Burt Block Parties to return to downtown Winnipeg this summer

Thousands of Winnipeg music fans are expected to come back to the Burton Cummings Theatre this summer for two more weekends of Burt Block Parties.

After the success of the outdoor concerts in 2022 — drawing around 4,000 fans per show — the Burt is bringing the event back this August, and has announced the performers for the first two dates.

Aug. 11 will feature Ontario folk-rockers The Strumbellas playing for a crowd between Smith Street and Notre Dame Avenue in the city’s downtown, with support from Juno-nominated Montreal indie-pop outfit Stars and Winnipeg’s own Novillero.

The Aug. 12 lineup gets a bit heavier, with Winnipeg hardcore heroes Comeback Kid and Ontario punks The Flatliners opening for seven-time Juno winners Billy Talent.

Performers for the second set of shows, Aug. 18 and 19, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets for the block parties — including limited VIP passes — go on sale Friday morning at 10 a.m.


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

Crime in Kingston, Ont.'s west end increasing: police

Kingston police say a brutal assault at a west-end transit hub may not be an isolated incident.

According to police, acts of violence in the city’s west end are on the rise in recent years, prompting public safety concerns in that part of the city.

The area, which includes the Cataraqui Centre and the Isabel Turner Library, has seen an increase in crime in recent years, police say.

“Post-COVID, we’ve seen an uptick in the amount of activity with youth and young adults in the area of 945-935 Gardiners Rd., and the park in behind. Some of the activity that we’ve seen are assaults, possession and usage of weapons, drugs, mental health, harassment,” said Const. Ashley Jackson of the Kingston Police CORE unit.

After a violent group assault at a bus shelter on March 10 sent one person to hospital, it raises questions about safety in the area, and on Kingston transit.

Some riders are being more cautious now, while others don’t seem to be bothered by it.

“I’m a little bit sketchy on that one. I don’t really like taking the busses now, but I have to because I don’t drive,” said Robert Leeman, transit rider.

“It’s mostly elderly people, or teenagers, mostly. They can be annoying sometimes, the teenagers, but not always. The elderly people are always nice and they respect each other,” said Amrudha Bahuleyan, transit rider.

For those who do feel unsafe riding the bus, there are options to ensure your safety as a passenger.

“If anybody at any time feels unsafe while they’re on a bus, please approach the bus operator with your concern. Our bus operators are always in contact with our transit control centre, and if assistance is required, then we can arrange and make that happen,” said Jeremy DaCosta, Kingston’s director of transit.

Const. Jackson says a lot of the activity police are seeing stems from the Lions Civic Gardens.

Police say since there are no surveillance cameras in this park, they will be keeping an eye on this area.

“Kingston police is stepping up patrols in the area, trying to ensure the community’s safety. What we’re asking is for members of the public, if you see or hear anything suspicious in the area, that you call Kingston police, whether it be by phone, or reporting it online,” Const. Jackson said.

So with these extra patrols, and with some help from the public, police are hoping that the west end of the city can be a safe place for all.

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

2 injured after shooting in Mississauga's south end

Peel Regional Police say two people have been taken to hospital after a shooting in Mississauga early Tuesday.

Emergency crews were called to Lakeshore and Cawthra roads at around 1:15 p.m. for reports of a shooting.

Police said the two injured people suffered non life-threatening injuries.

There is no word on suspects.

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

Kitchener council approves controversial funeral home expansion

On Monday, Kitchener city council approved an application by a local business owner to tear down several homes to expand his funeral home business.

The plan, which has caused much consternation throughout the area, will see several homes torn down to make way for the expansion of the Henry Walser Funeral Home at 507 Frederick St.

“We just need more space to care for the deceased, to give community space to gather around them at that time,” Walser told council on Monday night.

He said that when he opened the business in 2001, he served 100 families but the funeral home has also grown to serve 1,400 families per year.

The expansion will allow him to add three additional visitation and reception areas as well as a crematorium.

“It allows us to care for the deceased from the beginning to the end,” Walser said.

Some in the community opposed building a crematorium in a residential area while others lamented the loss of low-rent housing.

The expansion will see two homes torn down on Becker Street that are currently serving as rental properties.

A third was initially proposed to be torn down but Walser’s application was amended and it will remain a residential property.

The city says Walser will work with the displaced tenants to find them new accommodations.

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

Police identify 21-year-old victim in fatal Toronto mall parking lot shooting

WATCH ABOVE: Toronto police said Monday that one person is dead and two are injured after a shooting in the parking lot of Fairview Mall in North York. Officers are asking anyone with information on the crime to contact police.

Toronto police have identified the man killed in a triple shooting in the parking lot of Fairview Mall on Monday.

Police said the shooting happened at the mall, located near Don Mills Road and Sheppard Avenue East, just after 4 p.m.

When officers arrived, police said they found two men who had been shot in the underground parking lot.

One of the men, a 25-year-old, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. Another man, also 25 years old, was taken to hospital in non-life threatening condition.

A third man had also been shot but was dropped off at a hospital. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

He has been identified as 21-year-old Madar Hassan from Toronto.

Toronto Police Insp. Mike Hayles told reporters Monday that the incident occurred in the parking structure outside of the mall and that there is no information at this time to suggest there was any threat to those inside the shopping centre.

He also said several people were seen fleeing from the scene both on foot and in vehicles.

Investigators said they are now working to determine which of those people are persons of interest and which were just patrons of the mall.

“We are working diligently —  our investigators are on scene working diligently —  to try to identify those persons or person that may have been responsible for this incident,” he said.

— With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson

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

'Regional Mayors Council' being created for eastern Ontario

The mayors of Kingston, Napanee, Loyalist Township, South Frontenac, Gananoque, and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands will meet in Kingston on March 21 to form a new “Regional Mayors Council” where they will discuss issues of mutual significance and areas of collaboration.

The mayors say that as Eastern Ontario continues to grow, they have agreed to come together around the same table to share ideas and information on issues of mutual significance and explore ways to collaborate on new housing solutions, transportation, and development ideas.

They will also discuss new ways to accommodate growth in Eastern Ontario while taking into consideration the provincial housing targets and ensuring future growth is benefitting everyone across the region.

“We know our communities continue to be places where companies and people are drawn to — we have the resources, the talent, and the quality of life, said Bryan Paterson, mayor of Kingston. “As close neighbours, we have a unique opportunity to take a more regional approach to shared priorities like housing, transportation and future development.”

The new Mayors Regional Council will meet in alternating locations across their respective communities. Information on areas of shared collaboration and partnerships will be available as they are formed.


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

Group promoting careers for women in aviation lands in New Brunswick

The aviation industry is hoping for a new look. A recruitment drive is underway in the Maritimes that will hopefully address a national shortage of skilled workers. As Zack Power reports, the industry is focused on diversifying its workforce and bringing more women into aviation.

Students from Rothesay Netherwood School were told to look to the skies as Elevate Aviation, a group that encourages women to get into the industry, landed at Saint John Regional Airport on Monday as part of a Canada-wide tour.

Students interested in aviation heard from speakers from across the sector, including air traffic controllers, pilots and airplane maintenance techs. Each speaker underlined not only what they do for their job but underscored the need to have a diverse workplace.

The group believes that three of four students who attend the Canada-wide tour will consider a job in aviation.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show a lack of diversity among those in aerospace, with few women in the field.

Of all commercial pilots in Canada, only 4.3 per cent are women, along with 15 per cent of air traffic controllers.

Even recreational licences are affected, with only 65 of 1,227 licences in Canada being held by females.

According to Kendra Kincade, an air traffic controller and president and CEO of Elevate Aviation, one of the biggest roadblocks in the industry comes from inspiration within the industry. A lack of familiar faces has made the industry daunting for women looking to get into aviation.

“Research has shown that for women to enter something, they need to see other people who look like them,” said Kincade, speaking from Saint John, N.B., regional airport.

“There’s not enough role models.”

Landing women jobs in all aspects of the industry is something that has been on the mind of those at the airport, who told Global News airlines are reading to ramp up for the summer with a near full workforce across the board. Director of operations Cindy Thorn said that events like the one on Monday open the doors to having a diverse workplace in the airport.

“A lot of times, you’re just given options of your typical white-collar standard positions so this gives an eye opener to students to say, ‘Maybe I can point my studies in this direction because it looks interesting,”’ Thorn said.

“It’s more than just the flight attendant or the check-in counters. There are aviation mechanics and engineers, and even businesspeople. It shows people the things that go on in aviation.”

Elevate Aviation said that amid the shortage, it’s hoping to use this event to get New Brunswick women into aviation.

“By reaching out to youth, Elevate Aviation’s Cross Country Tour is helping to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the aviation industry by encouraging the next generation of female pilots, engineers, and aviation professionals,” Emily Reiman, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Elevate Aviation said in a release.

“We hope to demonstrate to the students that the future of women in aviation is limitless.”

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

What is a raccoon dog and why is it being linked to COVID-19's origin?

Last week, a team of international researchers shared with the world a discovery possibly linking the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic to a breed of animal in a Wuhan, China wet market: specifically, a raccoon dog.

French virologist Florence Débarre of the French National Centre for Scientific Research spotted the information by chance while scouring a worldwide database, and shared it with a group of scientists based outside of China looking into the origins of the coronavirus.

The genetic sequences were uploaded to the world’s biggest public virus database in late January, but have since been removed.

According to the World Health Organization, genetic sequencing data showed that some of the samples taken at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which were known to be positive for the coronavirus, also contained genetic material from raccoon dogs, indicating the animals may have been infected by the virus, according to the scientists.

“There’s a good chance that the animals that deposited that DNA also deposited the virus,” said Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah who was involved in analyzing the data. “If you were to go and do environmental sampling in the aftermath of a zoonotic spillover event, this is basically exactly what you would expect to find.”

And while the connection signals good things in terms of getting closer to COVID-19’s origins, a lot of people were taken aback by the name of the animal. So what, exactly, is a raccoon dog?

Raccoon dogs: What you need to know

Physically, raccoon dogs look pretty much how their name implies — they resemble a small-to-medium size dog with a raccoon head. They’re small, fluffy and many have stout, rotund bodies.

A photo of a raccoon dog, taken in Germany.

A photo of a raccoon dog, taken in Germany.

Erich Thielscher / McPhoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Despite their name, however, raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are most closely related to foxes. The species now linked to the COVID-19 outbreak is known as the common raccoon dog, which is different from its relative, the Japanese raccoon dog.

Raccoon dogs of both species originate in East Asia and have an average weight of 16 pounds, making them of little danger to humans. Fun facts: they are monogamous, have curved claws and go into a state of light hibernation in the winter.

They are also susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and some have previously tested positive for the coronavirus. They have also been found to be able to pass on the disease. So while there’s still no solid proof that they are responsible for the virus outbreak in the Wuhan market, it does prove that the market was, indeed, selling animals that can carry the virus.

Raccoon dogs are omnivores and prefer to live in forests or areas of dense vegetation or that border water. And while they previously made their home in parts of China, Korea and Japan, breeding from the fur farming industry resulted in thousands being introduced to the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

Today, they are considered a widespread invasive species in western and northern Europe, and a European Union report on invasive species “of concern” declared it “one of the most successful alien carnivores in Europe.”

And while many North Americans might not be able to conjure up a real-life image of a raccoon dog from the top of their heads, chances are they’ve come across a depiction of one stemming from Japanese folklore. Known as “tanuki” in Japanese, in mythical settings raccoon dogs are shape-shifters that can bring good financial luck.

In Japanese animation, cartoons and likenesses, they’re often drawn with large scrotums that they can manipulate into useful objects like fishing nets, umbrellas and parachutes.

Stone statues depicting "tanuki" or raccoon dogs stand on the grounds of Yashima-ji, Temple 84 of the Shikoku 88 Buddhist temple pilgrimage, on November 11, 2019 near the town of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Japan.

Stone statues depicting 'tanuki' or raccoon dogs stand on the grounds of Yashima-ji, Temple 84 of the Shikoku 88 Buddhist temple pilgrimage, on Nov. 11, 2019 near the town of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Japan.

David Madison / Getty Images
Tatebayashi Gunma Morinji Temple is famous for the famous tanuki raccoon dog, Bunbuku Chagama.

Tatebayashi Gunma Morinji Temple is famous for the famous tanuki raccoon dog, Bunbuku Chagama.

John S. Lander / Lightrocket via Getty Images

Raccoon dogs and their connection to viruses

As mentioned earlier, raccoon dogs have long been raised, bred and hunted for their fur, which is likely why they would have been sold at the Wuhan market.

As reported by Slate, millions are killed in China every year and a large portion of their pelts are bought by the U.S. In order to supply the global market for raccoon dog fur, the animals are often raised in crowded facilities from small cages, which is a recipe for the spread of disease.

A 2004 report from The Lancet says that raccoon dogs and related animals sold for food at a wet market in China in 2003 were found to carry a virus very similar to the SARS virus that was circulating in humans at the time. Officials at the time ordered the slaughter of 10,000 animals set to be sold at such markets, after alarms of another outbreak were sounded when a man tested positive for a novel strain of the SARS virus.

A study conducted last year found that samples taken from 2,000 animals of 18 different species across China found that animals known to be eaten by humans, including raccoon dogs, carried 102 different viruses from 13 viral families.

Specifically, the study found that raccoon dogs carried four canine coronaviruses that were genetically similar to those found in humans. They also carried enteric viruses, or viruses that are transmitted when infected fecal matter enters the mouth or nose.

A raccoon dog is pictured foraging in forest and showing camouflage colours.

A raccoon dog is pictured foraging in a forest and showing camouflage colours.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Are we closer to determining COVID-19’s origins?

The answer is yes… and no.

Late last week the World Health Organization (WHO) called on China to release the data that was taken down. Researchers say having the data will allow them to further analyze what was happening in the Huanan market in 2020.

“The big issue right now is that this data exists and that it is not readily available to the international community,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, told CNBC.

“This is first and foremost absolutely critical, not to mention that it should have been made available years earlier, but that data needs to be made accessible to individuals who can access it, who can analyze it and who can discuss it with each other,” she said of the importance of the molecular data, which was collected from swabs of the market’s floors, walls, cages and carts starting in January 2020.

Van Kerkhove told the outlet that the small amount of data they have right now doesn’t give a conclusive answer into the pandemic’s beginnings, “but it does provide more clues.”

“These data could have — and should have — been shared three years ago,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general. The missing evidence now “needs to be shared with the international community immediately,” he told the New York Times.

And while raccoon dogs now fall within the realm of possibility of being among the first to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, there still remain many competing theories as to the virus’s origins — including theories that the virus originated in a Chinese government-controlled lab – which researchers continue to investigate.

Until China reuploads its data, Van Kerkhove told CNBC, the WHO “won’t be able to remove different hypotheses.”

University of Saskatchewan virologist Angela Rasmussen, who was involved with the data analysis, said it’s important to stress that the data does not definitively prove a raccoon dog was infected with the coronavirus.

“We just have evidence that the animals were in the same part of the market where we know there was virus,” she said.

The evidence does make it “more likely that an animal contributed the viral sequences that were in there,” Rasmussen added.

Arturo Casadevall, an immunologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the New York Times the data adds to the evidence of a natural spillover event.

“I would say it strengthens the zoonotic idea, that is, the idea that it came from an animal at the market,” he said.

After a weeks-long visit to China to study the pandemic’s origins, WHO released a report in 2021 concluding that COVID-19 most probably jumped into humans from animals, dismissing the possibility of a lab origin as “extremely unlikely.”

But the UN health agency backtracked the following year, saying “key pieces of data” were still missing.

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Department of Energy had assessed “with low confidence” that the virus had leaked from a lab. But others in the U.S. intelligence community disagree, believing it more likely it first came from animals.

Experts say the true origin of the pandemic may not be known for many years — if ever.

With files from The Associated Press

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

Potholes to puddles: Calgary crews in full swing amid spring melt

The first day of spring has the City of Calgary inundated with calls with melting snow creating tricky conditions on some city streets and sidewalks. Adam MacVicar reports.

Heralding the official arrival of spring, City of Calgary crews are fielding hundreds of calls for pooling water and potholes as the spring melt begins.

According to the city’s water services department, there have been upwards of 1,000 311 calls over the last few days with reports of water pooling at several of the city’s 60,000 catch basins across the city.

“Lots of snow, lots of packed snow on the streets as well, which sometimes creates problems with water just getting to the catch basin,” City of Calgary stormwater and wastewater collection manager, Corey Colbran, told Global News.

One of the most notable was a puddle that formed in Marda Loop over the weekend, which was soon dubbed “Marda Lake” by some residents, complete with signs and pool toys.

City crews were able to resolve the issue, according to Colbran.

“For that situation in Marda Loop, it really just required the boiler. There was something frozen just below the catch basin,” Colbran said.

With the number of calls coming in reporting pooling water around catch basins across the city, it is causing city crews to take longer to get to certain calls based on how they’re prioritized.

According to Colbran, reports deemed urgent typically get a response within two hours, while non-urgent calls can take up to five days for a crew to respond.

“Given the weather patterns and the number of calls coming in, we’re probably at about four hours for those urgent calls, and going to be stretched to 30 days for those non-urgent calls,” Colbran said. “We try to prioritize those on an urgency basis and get to those first.”

Reports of pooling water deemed urgent could have safety concerns or the possibility of property damage, while non-urgent reports would be more for pooling water around a catch basin.

Pooling water has been a concern so far this month for Marie Kirby, whose southeast Calgary sidewalk has been underwater due to the melt.

Kirby, who uses a cane to walk, has been trying to keep the sidewalk clear with the help of a neighbour, but the water continues to pool and turn to ice overnight.

“You could skate down this quite easily, that’s why I put pebbles on top of it,” Kirby told Global News. “It’s very treacherous.”

Kirby said her sidewalk has been a problem since last year when she reported it had a dip in it to 311, and the city deemed the sidewalk unsafe.

At last update, the city said it would take up to seven days for a crew to evaluate Kirby’s sidewalk to determine the next steps or a potential repair.

But with warm temperatures expected to continue the spring melt onto the sidewalk, Kirby said she hopes the fix comes sooner rather than later, concerned a potential injury on the sidewalk could make her liable.

“If somebody fell here and I’d have to pay the liability… that would put me in a bad space.”

According to Environment Canada, this winter was Calgary’s sixth snowiest in the last 139 years, with a total of 82.6 centimetres of snow so far.

Jesse Wagar, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said it is still early in the snow melt in Calgary, with temperatures still dipping below freezing overnight.

“It provides enough of a barrier or enough of time for that snow and that liquid to seep into the ground and go where it’s supposed to, instead of all just melting all at once,” Wagar said.

City crews are taking advantage of the warm daytime temperatures by filling in potholes across the city after gathering reports from residents to 311, after a quick transition from snow-removal duties.

“This is a time of year that’s very busy for us. We go from clearing snow one night to having a few beautiful days in a row trying to fill potholes,” City of Calgary mobility maintenance manager, Chris Hewitt, told Global News. “We have crews out filling potholes in all our areas today, though we expect we might be clearing snow by Friday.”

Environment Canada says March is typically the snowiest month of the year in Calgary.

“Those conditions may may change,” Wagar said. “But we’re definitely not out of the out of the woods yet.”

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

Pitbull to headline first day of Calgary Stampede

It’s official: American rapper Pitbull will be headlining the first day of the Calgary Stampede.

Armando Christian Pérez, known by his stage name Pitbull or as Mr. Worldwide, will be playing in the Saddledome on July 7. He grew in popularity in the 2010s with hits such as Give Me Everything and Timber, and performed alongside stars such as Kesha and Ne-Yo.

Pitbull’s songs have also been featured on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his music videos have accumulated more than 15 billion views collectively.

“We are thrilled to have Pitbull headline the Saddledome on the first day of Stampede,” said Adam Oppenheim, president of Stampede Entertainment Inc., in an emailed statement.

“Pitbull is renowned worldwide for an incredible show with unparalleled energy and countless hits. It’s the perfect concert to kick off the Calgary Stampede.”

Tickets for the concert start at $59 plus applicable fees and taxes and will be open to the general public on Friday, March 24 at 10 a.m. MT. Tickets will include admission to the Stampede on the day of the show.

Calgary Stampede newsletter subscribers will be able to pre-purchase tickets starting Wednesday, March 22 at 10 a.m.

Tickets are available at the Calgary Stampede website, by phone, or on Ticketmaster.

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

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