Niagara officer charged after altercation in Welland during long weekend

A peace officer is facing a pair of assault charges in connection with a May long weekend incident at a Welland, Ont., business, according to Niagara Regional Police (NRPS).

Investigators say the NRPS off-duty officer was involved in a May 20 altercation that landed him in hospital for treatment.

The constable, identified in a release, is currently suspended with pay and was charged Monday with two counts of assault.

No one else was hurt in the altercation, which NRPS say is still under investigation.

The accused, who has been with the NRPS for about a year, is set to appear in court to face the offences on Aug. 25.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Nearly one quarter of commercial space in downtown London, Ont. is vacant: staff report

A report coming to a committee meeting in London, Ont., Tuesday states the downtown core’s commercial vacancy rate is 24.6 per cent.

In the report, staff outline that the high vacancy rate will not be an easy, cheap or quick fix, with multiple paths forward for council to consider.

The 24.6 per cent vacancy rate is as of September 2022. While noting the COVID-19 pandemic played a role, the report states the pre-pandemic vacancy rate was only six per cent lower than the current rate, inferring a structural vacancy issue.

The report outlines numerous factors contributing to the high vacancy rate, including perception of safety in the downtown, lowering demand for commercial space and concentration of ownership.

According to the report, 59 per cent of all core area commercial office space is controlled by one owner.

Another issue the report raises is that many of the current office buildings are aged and lack modern amenities.

Commercial spaces are classified into three categories: Class A, B and C. Class A is considered to be a newer building in a prime location with modern amenities, like One London Place. Classes B and C are each of lesser quality and often require redevelopment.

London has a higher proportion of Class B and C buildings, with 31 categorized as Class B and 17 as Class C compared to just 12 Class A.

To help counter the high vacancy rates, city staff have put forward 23 measures that could be implemented to address the issue.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mayor Josh Morgan tells Global News the ideas provided offer an excellent first step.

“Staff have … created some realistic approaches,” said Morgan.

Some of the options that will be considered include boosting financial incentive programs, converting office space into residential units and purchasing vacant lands and surface-level parking lots.

“We all want to think office conversions, going from commercial to resident is going to be something that can work, but (staff) give a very frank assessment of… the limits on a strategy like that,” added Morgan. “But those limits don’t mean there aren’t some opportunities.”

The report outlines that converting Class B and C office space into residential units could cost at least $10 million per building.

The options with a financial impact will be referred to the 2024-2027 multi-year budget process.

The strategic priorities and policy committee – consisting of all councillors – will discuss the report on Tuesday beginning at 4 p.m.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Emergency declared in Municipality of Meaford after fire prompts water contamination concerns

The Municipality of Meaford, Ont., declared an emergency over the weekend due to environmental concerns following a fire at an automotive repair shop.

The municipality is concerned about contaminants leaching into the ground and the water supply in Georgian Bay around Johnny B’s Automotive and Car Care following the fire.

The fire broke out at the shop on Sykes Street North on Thursday, destroying the building.

A “do-not-consume” advisory was issued Sunday for all residents of the municipal water system until further notice.

Chief administrative officer Rob Armstrong said they sent water to be tested Saturday to determine if it was contaminated.

“We do not believe it’s contaminated. This is to ensure the safety of the residents is in place,” Armstrong told Global News.

“The municipality become concerned about water to fight the fire being mixed with burnt materials onsite being mixed with Georgian Bay being (nearby) and then, in turn, being close to our municipal water intake.”

The Ministry of the Environment and Public Health Ontario have been contacted and are advising the municipalities on the best steps forward.

“We believe that the best approach is to declare an emergency to ensure the municipality can take all necessary steps to protect the community and request assistance from appropriate agencies,” Mayor Ross Kentner said on Sunday.

Armstrong said there are no guarantees on timing but is hoping to have news later Monday on the water quality and they are also planning for a more extended response if needed.

Bulk water is available at the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day until the “do-not-consume” advisory is lifted.

The temporary water distribution and refill centre is receiving a large order of bottled water at 3 p.m. Monday. The municipality said the bottled water supply is limited.

“We are doing everything that we can to expedite the approvals that we need from provincial partners. While we know this is an inconvenience to residents and businesses, we expect to have additional information about the ‘do-not-consume’ advisory within the next 48 hours. Our thoughts are with the owners of Johnny B’s, as they will be dealing with the consequences of Thursday’s fire for months to come,” said Kentner.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Police, fire and paramedic spending to blame for Winnipeg budget shortfall: report

Throwaway spending within the Winnipeg Police Service and paying overtime to fire paramedic staff are what the City of Winnipeg is pointing to for a projected shortfall in its operating budget this year.

The City’s first-quarter financial report shows a projected $27 million deficit in its operating budget, largely due to shortages within the Winnipeg police and Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, while Winnipeg Transit is in the red to the tune of $2.5 million.

The report, which looks at the city’s finances up to the end of March, shows enforcement revenue and failure to meet spending management targets with the WPS will amount to a $12.8 million deficit, while paying overtime and workers compensation will cost the WFPS $7.4 million over their allowance.

The report will be presented to the standing policy committee on June 2.

Financial impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic lessened over the year, the report states. The City factored $18.7 million of financial struggles to the 2023 budget, while the report shows $1 million in impacts have been identified to date.

The projected impact of the pandemic is well below that of previous years, which saw $53 million in COVID costs in 2022 and $73 million in 2021.

In a release Monday, the City said a reserve fund can be dipped into to make up $19.5 million of the projected deficit, while a plan will be presented to the standing policy committee on June 30 to address the remainder.

“The current forecast does pose a serious challenge for the City for the remainder of the year. Departments will be required to maintain prudent fiscal management going forward as the City focuses on these early operating shortfalls,” finance chair Coun. Jeff Browaty said in the release.

The report states that until the deficit is settled, the City will “be in a more difficult position to approve any over-expenditure requests, potentially causing some disruption to services.”

Transit saw a continued dip in ridership levels during the reporting period, with an expected decrease of 17 per cent below normal levels. Fare revenue is expected to be under budget by $500,000.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Red Deer man charged with child luring and pornography, victim from Illinois: RCMP

Following a lengthy investigation by Red Deer, Alta., RCMP and Alert’s internet child exploitation unit (ICE), a Red Deer resident was arrested and charged with child luring and multiple child pornography crimes on May 11.

Mark Andrada, 20, has been charged with possession of child pornography; exporting child pornography; accessing child pornography; printing, publishing and making child pornography; and luring a child.

RCMP allege Andrada had sexually explicit chats online with a girl from Illinois.

Police said the victim was “sextorted” into giving photos and videos, which the accused attempted to sell.

RCMP confirmed that the FBI was involved in the investigation.

Andrada was released from custody but is set to appear in court on June 9.

If anyone has information on this matter, contact the Red Deer RCMP at (403) 406-2300 or the local police. If someone wishes to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Coaldale RCMP investigate shooting incident on Highway 3

A Coaldale, Alta., man is facing charges after reports of shots fired in two locations on Friday.

Coaldale RCMP responded after a report of a man with a handgun shooting at a residence in the town on May 26 around 4:40 p.m. Police say the man was reported to have left the area and was heading toward Lethbridge, Alta.

While on Highway 3, the same man was reported to have shot at a vehicle beside him while travelling at highway speeds.

Police say officers located the suspect at Highway 3 and 43 Street in Lethbridge, where he was arrested by Coaldale RCMP, with help from Lethbridge Police Services. A pistol was found in the vehicle and was identified to be a Winchester BB gun replica of a 1911 pistol.

Danial Ferguson 37, a resident of Coaldale, has been charged with two counts of pointing a firearm, two counts of discharging a firearm with intent, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and two counts of mischief.

Ferguson was held for a judicial interim release hearing and was remanded to the Alberta court of justice in Lethbridge on May 29.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Alberta election: Live results map of the 2023 vote

It’s the final day of the 2023 Alberta election campaign. Polls close at 8 p.m. and when they do, Global News will have live, real-time results in the map and features on this page.

Who’s winning in your riding? Are Danielle Smith and Rachel Notley winning in their respective ridings? The map above will allow you to navigate every provincial riding and get real-time results as they come in.

Albertans who have yet to cast a ballot will find candidate information and voting station locations for their riding with Global News’ ‘Find your Alberta riding’ tool.

Global News has also compiled additional details on the voting process and the campaign promises of both the UCP and NDP, and has fact-checked dubious claims that emerged in the weeks leading up to election day.

The tool below will show how much of the popular vote the UCP, NDP and other parties have secured and how that has changed since 2019, when the UCP was victorious, claiming 54 per cent of the popular vote. The UCP ousted the NDP in dramatic fashion in that election, claiming 63 seats in the legislature to the NDP’s 24, placing Jason Kenney as premier after a single term of Notley leading the province.

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Below, you can keep an eye on results from the closest races and ridings where the incumbent might not win re-election. There are 49 UCP candidates and 19 NDP candidates who are looking to return to the legislature as the representative for their riding.

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Both parties have fielded candidates in all 87 ridings, although Smith previously announced that, should the UCP candidate in Lacombe-Ponoka prove victorious, she would not be welcome in the caucus and would sit as an independent.

Global News will provide complete Decision Alberta coverage in the final hours of voting, the tabulation of the votes and the declaration of the winning party and premier-designate.

Follow along with our online streaming broadcast, available at Global News and on Global News’ YouTube channel.

The election day special will be televised on Global News Edmonton, Global News Calgary and Global News Lethbridge, with radio coverage available on both QR Calgary and 630CHED.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Pride door vandalized with vulgar message at St. Aidan's Anglican Church

Members of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in London, Ont., say they won’t be deterred after a Pride display was vandalized over the weekend.

Canon Kevin George told Global News the church had recently started painting doors for Pride month as a part of a new initiative started by young members of St. Aidan’s last year, signifying that “God’s doors are open to all.”

“The Pride project includes six multicoloured doors and those were bracketed by a couple of steel doors, one of them with the Pride flag, the trans flag, the incorporated flag and the other an interfaith door,” he explained.

Sometime overnight between Saturday and Sunday, a door painted in honour of the Pride flag was spray-painted with profanity after being left out on display at the west London church the day before.

The message, which reads “f–k story time,” was referring to “drag queen story time,” an event that has recently sparked immense controversy.

“It’s pretty startling, to read such a vulgar and violent message about someone’s personhood,” George said, adding that this is not the first act of vandalism against the doors.

“A couple weeks ago, one of the wooden doors had been punched through and another looked like a projectile went through it,” he said. “Police came and looked at it (but) we’re unable to determine what exactly the projectile was.

“What’s disturbing is the increase and rise of homophobia and transphobia in our community, and the fact that we seem to be sliding backwards is of great concern.”

He said that following the recent act of vandalism, the church attempted to reach out to the London Police Service, but they were “dismissed.”

“We were basically told to go to the internet and fill out a form, which I was disappointed in,” George said. “I believe that acts of hatred like this should be important enough that a phone call to London Police Service warrants a call back and an investigation, especially since we had the police out here three weeks ago to investigate the projectile that had been put through the same door.”

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the London Police Service said they have been made aware of the situation and “have been advised that it is currently being investigated.”

“I have a pretty open-door policy,” George said. “Our message to whomever did this is to come in and talk to me about why you’re so hurt. What is it that’s happening in your life that you feel this is a message you need to communicate? We’d love to learn more from you, and perhaps you can hear from some of our young people about why they feel so strongly about putting out a message of love, hope, healing and grace.”

In a post on social media, George wrote that following the vandalism, Sunday’s service would focus on “tearing down barriers.”

“I know that my own church, St. Aiden’s, has hurt the LGBTQ2+ community in the past but we stand as a community and I wanted to reiterate that on Sunday, as one which wants to take ownership and repent of that the ways we’ve done wrong in the past, and speak openly, honestly, and in a welcoming way to all people because we believe every person is created in an image of God and as such is beloved,” he said.

George said that following service, members spent some time Sunday afternoon repainting their doors in Pride colours, which will be on display throughout June.

“In many ways, it was a celebration of inclusivity,” he said. “We had already scheduled this Sunday as the day to repaint some of the doors and put them back in their place, but it was somehow healing to see all the children and young people out on the lawn after we had discovered what happened and after our church service, with all the colours of the rainbow painting beautiful doors, and letting the community around know that we won’t be deterred by anybody’s hatred or violence, but that our response to this will be love, compassion, healing and hope.”

He added that by the time he came out to see community members re-painting the doors, “they had flipped the vulgar message painted over it with a red heart.”

“We want to be a community that welcomes all.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Credit unions being targeted for robbery in southwestern Ontario: police

Credit unions in southwestern Ontario are being warned to take safety and security precautions after a robbery over the May long weekend led investigators to believe a pattern is emerging.

Police say the robbery in Grey Highlands on May 21 involved suspects using “similar methods” to a robbery in Arkona on April 4.

“Investigators believe both incidents are connected and may involve a group of suspects,” a spokesperson for West Region Ontario Provincial Police told Global News.

“I can’t get into the evidentiary information concerning the reason why the robberies are linked other than to say that the way the crimes were committed followed a similar pattern.”

Police have also released surveillance images of suspects taken during the Grey Highlands incident.

Among the security recommendations, OPP urge staff at credit unions to notify police about any “suspicious persons that seem out of place.”

If a robbery should occur, credit union employees are reminded not to touch any objects or surfaces that suspects may have touched in order to preserve evidence, and to take note of any characteristics to help identify suspects such as “behaviour, odours, clothing brands or any other identifies.”

Police also stress that if a robbery is underway, employees and members of the public should not confront, attack or chase the suspects. Instead, they should cooperate with the suspects and call 911 when it is safe to do so, police say.

The spokesperson added that police are warning credit unions to take precautions “because that’s what the suspects are targeting,” but that the tips provided “would apply to any financial institution.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Suspicious Saskatoon apartment fire displaces 26 residents, causes $400K in damages

A Saskatoon apartment fire forced 26 residents into hotels and caused $400,000 in damages over the weekend.

The Saskatoon Fire Department received a 911 call at the 200 block of Avenue V South Sunday night around 8:19 p.m.

A Saskatoon fire caused $400k in damages on Sunday.

A Saskatoon fire caused $400k in damages on Sunday.

Saskatoon Fire Department

Fire crews said flames showed from a 3rd storey unit and occupants needed help evacuating due to the heavy smoke.

According to the fire department, four people were trapped in their units due to the fire and needed assistance evacuating.

It was noted that the fire separation door that opens into the hallway was left open, causing the hallway to fill up with smoke.

The cause of the fire is considered suspicious, with two origins being identified.

The Saskatoon Police Service is investigating.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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