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‘Gobsmacked’: Dying senior leaves 14 Christmas gifts to neighbour’s baby girl

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Christmas won’t be the same for Owen Williams or his family for the next 14 years — and it’s all thanks to the literal parting gifts from his late neighbour.

On Monday, the Welsh father posted on Twitter about how his elderly neighbour Ken Watson had passed away and left his family something besides memories of friendship.

He described how Watson’s daughter had come over to his house with a giant plastic bag filled to the brim with 14 gifts.

“In the sack were all the Christmas presents he’d bought for *our* daughter,” he wrote online, later adding that, “he always told us he’d live till he was a hundred years old, so these gifts would have taken him up to our little girl’s 16th Christmas.”

Williams said the gesture took him by surprise.

“I was speechless. Gobsmacked,” he wrote in a text to CTVNews.ca. “It’s a breathtaking thing. Words rarely fail me, but this was a rare occasion.”

On Twitter, he wrote: “My wife and I think it might make a nice Christmas tradition to give our daughter, ‘a present from Ken’ for the next 14 years.”

William’s daughter Cadi is only two years old but she’d have a new gift until 2032. Williams polled Twitter users on whether the gifts should be opened all at once or doled out to her until her teens.

Over 69 per cent of the 67,000 people polled voted for the family to do the latter. Williams said they plan to honour that.

“It’ll be our way of remembering an immensely generous gentleman — our new Christmas tradition,” he said online. “We’ll add the pics to this thread for as long as Twitter is still a thing!”

Although he mused that some of the gifts might not make sense for a teenager, Williams said that won’t matter.

‘The real spirit of Christmas, don’t you think?’

“Even if she doesn’t appreciate the gift itself, the sentiment and the thought behind it is the important thing here,” he told CTVNews.ca. “It’s the real spirit of Christmas, don’t you think?”

They’ve already opened one of the gifts which was the book, “Christmas Eve at the Mellops’” by Tomi Ungerer. The French writer-artist even reached out to Williams online and said he would love to sign the book for Cadi.

Williams said the attention his story has received has been staggering. His story has been covered by several news outlets and even became a Twitter moment.

“It’s been an insane 24 hours,” he told CTVNews.ca., adding that “Ken’s family have been utterly overwhelmed.”

Williams took to Twitter to share who Watson was besides being a neighbourly Santa Claus. He wrote about Watson’s love for the accordion and his plan to do a second “wing walk.”

When Watson did his first wing walk, he was profiled and revealed how he had sought more adventure ever since his 86-year-old wife Beryl died in February 2012.

“Ken was a former salvage diver, seaman, carpenter, baker,” Williams also wrote about Watson. “The first time I met him, he was bouncing a 20 ft. (six metre) ladder across the face of his house. He was on top. He was 83 at the time.”

Williams added that Watson would regularly give his dog chocolate biscuits and call her “my darling” and “sweetheart.”

While Watson’s last gesture was a surprise, it’s not out of character. He’d given Williams’ daughter a Christmas gift ever since she was born.

But when it came to the 14 gifts, he called it, “utterly unexpected.”

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LIFESTYLES

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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