Riverdale-East York Daily Updates: November–December 2020

East York Chronicle founder dies

Gary Webb-Proctor, music journalist and founder of the East York York Chronicle, is reported to have died on Dec. 28 at the age of 70. The cause of death of the man who went by the nickname of “Gary 17” has not be announced. See a personal appreciation of the man.

police car thumbnail60 charges in month after two stores robbed

Two stores on opposite sides of town were hit by an alleged group of robbers and three men were arrested on Nov. 21 and 22, followed a month later by the arrest of two boys, police reported today.

The stores were described by police as being in the Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue West area and in the Victoria Park Avenue and St. Clair Avenue area.

Together the five males arrested face 60 charges. See the full story.

Stabbings send three to hospital

Two females and a male were taken to hospital after an apparent round of stabbings near Jones and Boultbee avenues at about 1:30 p.m. today.

Police first reported a man had been stabbed in the area, but this soon changed to three victims with stab wounds.

Blake Street and Boultbee were closed for the investigation. Police said they have “no outstanding suspects.”

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CampTO and winter instruction programs cancelled

City-run holiday camps and skiing or skating lessons have been shut down by Toronto’s rising COVID-19 numbers.

The cancellations were announced today, following recommendations from Toronto Public Health and the city’s medical health officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa.

Read more about this.

R.H. McGregor closedNine TDSB schools now closed by COVID outbreaks

R.H. McGregor Elementary School on Mortimer Avenue and City Adult Learning Centre on Danforth are among the latest schools to be shut down by Toronto Public health after outbreaks of COVID-19.

This brings the total number of school closures to 13, including nine in the Toronto District School Board system. Get the full story.

Incidents at Broadview and Pape subway stations

Subway trains were diverted past Broadway Station last night after police responded at about 11:36 p.m. to reports of people fighting at the track level. No further information or injuries have been reported since then.

This followed shortly after reports of a man brandishing a knife on the platform at Pape Station at about 11:09 p.m. In that case, police said they pursued a suspect on foot and a man was taken into custody. A knife was retrieved. No injuries were involved, according to police.

UPDATE: Second suspect in explosion surrenders

Police say they have made a second arrest in connection with the explosion and fire on Woodbine Avenue that sent two children to hospital with serious injuries (see Dec. 5 and Nov. 29 items below).

Cassandra Nicholson, 30, of Toronto, who was being sought by police after the arrest of another suspect, is reported to have surrendered to police today. She faces nine charges, including two counts of arson causing bodily harm, two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and arson with disregard for human life.

She is to appear in court today.

Site where nooses found in East YorkInvestigation of nooses leads to arrest

A 34-year-old man has been charged with criminal harassment nearly six months after two nooses were found at the construction site at East York’s Michael Garron Hospital. Hate crime charges are yet to be filed.

The arrest came from officers working with a task force set up to investigate a series of such incidents involving nooses at construction sites across Toronto. Get the story as we know it so far.

East Toronto testing sites extended through December

The temporary COVID-19 testing sites set up in in East Toronto (see Nov. 2 item below) are being continued until the end of December, Michael Garron Hospital has announced. The popup sites offer drop-in and same-day appointments for residents of priority neighbourhoods in East Toronto, as well as for the homeless and those without internet access.

The testing sites being extended to the end of December include:

  • East York Community Centre, 1081 Pape Ave.
  • Warden Woods Community Centre, 76 Firvalley Ct.
  • Dennis R. Timbrell Resource Centre, 29 St Dennis Dr.
  • Angela James Arena, 165 Grenoble Dr.
  • South Riverdale Community Health Centre, 955 Queen St. E.
  • Thorncliffe Park, 45 Overlea Blvd.
  • Oakridge Community Recreation Centre, 63 Pharmacy Ave.
  • Crescent Town Health Centre, 4 Market Place

See the website for dates, times and how to get tested,

Arrest after store robbed in East Danforth area

A 34-year-old man was arrested the day after a store was robbed near Danforth and Coxwell avenues.

The robbery happened in the early morning hours of  Dec. 2 shortly when a man allegedly approached a store counter, indicated he had a gun and demanded cash from the register. After the victim handed over money, the man fled the store, police say.

Holdup squad investigators were able to identify a suspect and on Dec. 3 Carlos Novello-Brideau of Toronto, was arrested. He faces charges of robbery, disguise with intent, and failing to comply with probation.

He was to appear in court on Dec. 4.


explosion thumbnailWoman sought in Woodbine Avenue explosion

A 38-year-old man was arrested after an explosion and subsequent fire on Woodbine Avenue sent two seriously injured children to hospital on Nov. 27.

But now police are also looking for a 30-year-old woman suspected of being his accomplice in the manufacture of illicit drugs in the residential building, thought to have caused the the explosion.

Get the full story.

Thorncliffe Park PS thumbnailThorncliffe Park school closed — are others next?

Toronto Public Health closed Thorncliffe Park Public School as of yesterday evening after nineteen cases of coronavirus came to light during an asymptomatic testing pilot project at the school. (See the full story.)

Other schools in Toronto have been touched by the virus but none have come close to the number of active cases recorded at Thorncliffe Park — with 26 active cases among students and staff. However, this could be because Thorncliffe was the first school to take part in an intensive testing pilot project.

In any case, here are some of the figures the Toronto District School Board is reporting at its schools in the Riverdale-East York area, as of this morning:

  • CALC Secondary School — nine active cases
  • Cosburn Middle School — one active case
  • Crescent Town Elementary School — one active case
  • Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute — zero active cases
  • Earl Haig Public School — zero active cases
  • East York Alternative Secondary School — zero active cases
  • East York Collegiate Institute — zero active cases
  • George Webster Elementary School — four active cases
  • Gordon A. Brown Middle School — zero active cases
  • Monarch Park Collegiate Institute — two active cases
  • O’Connor Public School — one active case
  • R.H. McGregor Elementary School — three active cases
  • Riverdale Collegiate Institute — one active case
  • Secord Public School — zero active cases
  • Victoria Park Public School — one active case
  • Westwood Middle School — two active cases
  • Wilkinson Junior Public School — two active cases
  • William Burgess Elementary School — zero active cases

These figures do not include past cases at the school that have been resolved since Nov. 10. The following school are not listed  because they have neither active cases nor resolved cases:

  • Chester Elementary School
  • D.A. Morrison Middle School/Oak Park Junior High School
  • Earl Beatty Junior and Senior Public School
  • Earl Grey Senior Public School
  • Greenwood Secondary School
  • Jackman Avenue Junior Public School
  • Selwyn Public School
  • Withrow Avenue Junior Public School

Police car thumbnailWoman charged with attempted murder

A woman has been charged with attempted murder after an alleged stabbing in the area of Coxwell Avenue and Hanson Street yesterday evening. A man remains in critical condition after being rushed to hospital, police say.

Officers responded to the stabbing call in the area at about 6:52 p.m. Get the story so far.

Woodbine explosion thumbnailExplosion, fire on Woodbine spark charges

A man faces serious arson charges after an explosion and fire at a Woodbine Avenue house that caused minor injuries to several people.

The incident happened late Friday afternoon. Toronto Fire Services forwarded all media enquiries to police when it became apparent that charges were being laid. Here’s what we know.

The Scribe thumbnailStore to teach the ‘thrill’ of holding old books

Justin Daniel Wood’s store, about to open Dec. 1, is different from all the other bookstores on Danforth Avenue. The Scribe specializes in rare and vintage volumes that range in price from $5 to $1,000.

But Wood is on a mission to show people they need not be intimidated by such books, which are neither untouchable nor expensive. Read all about this new business.


Pizzeria fire siteMinor fire at Pape pizzeria

Despite a report from police of a “large fire” at Pape and Gowan avenues, fire crews found only a small fire in the kitchen of a pizzeria when they responded at 10:40 this morning.

People were evacuated from the building housing 241 Pizza on Pape and the street briefly closed.

The fire itself was dealt with in 30 minutes, according to an employee at a business next door.

No injuries were reported.

tobogganing hill at RiverdaleLocal parks ready for tobogganing and other winter activities

Hills in Riverdale and Withrow parks are among the 23 sites where the city is encouraging tobogganing this winter in its Welcome T.O. Winter parks plan (though you likely know several other great hills to slide down on sleds and toboggans).

The city is also pushing other outdoor activities during the pandemic this winter, including skating, snowshoeing in city golf courses, playing disc-golf and exploring recreational trails.

See the story and where to go for the best tobogganing.

Thorncliffe among areas to get added COVID-19 supports

Toronto announced enhanced COVID-19 supports today, mainly targeting the northwest and northeast corners of the city where the pandemic has “exacerbated long-standing, systemic health inequities related to poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination.”

But residents of Thorncliffe Park are also considered vulnerable and will receive targeted neighbourhood support, the city says.

The city is working with the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Organization in the East York/Don Valley community to implement the enhanced supports.

Targeted measures include expanded testing sites, intensified community outreach and engagement, and income support for those who test positive and are unable to work due to mandatory isolation. They will also address the threat of eviction and improve newcomer access to COVID-19 services, among other measures, according to the city.

Last night for local BigArtTO show

It’s the last showing tonight of “Interchanges,” artist Winnie Truong’s work projected on the Canada Post South Central Letter Processing Plant at 969 Eastern Ave. The free art installation, part of the city’s BigArtTO initiative, is on from 6 to 9 p.m.

See the original story about BigArtTO across Toronto.

Where to go when you have to go

If you’re a person who plans your outings around available washrooms, here’s welcome news for you. The city is refitting and reopening washrooms in parks — like at Withrow Park or Dentonia Park — this winter.

It’s also adding portable toilets to new locations, along with keeping washrooms going in the usual places like libraries and recreation centres.

Get the full story here.

The story of the Empringham Hotel

The Empringham Hotel was the pride of East Toronto when George Empringham opened it at Danforth and Dawes in the 1890s and it remained an east end destination and social centre of sorts into the 1980s, when it was taken down.

Read all about it and see those great old photos in “From stately hotel to strip club — the Empringham story.”

Power restored after outages caused by windstorm

More than 10,000 people in Toronto had to have their power restored yesterday and last night, with the most outages in East York and Scarborough, according to Toronto Hydro.

The outages came after a windstorm, some have called the worst since 2018, blew through Ontario. Hydro crews worked through the night to restore power.

Work begun on upgraded Dundas bike lanes

Protected bike lanes for Dundas Street East are on the way. Work on the upgraded lanes mandated by city council for one of Toronto’s most dangerous stretches of road for cyclists (see Nov. 6 story) has begun, says Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher in her Nov. 13 email newsletter.

Transportation staff have begun pavement markings, and other upgrades, such as adding curbs and bollards will follow over the next month, Fletcher says.

Teens arrested for armed robberies in East York

Seven boys, 14 to 16, have been arrested and charged with multiple counts of robbery and possession of offensive weapons after a series of retail robberies this week.

The alleged robberies took place at Cosburn and Donlands avenues and at Cosburn and Greenwood avenues on Nov. 9 and 10. Store staff were reportedly threatened and assaulted. Here’s the full story.


Food Basics employee tested positive

Metro stores have announced an employee at Food Basics, 1070 Pape Ave., has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee’s last day of work was Nov. 9, the company says.

You can publicly charge your EV in the east end now

Seventeen electric vehicle charging stations have been activated across the city, many of them in the east end wards of Toronto-Danforth and Beaches-East York.

Toronto mayor John Tory announced the official launch of the 12-month pilot program yesterday and Beaches-East York councillor Brad Bradford praised the program. See the full story and locations.


Potentially harmful medication taken

Police warned yesterday evening a bulk quantity of oxycodone was stolen from the Danforth Avenue and Broadview Avenue area on Oct. 31.

The pills ranged from 15 milligrams to 80 milligrams. They could be harmful or fatal if ingested, especially to children, police say. Anyone with information should contact police.

New east end locations for photo radar units

After three months of issuing tickets, the city’s photo radar units are being moved. All 50 automated speed enforcement (ASE) devices are to be moved to new locations starting this week “to address a greater number of areas with safety concerns and to encourage a wide-ranging deterrent effect,” the city said in a news release yesterday.

In Toronto-Danforth ward, the two new ASE sites are on Dundas Street East, east of Broadview Avenue, and on Lesmount Avenue, south of Cosburn Avenue. Both are near schools.

In Beaches-East York, the new sites are on Kingston Road, near Heyworth Crescent, and on Spruce Hill Road, north of Queen Street East.

The city reports 47,195 speeders were caught by ASE devices in the old locations, but the number of tickets dropped in the second and third months.

“The Automated Speed Enforcement program is working,” Mayor John Tory said. “Each month, fewer drivers were caught speeding in school and community safety zones where they’ve been placed, and they are helping to keep vulnerable people, especially school children, in these communities safer.”

‘Dangerous’ Dundas to get protected bike lanes

A dangerous stretch of Dundas Street East may become a little safer for cyclists if the city upgrades the bicycle paths to protected bike lanes. A committee of city council adopted a report yesterday calling for installing cycle tracks — protected bicycle lanes — along Dundas between Broadview Avenue and Kingston Road.

Deaths and injuries that have plagued the street may be alleviated if protected lanes are installed, proponents say. See the full story — and a dangerous situation spotted by our photographer.

Seven popup testing sites in east end

Seven COVID-19 testing sites are popping up in East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital is announcing.

Operated by East Toronto Health Partners, the temporary testing centres offer drop-in and same-day appointments for residents of priority neighbourhoods in East Toronto, as well as for the homeless and those without internet access.

Five new testing locations open this week and join the two sites that were launched and recently extended in Thorncliffe Park and Taylor-Massey (Crescent Town). The five new sites are at:

East York Community Centre, 1081 Pape Ave.
Nov. 2 to 30: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

Warden Woods Community Centre, 76 Firvalley Ct.
Nov. 5 to 30: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

Dennis R. Timbrell Resource Centre, 29 St Dennis Dr.
Nov. 3 to 30: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

Angela James Arena, 165 Grenoble Dr.)
Nov. 9 to 30: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m.

South Riverdale Community Health Centre, 955 Queen St. E.
Nov. 7: Saturday, 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nov. 10: Tuesday, 2 to 4 p.m.
Nov. 16: Monday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nov. 17: Tuesday, 5 to 7 p.m.

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