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Saturday Brew: Portraits of Smitherman, Metropass Discount for University Students, Next Phase of H1N1 Vaccine, the Decline of the East Danforth, and Pedestrian Danger

Photo: "loss" by yourhandinmine, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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

Both the Star and the Globe have prominent features on upcoming mayoral candidate George Smitherman. It's interesting to note the different approaches the writers take in alternately describing Smitherman as a "big bully" and a "tamer, gentler George." Despite these differences, they both paint the man as confident and hard working. It looks like it's going to be one hell of a battle between him and John Tory in next year's election.

University students might just get a break on their transportation costs. Of the proposals to be tabled at the TTC's next meeting, one that's getting some traction is the expansion of the student metropass to apply to university level students in addition to current high school users. Amen. I've thought they should do this for years. After all, it's really only by university that a large number of students are actually paying for their pass anyway.

The next phase of H1N1 vaccinations are set to go for Monday, as Toronto's top medical officer, Dr. Arlene King, reports that school-age children and Seniors are now on the priority list for the flu-shot. That's good news, but I wonder why it's only being made available at vaccination clinics and doctor's offices. Wouldn't it make sense to have nurses administer the vaccine at schools, thereby saving parents loads of time and hassle?

Although discussion of the state of Ossington has been popular of late and remains in the news, the decline of the Danforth is also generating interest. Despite the affluence of Greektown, crime and vandalism are on the rise east of Jones Ave. According to the article, the arrival of the subway to the area in the 1950s resulted in the loss of pedestrian traffic and local shop closures, which started the process of degeneration.

And although overall traffic fatalities around the city have significantly decreased, an abnormally high proportion of traffic-related deaths involve pedestrians. Last year about 50% of these fatalities involved pedestrians, but this year the number is up to 70%. Traffic Services spokesmen, Tim Burrows, isn't sure what the reasons for the increase are, but urges everyone to pay a little more attention -- never a bad idea.

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