New traffic lights to help congestion at Credit Union Centre

Watch above: traffic jams caused by arena events have the city coming up with an alleviation plan

SASKATOON – Leaving Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre (CUC) after a big event may become less hectic once new traffic lights are functional on two roads into the arena.

The city is currently installing two traffic lights at Thatcher Avenue and Bill Hunter Avenue on Marquis Drive.

These are the two main routes into the CUC.

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  • Two dead after crash at Highway 16 and Marquis Drive

  • More big ticket concerts rolling into Saskatoon

“Since the inception of this facility, traffic and parking has been a challenge,” said Will Lofdahl, CEO of CUC.

“The lights will help, significantly.”

Lofdahl said the centre has been in talks with the city over additional street lights in the area for the entirety of his three-year tenure as CEO.

“Some of the events are getting bigger and bigger,” said Angela Gardiner, Saskatoon’s director of transportation.

“People who attend those events know that there’s a lot of congestion out there, so we’re always looking at opportunities to improve the access to and from.”

Gardiner hopes the lights will be in use by September and will be programmed to make better use of the lanes that are coming in and out of CUC.

Lofdahl added that he hoped the lights would create a continuous stream of traffic onto Highway 16, as attendees left venues.

“The lights along with some other elements that are still in the works… should help,” he said.

Another element that Lofdahl wants to see added are traffic lights at the intersection of Marquis and Highway 16, which has been a danger zone. The two new lights leading up to the intersection could preclude improvements to the intersection.

“It’s all been kind of a package deal. We’ve been trying to get improvements to all three intersections,” said Gardiner, who is currently working with the province to make improvements on the intersection.

The area is in the jurisdiction of the Saskatchewan Department of Highways and Infrastructure, not the city.

Gardiner added that she hopes improvements will be made to the intersection at Highway 16 by the end of the year.

Continue reading New traffic lights to help congestion at Credit Union Centre

Plane crashes while landing in Taiwan, killing 48 – National

TAIPEI, Taiwan – A plane attempting to land in stormy weather crashed on a small Taiwanese island late Wednesday, killing 48 people and wrecking houses and cars on the ground.

The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed on Penghu in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, authorities said. The plane was arriving from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

Two people aboard the plane were French citizens and the rest Taiwanese, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih told reporters. The twin-engine turboprop crashed while making a second landing attempt, Yeh said.

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The crash of flight GE222 was Taiwan’s first fatal air accident in 12 years and came after Typhoon Matmo passed across the island, causing heavy rains that continued into Wednesday night. Some 200 airline flights had been cancelled earlier in the day due to rain and strong winds.

The official death toll was 47, according to Wen Chia-hung, spokesman for the Penghu disaster response centre. He said the 11 other people were injured.

Authorities were looking for one person who might have been in a house that was struck by wreckage, Wen said. A car was crushed by a toppled wall but Wen said no one was in it.

President Ma Ying-jeou called it “a very sad day in the history of Taiwanese aviation,” according to a spokesman for his office, Ma Wei-kuo, the government’s Central News Agency reported.

Video: Animation of Flight GE222

The plane came down in the village of Xixi outside the airport. Television stations showed rescue workers pulling bodies from wreckage. Photos in local media showed firefighters using flashlights to look through the wreckage, and buildings damaged by debris.

Penghu, a scenic chain of 64 islets, is a popular tourist site about 150 kilometres (90 miles) southwest of the Taiwanese capital, Taipei.

Residents said they heard thunder and then what sounded like an explosion, the news agency said. It cited the Central Weather Bureau as saying there were thunderstorms in the area.

“I heard a loud bang,” a local resident was quoted as saying by television station TVBS. “I thought it was thunder, and then I heard another bang and I saw a fireball not far away from my house.”

About 200 military personnel were sent to help recover the people who were on the plane, Taiwanese Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said, according to the news agency.

The ministry said military vehicles and ambulances were rushing people to hospitals and an air force rescue team was on standby to transfer survivors to Taiwan’s main island if needed for treatment, the agency reported.

The flight left Kaohsiung at 4:53 p.m. for Magong on Penghu, according to the head of Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration, Jean Shen. The plane lost contact with the tower at 7:06 p.m. after saying it would make a second landing attempt.

Visibility as the plane approached was 1,600 metres (one mile), which met standards for landing, and two flights had landed before GE222, one at 5:34 p.m. and the other at 6:57 p.m., the aviation agency reported. Shen said the plane was 14 years old.

The Central News Agency, citing the county fire department, said it appeared heavy rain reduced visibility and the pilot was forced to pull up and make the second landing attempt.

Taiwan was battered by Matmo overnight Tuesday, and the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain Wednesday evening, even after the centre of the storm had moved west to mainland China.

In Taipei, TransAsia Airways’ general manager, Hsu Yi-Tsung, bowed deeply before reporters and tearfully apologized for the accident, the news agency said.

“As TransAsia is responsible for this matter, we apologize. We apologize,” Hsu said.

Hsu said the carrier would take relatives of passengers to Magong on Thursday morning and would spare no effort in the rescue and in handling the aftermath, the report said.

Taiwan’s last major aviation disaster also was near Penghu. In 2002, a China Airlines Boeing 747 broke apart in midair and crashed into the Taiwan Strait, killing all 225 people aboard.

In October 2013, a Lao Airlines ATR-72 crashed during a heavy storm as it approached Pakse Airport in southern Laos, killing all 49 people on board.

Associated Press writers Gillian Wong and Joe McDonald in Beijing and Johnson Lai in Taipei contributed to this report.

©2014The Associated Press

Continue reading Plane crashes while landing in Taiwan, killing 48 – National

Two towers proposed for Metrotown stir controversy

WATCH: People in Burnaby are speaking out about a proposal for more towers near Metrotown. Grace Ke reports. 

Two new towers are being proposed near Metrotown, but some local residents are not happy about the changing face of their neighbourhood.

The Gold House Development is proposed one block south of the shopping centre and will include 41 and 26 storey towers with additional townhouses and commercial office space.

The latest project to go before council got a public hearing last night.

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The project is using a density bonus provision to try to get zoning approved.

“It is obvious that if we don’t do something about creating greater density in the urban areas, it will create sprawl into our agricultural areas and the green zone,” says Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan.

Corrigan says under the density bonus provision the city also gets density bonus funds.

Eighty percent goes towards future neighbourhood amenities and 20 percent goes towards the city’s housing fund.

Corrigan says the additional profits result in more amenities and opportunity to build libraries, recreational facilities and community centres.

But community activist Rick McGowan says he is worried about gentrification.

“The people in medium-density apartments get evicted at some point, and then they can’t afford to live in the neighbourhood and they will leave the community,” he says. “It is a concern for me.”

A second hearing will be held at the end of August.

With files from Grace Ke

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City of Winnipeg starts to credit winter water bills – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Thousands of Winnipeg homeowners could potentially get a shock from their water bills.

Wayne Tefs has been running a tap at his house for close to six months so his pipes don’t freeze.

So when Tefs got his latest water bill for $377, he simply ignored it.

“We just ignore it, both the city and I just ignore it, and they occasionally send me a letter saying don’t freak out, we know your bill is really high, don’t freak out,” said Tefs.

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Other Winnipeggers are freaking out after their adjusted water bills approached $1,000.

“Well they’re saying I still owe $928 and that’s after a $300 payment and a $720 credit, so I’m a little shocked by the amount we have to come up with,” said homeowner Gordon MacGregor.

McGregor and Tefs were told by the city to pay the same amount they were billed before running a tap to prevent frozen pipes — something the city has been telling more than 10,000 other Winnipeggers to do.

“I’m just waiting to hear from the city about what they’re going to do about the rest of the amount. That’s a little outrageous,” said MacGregor.

The city will credit your water bill to a maximum of 1,500 litres, equal to about $5.45 per day or $500 per quarter.

The city insists accounts will be adjusted when the Waste and Water Department gets a water meter reading. But with thousands of accounts to review, it could take two months before bills go back to normal.

“For those caught off guard I think there could have been a bigger effort to try to explain to them how it’s going to work when they were asked to turn their taps on,” said Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie.

Winnipeggers can expect to see adjustments made to their accounts starting next month, city officials said.

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Town officials say red light cameras proving effective in Halton – Toronto

MISSISSAUGA –  More than a year into a red light camera program in Halton, town officials say they are seeing fewer serious collisions at the intersections.

The tall, grey metal boxes have been standing guard over seven Halton region intersections since they were installed in March, 2012.

“We have seen, at those intersections, a 60 per cent reduction in t-bone, or right angle collisions,” says Halton Region commissioner of public works, Jim Harnum said. “And those can often be some of the most serious in an intersection.”

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Harnum also noted there hasn’t been an increase in rear-end collision.  The possibility of an increase in rear-end collisions was a concern when the cameras were first installed presumably because cars would come to a quick stop where they otherwise would have driven through an intersection.

A 2003 study by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, found a 50 per cent increase in rear-end crashes at intersections that have photo enforcement.

Region officials want to add five more cameras to its roster by the end of 2014 and are investigating possible locations using road and collision statistics compiled by municipal staff.

Harnum says a decision will be made on the locations by the end of the summer of 2014.

Each of the red light cameras costs an estimated $67,000 to operate. The region has spent approximately $469,000 to operate all seven operating lights.  The cost includes  the maintenance of the lights themselves, as well as the issuing of tickets.

Since the program’s launch, in March of 2012, until July 23, 2014, 3,078 fines have been issued – making the region more than $1.2 million.

The fines are $325, as set by the Ontario Highway and Traffic Act, of which, $60 goes to the province of Ontario’s Victim Fine Surcharge.

“Revenues from the red light cameras and other types of fines are processed by the city of Burlington court services.  Net revenues from the operation of the courts are shared among the region and the local municipalities. The net revenues (if there are any) are not specifically allocated to the region’s Red Light Camera program,”  Harnum said.

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