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Morning Brew: "green" con artists, Smitherman urges City to rethink arena plans for Lower Don Lands, Markham nixes plan to protect foodbelt, Paula Fletcher's errant vote a good thing for cyclists, Gardiner closed for maintenance

The Star does the investigative reporting thing with its lead today, targeting green building practices and their lack of regulation. And although the focus is held pretty tightly on two members -- a geothermal contractor and an eco consultant/developer -- the article does manage to paint a picture of an industry in which it's all too easy to gain expert accreditation and subsequently dupe clients.

Mayoral candidate George Smitherman is urging the City to reconsider plans to build a four-pad arena on the Lower Don Lands site. Calling the idea a "fatal mistake," Smitherman proposes that the City build a stacked complex instead. "It's supposed to be an area that invites people not just to come here, but to live here, and I think the principles of mixed-use for this whole area are at risk with this proposal," Smitherman surmised on the site of the proposed project yesterday. Too bad that Smitherman won't be at the first televised mayoral debate (May 18, CP24) to defend his thinking -- because I think he's absolutely right about this.

Markham City Council has voted against a plan to protect farmland north of Major Mackenzie Drive. Instead of freezing development on the 2000 hectares of land, councillors voted 7-6 for a model that would see 60% of new development contained within the current urban boundary while the remainder would be allowed to spread onto the foodbelt. Due to how close the vote was, questions of developer influence are being raised by some critics. Two of the councillors who participated in the vote have children who work for developers, but each maintained that there was no conflict of interest.

Councillor David Shiner has an intriguing take on colleague Paula Fletcher's errant vote on the University Avenue bike lanes proposal. He thinks that she might actually have saved other proposed lanes across the city. Citing the University project as a potential sticking point, his argument is that once it was out of the way, councillors were happy to vote in favour of the rest of the bikeway network (which they did, 26-2). I wonder if this makes Fletcher any less embarrassed about her mistake...

Motorists beware! The Gardiner in closed for annual maintenance this weekend, meaning that driving around the lake is going to be a pain the ass. You'd think that they'd do the work when the Jays are on a road trip, but they're set to play the Texas Rangers shortly after 1 p.m. both today and tomorrow. If you're driving in the area, it might be useful to think of your plight as a mini warm-up for the G20.

Photo: "downtown ferry" by syncros, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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