Morning Brew: Hockey to Return to the Gardens?, St. Paul's By-Election, Sentencing in D. B. Case, Palm Tree Takers?, and a Rain-less September

Photo: "More bokeh's locked away..." by Daifuku Sensei [ on & off ], member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

What's happening in the GTA (and sometimes beyond):

Talks are underway between Ryserson University and the Loblaws supermarket chain regarding the future of Maple Leaf Gardens. Although details are scarce, the two sides are discussing a joint-use relationship of the site that would see it operate as a supermarket and athletic centre. At present, Ryerson's athletic facilities lack a hockey rink, and every student has committed to an extra fee of 126 dollars a year to fund improvements. Although Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment can veto any use of the Gardens as a major sports venue, it's unlikely that varsity teams would cause much concern (they need to worry more about the Hamilton Coyotes). I was always a hopeless fan of this old barn, and the possibility that it might see some hockey games again is exciting news to me.

Amid controversy over the harmonized sales tax and more than one spending scandal, the by-election battle for the midtown riding of St. Paul's is expected to much tighter than in the past. The last election in 2007 saw Michael Bryant -- who recently stepped down for reasons most are familiar with by now -- win by 9000 some odd votes, but fears of voter apathy are making this a nail-biter for the Liberal candidate Eric Hoskins. He's running against Toronto Sun columnist and Tory candidate Sue-Ann Levy and Julian Heller of the NDP. Despite the anticipated low turnout, at a minimum this should provide a reasonable indication of how the HST is being received by the voting public.

The sentencing hearing for the young man who can only be identified as D. B. -- convicted in the stabbing death of Stefanie Rengel earlier this year -- got underway yesterday with the reading of psychological reports and heart-wrenching victim impact statements. Dr. Lisa Ramshaw painted a picture of D. B. as someone with deep-seated aggression and a lack of maturity. A risk assessment on the possibility of him re-offending in the next ten years theorized that there was a 58% chance of such an eventuality.

In decidedly lighter news, the owner of a 30 year old palm tree is looking to give it a new home because of its massive size. Owners Heather and Ian Blumer can no longer manage the tree, which at 25ft is threatening to break through a skylight in their home. Despite have tried to give the tree away for the last two years -- including taking an ad out on craigslist (I wonder if it made the 'best of' list?) -- the size of the tree and the fact that it cannot survive outdoors has made this a near impossible task. Interested?

And, after a one of the wettest summers in recent memory, we've now gone all of September without any rain. According to Environment Canada, Toronto has't seen even a drop of rain since August 31st. This is particularly interesting because, historically speaking, September sees the the highest number of rain days of any given month. I'm certainly not complaining, but a stat like that makes me fear what the next two weeks will be like.

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