Central Toronto Daily Updates: November–December 2020

Stay home for New Year’s

There’s nothing planned in Toronto for New Year’s eve tonight — so stay home. Celebrate in person only with people living under your roof or celebrate with others virtually. That’s the city’s message for residents during the strangest New Year’s most of us have ever faced.

red violin suspect police‘Stolen’ violin recovered, suspect sought

A violin that was missing since Dec. 18 (see item below) has been recovered, though police say a man suspected of having stolen it is still at large.

Images have been released showing a man apparently carrying the red violin case while exiting the Dufferin subway station on the day the instrument went missing.

The violin is being returned to the owner, police say, though the suspect, described as being in his 50s, is still outstanding.

Arrest after store robbed of backpack at lighter-point

Police arrested a man yesterday morning shortly after a store near Jarvis Street and Gerrard Street East was allegedly robbed of merchandise and an employee was bitten and threatened with a lighter.

It was reported a man selected a new backpack at the store and began filling it with his personal items, when he was challenged by an employee for not wearing a mask. He allegedly tried to set the employee on fire with a lighter and left the store, where he was again confronted by an employee. He bit the employee on the arm and again tried to light the employee on fire before fleeing on foot, police say.

Responding officers quickly found a man nearby and arrested him after a struggle. The stolen backpack was recovered, police say.

A 24-year-old man of no fixed address faces eight charges, including robbery with an offensive weapon, assaulting a peace officer, and failing to comply with a release order.

He appeared in court the same day.

Child reported injured in collision

Two vehicles were involved in a collision at Jarvis Street and Wellesley Street East today at about 10:30 a.m. Police, paramedics and firefighters were on the scene and the intersection was closed in all directions.

Injuries were reported, including to a seven-year-old passenger who received medical attention at the site. The child has been taken to hospital as a precaution, police say.

violin and caseHave you see this violin?

A TTC patron reportedly noticed his concert violin was missing after he left a subway station early yesterday evening.

The owner of the Lorenzo-Carcassi 1757 Concert violin had travelled on the subway at about 6:30 p.m. from College Street station north to Bloor-Yonge, west to St. George and north to St. Clair West where he got off, police say.

The violin was in a bright red BAM case. Images have been released.

13 Division investigators want to speak to anyone who has the violin, has seen it, or knows where it can be found.

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.

Second COVID case at Metro store

A Metro grocery store has had its second case of a positive test for COVID-19 within a few days. The latest at the College and Shaw street location was reported yesterday by Metro. The last day at work of the employee who tested positive was Dec. 11, the store said.

On Dec. 12, the store at 735 College St. also reported a case, with the employee’s last day listed as Dec. 10.

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Bayview closed by falling pipe

A 10-foot piece of pipe fell onto Bayview Avenue under the Prince Edward Viaduct — also known as the Bloor Viaduct — today at about 3:50 p.m., police reported. Bayview was closed and Rosedale Valley Road traffic diverted southbound only on Bayview, police reported.

The bridge was examined and determined to be safe, police said. Traffic on Bayview was reopened, they reported at about 8 p.m.

Alleged victim of manslaughterManslaughter charged in tale of two hospitals

Two people have been arrested after an investigation of an incident May 11 when two security guards at Toronto General Hospital allegedly had a “physical interaction” with a patient.

The 43-year-old female patient was pronounced dead at Toronto Western Hospital on May 27. She has been identified as Danielle Stephanie Warriner of Toronto.

Amanda Rojas-Silva, 42, of Stouffville, and Shane Hutley, 35, of Brougham, were arrested Nov. 30 and charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death. Here’s what we know so far.

I Shop Local signFree ‘I Shop Local’ signs offered by MPP

University-Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell has launched a shop local campaign to encourage Torontonians to safely shop at local stores during the holiday season and help small businesses survive the pandemic.

She and her staff are delivering “I Shop Local” signs free of charge to anyone in the riding to put in windows or in other highly visible locations.

Businesses and residents can request the signs online.

Beaches-LeslievilleDon ValleyForest HillLeasideNorth TorontoRiverdale-East York

Petrowska-Quilico-thumbnailPianist named member of the Order of Canada

Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, who has been profiled several times in Streeter dating back at least 15 years (including here and here), has been appointed to the Order of Canada.

Today’s announcement from the Governor General noted Petrowska Quilico is being awarded “for her celebrated career as a classical and contemporary pianist, and for championing Canadian music.”

Trained at Juilliard, the classical pianist is a leading performer of Canadian compositions. She also has many recordings of her solo work, as well as chamber works and concertos and in a duo with the late violinist Jacques Israelievitch, who received the Order of Canada in 2015.

She has been a professor of performance and musicology at York University since 1987.

We’ll have more in-depth coverage of the honour shortly. (Here it is.)

River Tai and Ring Music on Google

Ring Music follows Harbord Village neighbour into closure

Just days after the closing of Chinese eatery River Tai (see Nov. 21 below) comes word that its neighbour in the 90-92 Harbord St. building is also shutting its doors for good.

Ring Music has been in the area even longer, having sold and repaired guitars at the shop since 1969 and having had famous musicians, such as Gordon Lightfoot and members of Blue Rodeo, as patrons.

“We are so very sorry to see them close,” says the Harbord Street BIA on its website.

The three-storey building the two businesses shared for so many years has reportedly been sold.

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

Hills in Bickford and Riverdale 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.

Affordable Chinese eatery closes in Harbord Village

The River Tai Chinese Restaurant is reported by patrons to have closed after 27 years. Since 1993 the modest-looking eatery at 92 Harbord St., near the University of Toronto campus, has been a favourite of budget-minded students and Harbord Village regulars for its “insanely cheap” but tasty fare, as online reviewers have noted over the years.

Been coming here for years. And just like Wal-Mart, Great value!

Posted by Emmanuel Ochoa on Saturday, March 7, 2020


fentanyl distribution siteFive drug deaths in past week linked to distribution site in St. James Town

An 18-year-old man, 18, found near near Bleecker Street and St. James Avenue died of a suspected drug overdose, police say.

Four other deaths from suspected drug overdoses in the past week have been linked to fentanyl being distributed in the area where the latest victim was found, police are warning. Here’s the story so far.

Wounded man found at Church and Wellesley

A wounded and bleeding man was found on Wellesley Street East at Church Street this morning, an apparent victim of assault, police say.

The injured man was transported to hospital.

Here’s what we know so far, with pictures of the crime scene.


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 Dovercourt Park or Riverdale Farm — 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.

Woman dead, man arrested after alleged stabbing

A man has been charged with first-degree murder after a woman died of stabbing wounds in the area of Bloor Street West and Shaw Street on Wednesday.

Two people were reported to be having a verbal altercation, possibly in a bar and restaurant where the woman worked, when the alleged stabbing occurred. Here’s what we know so far.

Kensington house suffers ‘extensive damage’ in fire—again?

About $400,000 worth of damage was created by a fire in the Kensington Market area this morning, district fire chief Joe Bennett estimates.

Firefighters were called to the two-alarm blaze on Oxford Street at about 2:15 a.m. The two-storey, detached home was vacant, so no residents were injured in the fire, although the building suffered “extensive damage,” Bennett said.

However, an image from more than a year ago shows some similar — though not identical — damage, suggesting the house had previously been hit by fire as well. Here’s what we know so far.


MPP’s bill would crack down on landlords’ eviction tactics

University-Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell’s private member’s bill, Protecting Renters from Illegal Evictions Act, has gone to second reading in the Ontario legislature. The bill cracks down on landlords who use renovations or falsely claim a relative is moving in order to evict tenants and hike rents, according to an NDP press release today.

“Toronto has an affordable housing crisis and landlords are increasingly using renoviction tactics to kick existing tenants out and charge new tenants a much higher rent,” Bell said. “Bad faith evictions like these are throwing renters into a housing market ripe with low vacancy rates and skyrocketing rents.”

The news release cites the case of Walmer Road resident Lynn Gordon, a single mother, who recently faced a no-fault eviction from her apartment.

“It was extremely challenging to find a new affordable apartment that allowed my son to be able to attend his local school. High rent prices forced us to take a much smaller, more expensive unit,” Gordon is quoted as saying. “My new unit does not have enough bedrooms, so I am sleeping in the living room. As a teacher working during the pandemic, these close quarters have been particularly challenging.”

Private members’ bills rarely receive third reading or go on to become law. However, they can draw attention and raise support for their causes, and thereby indirectly affect government policy.

Arrest made in home invasion case

The Toronto police holdup squad arrested a man on Nov. 5 in relation to a home invasion robbery that occurred a week earlier near Dupont Street and Davenport Road area.

On Oct. 28, a man allegedly knocked on the door of a sex trade worker, forced his way inside and made a demand for cash while holding a knife.

Police say they identified the man and Oral Carver Lewis, 45, of Toronto, was arrested.,

Carver faces charges of robbery with an offensive weapon and breaking and entering to commit a crime.

Seaton HouseGeorge Street Revitalization project kicked off

Seaton House men’s shelter and its adjoining properties are to be transformed to launch the revitalization of George Street south of Allan Gardens, a project that has been in the works since at least 2013.

Mayor John Tory and Toronto Centre councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam both welcomed the project as creating a safer and more vibrant community with services for those in need. See the story.


Photo radar units being moved around

After three months of issuing tickets, the city’s photo radar units are being moved. All 50 automated speed enforcement (ASE) devices will 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 today.

In University-Rosedale ward, the two new ASE sites are Orde Street, west of Murray Street, and Essex Street, west of Christie Street. Both are near elementary schools.

In Toronto Centre, the cameras will be set up on Sherbourne Street, south of Wellesley Street East, and on Berkeley Street, south of Gerrard Street East, also near schools.

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

Church-Wellesley stabbing, man charged with attempted murder

A 20-year-old man faces attempted murder and other charges after a 40-year-old man was stabbed multiple times in the area of Church Street and Wellesley Street East at about 3:30 a.m. today. See the story.

Poppy donation box taken, arrest made

A poppy donation box was stolen from a grocery store near Yonge Street and Rowanwood Avenue yesterday morning, police report. A 32-year-old man was arrested the same day and charged with theft and failure to comply with the terms of probation.

Police say a man entered the store at about 7:30 a.m. and stuffed the donation box down the front of his pants. But he was apprehended by store employees, police were contacted and the money was recovered.

Neil Wycik fire thumbnailFire shuts down Neil Wycik residence

The Neil Wycik student co-op residence was evacuated late last night when a fire took out the building’s electrical network.

Heavy smoke filled the 23-storey high rise on Gerrard Street East after a fire began in an electrical room, fire officials said. Get the whole story.


Shots fired at youths sitting on porch

Police have revealed today they are still investigating a shooting incident near Dundas and River streets on Aug. 10. At about 9:54 p.m. that day, a black SUV reportedly stopped in front of a home in the area and two passengers with firearms fired at five youths sitting on a porch, police say.

No injuries were reported.

The vehicle is described as similar to an Infinity QX70. Security camera images have been released in the police news release.

Police car in collision, but who struck whom?

On Twitter this morning a collision was reported at 7:53 a.m. involving the police, noting “Police car struck” and offering an image of the accident scene. However, one Twitter correspondent disputed the report, saying the police car had struck another vehicle — and presenting a photo from a “better angle.”

In a followup message the tweeter expanded on his description of the incident: “Police car made an abrupt left turn onto Howard and struck the car of an elderly couple pushing them into the street light. Let’s tell the truth now….”

Non-life threatening injuries have been reported from the collision, although we do not yet know who was injured.

Medication stolen in Annex

A backpack containing a quantity of drugs was stolen near Walmer Road and Kendal Avenue on Oct. 30, police are warning today.

The 14–35 pills include Suboxone, Xanax, Temazepan and morphine and could be harmful, even fatal, if ingested, especially by children, police say.

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