Morning Brew: TTC Essential Service Bill Stalls, $50k Reward in String of Bank Robberies, New Porter Terminal, G20 Summit Security Costs, Highway 401 Morning Closure, Ice Dance Gold

Photo: "hitch" by jentse, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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

So much for that. Liberal backbencher David Caplan's private member's bill, which aimed to declare the TTC an essential service (and thereby prevent labour strikes) has been instantly squashed by the provincial government. In order for the province to consider the declaration, a request must first come from City Hall, and since City Hall's stance is that it'll cost us more to deal in arbitration under essential service status, the request is highly unlikely. Interestingly, both George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi welcome the bill, and a large majority of polled blogTO readers also support the bill.

A total of seven armed bank robberies within a span of just a few weeks are believed to be the dirty work of the same people, and the Canadian Banker's Association is now posting a $50,000 reward for information leading to their arrest. The robberies have all been confined to northern parts of (and north of) Toronto, and authorities have expressed concern in the past - particularly about their tendencies to get violent.

Porter Airlines, which has essentially been handed a four-year monopoly on civilian passenger traffic in and out of the Billy Bishop (Island) Airport via the federal government's Toronto Port Authority, previewed its new $50-million terminal (set to open on March 7th). Just 5 years ago, the island airport had a mere 22,000 passengers per year flow through, and now it's up to 1.3million annually - almost all being Porter customers. The TPA plans to allow additional carriers to scoop up a limited number of flight spots onto the island, but Air Canada has already cried foul and is already actively in court on the issue.

It's being billed as part of the largest security event in Canadian history, and it's going to cost Torontonians a fair amount of time and frustration because the feds want to do it at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (i.e. right in the heart of the city). While prepared to share in the burden, David Miller is looking to the feds to sign a bond, ensuring City Hall that it won't be stuck with huge costs for security and vandalism. Good call, Miller. We shouldn't be stuck with these costs.

The 401 and other arteries are a commuter mess this morning, after a transport truck carrying particle board crashed and spilled its load (and diesel) onto the westbound express lanes near Yonge. The cleanup and repairs won't be completed before the morning rush hour.

And while many Canadians are still riling after hugely disappointing results in downhill skiing, bobsled, men's ice hockey, speed skating and more, there is some solace to be found in a gold medal in... ice dance! Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir became the youngest pair to ever win an ice dance Olympic gold. Watch the magic, folks.

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