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September 15th, 2019 by admin

Cost of bridge to replace Massey Tunnel estimated at $3 billion

The bridge that will replace the George Massey Tunnel between Delta and Richmond will be longer than the new Port Mann Bridge. Higher than the new Port Mann Bridge.

And more expensive too.

“It’s a much more complex technical project than even the Port Mann Bridge was,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone today, explaining the estimated $3 billion pricetag for the project.

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“The bridge will actually be a bit longer and at a bit higher. It will be a larger bridge overall than what the Port Mann is, mainly because of the soil conditions that have been encountered. As well as you’re crossing two sections, two different channels of the river at this particular location.”

Stone spoke to reporters on Thursday, a day after Independent MLA Vicki Huntington released a Freedom of Information request revealing a lack of public records surrounding the proposed-mega project, first announced in 2013.

READ MORE: Congested George Massey Tunnel to be replaced by bridge in 2017

Stone says the government is committed to making documents public to the project – including a business plan, which was originally promised for 2014 – but Huntington is skeptical, given the lack of records so far.

“No business case, no cost benefit analysis, no correspondence. Nothing,” she said.

“Going forward, be as transparent as you like, but we want the supporting documentation.”

The province hopes to begin construction in 2017, with a 2022 completion date. But Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie says there are plenty of questions that need to be answered first.

“Exactly how is this bridge going to be financed? And is it going to be tolled – I’m sure it will be – and what are the levels of the tolls? And is it going to be a P3?” he asks.

“We need more information, we need it as soon as possible, so we as a city can respond to this project and really say what we think about it after full analysis.”

September 15th, 2019 by admin

Road pricing for Metro Vancouver discussed at Surrey forum

The subject of road pricing was on the agenda Thursday night at a public forum in Surrey, where people were divided on whether that approach is the solution to their congestion woes.

On Monday, the Canadian Ecofiscal Commision released a report calling for a conversation surrounding tolls on bridges and busy routes across the lower mainland and other major Canadian cities.

“Our idea is that you might try tolls on the bridges that get you into the central core,” said Chris Ragan, the commission’s chair and lead on the report.

Ragan says local and provincial governments could consider a pilot project to test the idea.

WATCH: Traffic congestion is a problem in cities across Canada. But a new report says we’re not tackling it the right way. Mike Armstrong looks at whether it’s time to put an economic value on our roads, especially during peak times.

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“Well it’s certainly something that is worth studying,” said Bruce Hayne, a councillor with the city of Surrey.

“Congestion pricing pricing is something that our former mayor [Dianne] Watts was advocating years ago and continues to.”

About 60 people attended the forum, held at SFU Surrey. Some said the idea of tolling all the bridges is a good one. Others aren’t quite convinced yet.

“The new bridges I understand, but to toll all the bridges, I think they’re just trying to create revenue,” said Ken Hunter, a commuter who’s often found himself stuck in traffic.

However, Ragan points to other cities across North America, such as Minneapolis, where drivers have the choice of paying to use high occupancy toll [HOT] lanes.

“What they found there is that it reduces traffic congestion. The HOT lanes travel quickly but the non HOT lanes – let’s call them the cold lanes – they travel faster too,” he said.

“Let’s start a conversation about policies that work elsewhere and probably would work here if we gave it the good old college try.”

September 15th, 2019 by admin

Brazen drive-by shooting on Stephen Avenue tied to abduction: Calgary police

CALGARY – Police investigating a brazen drive-by shooting on a busy downtown Calgary street believe it is connected to an abduction that happened the night before.

Gunfire erupted in the 200 block of Stephen Avenue S.W. just after 10:30 p.m. on Thursday while the popular entertainment district was packed with people.

Police said a man and a woman, both in their 20s, were standing on the sidewalk when a vehicle approached and someone inside opened fire.

The victims were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds. Both are listed in serious but non-life-threatening condition.

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The violent attack took place in front of a McDonald’s in the Scotia Centre, leaving two large panes of glass shattered. A stray bullet entered the fast food eatery and struck the back wall.

Police said the restaurant was closed at the time, but workers were still inside cleaning up and were quite shaken.

A bullet hole is seen in the wall of a McDonald’s located in the 200 block of Stephen Avenue S.W.

Global News

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The Calgary Police Service Guns and Gangs Unit rushed to the scene of the attack.

A vehicle believed to be connected to the shooting was later found at a gas station in the 2000 block of 16 Avenue N.W. Police took two people who were in the vehicle in for questioning.

Inspector Rob Davidson said that vehicle was believed to be the one involved in an abduction that occurred in the same location on Wednesday night.

“We are not looking at random isolated events,” he said. “This appears to be much more targeted.”

READ MORE: Possible kidnapping caught on camera in downtown Calgary

Davidson said the Stephen Avenue shooting was not connected to gangs or two shootings that happened earlier this week, however, he suggested the abduction and Stephen Avenue shooting were connected to drugs.

“We believe that the persons of interest in custody are also likely involved in other crime, violent crime that has occurred in the city, and those are also ongoing investigations,” he said.

– With files from Bindu Suri and Tony Tighe

September 15th, 2019 by admin

Toyota invests $1 billion in artificial intelligence research

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is investing $1 billion in a research company it’s setting up in Silicon Valley to develop artificial intelligence and robotics, underlining the Japanese automaker’s determination to lead in futuristic cars that drive themselves and apply the technology to other areas of daily life.

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Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda said Friday the company will start operating from January 2016, with 200 employees at a Silicon Valley facility near Stanford University. A second facility will be established near Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

The investment, which will be spread over five years, comes on top of $50 million Toyota announced earlier for artificial intelligence research at Stanford and MIT.

READ MORE: Google’s drivers of driverless cars do a job that may soon be obsolete

Toyota said its interest extended beyond autonomous driving, which is starting to be offered by some automakers and being promised by almost all of them. The technology was pointing to a new industry for everyday use, delivering a safer lifestyle overall, it said.

Toyota has already shown an R2-D2-like robot designed to help the elderly, the sick and people in wheelchairs by picking up and carrying objects. The automaker has also shown human-shaped entertainment robots that can carry on conversations and play musical instruments. As the world’s top auto manufacturer, Toyota already uses sophisticated robotic arms and computers in auto production, including doing paint jobs and screwing in parts.

To drive home the message that the automaker’s vision was more than about just cars, Toyoda appeared at a Tokyo hotel with high profile robotics expert Gill Pratt, who will head the new organization called Toyota Research Institute Inc.

Pratt was formerly a program manager at the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He joined Toyota as a technical adviser when it set up its AI research effort at Stanford and MIT.

WATCH: The U.K. government believes driverless cars could save motorists six working weeks a year in driving time, reduce congestion, cut emissions and improve safety. Emily Elias reports.

Pratt said the company’s goals are to support older people in their homes with robotics, make cars free of accidents and use AI to allow all people to drive regardless of ability.

He gave three examples from his personal life that motivate him to develop robotics and related technology: when he was a child, seeing a boy on a bicycle killed by a car; telling his 83-year-old father he could no longer drive; and sending his father to a nursing home when he was 84.

Pratt, who grew up on Japanese robot animation and dreamed of one day building such robots, said he chose Toyota over other jobs because it was “so focused on social good.”

He said coming up with a car as smart as a human being will take a long time. But that also meant the competition had just begun and no one was ahead significantly, he said.

The new company will be hiring researchers and engineers, according to Toyota. Wooing talent is crucial because not only are automakers such as General Motors, Tesla and Nissan competing on autonomous driving but outsiders are as well, including Google, Apple and Uber.

Toyota, which has gone through troubled times with massive recalls and the 2011 tsunami in northeastern Japan, has the cash these days to invest in the future.

On Thursday, it kept its profit forecast for the fiscal year through March 2016 unchanged at 2.25 trillion yen ($18.5 billion), as profit rose on cost cuts and the benefits of a weak yen. The maker of the Prius hybrid and Camry sedan is on track to sell about 10 million vehicles around the world this year.

Toyoda, ranked by Forbes in this year’s “powerful people” list as the most powerful Japanese, said he looks forward to working with Pratt because they share a vision.

“The goal is to do away with the tragedy of car accidents,” he told reporters.

September 15th, 2019 by admin

‘I trusted what they were telling me’: a student’s frustration with Direct Energy

LETHBRIDGE – Fighting to get her Direct Energy refund has been a seven month battle for Ashleigh Ahlstrom.

The 20-year-old claims she has yet to receive the $121 refund promised after cancelling her services in April.

The energy giant was charged on Wednesday by the Alberta government for violating fair business practices for its customers. One of those charges was failing to refund a deposit within 15 days after cancellation.

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READ MORE: Alberta charges Direct Energy with failing to cancel contract, give refund

“It is really frustrating, I trusted what they were telling me and nothing ever happened,” said Ahlstrom.

The third-year University of Lethbridge student had registered with Direct Energy after deciding to rent her own home for the first time. When the school year was coming to an end, she gave one months notice to cut her utility services, because she was moving back home to Calgary for the summer. She then received a note on her last bill telling her she would be getting a $121 refund.

In June, she called the company after no cheque ever showed up in the mail, and was told she would have the money soon. After a couple months went by and still no refund, she contacted them again, and was told they would not resend the cheque because it was already in the mail.

Ashleigh Ahlstrom with letter from Direct Energy after she filed complaint about not receiving her refund.

She sent a detailed email to their complaints department and received a letter thanking her for the feedback and asking for additional information in order to make changes to her account.

“I trusted them since April, so I just gave up, because it is just defeating when no one listens to you,” added Ahlstrom.

In a statement Direct Energy said:

After an internal investigation it was discovered that the cheque was sent to the customer’s previous address. We will correct this situation with Ms. Ahlstrom as soon as possible, and the agent has been retrained on this procedure. Direct Energy apologizes to Ms. Ahlstrom for her inconvenience.

After Global News contacted the company on Thursday afternoon, Ahlstrom said they called her twice to try and rectify the issue.

“I think having them call me twice because they knew I was going to speak to the media, really shows how they are conducting their company,” she said.

She says the address she listed for a refund is the same address Direct Energy mailed their response to her emailed complaint, which she received promptly.

“If it was an address issue, why did they not contact me when they realized it was an address issue,” she said.

As she waits for the new refund, she is concerned others are still waiting on their repayment cheques, and encourages them to also speak out.

©2015

August 15th, 2019 by admin

New poll shows skepticism over decision to destroy Vancouver viaducts

They may be coming down – but not every one is happy about it.

That’s what a new poll by Insights West says about the Vancouver viaducts. In an online survey of 547 people in Metro Vancouver, just 36 per cent of people said they supported city council’s decision last month to take down the mini-freeway, compared to 40 per cent who opposed the decision.

In addition, 85 per cent said there was no guarantee it would lead to affordable housing, 71 per cent said they believed it would only benefit developers and not average residents, and 70 per cent said it would increase traffic in the area – all running contrary to the city’s claims.

“This is something that has been consistent the past couple of years,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West.

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“There’s a lot of cynicism from the voters in Metro Vancouver and the city of Vancouver especially when it comes to development. And they are looking at the issue of the Georgia Viaducts coming down as a way for the developers to benefit, and not the average citizen.”

READ MORE: Many months and negotiations to go before viaducts go down

Minister of Transportation Todd Stone says the government shares some of the concerns seen in the poll.

“From a provincial perspective, I am concerned with respect to potential impacts on traffic flow from a regional perspective. This is why TransLink needs to be at this table. Some of these roads are part of their major road network, we want to make sure the removal of the viaducts doesn’t in any way compromise that flow of traffic in and out of Vancouver,” he said.

The City of Vancouver has given itself 18 months to come up with a design plan and negotiate land deals. The teardown of viaducts could begin by late 2017 and be complete by 2020.

August 15th, 2019 by admin

Serena Williams chases down would-be robber, gets cellphone back

Serena Williams, who is known for slamming her opponents on the court, slammed the door on a would-be robber who stole her cellphone on Tuesday.

A video captured the tennis star dining at a restaurant in San Francisco when a man approached her table inconspicuously. With a jacket draped over his arm for cover, he managed to grab the phone and take off.

The Wimbledon champion was quick to spot that her cellphone was missing and took off after the man she thought who took It.

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The tennis star chased down and confronted the man on the street outside the restaurant.

Whether or not she had to use her on-the-court demeanor when confronting the man to return her belonging, Williams did indeed get the phone back.

“In the most menacing yet calm no nonsense voice I could muster I kindly asked him if he “accidentally” took the wrong phone,” Williams wrote in a post on her Facebook page. “He stumbled on his words probably not expecting this to happen. “While he was thinking of the right thing to say and eventually he said ‘Gosh you know what I did! It was so confusing in there. I must have grabbed the wrong phone.’”

Williams’ companion at the restaurant began calling the phone and she could hear it ringing while in the man’s possession.

According to a KPIX FIVE report, fellow diners gave her a standing ovation when she returned with her cellphone in hand.

Williams said in her Facebook post that she had a “SUPERHERO sense” about the man and called herself “SuperSerena.”

The San Francisco Police Department told KPIX FIVE News that they’d like to speak to Williams about the incident in an effort to find out if the man has stolen other cell phones.

©2015

August 15th, 2019 by admin

Vancouver demolition numbers at a 10-year high

A wave of demolition in Point Grey is giving Brian Evans infill flashbacks.

“Beginning of the 1980s, we lived about 15 blocks from here, we found the neighbourhood was changing rapidly, houses being torn down,” says Evans.

The homes near Vine Street and West 22nd Avenue were being replaced with what he calls “mega-houses”. Evans says he made news headlines at the time as one of the last hold-outs until they finally had enough.

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Now, history is repeating itself with demolition numbers in 2015 at a 10-year high. In 2005, Vancouver saw 803 units come crashing. This year there have been 1,141, including pending applications.

READ MORE: House and condo prices in Greater Vancouver continue to climb

“The houses are being bought, houses are being built, but a lot of them are unoccupied. They are clearly investments,” he says.

Demolition companies like J&R Excavation says they are barely able to keep up with new clients being placed on a waiting list.

“On average I would say we’re tearing down at least one house a week,” says Trevor Bauder, who spent the day tearing down an older home in east Vancouver.

A new home with a rental suite is being built in its place: an increasing trend on the east side, as homes are torn down to make room for more density.

Some area residents say the face of their community is changing too quickly. With the City of Vancouver approving Shaughnessy as its first heritage neighbourhood, they hope similar designations will slow down to pace of demolition.

“I sent a text to my husband saying another one bites the dust,” says neighbour Kim Larter. “It’s sad to see these old houses getting torn down.”

August 15th, 2019 by admin

Desharnais, Gallagher goals pace Canadiens 4-1 over Islanders

MONTREAL – David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher scored 1:33 apart in the third period to lift the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Dale Weise and Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal (12-2-1), which has not lost in regulation time (3-0-1) in four games since Mike Condon replaced the injured Carey Price as the starting goaltender.

Kyle Okposo scored for the Islanders (7-4-3), who are 1-2-2 in their last five games.

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READ MORE: Kyle Turris scores early in OT to lift Senators past Canadiens 2-1

Montreal had a 24-18 shot advantage and beat former Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak for only the second time in six meetings.

Weise, with his fifth goal in the last four games, was in the slot to redirect a Jeff Petry feed past Halak on a power play at 18:50 of the first period. It was Weise’s team-leading eighth goal of the season, two short of his career high.

The Canadiens had just killed a penalty when Okposo skated through the defence into the slot and beat Condon with a wrist shot 3:35 into the second frame.

READ MORE: Leafs coach Mike Babcock expected to coach Canada at 2016 World Cup

A puck tipped in the neutral zone glanced off linesman Michel Cormier and sent the Canadiens in on a two on one, which Desharnais finishing a feed from Tomas Fleischmann 6:22 into the third.

Gallagher was on the doorstep to deflect a Max Pacioretty shot between Halak’s pads at 7:55.

Plekanec got his sixth of the season into an empty net at 17:57.

Montreal killed all three Islander power plays and have yet to allow a short-handed goal at home in 23 chances this season.

The Canadiens complete a four-game homestand Saturday against Boston. The Isles play host to the Bruins on Sunday.

©2015

August 15th, 2019 by admin

Saskatoon Hilltops seek fifth Canadian Bowl title in six years

SASKATOON  – After winning four of the last five Canadian Bowls, the Saskatoon Hilltops could be excused for treating this year’s championship as a case of ‘been there, done that.’ But this one is different.

The Hilltops are playing for national glory on home turf. The last time that happened was in 2010, before any members of the current roster were on the team.

“It’s going to be a special moment to sort of realize that we’re in our surroundings, we’re at home and we’re in this beautiful place, but ultimately you’ve got to forget about that when you get between the lines,” said head coach Tom Sargeant.

“We’ve got an Okanagan Sun team that has worked real hard to get here as well and they’re looking to knock us off the pedestal.”

Watch below: Okanagan Sun warm up for Canadian Bowl

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They haven’t faced each other in well over a decade but the Hilltops and Sun have plenty of shared history.

They’ve met on seven previous occasions including two in the Canadian Bowl, with each team winning once. The Sun are making their first trip to the title game since 2004 after running the table in the BCFC this season. They combine a high-octane offence with arguably the stingiest defence in the country, which should make for a great matchup against the Hilltops.

“Film tells a lot but it doesn’t tell everything. You never really know until you play someone,” said quarterback Jared Andreychuk.

“They’re a really big, strong, physical team and they have lots of athletes out there, so it’s going to be a fight.”

It’s a fight the Hilltops pivot is ready for despite admitting to some pre-game jitters.

READ MORE: Running game helps propel Saskatoon Hilltops to Canadian Bowl

“I’m not one to get nervous but Canadian Bowls, they get me nervous. It usually works out. I play well under pressure and hopefully that will be the same this weekend,” he said.

So will Saskatoon climb to the top once more or will Okanagan ride into the sunset with the victory? The answer will come on Saturday.

©2015