a credit score.”

When he first moved to Toronto, he was living in a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate he met on Kijiji, but now he is living with two friends.

“I feel like it’s one of the smallest houses that I’ve seen,” he says.

He hopes the building’s construction finishes soon. He says certain features and amenities, like the gym, are not ready for use.

— Katie Daubs/Staff Reporter

Marco Chown Oved is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @marcooved


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Vancouver’s St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church prepares for two-year closure for restoration – BC


A downtown Vancouver landmark will be closing its doors for up to two years as it undergoes repairs, restoration, and a seismic upgrade.

St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church is a familiar sight at the corner of Burrard and Nelson, and known for interiors featuring French and Italian-stained glass windows, a vaulted timber roof, and angel reliefs.

Lead Minister Dan Chambers said the church, opened in 1933, is a historical piece of architecture.

“The architects were Twizel and Twizel, and although that sounds like a candy they were well-known and well-regarded architects of their time. And this is sort of the jewel of their Neo-Gothic architecture on the west coast,” said Chambers.

The church said it’s also a popular space with performance choirs and film companies alike.

More Vancouver schools getting seismic upgrades

Over the next two years — or, as Chambers hopes, eighteen months — it’ll be getting new pews, walls, electrical systems, a new roof, and getting a seismic upgrade.

Chambers said the project is a big undertaking, but a necessary one.

“When we tried to imagine the city losing another worship space and performance space, we felt we had to make this happen.”

While its doors are shut, the church will be holding services at the Century Plaza Hotel. The First Baptist Church and St. Paul’s Anglican Church are also hosting some of St. Andrew’s Wesley’s events during the restoration.

Future of Edith Cavell students during seismic upgrades remains unclear

The church will hold its last full Sunday service on February 3rd.

The week after, however, worshipers can return after service to the church, where Chambers said they’re invited to a celebration of the space on February 10.

“We’ll have a big potluck lunch. We’ll invite children and adults to write prayers of gratitude on the walls,” said Chambers.

“It’ll be a way of expressing our gratitude and our prayers of thanks for this sacred space that has served the needs of generations.”

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


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St. Thomas nursing home fire injures 7 people, more than 40 displaced


A fire at a St. Thomas, Ont., nursing home has injured several people, paramedics say.

Emergency crews were called to Caressant Care Bonnie Place around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

A bedroom was fully involved, said Bill Todd, Chief Fire Prevention Officer of St Thomas Fire Department.

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One resident was critically hurt and three others had serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Two staff members and a firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to hospital. They have since been treated and released.

Forty-one residents were displaced by the fire. Some were moved to unaffected areas of the building, while others were relocated to nearby nursing homes, Todd said.

Paramedics from across the region and neighbouring areas assisted, a spokesperson for Medavie EMS Elgin told Global News.

The Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating.

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


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Jam-packed Dufferin St. is speeding toward rapid densification


It only takes a few minutes for the TTC stops at Dufferin and Bloor to become jammed with people waiting in line for a bus — so what’s going to happen when thousands of new residents move into the area?

On any given weekday travellers pour up the stairs from the subway stop below. Teenagers from nearby Bloor Collegiate stream to the bus. The students share jokes and listen to music on each other’s headphones, standing at the bus stop alongside people who’ve just wrapped up an afternoon of shopping at the popular Dufferin Mall.

People jam onto a Dufferin St. bus — the fourth busiest bus route in Toronto — at Bloor St. Dufferin St. is set for multiple highrise developments set to bring thousands more people into the area.
People jam onto a Dufferin St. bus — the fourth busiest bus route in Toronto — at Bloor St. Dufferin St. is set for multiple highrise developments set to bring thousands more people into the area.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

You’ll find local residents in the line, like Kerry McArthur, a business owner who sometimes uses the Dufferin bus to get around.

“The bus can get pretty packed. I’m not looking forward to getting on,” McArthur says, as she stays warm inside Dufferin station on a frigid afternoon, looking through the glass for the southbound Dufferin 29 bus. It’s the fourth busiest bus route in Toronto with a daily ridership of 39,720 boardings, according to the latest TTC figures.

McArthur and others in her community are anxious because in the coming years the already crowded Dufferin-Bloor area will become home to a major development that will see about 2,100 units of housing, a mix of apartment units and condos that is still being ironed out by the development partnership of Capital Developments and Metropia.

And recently, residents learned that another corporation, Primaris, is interested in developing the north parking lot of the Dufferin Mall, just south of Bloor, and turning it into as many as four apartment towers. A community meeting between residents and the developer is planned for Monday night, although the project is just an idea with no formal drawings.

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Meanwhile another developer received approval last year from the city to construct Reimagine Galleria — six buildings a few blocks north, at Dufferin and Dupont St., the current 8-hectare site of the Galleria Mall shopping centre and a community centre. The 10-year build-out calls for 2,800 residential units, including 150 affordable rental apartments.

And there are other developments planned for Dufferin as far south as Queen St. and as far north as the Yorkdale Mall area.

Taken together, there’s little argument that all of these projects will place heavy demands on Dufferin, a street that a century and a half ago was a muddy, underused roadway, but is now bursting at the seams.

Dufferin and Bloor is ground zero for the development boom, which has the attention of local residents.

The vacant 3-hectare parcel of land that will be the site of a massive condo project. Currently, there are three TDSB buildings on the site.
The vacant 3-hectare parcel of land that will be the site of a massive condo project. Currently, there are three TDSB buildings on the site.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

They worry that transit, roads, parks, schools and local infrastructure might not be able to support the planned influx of future residents to the area.

The service on the Dufferin bus is a major sore point.

Locals say sometimes service is sporadic, with 10- or 20-minute waits, followed by two or three buses arriving in a row. And it’s often standing room only once you get on board — both during the week and on weekends.

Members of a newly formed community group say they aren’t out to try to block the new projects slated for their community.

“We’re not against residential development or intensification — you hear about residents’ groups concerned about heights, parking, things like that. Those aren’t the primary concerns for us. We’re concerned about things that have an impact on diversity, affordability and inclusion in our neighbourhood,” says Emily Paradis, co-chair of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin (BBBD), a local community group in the area that is watching the planned development projects closely.

“We recognize that downtown neighbourhoods, especially those close to the subway line, should intensify. It’s where development should be happening. We have a fantastic neighbourhood and we’re proud and happy to accept new folks,” Paradis says.

Emily Paradis is co-chair of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin (BBBD), a community group concerned that massive housing development projects in the area could strain services in the area and displace low-income residents.
Emily Paradis is co-chair of Build a Better Bloor Dufferin (BBBD), a community group concerned that massive housing development projects in the area could strain services in the area and displace low-income residents.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

“But what we’re concerned about is that development happen in an intentional way that takes into account the pressures on existing infrastructure especially social infrastructure like schools, arts organizations, non-profits, affordable housing, park space as well as community and recreation spaces,” she adds.

Monday’s meeting between the developer Primaris, BBBD members and other residents was called after the surprise news the company was interested in turning Dufferin Mall’s northern parking lots into towers.

The site in question is across the street from a three-hectare parcel of land the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) sold for redevelopment a few years ago, land that is part of the Bloor-Dufferin project involving Capital and Metropia.

The Bloor-Dufferin project is the subject of a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, an adjudicative body that hears cases related to municipal planning and land matters. The developer has launched an appeal to the body, arguing the city hasn’t made a decision on the development application within the time prescribed in the Ontario Planning Act.

One sticking point for the city is that the current zoning for the area doesn’t allow for significant heights, a spokesperson in the city’s planning department explained. The project calls for seven new buildings ranging from six to 40 storeys.

So the conversations happening between the city and the developer are about striking the right balance in terms of heights and densities for the project, the planning official says.

But the project will also feature a new park and new streets, which the city sees as “good things” the planning official added.

Danny Roth, a spokesperson for Capital Developments, which is handling marketing and media for the project, said in a statement: “We believe that the ongoing approval process and the contributions of city staff, the local councillor (Ana Bailao) and area residents, together with our distinct vision for the site, will ensure a development influenced by the neighbourhood’s past, invigorated by the current community, and inspired by the future needs of an increasingly dynamic city.”

He declined to comment further because the project is before the appeal tribunal.

Capital Developments, in partnership with Metropia, is working on a large housing development proposal eyed for Dufferin and Bloor Sts.
Capital Developments, in partnership with Metropia, is working on a large housing development proposal eyed for Dufferin and Bloor Sts.  (Capital Developments)

Meanwhile, the new Dufferin Mall parking lot plan — Primaris hopes to present a rezoning application to the city sometime in May or June — has only added to residents’ fears about the cumulative effect all of this development will have in the coming years.

“When this type of redevelopment starts to pick up speed, that puts pressure on land values in the neighbourhood. We see residential rents increasing and lower and moderate tenants getting pushed out as a result,” Paradis, the co-chair of the BBBD groups, says.

“Commercial rents are increasing too. We’ve seen arts organizations and non-profit front-line services having trouble retaining spaces in the neighbourhood. A number have had to move due to increased costs and rents. We want spaces that non-profits can have access to,” she adds.

The Bloor-Dufferin area also has a shortage of purpose-built rental buildings (many area renters live in basement apartments).

Matthew Kingston, vice-president of development for Primaris and a resident who has lived in the Bloor-Dufferin area with his family since 2014, says it’s the company’s “intention today” for all of its residential towers on the site to be purpose-built rental apartments, but that is subject to what happens in the future with government policies.

“For example if rent control was brought back by a new (provincial) government and we were at a stage when we were looking to start leasing, or we hadn’t completed leasing yet, we might need to change the tenure because it may no longer be financially viable for us to stay as rental,” Kingston says.

Primaris, a developer and retail mall owner, owns the 10 hectares the Dufferin Mall sits on.

Regarding the congestion caused by buses and cars on Dufferin and the impact the new developments will have on this, Kingston argues alternative modes of transportation need to be brought into the mix.

“Lyft, Uber, how will they work to alleviate traffic? What about bike sharing? I use a bike share to get to work every day at Yonge and Adelaide. Getting downtown is nice from our neighbourhood. I think we’ve been car-centric as a city. We need to look at alternative modes,” he says.

Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao, the councillor for Davenport, which Dufferin St. runs through, says she has been pushing the TTC since 2016 to look at its transit service on Dufferin in light of the increasing development.

Her push played a role in the TTC introducing an express bus service in October that only stops at major intersections.

“The city has two options. Either we say we’re going to close our doors to new people coming into the city, or we’re going to plan and invest in our services and in growing our city. I think what we have to do — it is not enough now — but we’re continuing to look at the Dufferin route,” she said in an interview.

“For the Galleria development we made sure we accommodated for bus bays, we accommodated for a loop so if in the future we want to cut or change the route, we have the opportunity to use that site as a loop site.

“So these are the things that are important to incorporate as these developments are approved.”

As for Dufferin and Bloor, Bailao says there are discussions going on at the city about whether a tunnel should be built from the north side to the south side of Bloor to lessen the pedestrian activity on the street corners of that intersection.

She says the city has made “mistakes” in planning in other parts of the city — Liberty Village for example where “transit is still not there” to the levels needed to meet the demands of the community.

Bailao says she is “fighting hard” to ensure those mistakes aren’t repeated.

Donovan Vincent is a housing reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @donovanvincent


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Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens’ road trip stalls with 4-1 loss to St. Louis – Montreal


The Montreal Canadiens had a date in St. Louis on Thursday night, stop two of a short, mid-week road trip. The Habs won the first game in Detroit when they gutted it out against a hungry Red Wings team.

With a 4-1 loss to the Blues, though, any hopes of repeating that win were dashed.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens top the Detroit Red Wings 3-2

Wilde Horses 

After a game like this, it’s clearly charitable to fill this section with much.

It was difficult to find anyone who deserved praise, but if you had to name any, name the fourth line. They worked hard and created chances. Nicolas Deslauriers had a breakaway in the first period, but could not convert. Kenny Agostino and Michael Chaput also worked hard for their space and had some offensive zone pressure. It was likely Deslauriers’ best game of the season.

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens shut out the Vancouver Canucks

Brendan Gallagher was intending to pass to Paul Byron, but took a deflection for a fluke. Every player is just happy to have one of those added to the total, and that total for Gallagher is impressive. That’s a team-leading 17 goals on the season for Gallagher.

He led the team with 31 last season, and he is on his way to the milestone mark again this year.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Minnesota Wild shut out Montreal Canadiens

Victor Mete continues to play well since returning from Laval. He’s joining the rush much more and it looks good on him. He has the speed, so of course he should join the rush. The entire point of the game is to use your own advantages to be the best player that you can be.

The advantage that Mete has is that he’s probably the second-fastest player on the team behind Byron. In fact, it would be enjoyable to see how a 100-foot race between the two would go. Mete joined the rush in the third period on a two-on-one with Max Domi. The young centre did everything right, delaying his speed to change the angle on the defender to ensure that Mete got a great pass. Mete, looking for his first NHL goal, almost counted — he took the shot quickly, as he is supposed to, but he didn’t get the shot off the ice.

These are the little things that a player learns as he gets more experienced and he changes frustration into joy.

It’s a long journey to be your best in this league, and Mete will keep improving. He has so much more to contribute than he is now, and he’s doing well in his second season already.

WATCH: What to look forward to in the New Year for the Montreal Canadiens

Wilde Goats 

I’m not sure if there’s some amazing night life on a Wednesday night in Missouri, but the Habs certainly played like it.

Right from the opening moments, the Habs were horrible against a team that had won only two of their last seven games at home, giving up an embarrassing amount of odd man rushes. Not only were there many two-on-one rushes allowed, the Blues didn’t have to worry that any Habs player was going to catch them. All the Habs were doing was coasting and enjoying the view.

The first period ended with the Habs trailing 2-0, but it was the worst period for Montreal since they were crushed in Minnesota. If it were a better team they were against, it would have been a five-spot on the board against Montreal. The face-off spot was also a mess for Montreal, as led by Ryan O’Reilly being 11 for 12, the Blues won 19 of 23 faceoffs in the first period.

In the second period, the Blues scored on yet another two-on-one. The Habs love to engage their defence and they have the speed to do it, but when the legs are tired and the forwards aren’t interested in helping out, the strategy can obviously look very bad. You must have attentive players who are ready to cover for the pinching defenders.

The Habs’ forwards, though, weren’t attentive at all when the blue liners pinched.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde  Montreal Canadiens shut out the Vancouver Canucks

The Habs have what it takes for a good power play. They have a player who has good vision in Jesperi Kotkaniemi. They have a player who doesn’t mind putting his body in front of the net to get punished in Brendan Gallagher. They have a shooter in Jonathan Drouin. They have the best slap shot in the entire NHL in Shea Weber. They have a great skater and a solid setup man in Jeff Petry.

It’s not like this team is without talent. Max Domi has some vision, too; Tomas Tatar can set up and score. So with all that in mind, why are the Habs 31st and last in the NHL on the power play?

Well, there are many reasons. They don’t work hard; they don’t set up Weber; they don’t enter the zone well. They’re static when they do finally enter the zone, and then they don’t shoot enough. When they have a draw, they don’t win. They have their best players at the power play split up on the two units.

Is there anything left? Is there anything that they do well?


READ MORE: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price to skip NHL All-Star Game due to injury

Karl Alzner was back in the lineup for the first time in a couple of months after a stint in Laval. His name wasn’t called much, which is as exactly as Alzner should like it. However, then his name was called as he and Jeff Petry let Sammy Blais skate right between them. Alzner was beaten for speed so badly, he didn’t even have time to get turnstiled. He didn’t even turn.

It’s stunning how slow he was on the play, but Petry didn’t look much better. That was the 4-1 goal — the one to guarantee there was going to be no comeback in one of the dullest games in hockey memory.

Wilde Cards

The battle is on for the Ontario Hockey League title and a chance for the Memorial Cup, and it impacts one of the Habs’ best prospects.

Nick Suzuki was traded from the Owen Sound Attack to the Guelph Storm this week. He is now expected to make a big difference as the Storm tries to win the title, but what’s interesting is there are two teams loading up this year in hopes of winning it all.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde — Montreal Canadiens edge the Arizona Coyotes 2-1

One team in the west and one team in the east will likely collide in the OHL finals. The Niagara Ice Dogs and the Storm have made a ton of moves that make them a powerhouse now, but likely horrible in the coming years. The Storm have traded 19 draft picks and three players to load up. The Ice Dogs have traded 17 draft picks and three players to also load up. The pattern  of loading up often repeats in junior hockey, but this season it is bordering on ridiculous. As fate would have it, the two clubs faced each other in Suzuki’s first game with his new team. It went to overtime, with the Storm tying it at 5 in the last minute.

In the three-on-three extra session, it was Suzuki who went on an end to end rush, took it around the net, still held on to it, then wired a shot upstairs for the winner. That’s a pretty good first game. It should be fun to watch Suzuki play in a lot of big games this spring, perhaps looking for a national title.

WATCH: Call of the Wilde: Wins and Losses

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


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Kayaker’s body pulled from St. Lawrence River after capsizing – Montreal


A man in his 50s has died after his kayak capsized on the St. Lawrence River in Montreal.

Benoit Martel, chief of operations with the Montreal fire department, said the man was kayaking with five other people when his kayak flipped over just after 2 p.m. on Saturday.

“We were called by the Coast Guard for a rescue near the Old Port,” Martel said. “We sent out two ice rescue teams.”

WATCH: Montreal firefighters called to battle blaze on St. Lawrence River

Martel said the help of a technical rescue team was also required after the current swept the kayaker away and he ended up lodged between a cargo ship and the dock.

The man’s body was pulled from the river and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

READ MORE: 60-year-old Canadian man kayaks solo from Norway to Greece in a paddle for peace

Martel said the man was wearing all the appropriate equipment.

“He had a life vest and was wearing a dry suit,” he said.

Martel warned against going out on the water in current conditions.

“There’s a lot of activity,” he said. ” A lot of current and a lot of ice.”

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


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Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence cod could be extinct by mid-century: report


There is a high probability that Atlantic cod will be locally extinct in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence by mid-century — even with no commercial fishing, according to a new report.

The paper, published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, says the death rate now stands at 50 per cent for adult Gulf cod five years and older. 

The likely culprit? Grey seals.

« That high a natural mortality is not sustainable, » says Doug Swain, a federal Fisheries Department scientist who co-authored the study.

Why recovery has failed for cod 

Swain says this stock is particularly vulnerable because it tends to gather in the same places every year.

That includes predictable patterns of migration, spawning and overwintering in dense congregations off Cape Breton in numbers still large enough to attract grey seals that eat them.

Samples showed adult cod made up a large part of the grey seal diet in the overwintering area off St. Paul’s Island, Cape Breton.

Swain and other researchers used models to predict what that could mean for the future of this cod population.

« In these projections, if we assume natural mortality were to stay where it is now and there was no fishing, then cod would be gone by middle of the century, » he says.

« There is nothing to say it will stay where it is but if it is due to predation by grey seals and they continue to prey on cod like they are now, then there is no way this population recovers and it may decline to negligible levels. »

The research found grey seals are likely responsible for an unsustainable rate of mortality among adult cod in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. The seals pictured here belong to the Sable Island herd. (Sarah Medill/University of Saskatchewan)

Swain, who is based at DFO’s Gulf Fisheries Centre in Moncton, N.B., has spent years looking at why the southern Gulf cod population has not recovered since the epic groundfish collapse in Eastern Canada in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Not only did the stock not rebuild, the natural death rate increased to unprecedented levels.

Researchers looked at 10 hypotheses for an explanation, including fish health, environmental conditions, unreported fishing and the possibility cod simply left the area.

« Since the late ’90s none of the other hypotheses really had support except for the possibility the high natural mortality is due to predation by grey seals, » says Swain.

Grey seal population growth

The Gulf grey seal population grew to 100,000 in 2014 from about 8,000 in 1960. In summer, they gather everywhere from Nova Scotia’s Pictou Island to the Magdalen Islands of Quebec.

The Sable Island population has also increased dramatically. That herd is now estimated at 400,000 individuals.

The eastern Scotian Shelf cod population near Sable Island also has not recovered and adults have an even higher death rate, though the report does not directly link their mortality with seals.

‘They won’t always bounce back’

Dalhousie University biologist Jeff Hutchings says the downward spiral facing Gulf cod is a good example of what can happen to an overfished species.

« When we deplete fish stocks to very low levels, they won’t always bounce back or rebuild if we stop fishing them. »

Swain agrees. He says society will have to decide whether to intervene to reduce seal numbers or accept that Gulf cod will not recover.

« The ecosystem isn’t going to change if we leave it like it is now. If nature is allowed to run its course, it’s not going to return to the balanced level it was 150 years ago. »

But Hutchings says even a seal cull would not guarantee a cod comeback.

« Many species are feeding upon one another, competing with one another, interacting with one another, » he says. 

« And we simply don’t have enough information to draw any scientifically legitimate and defensible conclusions about what a cull of grey seals would do to cod. »


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St. Catharines man says MPP Sam Oosterhoff used police as ‘muscle’ after tweet


A St. Catharines man says a police officer who visited him at home after he tweeted out the address and phone number of MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s parents is an example of a politician using law enforcement as « muscle » to scare him.

But Oosterhoff says the tweet crossed a line and he contacted police over fear for his family’s safety.

A spokesperson for Niagara police confirmed the service received a call about « potential harassment » in the form of a home address being shared on social media on Dec. 28.

Rob Gill took to Twitter after seeing a video of the Niagara West MPP along with Premier Doug Ford smiling and clapping during a Christmas celebrating hosted by Canadian Christian College president Charles McVety.

In the since-deleted social media post, Gill wrote « This Christmas, let’s protest @samoosterhoff and his bigot, misogynistic and homophobic personality & upbringing. Let’s protest at his parents home … or give them a call. »

The tweet included both the family’s address and their phone number, along with the hashtag #hateraiseshate.

« I know some people might say ‘Why did you do that? It’s stepping over the line.’ I don’t think it’s stepping over a line because that’s information that’s in the public domain, » explained Gill. « That’s information someone can choose to keep public or keep private and they’ve chosen to keep it public and this is the result of that. »

He added he deleted the tweet shortly after posting it because it wasn’t getting a lot of « traction. »

MPP says he feared for family’s safety

In a statement to CBC News, Oosterhoff said he appreciates hearing both positive and negative feedback from constituents, but the tweet and « disparaging language » in this case led him to contact the Niagara Regional Police.

« Fearing from my family’s safety I contacted the police, » he wrote. « The police followed their own protocol and I am very grateful for their dedication to our community. »

To have a politician use police as some kind of muscle isn’t cool.– Rob Gill

Gill said he didn’t threaten Oosterhoff and has tried to start a dialogue with him over his personal beliefs in the past through Twitter and by phone, but has never heard back.

« At no point do I ever wish any harm against him or his family or loved ones. At the same time, if he’s going to continue to bring his private religious views into his public office he needs to be prepared for people protesting him at any means we can figure out. »

When Gill saw the video of the politician standing with McVety, who has previously said he’s against the former Liberal government’s sex-ed curriculum and same-sex marriage, he was motivated to speak out.

« If you’re an elected official you represent all Ontarians, regardless of their sexual orientation, their socioeconomic status, their beliefs, their skin colours, all Ontarians. »

Gill is gay and married to a man from Brazil where far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro, who has made derisive comments about black and gay people, will be sworn in as president Tuesday.

« [My husband] comes from a place where you can’t speak your mind and if you speak your mind you risk losing your life, » explained Gill. « So have the police appear at our home, for me speaking my mind is a big issue.

« To have a politician use police as some kind of muscle isn’t cool. »

Police received call about ‘potential harassment’

Niagara police spokesperson Stephanie Sabourin​ said after receiving the call about the potential harassment, an officer wasn’t able to reach the person who posted the address by phone so stopped by on Dec. 29 to « caution them regarding sharing personal information on social media which could be perceived as harassing. »

No charges have been laid.

Sabourin added that with the popularity of social media, when possible, police try to inform and educate members of the public about what could be « potentially deemed criminal in nature. »

Gill said he’s aware of the law and didn’t need a « lecture. »

He said the officer who knocked at his door around 9 a.m. and said he had done nothing wrong, but Oosterhoff had complained about some of the things he was posting online.

At the end of a five-minute conversation the they shook hands and the officer went on his way.

« At no point did he caution me about further engaging with Mr. Oosterhoff online or charge me or cite me or anything, » said Gill.

« I found it really odd that we have the police attending my home, unannounced, when no crime has taken place to lecture me on what a law is. I found that really strange and kind of a waste of police resources. »

But a spokesperson for Oosterhoff said it is her understanding that  Gill was cautioned by police about communicating with him and disclosing personal information through social media.


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St. Mike’s hospital trauma surgeons are using battlefield techniques to treat victims of gun violence


“One major difference is that today, when someone comes in, we start to give them a blood transfusion very early on,” he said, noting that until just over a decade ago, these patients were immediately given saline IV fluids with blood to follow.

But a 2007 study, of which Rizoli was a contributing author, showed that trauma patients suffering from major hemorrhagic bleeding have much better outcomes if they are immediately given massive blood transfusions.

“They do much better if they get blood from the start,” he said.

Many of these survivors owe their lives to the health professionals such as Rizoli.

St. Mike’s — one of three trauma centres in the city — sees about one shooting victim a week and is able save approximately 80 per cent of them, Rizoli said.

The Star recently spent some time with a Rizoli and the team of trauma surgeons at the hospital to learn how they are trying to keep more of these patients alive.

Rizoli said it stands to reason that shooting victims are faring better today. The increase in gun violence sadly means trauma surgeons are getting much more experience in dealing with these patients.

These days, St. Mike’s averages about one victim of gun violence a week.

“During my training 25 years ago, gunshot wounds were uncommon and many Canadian surgeons had to train in the U.S. to gain experience in treating them. The growth in the number of victims to gun violence and the progression to more lethal weapons had been fortunately balanced by enormous advances in trauma science and practice,” Rizoli said.

Advancements have been made in research, technology, drugs hospital design, workflow, protocols and best practices, he noted.

Much of the learning has come from the battlefield.

“We have learned from wars that patients who have lost a lot of blood cannot clot appropriately,” Rizoli explained.

They suffer from what is known as “trauma-induced coagulopathy,” and if not treated quickly, it can lead to a patient bleeding to death.

“We give them blood, and tons of blood, to start with. Then we try to diagnose, as quickly as possible, exactly what is wrong with their coagulation,” Rizoli said.

They do this by using a piece of equipment, purchased by the hospital about five years ago, which quickly analyzes blood-clotting properties. Called ROTEM, short for rotational thromboelastometry, it guides health professionals in determining what blood products trauma patients require so that their blood clots properly.

St. Mike’s surgeons have recently begun to use another technique developed on the battlefield, this one to stop traumatic bleeding.

The minimally invasive procedure is known as REBOA, or Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta. It involves running a catheter up the femoral artery and into the aorta. A balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated, stopping the flow of blood.

The procedure can be done in the trauma bay. Previously, patients would have been moved to the opening room where their chests would be opened and aortas clamped. That took much longer, was more invasive and carried a higher risk of death.

Before using the new REBOA catheter on patients, St. Mike’s tested it out on a high-tech mannequin. The simulation served to educate those in the trauma program — including nurses, respiratory therapists and surgeons — on how it works.

“It’s like crash-testing a car. You wouldn’t drive a car if it hadn’t been crash-tested first. We do the same thing with new processes. We crash-test them and make sure they work like we anticipate they will,” said Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak.

He and colleague Dr. Chris Hicks are emergency physicians, trauma team leaders and simulation educators at St. Mike’s. Their work on simulation exercises has helped improve the workflow in trauma resuscitation care. It has also informed the design of a new trauma bay at the hospital, scheduled to open in 2019.

One of their exercises involved tracking the movements of three nurses treating a simulated trauma patient. It was videotaped and the movements of each nurse were followed, using an overlay tracing tool, with a different colour for each nurse.

The end result looked like colourful child’s scrawl to the untrained eye. But to Petrosoniak and Hicks, it revealed how the nurses lost time criss-crossing the trauma bay to get different pieces of equipment.

If the equipment needed was closer at hand, nurses would need to criss-cross the room and seconds could be saved. There would be less risk of nurses bumping into each other and dropping instruments.

“So now we understand where they’re moving and we can improve their efficiency,” Petrosoniak said. “The whole point of efficiency is to get the care faster. If you are thinking about gunshot wound patients, time matters significantly.”

Hicks said the information has also been used in the design of the new trauma bay to show how much room is needed around each bed.

The pair have also worked on creating a new “massive transfusion protocol.” They examined steps taken by everyone involved in the transfusing large amounts of blood into trauma patients.

That includes, as an example, porters charged with picking up blood from the blood bank at the other end of the hospital and carrying it over to the trauma bay.

Petrosoniak and Hicks realized seconds could be lost by waiting for an elevator, so now porters must take the stairs. As well porters must announce themselves when entering the trauma bay instead of waiting to be noticed.

Through changes such as this, delivery time for blood has been cut by 12.5 per cent to nine minutes.

“In the past you might have been waiting for blood,” Hicks said, citing research showing that every minute blood is delayed results in a 5 per cent increase in mortality.

Trauma surgeons at St. Mike’s are also working to reduce the need for their services by campaigning to reduce access to guns. Two surgeons with much to say on this happened to be on duty the night of the Danforth shooting in July. Drs. Najma Ahmed and Bernard Lawless say that the Danforth shooting prompted them to increase their activism.

“I think there is greater public awareness that this is a public health crisis. I think there is also greater awareness that guns can be lethal beyond just crimes. They are very often used in adolescent suicide in Canada,” Ahmed said.

This past fall, she helped draft a position statement, calling for limited civilian access to firearms, and then assisted in getting endorsements for it from medical associations, including the Trauma Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.

She and Lawless have also been lobbying politicians to take steps to crack down on gun violence.

“Dr. Ahmed and I have been contacting decision-makers at all levels,” Lawless said. “It’s going to take political fortitude to make change. When you look at this from a common sense perspective, it’s really not a difficult issue.”

Calling gun violence a “disease,” Ahmed said it makes perfect sense for physicians to be involved in trying to eradicate it.

“It has its own risk factors and own epidemiology, its preventable strategy,” she said.

Lawless said the profession has a long history in working on injury prevention: “Trauma surgeons have long played a role in injury prevention, whether it’s around seatbelt use, drinking and driving, and even working with engineers on how cars and roads are designed.”

Rizoli said diseases can be eradicated and points to smallpox as an example.

“No one should be injured by a disease that is completely preventable. No one in Canada should he a victim of gun violence. There could come a time when this could end.”

Theresa Boyle is a Toronto-based reporter covering health. Follow her on Twitter: @theresaboyle


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