Toronto arborist calls for better tree maintenance at Trinity Bellwoods Park

Just days after a man died after being struck by a falling tree branch in Trinity Bellwoods Park, a Toronto arborist reflected on when he and his two-year-old son were almost hit by a large branch in the same park.

“Had we been four feet to the right, it might have landed on our heads and it was a pretty big piece of wood,” Andrew Baughn told Global News. “I was surprised was in the tree at all. It should have been cleaned up,”

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“To hear that someone had died, a couple hundred yards from my front door in the park that I walk with my son everyday was heartbreaking,” he added.

Baughn said he has called City of Toronto’s 311 line to raise concerns about the upkeep of trees in the park.

“The city’s approach to tree care is reactive,” he said.

Baughn said he wants city staff to take a more aggressive approach to maintenance.

“Taking a proactive approach to tree care means annual inspections and regular pruning schedules, going around after a big storm and inspecting the trees,” he said. “[The city] has to be very strict about what trees they are leaving standing here and I don’t think a reactive approach is adequate.”

READ MORE: Man struck, killed by falling tree branch in popular Toronto park

When asked for comment on Sunday, the City of Toronto sent a statement to Global News saying city staff aim to proactively prune municipally-owned trees every seven to 10 years.

“The City of Toronto inspects over 150,000 trees a year and over the past 10 years Urban Forestry staff have responded to over 160 service requests, performed over 120 inspections and completed over 240 work orders relating to trees within Trinity Bellwoods Park,” the statement read in part, adding city staff are working to complete their investigation as soon as possible.

Matthew Cutler, a parks, forestry and recreation office spokesperson, said parks and forestry staff were on site Friday night and Saturday morning to assist with the investigation.

“The branch has been removed to one of our facilities for further inspection. Forestry staff inspected the tree Saturday morning and, finding it in good health, have reopened that area of the park to the public,” Cutler wrote.

“We will continue to search for an explanation for this tragic incident and send our condolences to the victim and their family.”

Wally Buono back on the sidelines for B.C. Lions in 2016

VANCOUVER – Wally Buono kept his word.

When the legendary head coach stepped aside after leading the B.C. Lions to the 2011 Grey Cup, citing fatigue and a desire to focus on his front office duties, he promised owner David Braley that if it ever really came down to it, he would return to the sidelines.

“I never thought I would have to,” said Buono.

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But with the franchise dipping significantly on the field, in the standings and, perhaps most importantly, in the Vancouver sports landscape over the past four seasons, the 66-year-old will once again lead the Lions in 2016.

“We made a decision in early December what the next step was going to be,” said Buono. “I felt that if I was going to be involved, it would probably be best to be totally involved as both the GM and the head coach.”

Mike Benevides, Buono’s protege, took over in 2012 and guided B.C. to a 13-5 record before losing the West Division Final at home. The club went 11-7 the following year before a 9-9 showing in 2014 that culminated in a beating at the hands of the Montreal Alouettes in the crossover East semifinal that Buono said left him “devastated.”

Benevides was fired soon after, with the reins being handed to Jeff Tedford last season. But that experiment only lasted 11 months after the highly touted U.S. college coach, who hadn’t been involved in three-down football since the early 1990s, compiled a 7-12 record that included the franchise’s fourth straight one-and-done playoff.

“Last year was a tough year, but one we can learn from,” said linebacker Solomon Elimimian, who is healthy after rupturing his Achilles tendon last August. “I feel like we have the ingredients with Wally coming back. You can tell the mood is definitely different.”

Buono, who surpassed Don Matthews’ 232 victories in 2009 to become the league’s all-time leader in coaching wins, has a record of 254-139-3 over his 22 seasons on the sidelines. The CFL’s eight other head coaches, including two rookies set to make their debuts in 2016, have a combined mark of 150-148-0.

“When I came into the league we were the dominant team,” said Lions defensive back Ryan Phillips, set to enter his 12th season. “To see that plummet a little bit these last four years has been disappointing.

“It’s refreshing having Wally back. I feel like the best is still yet to come for us.”

For that to truly be the case, the Lions know their task is twofold — pick up some victories and look good doing it.

Apart from the mounting losses since capturing the franchise’s sixth title in 2011, the Lions have been criticized for not bringing enough excitement to B.C. Place Stadium.

“Winning is critical in sports,” said Buono. “But I think you also have to win with a little bit of pizzazz.”

The Lions attracted an average of just 21,290 fans to their home games in 2015, a drop of more than 9,000 per outing compared to 2012.

“If we just focus on doing our job the right way, that’s the most exciting football there is,” said quarterback Travis Lulay. “We don’t have to do extra stuff like jumping jacks and whirlybirds or whatever. If we’re throwing touchdowns and putting points on the board … that’s what’s exciting, that’s what people want to see.”

When the Lions host the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday to open their 2016 campaign, what B.C. fans will see is second-year QB Jonathon Jennings under centre, and not Lulay.

Jennings, 23, took advantage of his opportunity last September when veterans Lulay and backup John Beck both went down with injuries, playing well enough to earn a new contract and the No. 1 job.

Apart from a settled quarterback position — Jennings and Lulay have a great relationship on and off the field — the Lions feel like they upgraded the roster in a number of areas this off-season.

The offensive line looks stronger than it has in quite some time with the additions of veterans Tim O’Neill (trade) and Levy Adcock (free agency), as well as rookie Charles Vaillancourt (fifth overall draft pick).

“We’ve got a lot of size,” said Jennings. “It’s going to be nice to be protected by those guys.”

Running back Andrew Harris signed with his hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers over the winter, but the Lions think veterans Jeremiah Johnson and Anthony Allen can more than pick up the slack.

Jennings also has a new target in wide receiver Nick Moore, who re-signed with B.C. after leaving for Winnipeg after the 2013 season.

Elimimian, the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2014, and fellow linebacker Adam Bighill remain the lynch pins on defence for a group that added physicality and skill to the secondary with free agents Brandon Stewart and Mike Edem.

“We want to be better than we’ve been the last couple years, there’s no question about it,” said Lulay. “We’ve under-performed our own expectations. For us this is a clean slate and it feels like a fresh start. The energy’s great around here, I think for good reason.

“I just don’t see a scenario where we’re not a better team than we were a year ago. We have to go earn wins and prove that right, but I feel really good about what we’ve got.”

5 things you need to know about proposed CPP deal

VANCOUVER – Finance Minister Bill Morneau met his provincial and territorial counterparts in Vancouver on Monday and reached an agreement with most of them to expand the Canada Pension Plan. Here are five things to know about CPP and the proposed deal:

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1) The system is designed so that each generation of workers pays for its own retirement. That makes it different from two other income replacement programs for seniors and retirees: old age security (OAS) and the guaranteed income supplement (GIS). Those measures are covered through general tax revenues, meaning that workers today pay taxes to raise the incomes of poorer seniors.

READ MORE: Feds, most provinces agree on CPP reform, but not Quebec or Manitoba

2) CPP premiums have only been raised once in the last 20 years. In 1997, finance ministers agreed to a phased-in increase in premiums to ensure one generation of workers wasn’t paying for another generation’s retirement. The argument today is that the CPP should pay more in benefits and help those who aren’t saving enough for retirement. The argument against raising premiums is that it would hit workers’ wallets at a time when governments keep saying the economy is fragile.

WATCH: Finance Minister Bill Morneau says CPP reform will be very gradual

3) Under Monday’s agreement, which would go into effect in 2019, an average Canadian worker earning about $55,000 will pay an additional $7 a month in 2019. That would increase to $34 a month by 2023. Once the plan is fully implemented, the maximum annual benefits will increase by about one-third to $17,478 from $13,110.

READ MORE: Worried they’ll outlive their savings, 3 in 4 Canadians want CPP expansion: poll

4) Not every province has to have the CPP. Quebec has its own version. Saskatchewan has its own pension plan, but the payments are voluntary, acting more like a RRSP. Along with Quebec, Manitoba didn’t sign onto the deal on Monday.

WATCH: Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa comments on CPP reform

5) Ontario had planned to launch its own pension plan if changes weren’t made to CPP, but with Monday’s agreement-in-principle Canada’s most populous province said it will back away.

Suspect questioned, released in Saskatoon’s 8th homicide of 2016

Saskatoon police are investigating the city’s eighth homicide of 2016.

Just after 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, patrol members responded to a report of a injured man in the 300-block of Avenue E South.

A 24-year-old man was located and rushed to Royal University Hospital.  He later died from his injuries.

Police have not said how he was injured. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

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    READ MORE: Man pleads guilty to the second-degree murder of Karina Wolfe

    Police say they have interviewed and released a possible suspect.

    People in the area are being asked to step forward with any surveillance video at the time of the occurrence.

    “This is a situation where this is a “who-done-it,” said Saskatoon police spokesperson Alyson Edwards.

    “They don’t have a lot of information, there isn’t an obvious suspect and so they’re hoping that perhaps some video was captured, perhaps somebody out there knows something, heard something, saw something and comes forward to let us know.”

    According to police, often times with violent crime investigations, a number of tips can help officers piece together what happened.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Saskatoon police at 306-975-8300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

    Meaghan Craig contributed to this story

10th edition of the PROCURE Walk of Courage

MONTREAL – Montrealers got a chance to walk with their favourite Montreal Impact player this Sunday to raise funds for the fight against prostate cancer.

Participants geared up atop of Mount-Royal on Sunday to walk the 5-kilometer PROCURE Walk of Courage.

All proceeds from the event go to PROCURE, a charitable organisation dedicated to the fight against prostate cancer through research, awareness, education and support programs for patients and their families.

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    READ MORE: Calgary study finds prostate cancer patients who exercise live longer

    The event, which is on its 10th year, aims to educate and inform Montrealers about prostate cancer, which according to PROCURE, affects 12 men in Québec every day.

    “That’s really been the reason for the walk: to educate people in the city, especially men, to go annually to a doctor to make sure that their PSA is not rising, and that with the physical exam, that they don’t have prostate cancer,” said Father John Walsh who co-founded the event.

    The Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, attended the walk as its Honorary President.

    READ MORE: Does prostate cancer screening do more harm than good?

    The Montreal Impact President Joey Saputo, as well as members of the Impact Academy, also joined representatives from the Montreal Alouettes as well as Canadiens alumnus Steve Bégin.

    Since 2007, the Walk of Courage has raised more than $1 million for the organization.

    According to PROCURE, this year, 4,600 Quebecers will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1 in 7 men will be affected during their lifetime.