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Morning Brew: Frank Di Giorgio gets the job, Woodbine Live is dead, TTC waits on bids, off-peak fares, Captain John's could sail on, casinos, and running the beer mile

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 6, 2013

toronto cn towerFrank Di Giorgio is Toronto's new budget chief. After serving on the budget committee for the duration of Rob Ford's term as mayor, Di Giorgio was handed the job by the mayor yesterday. As the city's head of finances, the York South-Weston councillor says he'll freeze property tax and trim the land transfer tax by 10%. Sound likely?

Woodbine Live - a sprawling entertainment complex and pet project of Rob Ford that was supposed to create thousands of jobs - is now officially on the scrapheap. The company working with Woodbine Racetrack to develop an 81-hectare site into a shopping and gaming destination announced it had pulled out yesterday, ending a six-year impasse. The project never broke ground. BlogTO covered the development last year.

Looks like the TTC could receive a third bid for its newsstand contract. The Commission agreed to review its decision to award a sole-sourced contract extension to the company currently operating the Gateway stores in the subway system and accept rival bids. New York News will join International News in bidding for the lease, which could go for over $50 million.

Speaking of the TTC, do you think it should be more expensive to ride to work during peak times? When Presto arrives it could provide the flexibility to create off-peak fares or fare zones. Would charging more to 9-5 commuters unfairly penalize those who rely on the system to most?

Captain John's might not be sunk yet. A Hamilton-based developer wants to tow the rusting vessel - closed last year over back taxes, rent, and insurance - and turn it into a floating waterfront casino. The finer points of the plan to save the ship aren't clear but it John Letnik, the owner, told the Star "it's better than having the ship go to the scrapyard." High praise indeed.

A report by Toronto Public Health says a casino in Toronto would be a mixed bag. According to the study due to be heard by the Board of Health, a major gaming facility would be unlikely to change Toronto's unemployment rate and could syphon off revenue from other local entertainment venues. It also warns that low-income families would contribute most of the casino's revenue. Does this back up what you thought?

Plans to turn the back campus field on at the University of Toronto into an astroturf hockey arena is taking flak from students and faculty. Under the plans, the uneven turf playing area would be torn up for an artificial surface in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The negative environmental impact of fake sod is at the centre of the debate.

Finally, what could be better than cold weather, rapid drinking, a track and field event rolled into one. The Toronto Beer Mile - an alcohol-fueled scamper round a running track - has all those bases covered. Here's a video introduction.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: "City In Grey" by Acid_Punk/blogTO Flickr pool.



iSkyscraper / February 6, 2013 at 09:36 am
Bad transit reporting again by the Star. The MTA in New York charges peak fares for COMMUTER RAIL, not for subways. And the whole concept is not to pay more for rush hour to discourage use but to provide discounts to non-rush hour travel to encourage better use of a system that has high sunk costs because it is built to handle rush hour crowds.

Remember that the "report" they reference was written by a lobby group for road builders. The idea is beyond stupid.
Guy / February 6, 2013 at 09:59 am
Can we please stop with these asinine ideas of off-peak/on-peak fares? Running public transit is about volume. The more people taking a bus at once, the more profitable a route is. The less people taking it, the more expensive it is to operate.

We know people don't choose to commute during rush hour, that's insane, they have no say in it as it's simply the requirement of their job. Why should they then be the ones with the increased fare when all those people stuffing themselves onto the same subway car are the very people making it possible to operate all the other low volume routes? Penalize *those* people taking the TTC outside of rush hour with higher fares then!
Alex / February 6, 2013 at 10:14 am
Captain John's can float? I thought it was just sort of rusted into the mud. Not sure I'd feel safe going to that casino...
Mikey / February 6, 2013 at 10:43 am
Regarding Time-Based Pricing:

The strictly economic view: 9-5 commuters are probably the most PRICE-INSENSITIVE customers of the TTC and would therefore absorb majority of the fare hike without batting an eyelash (though I'm sure they would complain). This extra revenue (if not wasted on inflated union salaries) could be used towards balancing the TTCs budget and hopefully financing it's expansion. However some externalities (eg. career aspirations) might come into play and some commuters might stay an extra hour or two at work factoring in the $X a year they would save along with the potential for increased lifetime earnings.

The political & policy view: should we change pricing towards incenting more people to commute via personal vehicle in a city where (according to Stats Can) 70% of people already commute by personal vehicle, making us one of the top 5 worst cities for traffic on the continent?

The moral & ethical view: is it okay to tax commuters for the decades of neglect and mismanagement of this cities TTC??
Joe / February 6, 2013 at 11:24 am
Artificial turf still needs to be watered in the hot summer sun to cool it down! What a bad idea, financially and environmentally!
Jacob / February 6, 2013 at 11:25 am
Woodbine Live failed?

Can't say I'm surprised. It's in a grey, dreary industrial no-man's land that's extremely difficult to get to by any means other than car, and even that falls prey to the 401's legendary "rush-hour".
alex / February 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm
Charging at peak time is the stupidest idea they could've come up with. It's exactly what the subway was built for, to move lots of people efficiently. Charging less at off-peak times might be a better idea as it'll attract more riders.
Chris West / February 6, 2013 at 02:08 pm
Please tell me if I am interpreting this wrong. The person in the article can't get on the subway during rush hour because everybody else wants to do the same thing. The proposed solution is to increase the cost. What does that person plan to do when everybody else makes the same decision and eats the cost? Now you are back to the same position as before.

For me, the fact that the train is packed during rush hour is more of a deterrent than the cost.
John / February 6, 2013 at 09:32 pm
If they start charging more for peak hours on the TTC, they had better charge more for driving in peak hours too. More than the current $0 I mean.
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