Morning Brew: Brick Works graffiti will be reviewed for cultural merit, debit cards might replace welfare cheques, spies told to keep it on the DL, Kessel doesn't talk to Wilson, and Jack Layton hands out lucky money in Chinatown

The City of Toronto and Evergeen, the organization that runs the Brickworks, have agreed that the heritage site's graffiti will be reviewed for cultural merit--with an eye toward determining which daubings are historically or artistically relevant. Elizabeth Glibbery, the city's manager of investigative services for Toronto and East York, said heritage preservation officials will take up to 18 months to study the "cultural value" of the murals and tags. Their review, she added, will only land on the agenda of the Toronto and East York Community Council in 2012 or 2013. Ms. Glibbery said there's "heightened concern" about graffiti in the wake of the Mayor's pledge to clean up the city, but acknowledged she wasn't aware of previous complaints or citations against the Brick Works.

Toronto has taken the first step in replacing welfare cheques with reloadable electronic cards, similar to debit cards, a move that would allow thousands of welfare recipients to avoid payday lenders' high cheque-cashing fees. The adoption of cards is, however, not imminent. The city has asked interested companies to answer 37 preliminary questions by Feb. 18, one on how long it would take to establish a card system. Toronto employment and social services general manager Heather MacVicar called the request "purely exploratory."

Today Budget chief Mike Del Grande's request for city councillors to freeze their own salaries rather than take a cost of living increase will be up for discussion. According to rules of procedure, his call, seconded by Coun. Doug Ford, needs the support of two-thirds of council to be debated at Monday and Tuesday's council meeting. Former budget chief Shelley Carroll countered by noting that councillors have more important work than to descend into a charged discussion about their pay. "We could get on with our work rather than gaze at our navels," she said.

Canadian spies are being warned to refrain from wearing polo shirts and hoodies that basically state: "I'm a spy." The hush-hush reminder to employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service advises keeping memorabilia emblazoned with the distinctive CSIS crest away from curious eyes. The items are sold in a secret shop tucked away on the lower level of CSIS headquarters in Ottawa, and made available to employees posted elsewhere through the agency's online memorabilia catalogue. The souvenirs -- which also include key chains, mugs, pens and plaques -- are supposed to offer members of the intelligence service "a tangible sense of belonging to the organization," says an internal CSIS article obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. I hate to break it to them, but I have a CSIS mug too.


Photo by AshtonPal in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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