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Morning Brew: RCMP at the G20 meeting, animal costume rentals, road tolls to pay for new subways, summer Gardiner and Lakeshore construction, mega doda bust, brazen thefts in hospital

In preparation for the G20 meetings in Toronto in June, the RCMP appear to be either taking security extremely seriously and stepping it up in a big way, or giving a staggering number of officers an opportunity to be tourists for a few days. The police are aiming to reserve 5,500 hotel rooms per night for nine nights, a number that nearly doubles the requirements for the last meeting in Pittsburgh in September of 2009.

It's hard to put a price on community engagement and the happy smiles of children, but councilor Adrian Heaps is standing strong and defending the $439.50 he spent and expensed to rent a few animal mascot costumes for an annual family ice skating event in Scarborough in 2009. Chipper the Chipmunk, Baby Billy the Brown Bear, and Peggy the Penguin also made an appearance at the event this February.

Mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson says she has a solution curb our traffic congestion problems and provide a huge boost in funding for much needed public transit expansion. A temporary $5 toll for use of the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner that would be in effect for 10 years, would generate $500-million per year; enough to build 58km of new subways at a cost of $13-billion. And then she woke up.

Commuters who use the Gardiner and Lakeshore Boulevard are in for some higher than usual patience-testing starting in May. A slew of resurfacing and bridge repair work is going to result in several ongoing lane reductions and road closures. Given the nature of our city's highways, I suspect there will be some spillover effect onto the 401 and other major east/west in-town arteries as well, and air conditioning use (along with road rage potential) is going to go up.

Police seized a whopping 1,282 kilograms (an estimated $2.5million worth) of doda, a highly addictive, illegal "spice" derived from poppy husks, that when consumed results in a euphoric high similar to but milder than morphine or heroin.

Recognize these two men? They're wanted for theft of a most lowlife nature after a woman was robbed of her jewelry as she lay near death in her Toronto East General hospital bed. The patient died before police arrived to investigate the thefts, but surveillance video has a rather clear image of the suspects.

Photo: "Bikelaned" by Trevor Haldenby, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.


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