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The James Street Swing Bridge lit up social media after it caught fire in the early evening hours of Oct. 29. Nobody was injured as a result of the blaze, which was deemed suspicious by investigators. The CN Rail owned bridge was reopened to trains within a matter of days but vehicular traffic remains closed.
Five people were killed as a result of a two-vehicle motor vehicle collision on Highway 17 just outside of English River on Oct. 19. A pickup truck collided with a tractor-trailer just before midnight. The four occupants of the pickup truck and the driver of the tractor-trailer were killed.
A cyclist was killed after allegedly being intentionally struck by a van in an Algoma Street parking lot on Oct. 1. The cyclist, 38-year-old Richard Terrance Vrastak, succumbed to his injuries a couple of days later. The driver, Sheldon Mark Yesno, was charged with second-degree murder. The accused is the son of Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno.
The hottest topic at city council was the removal of 11 tamarack trees from Mohawk Crescent. Complaints were brought to council, claiming needles from the trees were resulting in property damage. Numerous councillors were outspoken on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, they voted by a 7-6 margin to have the trees removed.
The spring bear hunt will return for the first time since 1999. MPP Bill Mauro introduced a private member’s bill to launch the hunt, which is designed to control the bear population. It will be a two-year limited reintroduction in 2014 and 2015 open only to resident hunters.
Lakehead University was rocked by an anonymous letter sent to a local newspaper, claiming the institution ignored accusations of a sexual assault from a student. The student claimed to be assaulted by a classmate, and then received minimal assistance from the university. President Brian Stephenson created a task force to investigate the issue.
The inquest into the death of Bruce Moonias began nearly seven years after his death. The 27-year-old Neskantanga First Nation man died in December 2006 after a standoff in his home. The jury ultimately ruled in November that Moonias’ death constituted a suicide, but provided 23 recommendations including better mental health practices and improved police training.
Local veterans spoke out about the scheduled closure of the Thunder Bay veterans’ affairs office in February 2014. They, along with MPs John Rafferty and Bruce Hyer, slammed the government for turning their backs on those who had served their country. Also, city council unanimously passed a motion in November to protest the closure.
Nearly 1,900 property owners received letters claiming the city was not liable for damages from the 2012 floods. The counsel for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city called the move an attempt to intimidate, and said the lawsuit would proceed forward. The $300 million lawsuit has approximately 400 plaintiffs.
The annual throne speech from the federal government received mixed reviews from local politicians. The two city MPs rejected the speech, with Thunder Bay--Superior North MP Bruce Hyer claiming it “lacked vision.” Meanwhile, Mayor Keith Hobbs met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and was confident that northern Ontario remains a priority of the federal government.
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