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Morning Brew: Maple Leaf Gardens to be Recommissioned, Presto Transit Card Pilot Begins, Paying Homeless to Commit Crimes, Queen's Quay Condo and Exhibition Place Hotel Designs, Future of Toronto Zoo's Elephant Exhibit

Photo: "Maple Leaf Gardens [3]" by Rick Harris, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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

Maple Leaf Gardens will finally be getting a major overhaul and once again host skaters and ice and hot chocolate (and a grocery store). Ryerson University is doling $20m to keep the ice surface and build athletics facilities (through student fees), the federal government will be kicking in $20m, and Loblaws and Ryerson will fundraise for the final $20m ($5m of which has already been donated by Loblaws). This sounds like a plan that everyone can be happy with, doesn't it?

Presto, the much anticipated and long-overdue automatic transit fare payment system, is officially in pilot program stage in the GTA. Metrolinx has equipped 75 transit users with a Presto card, which will be used to pay fare at a currently (very) limited number of locations. But in the coming years, the system will be expanded to include several transit authorities in Toronto and surrounding areas. Eventually, it should be adopted by the entire TTC system and allow for easy payment when traveling on multiple transit systems.

Paying a drug-addicted homeless person a couple hundred bucks to go into a high-end store to steal pricey merchandise (like a $4000 designer lamp) is pretty low, but police believe that it's been happening here in Toronto. Studio B on King East has seen it happen a few times recently (see embedded video footage below).

A 36-storey condo plan (by famed architect Moshe Safdie) for Queen's Quay East sounds like it'll be quite the building. Filling an area that's currently no-man's-landish, the aim is create a place that's regarded as a "wonderful environment to live in," with "gardens in the sky" views of Sherbourne Park and the Lake.

In other development news, City Hall has approved the design and construction of a hotel on the grounds of Exhibition Place, and previous concerns about a potential conflict of interest have been quashed.

And in sad news, the Toronto Zoo has lost another of its eldest residents. For the fourth time in as many years, an elephant has passed on, prompting debate about the future of the long-standing elephant exhibit. Should they get a few more animals, or phase it out?


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