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Morning Brew: Annual budget surplus set to shrink, the great NPS bike station mystery, Toronto is a bit like NY, Stintz preaches streetcars, and Doug Ford goes ape

The city's annual budget surplus ain't what she used to be. The latest projections show Toronto heading for just $14.3 million left over at the end of the year, which isn't much when you consider the city has an annual operating budget of $9.4 billion. Previously the surplus has been used to prop up the next year's spending. The last surplus, left over from 2011, was $102 million.

It's still not clear how the original Nathan Phillips Square bike station got shelved. The storage area with showers, revived last month, quietly vanished during the restoration of other parts of the square despite using $650,000 of its budget. The Fords say they'll try and squash the project when it comes up for final approval at the city council next week.

Yorkville is sort of like the Upper East Side and Queen West is a good surrogate for the West Village, according to New York's The Morning News. The site recommends Toronto (and Montreal) as good places for travel-hungry residents of the Big Apple to find a little piece of home. Our Chinatown is also better, apparently.

Toronto doesn't fare so well in terms of cycling development, but you already knew that. Turns out Copenhagenize doesn't think the Sherbourne Street bike lane - the only "separated" route in the city - strong enough to haul Hogtown into contention for its "Top 20 Cycling Cities" list. Montreal made the cut, coming in at number 11. Amsterdam, of course, was top.

One thing we do pretty well is streetcars. That's why the city of Cincinnati asked TTC Chair Karen Stintz to pop over and recommend ways they can forge ahead with their own struggling surface rail project. Stintz told their city council how streetcars have spurred development on King, Queen, and Bathurst streets. Doug Ford went ape, of course, calling up media outlets in Ohio to criticize Toronto's transit. Does it get any more embarrassing?

That mural Rob Ford started at Victoria Park and Kingston is done - it's got birds and cats.

Finally, users of St. Patrick subway station are going to be seeing a little more of the underground than normal. A new art installation is replacing the usual advertising posters with pictures of Toronto's impressive yet rarely seen sewer system, sans turds. The images were taken by Michael Cook, who we've featured on blogTO before, and are being shown as part of the CONTACT photography festival.


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

Image: Vik Pahwa/blogTO Flickr pool.

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