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  1. Publié: 2015-08-24 Canadian Press Newswire Skyward growth CHICAGO _ On an abandoned Chicago railway line cutting between the treetops, bike commuters zip by walkers and joggers, all traversing a ribbon of concrete undulating through a lush landscape where clattering freight cars once ferried everything from coal to furniture. This relic of the city's industrial past is now a vision of its future. Chicago and cities throughout the country are transforming hulking pieces of obsolete infrastructure into useful _ even inspiring _ amenities: In this case, a park in the sky that doubles as an alternative transportation corridor. Since opening in June, the nearly three-mile elevated path, called the Bloomingdale Trail, has changed how residents move through a section of Chicago's northwest side that in many places is starved of parks and inviting pathways for pedestrians and bikes. ``This trail opened up a lot of opportunity for me,'' said Luke Young, a 30-year-old web developer who now bikes the 10 miles to his job downtown instead of taking the train; it takes roughly the same time. Moving by bike, though, is more fun and a way to relieve stress, he said before tearing down a ramp that links the trail to Milwaukee Avenue, a busy thoroughfare popular with cyclists. ``This is really an innovative park for a resurgent city and it's an example of the way cities are coming back to life in the U.S.,'' said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow at the non-profit Urban Land Institute in Washington. After decades of decline, American cities are getting creative in rolling out new green spaces to sell their brand. With little real estate to expand on, McMahon said, cities are turning instead to the wreckage of past eras: old rail yards, landfills, utility corridors and riverfront areas cut off by freeways. Dallas built a deck over a freeway to create Klyde Warren Park. Virginia Beach, Virginia, turned a landfill into an expanse of lakes, hills, playgrounds and a skate park that it playfully calls Mount Trashmore. Savannah, Georgia, buried a parking garage to restore one of the original town squares laid out in the 1700s. Elevated rail lines especially have beckoned, tapping into utopian visions of parks and pathways in the sky. There's Manhattan's High Line and Paris' Promenade Plantee. But the Bloomingdale Trail pushes into new territory: It's longer, allows bikes and links a string of ground-level parks. The park and trail system is known collectively as The 606 _ a reference to the first three digits of the city's zip codes. Its linear shape extends access to a huge number of people across four neighbourhoods. The 17-foot-high rail embankment, once a physical dividing line, is now a connector and a gathering place for communities as diverse as Humboldt Park, the centre of the Puerto Rican community, and Bucktown, a recently gentrified neighbourhood that's home to cool cafes and doggy daycare centres. But some neighbourhood groups fear it could push lower-income residents out by contributing to rising property values, rents and property taxes. City leaders say they want to prevent that. ``How are working families going to be able to enjoy this trail and also be able to afford living where they're living?'' said Juan Carlos Linares, director of the Latin United Community Housing Association. On a hot August morning, bikers shot up and down The 606, office IDs fluttering, GoPro cameras mounted to helmets, earbuds piping in the tunes, as they zoomed to jobs, meetings and construction sites. In the glow of sunrise, joggers and moms with strollers glided along a narrow, rubbery strip along either side. An older man buzzed by in an electric wheelchair. Dina Petrakis, a 57-year-old remodeling consultant, biked with her tiny dog, Lucy, poking its head out of a shoulder satchel. Petrakis mainly uses the trail to get to yoga class. ``I used to have to drive because you can't really ride your bike over there. Streets are too busy,'' she said. Designers carved pleasing dips and curves into the path. Short gravel side loops take walkers into shady tree-filled groves. The embankment widens in places into spacious overlooks. The western trailhead includes a spiraling earthwork in the design of an ancient solar observatory, and there are plans for a skate park and art installations. The safety of the trail got Jim Trainor back on the bike that he'd ditched after his wife got hit by a car door while cycling. Now, the 54-year-old professor of animation at The Art Institute of Chicago rides every morning for exercise and serenity. ``It's kind of a godsend for me,'' he said. Follow Jason Keyser on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jkeyser1
  2. Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Praise, and Backing By MATTHEW L. WALD Correction Appended WASHINGTON — Google and a New York financial firm have each agreed to invest heavily in a proposed $5 billion transmission backbone for future offshore wind farms along the Atlantic Seaboard that could ultimately transform the region’s electrical map. The 350-mile underwater spine, which could remove some critical obstacles to wind power development, has stirred excitement among investors, government officials and environmentalists who have been briefed on it. Google and Good Energies, an investment firm specializing in renewable energy, have each agreed to take 37.5 percent of the equity portion of the project. They are likely to bring in additional investors, which would reduce their stakes. If they hold on to their stakes, that would come to an initial investment of about $200 million apiece in the first phase of construction alone, said Robert L. Mitchell, the chief executive of Trans-Elect, the Maryland-based transmission-line company that proposed the venture. Marubeni, a Japanese trading company, has taken a 15 percent stake. Trans-Elect said it hoped to begin construction in 2013. Several government officials praised the idea underlying the project as ingenious, while cautioning that they could not prejudge the specifics. “Conceptually it looks to me to be one of the most interesting transmission projects that I’ve ever seen walk through the door,” said Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate electricity transmission. “It provides a gathering point for offshore wind for multiple projects up and down the coast.” Industry experts called the plan promising, but warned that as a first-of-a-kind effort, it was bound to face bureaucratic delays and could run into unforeseen challenges, from technology problems to cost overruns. While several undersea electrical cables exist off the Atlantic Coast already, none has ever picked up power from generators along the way. The system’s backbone cable, with a capacity of 6,000 megawatts, equal to the output of five large nuclear reactors, would run in shallow trenches on the seabed in federal waters 15 to 20 miles offshore, from northern New Jersey to Norfolk, Va. The notion would be to harvest energy from turbines in an area where the wind is strong but the hulking towers would barely be visible. Trans-Elect estimated that construction would cost $5 billion, plus financing and permit fees. The $1.8 billion first phase, a 150-mile stretch from northern New Jersey to Rehoboth Beach, Del., could go into service by early 2016, it said. The rest would not be completed until 2021 at the earliest. Richard L. Needham, the director of Google’s green business operations group, called the plan “innovative and audacious.” “It is an opportunity to kick-start this industry and, long term, provide a way for the mid-Atlantic states to meet their renewable energy goals,” he said. Yet even before any wind farms were built, the cable would channel existing supplies of electricity from southern Virginia, where it is cheap, to northern New Jersey, where it is costly, bypassing one of the most congested parts of the North American electric grid while lowering energy costs for northern customers. Generating electricity from offshore wind is far more expensive than relying on coal, natural gas or even onshore wind. But energy experts anticipate a growing demand for the offshore turbines to meet state requirements for greater reliance on local renewable energy as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Four connection points — in southern Virginia, Delaware, southern New Jersey and northern New Jersey — would simplify the job of bringing the energy onshore, involving fewer permit hurdles. In contrast to transmission lines on land, where a builder may have to deal with hundreds of property owners, this project would have to deal with a maximum of just four, and fewer than that in its first phase. Ultimately the system, known as the Atlantic Wind Connection, could make building a wind farm offshore far simpler and cheaper than it looks today, experts said. Environmentalists who have been briefed on the plan were enthusiastic. Melinda Pierce, the deputy director for national campaigns at the Sierra Club, said she had campaigned against proposed transmission lines that would carry coal-fired energy around the country, but would favor this one, with its promise of tapping the potential of offshore wind. “These kinds of audacious ideas might just be what we need to break through the wretched logjam,” she said. Projects like Cape Wind, proposed for shallow waters just off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, met with fierce objections from residents who felt it would mar the ocean vista. But sponsors of the Trans-Elect project insist that the mid-Atlantic turbines would have less of a visual impact. The hurdles facing the project have more to do with administrative procedures than with engineering problems or its economic merit, several experts said. By the time the Interior Department could issue permits for such a line, for example, the federal subsidy program for wind will have expired in 2012, said Willett M. Kempton, a professor at the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware and the author of several papers on offshore wind. Another is that PJM Interconnection, the regional electricity group that would have to approve the project and assess its member utilities for the cost, has no integrated procedure for calculating the value of all three tasks the line would accomplish — hooking up new power generation, reducing congestion on the grid and improving reliability. And elected officials in Virginia have in the past opposed transmission proposals that would tend to average out pricing across the mid-Atlantic states, possibly raising their constituents’ costs. But the lure of Atlantic wind is very strong. The Atlantic Ocean is relatively shallow even tens of miles from shore, unlike the Pacific, where the sea floor drops away steeply. Construction is also difficult on the Great Lakes because their waters are deep and they freeze, raising the prospect of moving ice sheets that could damage a tower. Nearly all of the East Coast governors, Republican and Democratic, have spoken enthusiastically about coastal wind and have fought proposals for transmission lines from the other likely wind source, the Great Plains. “From Massachusetts down to Virginia, the governors have signed appeals to the Senate not to do anything that would lead to a high-voltage grid that would blanket the country and bring in wind from the Dakotas,” said James J. Hoecker, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who now is part of a nonprofit group that represents transmission owners. He described an Atlantic transmission backbone as “a necessary piece of what the Eastern governors have been talking about in terms of taking advantage of offshore wind.” So far only one offshore wind project, Bluewater Wind off Delaware, has sought permission to build in federal waters. The company is seeking federal loan guarantees to build 293 to 450 megawatts of capacity, but the timing of construction remains uncertain. Executives with that project said the Atlantic backbone was an interesting idea, in part because it would foster development of a supply chain for the specialized parts needed for offshore wind. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose agency would have to sign off on the project, has spoken approvingly of wind energy and talked about the possibility of an offshore “backbone.” In a speech this month, he emphasized that the federal waters were “controlled by the secretary,” meaning him. Within three miles of the shore, control is wielded by the state. Nonetheless, if the offshore wind farms are built on a vast scale, the project’s sponsors say, a backbone with just four connection points could expedite the approval process. In fact, if successful, the transmission spine would reduce the regulatory burden on subsequent projects, said Mr. Mitchell, the Trans-Elect chief executive. Mr. Kempton of the University of Delaware and Mr. Wellinghoff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the backbone would offer another plus: reducing one of wind power’s big problems, variability of output. “Along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, we tend to have storm tracks that move along the coast and somewhat offshore,” Mr. Kempton said. If storm winds were blowing on Friday off Virginia, they might be off Delaware by Saturday and off New Jersey by Sunday, he noted. Yet the long spine would ensure that the amount of energy coming ashore held roughly constant. Wind energy becomes more valuable when it is more predictable; if predictable enough, it could replace some land-based generation altogether, Mr. Kempton said. But the economics remain uncertain, he warned, For now, he said, the biggest impediment may be that the market price of offshore wind energy is about 50 percent higher than that of energy generated on land. With a change in market conditions — an increase in the price of natural gas, for example, or the adoption of a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide from coal- or gas-generated electricity — that could change, he said. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/science/earth/12wind.html?hp
  3. Publié le 17 novembre 2014 à 08h40 | Mis à jour à 08h40 La Presse Canadienne Montréal Les sociétés minières québécoises Redevances Aurifères Osisko (T.OR) et Mines Virginia (T.VGQ) ont annoncé lundi leur regroupement afin de créer une nouvelle société de redevances intermédiaire, détentrice de deux redevances situées au Québec. Chaque action de Virginia sera échangée pour 0,92 action d'Osisko. L'arrangement prévoit que les actionnaires de Virginia recevront une contrepartie de 14,19$ par action ordinaire de Virginia, calculée à partir du prix de clôture de l'action ordinaire d'Osisko de 15,42$ CAD à la Bourse de Toronto le 14 novembre 2014. L'offre représente une prime de 41% sur le prix de clôture de l'action de Virginia en date du 14 novembre 2014 ainsi qu'une prime de 27% pour Viriginia basé sur le prix moyen pondéré en fonction du volume sur 30 jours des actions des deux sociétés pour la période terminée le 14 novembre 2014. L'entente épingle la valeur de Virginia à 479 millions. Aux termes du regroupement, les actionnaires existants d'Osisko et Virginia détiendront respectivement environ 61% et 39% de la société combinée, suite aux placements privés parallèles de la Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec et le Fonds de solidarité FTQ fondé sur une base ordinaire. La société combinée portera le nom de Redevances Aurifères Osisko Ltée, aura une capitalisation boursière estimée de 1,3 milliard et sera basée à Montréal. http://affaires.lapresse.ca/economie/energie-et-ressources/201411/17/01-4819622-osisko-achete-mines-virginia-pour-479-millions.php
  4. Montreal police learned from previous school shootings By The Associated Press When a lone gunman entered Dawson college in Montreal and began shooting last September, police counted on new procedures and a bit of luck to neutralize the assailant quickly. Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire at the downtown Montreal college last September, slaying a young woman and wounding 19 other people before he turned the gun on himself as police cornered him. As luck would have it police officers on the scene for an unrelated matter were rapid first responders able to spot the suspect. But in a city which had seen two college shootings in the 17 previous years, police had also gained experience from the previous incidents to keep the situation from getting out of control. Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said last September that precious lessons learned from other mass shootings had taught police to try to stop such assaults as quickly as possible. "Before our technique was to establish a perimeter around the place and wait for the SWAT team. Now the first police officers go right inside. The way they acted saved lives," he said. Montreal police refused to comment Monday about the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, but as Americans try to make sense of the deadliest campus massacre in U.S. history which left at least 33 dead, including the gunman, questions have begun to emerge about the time allowed to elapse before authorities contained the shooting. In Canada the lessons were painfully learned from the Dec. 6, 1989 college shooting at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, Canada's bloodiest, during which Marc Lepine entered a classroom at the engineering school, separated the men from the women, told the men to leave and opened fire, killing 14 women before killing himself. While shots rang out at Ecole Polytechnique emergency personnel "had a perimeter outside and they waited. No one went inside," Delorme recalled last September. Another shooting in Montreal occurred in 1992, when a Concordia University professor killed four colleagues. By last September Montreal officers had changed their modus operandi and rushed into the building only a few minutes after the gunman. "This time it was very efficient, very proactive," Delorme then said. Aaron Cohen, a SWAT trainer based in California, said time is of the essence during such circumstances, as the quick intervention in Montreal eventually showed, avoiding a similar bloodbath. "While they wait another innocent person is dead. There's just no time to sit around," Cohen told Canada's CBC TV. "It has to be fast. On Monday a gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, shot up a classroom building across campus, killing 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman committed suicide, bringing the death toll to 33. Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus. Copyright The Associated Press 2007. All Rights Reserved Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.