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Morning Brew: Frank Di Giorgio gets the job, Woodbine Live is dead, TTC waits on bids, off-peak fares, Captain John's could sail on, casinos, and running the beer mile

Frank Di Giorgio is Toronto's new budget chief. After serving on the budget committee for the duration of Rob Ford's term as mayor, Di Giorgio was handed the job by the mayor yesterday. As the city's head of finances, the York South-Weston councillor says he'll freeze property tax and trim the land transfer tax by 10%. Sound likely?

Woodbine Live - a sprawling entertainment complex and pet project of Rob Ford that was supposed to create thousands of jobs - is now officially on the scrapheap. The company working with Woodbine Racetrack to develop an 81-hectare site into a shopping and gaming destination announced it had pulled out yesterday, ending a six-year impasse. The project never broke ground. BlogTO covered the development last year.

Looks like the TTC could receive a third bid for its newsstand contract. The Commission agreed to review its decision to award a sole-sourced contract extension to the company currently operating the Gateway stores in the subway system and accept rival bids. New York News will join International News in bidding for the lease, which could go for over $50 million.

Speaking of the TTC, do you think it should be more expensive to ride to work during peak times? When Presto arrives it could provide the flexibility to create off-peak fares or fare zones. Would charging more to 9-5 commuters unfairly penalize those who rely on the system to most?

Captain John's might not be sunk yet. A Hamilton-based developer wants to tow the rusting vessel - closed last year over back taxes, rent, and insurance - and turn it into a floating waterfront casino. The finer points of the plan to save the ship aren't clear but it John Letnik, the owner, told the Star "it's better than having the ship go to the scrapyard." High praise indeed.

A report by Toronto Public Health says a casino in Toronto would be a mixed bag. According to the study due to be heard by the Board of Health, a major gaming facility would be unlikely to change Toronto's unemployment rate and could syphon off revenue from other local entertainment venues. It also warns that low-income families would contribute most of the casino's revenue. Does this back up what you thought?

Plans to turn the back campus field on at the University of Toronto into an astroturf hockey arena is taking flak from students and faculty. Under the plans, the uneven turf playing area would be torn up for an artificial surface in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The negative environmental impact of fake sod is at the centre of the debate.

Finally, what could be better than cold weather, rapid drinking, a track and field event rolled into one. The Toronto Beer Mile - an alcohol-fueled scamper round a running track - has all those bases covered. Here's a video introduction.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: "City In Grey" by Acid_Punk/blogTO Flickr pool.

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