toronto homeless

Morning Brew: Entertainment District Homeless Shelter Costs, TTC Union Election, Queen's Park Disruptions, Food Bank Demand Way Up, Billboard Tax Debate, Canadian Tire Coin

Photo: "My Place in the City 2" by PDPhotography, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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

Remember the controversial homeless shelter that the city decided to build in the heart of the Entertainment District? It's set to open in March of 2010, but initial costs are ballooning (numbers are up to $250,000 per bed already) and operating costs have not even been determined or included. It seemed like a ridiculous endeavour in the first place, given the questionable location and insanely high development costs.

Is there enough non-confidence in TTC union boss Bob Kinnear to see him unseated by his sole challenger for re-election by the union's members? Cosimo Lacaria says that if elected, he'll issue an apology to both the union and the public - for the decision to strand them when the TTC went on strike late at night, without advanced notice last year.

Progressive Conservative MPPs Bill Murdoch and Randy Hillier continue to cause a ruckus at the provincial legislature at Queen's Park, in protest of the Liberals handling of the proposed Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). On Monday night they staged an all-night sit-in (how was the pizza, boys?), and yesterday they prompted a stall to Question Period. It may seem disruptive, but it could be far worse (see embedded video below):

Food bank use in Ontario is reaching staggering numbers. They're seeing an overall increase in demand of 19% over last year, one third of people using the food bank have jobs but can't afford living costs, and one on four food banks have had to reduce the amount of food going into each package delivered to the needy. Times are tough, so if you're doing well or can do with a little less, please give.

City Council is thick in debate over proposed bylaws related to taxation and governance of legal and illegal advertising billboards across Toronto. Some think we should increase taxes and crack down on offenders, while others believe that we're too strict already and should allow more "cutting edge" electronic signs. The vote was supposed to go down yesterday but has been postponed to today.

And Canadian Tire is reportedly set to introduce a $1 coin and announce a revamping of their long-standing customer loyalty program. Hopefully they do away with the silly $0.05 and $0.10 bills (or paper bills altogether) and adopt something more 21st century (like an electronically swiped rewards card). It'd be interesting to see how they'd implement the transition, because it's perhaps a model for how the TTC might do the same.

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