City councillors hear from public on Calgary's proposed 'missing middle' zoning

WATCH ABOVE: More than 60 Calgarians came to city hall on Tuesday to voice their opinions on a change to city development rules and a new zoning category to increase density in the inner city. Adam MacVicar reports.

A large group of Calgarians have voiced their opposition and support for changes to the city’s zoning rules, which aim to give the green light to higher density development in inner-city neighbourhoods.

Sixty-four people registered to speak at Tuesday’s lengthy public hearing at Calgary City Hall, which also included more than 400 letters and emails sent to city administration on the matter.

The proposed amendment to the zoning rules would allow for more development otherwise known as the “missing middle.” The medium-density builds would include townhomes, rowhouses, low-rise apartments and semi-detached homes.

Council is also being asked to approve a new zoning category called Housing – Grade Oriented, or H-GO. If given approval by council, it would be allowed to be used within 200 metres of a main street or activity centre, within 600 metres of an LRT station, within 400 metres of a bus-rapid transit stop and within 200 metres of a primary transit service — if the community doesn’t have a local area plan.

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“It is simply another land-use district that can be used into the future. It is not replacing anything. It is not blanket rezoning,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said.

“It is something that will not be forced upon people. It will be an option for people to use into the future.”

Even if council approves the changes, property owners would still need to bring individual rezoning applications to city council for approval.

According to the city, the new zoning category would help with housing affordability.

Alkarim Devani, the co-founder of RndSqr, was one of the many speakers that lined up at city council on Tuesday to speak in support of the zoning changes.

RndSqr, pronounced “round square,” is a developer in Calgary that specializes in inner-city developments.

Devani said there is a lot of demand for the type of housing covered by the proposed zoning changes, and under current zoning, these types of developments are expensive.

“The challenge is it’s not happening in an equitable manner,” Devani told Global News. “Only a select few are able to do it and it’s not easy for industry to do, so many aren’t willing to take the risk.

“There’s an over-demand and a very shallow supply of this type of housing in the marketplace, and if we can’t bring in more supply, then demand will continue to be high and it will continue to be difficult to access these neighbourhoods.”

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Many speakers brought forward several concerns with the proposed changes and new zoning regulations, including parking requirements, the distance rules in the proposed bylaw and how the different build forms will fit in with the character of existing communities.

Chris Davis, a resident of North Glenmore, spoke in opposition. Davis said while the city needs to find ways to attract more density in the inner city, it has to be done in a “respectful and sensitive way” for the people who already live there.

“The challenge is to find a build form that fits in nicely with the people who are already living there so that everybody can find a more harmonious way of moving forward,” Davis told Global News.

“What was challenging with council today is that the rules haven’t really been clearly defined.”

Another concern brought up by several speakers was the consultation process for the zoning changes.

City administration only consulted with development industry experts and not the general public. In a report it said that was due to a short time frame of four months to conduct the engagement.

A city report also suggested public consultation would not be helpful.

“Citizens would not have the technical expertise to contribute to the writing of land-use districts,” the report said.

It’s a concern shared by Ward 10 councillor Andre Chabot, who initiated the request to administration to create the new zoning category.

“What’s here is the gold standard for development,” he said. “It’s not the gold standard for the general public.

“Somehow we need to find some middle ground here, something the general public can buy into and that the developers can live with, because right now this is just exactly what the developers want.”

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Many similar types of developments have been approved in the past during lengthy rezoning application debates until what’s called direct control zoning.

Gondek told reporters that approving these types of medium-density developments under direct control zoning creates “a lot of uncertainty and unpredictability” for the community.

A city report said the changes to the zoning categories aims to reduce the number of direct control applications and associated costs, while bringing in a consistent set of criteria to address concerns from neighbours.

Council is expected to debate and make a decision on the proposed changes and new zoning category on Wednesday.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Naval officer removed from position over alleged misconduct while deployed to Europe

The commanding officer of HMCS Regina, Lt.-Cmdr. David Dallin, has been relieved from his duties after an incident involving "inappropriate conduct," according to the Royal Canadian Navy on Thursday. The navy said in a statement it had lost confidence in Dallin's judgment, who had been commanding the Pacific Fleet warship. The alleged incident took place on another vessel during a naval training exercise, the navy said.

A naval officer serving as second in command of a Canadian minesweeper deployed to Europe was relieved of her duties over an allegation of “inappropriate conduct of a sexualized nature.”

The Department of National Defence announced the move in a statement this afternoon, saying the incident is alleged to have occurred during a port visit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The department did not reveal more details or the officer’s name.

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The allegations against the officer have not been proven in court.

The department says senior officers are investigating internally and that relieving the officer of her duties was considered “necessary to ensure effective leadership in HMCS Kingston.”

Kingston is one of two Canadian vessels along with HMCS Summerside currently deployed with a NATO task force charged with finding and clearing mines from European waters.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Manitoba backbencher says bill would protect health-care providers, patients

A backbench member of Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservatives is proposing new limits on protests outside hospitals, clinics and schools.

Shannon Martin introduced a bill in the legislature Tuesday that would create “access zones” of between 50 and 150 metres around schools, hospitals and other areas where health care is provided.

If the bill becomes law, people could be fined or jailed for trying to prevent people in those zones from accessing health services. They would also be penalized for harassing health-care providers, either in-person or online.

“We need to ensure … that any individual accessing legal services or providing legal medical services are protected from harassment or dissuasion,” Martin said.

Bills put forward by backbench members or Opposition politicians – called private members’ bills – can only become law with government support. Most do not get it, but Martin said he is optimistic his will.

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Government house leader Kelvin Goertzen offered no guarantees.

“Like all the bills that come forward, you’ll have to wait and see,” he said, adding that there is limited time set aside to debate private members’ bills before the legislature rises in November.

The Opposition New Democrats have put forward similar bills in the past without success, aimed primarily at people opposed to abortion and COVID-19 restrictions, but Martin said his is better because it would cover more facilities.

The bill protects the right to protest and only prevents actions that interfere with the provision of health services or harass and intimidate providers, he said.

The New Democrats said their bills were better because they also established buffer zones around the homes of health-care providers. That concern, Martin said, is covered by his proposed ban on harassment.

The NDP also questioned whether the Tories were serious about the issue.

“It’s telling that the premier and her cabinet wouldn’t sponsor this bill,” NDP justice critic Nahanni Fontaine said. “This bill is just for show.”

Similar restrictions have already been implemented in some other provinces. Ontario adopted a law in 2018 that banned protests within 50 metres of an abortion clinic.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Wildfire smoke prompts new air quality advisory for eastern Fraser Valley

WATCH: Senior meteorologist Kristi Gordon has the Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022 forecast for Metro Vancouver and British Columbia.

Wildfires burning southeast of Chilliwack, in Hope and in Washington state have prompted a new air quality advisory for residents of the eastern Fraser Valley.

In a Tuesday bulletin, the Metro Vancouver Regional District said the smoke was affecting residents in Agassiz, Chilliwack and Hope.

“Wildfire smoke, high humidity, and low winds are contributing to elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter and hazy conditions in other parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, although concentrations are below advisory thresholds,” the district said.

“The wildfire burning in Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam is now being held, but may contribute to these hazy conditions.”

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Residents are being warned that the smoky conditions are expected to stick around for a few days, due to a stagnant weather pattern.

The regional district is also warning that people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and infants, children, seniors and outdoor workers are at higher risk from the fine particulate matter contained in the smoke.

Residents may wish to set up air conditioning or HEPA air filtration in their homes or visit a public building with filtered air to get relief.

Anyone experiencing chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing is advised to seek medical attention, and to call 911 if they are in an emergency.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Families of plane crash victims want the Canadian government to get tougher on Iran

WATCH: Trudeau vows to hold Iran's 'bloodthirsty regime' accountable over PS752 plane crash

The families of those killed when Iran‘s military shot down Flight 752 in January 2020 are demanding the Canadian government take a harder line against the regime.

Iranian-Canadians gathered on Parliament Hill Tuesday to mark 1,000 days of mourning their relatives, and the crowd made clear their displeasure at the federal government’s actions to date.

“I already lost all my life, all my future,” said Maral Gorginpour whose husband Fareed Arasteh died in the crash.

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The two got married in Iran, three days before he boarded the flight.

“I need justice; I need the truth and until that day I won’t stop,” said Gorginpour, who joined hundreds in front of the Supreme Court before marching through the parliamentary precinct.

In her speech the crowd, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland promised Ottawa would take more action but did not say specifically what that would be.

“We will use all the tools at our disposal, to isolate and punish the brutal dictatorship,” Freeland said.

Her remarks were interrupted multiple times, as demonstrators called on the Liberals to kick Iranians with ties to the regime out of Canada.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre revved up the crowd by saying the Trudeau government has refused to deem the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran’s army, as a terror group.

Poilievre endorsed a formal request last month by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims to have the International Criminal Court launch a war-crime investigation. So far, Canada has helped Ukraine pursue its own criminal case, in recognition that the airliner was registered in Ukraine.

“We’ve had 1,000 days of words; we need action,” Poilievre said, drawing cheers.

“The time has come for deeds, and I want you to know you have friends in the Conservative Party who will fight tooth-and-nail.”

Sanctions experts have said it would be challenging to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization without barring entry to Canada and freezing assets for thousands of people who had been conscripted into brief, low-ranking positions such as a cook.

But Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi, who has also been pushing his own government to step up its response, said recently Ottawa should work to find a way to deem the revolutionary guard a terrorist group without punishing those who were drafted into non-combat roles.

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On Monday Canada sanctioned 25 Iranian officials and nine entities including the head of the revolutionary guard. Ehsassi, whose Willowdale riding in Toronto has a large Iranian-Canadian population, said on Twitter the sanctions are “not sufficient.”

In Halifax Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is working with other countries to get justice.

“All Canadians, this government and all political parties stand with the people of Iran as we stand up for women’s rights and human rights,” he said.

Iranian police have violently cracked down on protests across Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in mid-September, two days after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely.

Gorginpour said Ottawa needs to take a tougher line against the regime, or it will continue to beat protesters, down flights and torture political prisoners.

“While they keep silent, the regime kills more people, and they are not accountable.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Hamilton police defend actions during encounter with man suffering epileptic seizure in city centre

WATCH: Hamilton police are defending how they dealt with a man in medical crisis. That included officers subduing the man who was suffering a seizure with a taser. As Seán O’Shea reports, some experts say the response was inappropriate.

Police are defending their actions following an encounter with a Canadian Tire employee suffering from an epileptic seizure in a central Hamilton parking lot Sunday.

Spokespeople for the service say what the officers did was “appropriate” as attempts were made to subdue 27-year-old Marcus Charles outside of his workplace, captured on video.

That footage shows two officers attempting to restrain a screaming Charles on a sidewalk at Main Street East and West Avenue South in broad daylight.

During the scuffle, an officer can be seen deploying a taser-like weapon, apparently giving Charles an electric shock.

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“I was screaming for my life. I was, I was terrified,” Charles told Global News.

“I didn’t think that we called the people to come over here to taser me. I thought it was for assistance. I thought it was purely for help.”

Witnesses said paramedics tried to restrain Charles prior to police being called to the scene.

Charles says the experience left him with injuries to his wrist, his arms and his face.

His partner Chantelle Chevrier says she arrived at the scene just as the matter was ending and believes the officers were simply not trained to deal with the medical episode.

“I feel like cops shouldn’t be called into a medical distress situation,” said Chevrier.

“They never handle it properly.”

In a statement to Global News, Hamilton police said one officer suffered a concussion as a result of what happened and claimed the “officers’ actions were appropriate to the situation they faced.”

Charles says police and paramedics, like his fellow store employees, knew he had epilepsy and maintains he posed no threat to anyone.

“I thought they were trained professionals and they knew what seizure and epilepsy and all this stuff,” he said.

“I thought they were all prepared for this.”

Cynthia Milburn, CEO of Epilepsy South Central Ontario, shared Charles’ characterization of the incident and suggested none of what happened was his fault.

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Her concern lies with both paramedics and police apparently not being able to handle the breakdown.

“The seizure will run its course. Paramedics are trained on this,” Milburn explained.

“I believe police have some training on this, and they were actually told it was a seizure. So … this kind of force was really upsetting for me to watch and to know this is happening out there.”

Charles says his employer and fellow employees have been supportive, but says their call to paramedics leading to a call for police has been very costly.

He’s now facing three criminal charges alleging he assaulted the officers on scene.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Toronto collision sends 2 to trauma centre on Tuesday evening

Two people have been taken to a trauma centre following a collision in Toronto on Tuesday evening.

In a tweet, Toronto police said they were called to the area of Weston and Albion roads at around 8:23 p.m. for reports of a collision.

Police said three vehicles and a transport truck were involved in the crash.

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Toronto paramedics told Global News two people were taken to a local trauma centre. One had serious injuries and the other had moderate injuries, officials said.

Both people were driving in the same car.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

North Vancouver's top cop on personal leave amid misconduct investigation

The mayor of North Vancouver District has confirmed that Superintendent William Yee has been withdrawn from the detachment and replaced in the interim, pending an investigation into serious allegations. Global's Rumina Daya reports.

The commanding officer of the North Vancouver RCMP is facing concerning allegations, including of sexual misconduct, Global News has learned.

Supt. William Lee, who was appointed to the position just a year ago, is no longer in command at the detachment, and his future appears uncertain.

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Sources tell Global News that Yee was recently re-assigned after a member filed a complaint alleging “inappropriate sexual contact.”

The 25-year veteran, who previously served in Kelowna and with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, has since taken personal leave.

North Vancouver RCMP did not respond to a request for comment, while the B.C. RCMP declined a request for an on-camera interview.

In a statement, B.C. RCMP communications director Dawn Roberts confirmed an internal investigation was underway, and had been launched “immediately once we became aware” of the allegations.

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The investigation, Roberts said, “will provide us the information necessary to make any additional decisions or take any other actions.”

Roberts said the investigation was not being led by the North Vancouver RCMP. It was not immediately clear what police agency was leading the probe.

Global News has spoken with other members who allege they were bullied or harassed by Supt. Yee. Sources say these allegations were raised at a managerial review which occurred within the last several weeks.

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City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan did not respond to a request for comment, but District of North Vancouver Mayor Mike Little confirmed he had been briefed by RCMP leadership, and said in the interim Insp. Vaz Kassam is heading the detachment.

— with files from Rumina Daya

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Blue Jays will face Mariners in playoffs

The Toronto Blue Jays’ first foe in the playoffs is now official.

Toronto is slated to take on the Seattle Mariners in the American League wild-card round. The series will lead off Friday at Rogers Centre.

The Seattle Mariners defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-6 in 10 innings, and stamped their trip to Toronto when the Boston Red Sox tripped the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 in a game called after five innings because of rain.

Having clinched the top spot in the wild card, the Blue Jays will have home-field advantage against one of the two teams they had been battling against late in the regular season for the edge.

It is just the second time in six seasons Toronto has made the playoffs. The team’s last appearance in the post-season was in 2020 where it got swept in the wild-card round by the Tampa Bay Rays, who will enter these playoffs as the third wild-card seed.

The last time the Blue Jays made it to “October baseball” before then was in 2016 when the team made it to the AL Championship Series for the second consecutive season.

Toronto clinched a playoff spot Sept. 30 after the Baltimore Orioles dropped a 5-3 decision to the Boston Red Sox. The Blue Jays then took hold of the No. 1 wild card spot on Monday with a 5-1 win over the Orioles paired with Seattle’s 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Toronto is 2-5 in its season series against the Mariners. The two sides had matched up in two separate series’ with the Blue Jays taking the first one 2-1 at home in May, then dropping all four in the second series at Seattle in July.

The team is heading into the post-season with a head of steam. After dropping two of its final three games against the New York Yankees last week, Toronto has now won four straight with two games remaining.

The Blue Jays close the season on the road with a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

NewsAlert: Jays to host Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners will be heading to Toronto to face the Blue Jays on Friday in the first game of the best-of-three wild-card playoff series. The Mariners defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-6 in 10 innings tonight, then the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 in a game called after five innings because of rain.

More coming …

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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