Morning Brew: Toronto should get used to the idea of tolled highways, an unexpected budgetary surplus, mayor's approval rating drops, the Rouge Valley is now a national park, and Jays beat Orioles

According to University of Toronto professor, Harry Kitchen, Torontonians should get used to the idea of congestion charging and tolled highways because it's just a matter of time until we accept that as our new commuting reality thanks to inadequate and underfunded transit systems and jammed roads. Unlike most countries, Canada is mostly a toll-free nation but it wasn't always that way. Before 1895, Bloor St., Yonge St., Davenport Rd. and Kingston Rd. were all toll roads. Kitchen points to such major cities as London and Oslo and how road pricing schemes have improved their transport systems.

The city's deficit received a small reprieve yesterday after discovering it has a $88-million surplus unexpectedly generated in areas such as the municipal land transfer tax, its investment portfolio and through the sale of air rights by the Toronto Parking Authority. City managers are recommending the extra money go towards the massive $774-million shortfall for 2012 decreasing it to $689-million. Still a far way's to go, but better than nothing.

Looks like Mayor Rob Ford isn't as popular as he used to be. The latest numbers from Forum Research show that the mayor's approval rating droppedthree 3 per cent landing at 57 per cent. City residents for the most part approve of separated bike lanes and having public festivals in parks rather than on the streets. But most residents disapproved of road tolls to help pay for the Sheppard subway line. See our post from yesterday about what this might mean for the future of the line.

Per Prime Minister Stephen Harper's throne speech yesterday, the Rouge Valley is to become a national park. The 10,000 acres of greenery bordering between Scarborough and Pickering represents Canada's largest natural environment park in an urban setting. The designation will protect the natural area from future development


Photo by supra sean in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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