toronto gardiner head

Morning Brew: Rob Ford faces more questions in Austin, TTC considers major shutdown, Stintz balks at fare hike, Mirvish towers head to OMB, Island jets, and U of T fees

Rob Ford can't escape questions about his friend Alessandro Lisi, even in Austin, Texas. The mayor ignored questions from reporters outside his hotel about his relationship with the Etobicoke man who was arrested on drug charges earlier this week. From the Star: "Ford remained silent when asked why Torontonians should not be concerned that people with whom he has been associated have been arrested and others shot." Ford is in the U.S. promoting cultural links.

The TTC could close a busy portion of the Yonge line next year for track replacement work. The planned shut-down, which could last two months, would see trains avoiding the section between St. Clair and Eglinton stations. No date has been set, but the aging track - over which trains are forced to crawl - needs to be replaced, says CEO Andy Byford. One solution could be a dedicated lane of traffic for shuttle buses, he says.

Meanwhile, TTC Chair Karen Stintz says the transit agency does not want to raise fares next year to help implement a proposed budget freeze, saying the city should increase its subsidy payments instead. We are at a point where we cannot continue to serve record ridership with a flat contribution from the city," she told the Globe and Mail. The TTC made a 10% budget cut in 2012.

David Mirvish says he will take his fight to build three 80-storey, Frank Gehry-designed towers on King Street West to the Ontario Municipal Board after receiving a lukewarm response from the city. "I'm bemused," Mirvish told reporters at a luncheon event. "I thought I would be welcome with open arms."

Allowing jets to operate out of the Toronto Island airport would affect boat traffic in the bay and on the lake, according to a report by a transit advocacy group. Transport Canada would require a large exclusion zone around the runway in order to meet safety standards in the event of an accident. The report by Transport Action Ontario says the city should defer its decision until the feds have a chance to inspect the proposal.

The University of Toronto is making big money from its high interest rates on late payment fees. The school pulled in $1.8 million in 2011-2012 from students who missed tuition fee deadlines, which aren't always aligned with OSAP payment schedules. Some students say it unfairly penalizes people with lower incomes.

IN BRIEF:

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

Image: George Hornaday/blogTO Flickr pool.


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