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Morning Brew: Bixi bike sharing in Toronto, Build Toronto projects revealed, OpenFile launches, racial discrimination in taxi industry, break and enter suspect nabbed, shortage of neurosurgeons costing taxpayers

The Bixi bike sharing program is coming to Toronto. City council voted in favour of the proposal, which will see 1000 public-use bikes strategically placed throughout the downtown core. Users can either apply for membership (which has certain privileges) but tourists and other one-off users will also be able to approach any of the solar powered docking stations and use a credit card to rent a bike. Some councilors expressed concerns over the financials, since the City has signed on as a guarantor for the loan used to fund the project, and others are not happy that half of the profits generated will go to Montreal.

Build Toronto, the agency tasked with generating monies from underused city land, is set to reveal its first four major projects. The Globe and Mail has some early but vague details about what these projects are: the recently proposed TTC headquarters in York Mills, a massive office and residential complex at Downsview subway station, a condo development at Front and Sherbourne, and a yet-to-be-revealed development on a vacant industrial lot (Westwood? Kipling?) in Etobicoke.

Yesterday saw the launch of a highly-anticipated new journalism project dubbed "OpenFile." Wilf Dinnick, whose extensive career spans roles at news agencies including CBC, Global, ABC and CNN, has devised a local news concept and site that aims to bring about a higher level of interaction between the citizens and the reporters. While the idea is not really that different from what's being done by local news agencies and blogs (who seek out and handle news tips from the public regularly, and allow readers to contribute commentary and multi-media to build on stories), the presentation is somewhat different in that these processes are more readily observed out in the open.

Taxi licensing in Toronto has been fraught with problems for a long time, and way back in 1998 a task force was supposed to reveal and fix issues related to racial discrimination in the industry. Years later, it appears that the problem has not been fully solved... and there are calls to once again look into allegations of racial discrimination in taxi licensing. Higher-level (or "standard") licensing is dominated by Caucasian owner, while entry-level (or "ambassador") licensing is occupied largely by visible minorities. Having a standard license allows the taxi owner to hire shift workers and earn money round the clock, while ambassador licenses only allow owners to operate their cabs 12h per day.

Police have apprehended a break and enter suspect who they believe is responsible for a number of crimes in the area bounded by Dundas, Dupont, Bathurst and Lansdowne. They'd previously issued a warning to residents -- because there was concern that the suspect would become violent -- which may have helped put them on higher alert and watch.

On the weekend, a patient in Toronto requiring emergency surgery on a life-threatening brain aneurysm had to be flown down to Buffalo for care because a doctor was simply not available. Evidently, shortages of qualified neurosurgeons and other medical care specialists in Toronto and across the province is costing taxpayers a lot of money. How can we make our neck of the woods more attractive to professionals in the field?

Photo: "Dirty Water" by sniderscion, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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