Hitting pause on plan to cut Toronto city council 'a sign of strength,' Tory says in letter to Ford - Canadanewsmedia
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Hitting pause on plan to cut Toronto city council 'a sign of strength,' Tory says in letter to Ford



Toronto Mayor John Tory has penned an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, imploring him to put a plan to cut the number of city councillors nearly in half "on hold" until after the fall municipal election.

The letter, sent to the premier late Thursday night, strikes a conciliatory but urgent tone. Tory stresses the need for a temporary resolution to the matter, which has divided city council and strained the relationship between Queen's Park and city hall.

"The proposed legislation is contrary to common sense in terms of both the practicality of altering a live election process and in terms of our ongoing provincial-municipal relationship," Tory said of Bill 5. The legislation would reduce the number of wards in Toronto from 47 to 25 and cancel four regional chair elections, including in York and Peel regions. 

"Something as fundamentally important as an election — a primary mechanism of civic democracy — should not be changed without public input and in the absence of a clear process or robust understanding of public impacts and costs," he continued.

Ford has moved quickly to push the bill through the Legislature. This week, his government passed a motion that will see the bill bypass the committee stage. That, in short, means that neither the public nor relevant experts will have a chance to provide input before the legislation is passed into law. 

Tory, as well as a faction of progressive city councillors staunchly opposed to the cut in council size, have derided the process put in motion by the newly elected Progressive Conservative government as undemocratic. With an election looming on Oct. 22, a move to 25 wards would plunge Toronto into electoral chaos, opponents have argued. 

Ford and supporters of the legislation have insisted that Ford's frequent references to reducing the size of government on the campaign trail were, in fact, foreshadowing that he intended to slash the number of councillors in the city. At no point during the campaign, however, did Ford mention any specific actions he would take, let alone the details of Bill 5. 

Tory did not let that fact go unmentioned in his letter.

"This was not raised as a campaign issue by any party and therefore in my view, no party has a mandate for such unilateral action," he said.

He also took the opportunity to allude to a possible legal challenge from the city, calling the bill "possibly contrary to the law." The city's solicitor is currently considering the "validity and constitutionality" of Bill 5 and is scheduled to report back to council at a special meeting set for Aug. 20, the letter said. 

Tory has taken substantial criticism for his response to the province's unexpected move. When Ford announced the government's intention last month, Tory called for a referendum on the matter. He echoed that plea again on Thursday, saying it would "let the people speak."

"To me, hitting the pause button is a sign of strength. I would respectfully suggest that the legitimacy of your government's position dramatically increases if supported by a legitimate process," Tory said. 

"A referendum campaign would allow for a full opportunity for the public to be consulted and heard."

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Erlton station shuts down after man killed by C-Train




A pedestrian has died after being hit by a C-Train at Erlton station in southeast Calgary, according to EMS.

Police were called to the Erlton LRT Station at 1:20 p.m. after it was reported a pedestrian was hit by a train as it approached the platform. They are asking motorists to take an alternative route where possible. 

The man was found dead at the scene, according to police.

It's the second fatality on C-Train tracks on Monday, after a young girl was hit and killed earlier in the day. There was also a driver who died in a single-vehicle collision on Stoney Trail on Monday.

Officers have closed off 25th Avenue at Macleod Trail S.E. The road was closed in both directions. 

Trains aren't stopping at the station and Calgary Transit said shuttle buses are in place to take riders from City Hall station and 39 Avenue station to Erlton.

Police continue to investigate and say no more information is available at this time.

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Ripley's aquarium skinny dip with sharks 'extremely dangerous,' Toronto police say




Wearing nothing except a large smile, a man jumped into the largest exhibit at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in downtown Toronto late Friday and swam among sharks before security asked him to leave — but it didn't end there.

One minute-long video posted on YouTube shows the man taking off his clothes and diving into the Dangerous Lagoon, a 2.9-million-litre tank that offers an underwater gallery to dozens of marine animals.

I was scared I was going to witness the death of this guy.– Erinn Acland, witness

The naked man can be seen doing the breaststroke on the surface of the water while sand tiger sharks swim within centimetres of his feet. 

Green sawfish, green sea turtles, green moray eels and other species of tropical fish are also housed in the tank, according to the aquarium's website. 

Security at the popular tourist attraction asked the man to leave shortly before 10:30 p.m. ET but he refused, said Jenifferjit Sidhu, a spokesperson for Toronto Police Service.

Instead, he swam to the edge of the enclosure and emerged from the tank before doing a backward flip into the water, she told CBC Toronto on Monday.

The man stripped and dove into the Dangerous Lagoon, police say. (thecityissleeping/YouTube)

Visitor Erinn Acland said she heard the "big splash" and thought the trainers were feeding the sharks. As Acland and her boyfriend approached it, she said, they saw a man in the water. 

"The guy seemed totally relaxed and there were sharks, like, everywhere," she told CBC Toronto. "He appeared to be totally nude and, like, laughing."  

Acland described the display as unexpected and horrifying.

"I don't know what would possess someone to do that. It's totally insane to me," she explained. 

"I was scared I was going to witness the death of this guy."

A video by a visitor who captured the man's aquatic adventure has received more than 5,000 views on YouTube. 

On-site security called police, said Sidhu.

The video shows the man initially evaded security by slipping into a crowd, but he was later apprehended and asked to leave. (thecityissleeping/YouTube)

But before officers arrived, the man got out of the water.

A video shows him walking past security standing on the edge of the tank, jump the gate and slip into a crowd of onlookers where a woman appears to be holding his clothes. He put them on and left the aquarium at the request of security, Sidhu said. 

No marine animals were harmed during the stunt, she noted, adding the swim was "extremely dangerous."

"It put the man's safety in jeopardy, the safety of the marine animals and the safety of the staff who tried to get him out of the water," she told CBC Toronto. 

Police haven't been able to locate the man, but they are looking to speak to him.  

He could face charges of trespassing, mischief and indecent exposure, said Sidhu. 

Police describe the man as 35 to 40 years old, approximately five feet, ten inches tall and weighing around 220 pounds. He has a shaved head, a dark goatee and a tattoo on his lower leg.

Before entering the aquarium, he was wearing a dark hoodie, dark jeans, a green T-shirt and gray-and-white shoes.

The aquarium was hosting a monthly Friday night Jazz event, which has a cash bar and live music until 11 p.m. 

Police have launched an investigation. CBC Toronto has reached out to the aquarium, but hasn't received a response. 

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Naked man jumps in shark tank at Toronto's Ripley's Aquarium




A naked man stunned onlookers by jumping into a Ripley’s Aquarium shark tank over the weekend, in a splashy stunt now being investigated by police.

Toronto police received a call about an indecent exposure at the downtown aquarium at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

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“It was reported that a man took off his clothing and jumped into the shark tank on the main level of the aquarium,” said police spokesperson Katrina Arrogante.

Video posted to social media over the weekend shows the man swimming around in the tank with several sharks below him.

“Oh my gosh,” a woman said.

Security guards asked the man to get out of the tank, Arrogante said. But as he appeared to be attempting to leave, he jumped in a second time.

Death by selfie: Experts want ‘no-selfie zones’ at tourist hot spots to prevent deaths

A video shows him doing a backflip into the water as spectators cheered and applauded.

“Eventually the man did exit the tank and put on his clothing and he did leave the premise,” she said.

Police said no one was injured in the incident — including the animals — but the swimmer was gone by the time officers arrived.

Police have released a photo of a man they say jumped into a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada on Friday night.

Toronto Police Service

Police described him as 35 to 40 years old, 5-foot-10-inches tall and 220 pounds, with a tattoo on his lower leg. He was last seen wearing a dark-coloured hoodie, jeans and a green T-shirt.

READ MORE: Woman dies while attempting selfie at Michigan’s Pictured Rocks

The swimmer could possibly face charges of mischief and or incident exposure, Arrogante said.

— With files from Don Mitchell

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