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TORONTO STAR

22 dead in alleged Manchester suicide attack

May 23, 2017 6:33:44 AM

screenshot people running 22 dead in alleged manchester suicide attack 23 05 2017 world news thestar dam content www.thestar.com  https:

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND—An apparent suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande concert as it ended Monday night, killing 22 people among a panicked crowd of young concertgoers, some still wearing the star’s trademark kitten ears and holding pink balloons as they fled.

Teenage screams filled the arena just after the explosion, which also killed the attacker and injured at least 59.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said police are treating the blast as an act of terrorism and that the attack was conducted by one man.

“The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device which he detonated causing this atrocity,” Hopkins said in a statement.

The attack sparked a nightlong search for loved ones — parents for the children they had accompanied or agreed to pick up, and friends for each other after groups were scattered by the blast. Twitter and Facebook were filled with appeals for the missing.

A police helicopter hummed over the city as sombre commuters hurried to work.

Public transport shut down, and taxis offered to give stranded people free rides home, while residents opened their homes to provide lodging.

The concert was attended by thousands of young music fans in northern England. Grande, who was not injured, tweeted hours later: “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

Forensic investigations are trying to determine if the attacker had accomplices, Hopkins said. He provided no information about the person who set off the bomb.

He said some of the dead were children but provided no further details.

Hayley Lunt was staying at a hotel nearby and had taken her 10-year-old daughter Abigail to her first concert at Manchester Arena on Monday evening.

She said the explosions rang out as soon as Grande left the stage. “It was almost like they waited for her to go.”

“We just ran as fast as we could to get away from that area,” Lunt said. “What should have been a superb evening is now just horrible.”

Campaigning for Britain’s June 8 election was suspended.

The explosion struck near the exit around 10:30 p.m. Monday as Grande was ending the concert, part of her Dangerous Woman Tour. Police cars, bomb-disposal units and 60 ambulances raced to the scene as the scale of the carnage became clear. More than 400 officers were deployed.

“A huge bomb-like bang went off that hugely panicked everyone and we were all trying to flee the arena,” said 22-year-old concertgoer Majid Khan. “It was one bang and essentially everyone from the other side of the arena where the bang was heard from suddenly came running towards us as they were trying to exit.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd decried “a barbaric attack, deliberately targeting some of the most vulnerable in our society — young people and children out at a pop concert.”

The local ambulance service said 59 people were taken to hospitals.

The city’s regional government and its mayor, Andy Burnham, were among scores of Twitter users who circulated the MissinginManchester hashtag, used by people looking for family members and friends.

Among the names being circulated was Olivia Campbell. Her mother, Charlotte Campbell, said the 15-year-old attended the concert with her best friend from school. He is hospitalized but Olivia is missing, the mother told ITV television’s Good Morning Britain breakfast show.

“I’ve called the hospitals. I’ve called all the places, the hotels where people said that children have been taken and I’ve called the police.”

She said she last heard from her daughter just before the concert.

“If anyone sees Olivia, lend her your phone, she knows my number.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Supporters of the extremist Daesh group, also known as Islamic State, which holds territory in Iraq’s Mosul and around its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, celebrated the blast online.

U.S. President Donald Trump, in Bethlehem, said the attack preyed upon children and described those responsible as “evil losers.”

“This wicked ideology must be obliterated. And I mean completely obliterated,” he added.

If the explosion is confirmed as a terrorist attack it would be the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on three subway trains and a bus in July 2005.

Video from inside the arena showed people screaming as they made their way out amid a sea of pink balloons.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergency committee later Tuesday.

The Dangerous Woman tour is the third concert tour by 23-year-old Grande and supports her third studio album, Dangerous Woman.

Grande’s role as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s high school sitcom Victorious propelled her to teen idol status, starting in 2010.

After Manchester, Grande was to perform at venues in Europe, including Belgium, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and France, with concerts in Latin America and Asia to follow.

Pop concerts and nightclubs have been a terrorism target before. Most of the 89 dead in the November 2015 attacks in Paris were at the Bataclan concert hall, which gunman struck during a performance by Eagles of Death Metal.

In Turkey, 39 people died when a gunman attacked New Year’s revellers at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul.

Manchester, 260 kilometres northwest of London, was hit by a huge Irish Republican Army bomb in 1996 that levelled a swath of the city centre. More than 200 people were injured, though no one was killed.

Obsession with home ownership driving Toronto affordability crisis, report finds

May 23, 2017 6:00:00 AM

townhouses obsession with home ownership driving toronto affordability crisis report finds 23 05 2017 business thestar dam content www.thestar.com  https:

The Toronto region’s shockingly high house prices haven’t stopped the city from achieving one of the highest home ownership rates in the developed world, up 23 per cent over the past 35 years.

Toronto’s ownership rate, at 68 per cent, is behind only Oslo, Norway (69 per cent), and Calgary (74 per cent) among 38 western cities.

But ownership doesn’t equal affordability, says a sweeping study on the Toronto region’s housing crunch to be published Tuesday.

It suggests the Toronto area will need up to $150 billion in new home construction in the coming decade and most of that should be rental units to make housing more affordable.

The report by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, a research firm, paints a picture of two cities in one. It shows that half of Toronto-area residents are overhoused, with 2.2 million empty bedrooms. (There are 400,000 homes in Ontario that have three or more empty bedrooms, according to the report.)

But it would take only about 350,000 bedrooms to appropriately house the 20 per cent of Toronto residents, most of them families, who are shelter-poor.

“If this was happening to our food chain or our water supply, we would have a visceral reaction. But because it’s happening in a very slow-burn housing market, it’s like heating up the frog very slowly in the pan — it doesn’t notice until it’s too late,” said Paul Smetanin, the centre’s CEO, who has assessed the effect of more than 40 housing affordability factors.

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House prices are half the problem. But our obsession with home ownership is a big contributor, too, he said.

Toronto has restricted vast swaths of the city to single-family detached homes. That has led to a shortage of appropriate housing.

Smaller households are the most overhoused, as they are in neighbourhoods where the population is shrinking and aging. Meanwhile, larger families — with five or more people — are most likely to be underhoused in high-density apartments without enough bedrooms.

There’s also a shortage of ground-level homes known as the “missing middle” — townhomes, row houses, duplexes and small apartments — that would appeal to families.

Those, along with secondary suites, should have a greater presence in single-family neighbourhoods, but zoning doesn’t allow for it, Smetanin said.

The economic analysis centre has developed a Shelter Consumption Affordability Ratio index that measures housing affordability far beyond a household’s mortgage payments or rent. It factors in shelter-related expenses such as the cost of transportation to work and school, utilities, maintenance and property taxes.

Then it uses computer modelling to assess the effect other factors have on affordability. These range from property speculation to household debt levels and income levels, which have remained essentially flat for 30 years as housing prices continued to climb.

The index results show that one in three Toronto-area residents, and one in four in Ontario, suffers extreme affordability pressure.

“It is serious and has serious consequences for the development of our communities and the economy,” Smetanin said.

The report, “Understanding the Forces Driving the Shelter Affordability Issue,” was funded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario, the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Architects and the Ontario Construction Secretariat.

It will be presented at a conference Tuesday on the issue of “missing middle” housing in the region, which will include a panel of mayors from Mississauga, Brampton, Barrie and Ajax.

Data shows that rental housing acts as oil in the engine of housing markets, Smetanin said. It also illustrates the stigma attached to renting.

“If you reduce oil in an engine, you get heat and the heat starts to transpire as high housing prices, difficulty in moving and uncertainty. While your engine’s getting hotter, you’re not getting any faster or going somewhere quicker,” he said.

Most underhousing occurs in rentals.

“When you look at the data and the demographics of rental, it almost looks like that’s where we’ve parked all our luggage as a society — if you don’t own your own home, you’re a loser,” he said.

Property speculators fuel the expectation that prices will go up and they crowd out families looking for appropriately sized and priced homes.

“Investors are fine, but free market forces are not necessarily pleasant … You get winners and losers,” Smetanin said. “Sometimes the losers are completely unintended. They’re not people who took too much risk and should have been slapped on the wrist. They’re people who are trying to satisfy their needs. At times, letting free market forces do what they want to do hurts people.”

Rather than band-aids such as Ontario’s recently announced foreign buyer tax and expanded rent controls, he said, governments need to look at new concepts for Canadian housing.

In Europe governments, not-for-profit agencies and private industry collaborate on rental housing that is “architecturally relevant and desirable.”

“If we want to change things, we need to change collectively some of our attitudes,” Smetanin said. “If you do things the old way with the same people, but expect something different, then I believe Einstein mentioned that was the definition of insanity.”

Toronto housing in numbers

45%

Percentage of Toronto housing that is single detached homes, compared to 35% for apartments or condos and 20% in townhomes or “missing middle” housing

1/3

Proportion of Toronto-area condos that are rented out

30%

Of Toronto-area commuters spend 45 minutes or more each way getting to work or school

70%

Of Toronto-area commuters travel by car, compared to 85% outside the region

80%

Proportion of people in two-person households who are overhoused

67%

Proportion of people in households of seven or more people who are underhoused

75%

Proportion of Ontario residents aged 65 and older who are overhoused

Source: Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis

Half of Toronto Community Housing homes to hit ‘critical’ status within five years

May 23, 2017 6:00:00 AM

south st jamestown half of toronto community housing homes to hit critical status within five years 23 05 2017 city hall news thestar dam content www.thestar.com  https:

Half of Toronto Community Housing developments will be in “critical” condition in the next five years without additional funding for repairs, according to an internal database provided to the Star.

Already, the data shows more than 30 social-housing properties are in serious disrepair. Of 364 developments — which include houses and groupings of low-rise buildings and towers — another 222 developments are ranked in “poor” condition, with dozens edging on critical condition, based on a standard ranking used by the housing corporation.

Those critical sites are homes for more than 3,000 individuals and families.

The data shows a pervasive problem at a time when the city is grappling with how to keep thousands of units open with a $1.73 billion funding gap.

Of the 364 developments, more than 100 were offloaded onto the city by the province more than a decade-and-a-half ago without money needed to cover the repairs. Of the buildings in the critical and poor categories, more than a third were downloaded by the province.

At the same time, the city was also saddled with tens of millions of dollars in provincial debt costs for the buildings while the province has yet to contribute any funding for critical repairs.

The failing buildings span nearly every part of the city, from Cabbagetown to The Queensway and North Etobicoke to Scarborough East.

To keep on track with a 10-year, $2.6 billion plan, Toronto Community Housing needs to do $438 million worth of repairs next year.

It is $350 million short.

The needs are not superficial, such as broken fridges or paint peeling from the walls — of which there are many.

The repairs are required because the structure of some buildings is literally crumbling, leaking roofs have become so bad that residents have been evacuated from the top floors of towers, plumbing has collapsed and boilers are failing.

By the end of this year, Toronto Community Housing has said they will have to close 600 units. Another 400 are expected to be closed next year if funding isn’t secured.

Toronto Community Housing uses an industry standard to determine and rank the status of buildings, called a facility condition index. It works this way: the cost for repairs versus the cost to replace the buildings is used to calculate a percentage. The higher the percentage, the worse the building’s condition.

Anything at or above 30 per cent is considered critical, but does not mean the building cannot be saved.

Toronto Community Housing provided the data to the Star after repeated requests for the entire database.

The most severe problem is a group of Victorian-era heritage homes in Cabbagetown, which on their own require millions to fix structural, roofing, and other deficiencies. Their heritage status complicates repairs as it requires construction follow a specific, legislated standard.

A 10-year repair plan was approved by the city in 2013, to be funded by all three levels of government — a third of the cost assigned to each, or $864 million.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government recently committed to $11.2 billion in future affordable housing spending over 11 years, which is expected to benefit, in part, social housing providers like Toronto Community Housing. But it is not yet clear how much of that will be available to TCH and how soon.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s provincial government, however, has not committed to funding the repair plan. When the province announced its 2017 budget last month, there was no new money for social housing repairs. Mayor John Tory called it a “big goose egg.”

By 2021, the data shows all but one provincial riding in Toronto’s east end will be home to critical units, including five in Wynne’s Don Valley West riding — three of them seniors buildings.

The city was made solely responsible for thousandsof social housing units in 2001, after they were transferred from the now defunct Ontario Housing Corporation under former Conservative premier Mike Harris.

But the buildings, many built in the 1960s and 1970s, came without reserve funds and in varying states of disrepair.

Though the province was providing funds to compensate, in 2013 they unexpectedly announced they were phasing out those payments — which had totaled $150 million annually. The funds stopped coming last year.

The city not only contributes to mortgage payments through an annual subsidy to Toronto Community Housing, it has also, since 2001, been responsible for handling other provincial debt related to the buildings.

That debt is carried as a debenture. Unlike a mortgage which is secured by one property, the debenture is a loan secured by the general credit of the government, city spokesperson Wynna Brown explained in an email.

“Before social housing was transferred to municipalities debentures were used by the Ontario Housing Corporation to fund the public housing stock, including many of the properties that are now TCHC,” Brown wrote.

When the city first assumed that debt in 2001, the annual payment was $34.4 million. The city has been making annual payments since then, paying out tens of millions of dollars. This year, the city will pay $21 million.

The city is expected to be repaying that debt until 2026.

CP24 News

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