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Weekend Newsstand: April 21, 2012

How many Saturdays would a Saturday Saturday if a Saturday could Saturday Saturday? Five. In the news: search continues for missing teen, drivers support more tolls and taxes if the money goes toward transit, Yonge Street road closures this weekend, the future of the land transfer tax, Rob Ford's approval rating goes up, and what to do with the five-cent bag fee.

The family and friends of Michelle Yu are asking the public for help in finding the missing teenager. The 18-year-old York Mills Collegiate student went missing on Tuesday when she was on her way to meet up with a friend. She was last seen by security cameras in a TD Bank near Queen and Bay.

Toronto drivers are saying “get out of my dreams and into my car” to road tolls, sales tax hikes, and higher parking fees, if it means relief from gridlock. According to a poll from the Pembina Institute, a sustainable energy think tank, 58 per cent of GTA drivers would be happy to fork over some extra cash to alleviate congestion, and that number climbs to 70 per cent if the money raised from the additional tolls and taxes is dedicated to rapid transit. More than that, 94 per cent of drivers say they’d rather just work from home, which could lead to more congested sidewalks, as pajama-clad dog-walkers all head to the local Starbucks around 10 a.m.

Speaking of congestion, there will be rolling road closures on and around Yonge Street on Sunday morning to accommodate a 10k road race. Closures begin at 6 a.m. and all roads should reopen again by 2 p.m.

Going into next week’s budget committee meeting, most of the councillors on that committee say they don’t want to cut the land transfer tax anytime soon. Mayor Rob Ford vowed to cut the tax back when he was campaigning, and like good politicians, it seems the councillors do not consider campaign promises to be binding legal agreements that must be implemented at any cost. The tax currently brings about $300 million a year into City coffers, and it will probably continue to do so for awhile.

It looks like little victories will have to sustain our mayor these days, as a new poll shows that Rob Ford’s approval rating is up. Yes, it has gone up. To 47 per cent. What’s more, the poll indicated that if a three-way mayoral race were held today, Ford would win. It seems the mayor still has support for some of his zanier policy proposals, like cutting the land transfer tax that provides hundreds of millions of the dollars to the City, and building subways only and not even considering any other type of transit.

And Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest) knows where retailers can take their five-cent bag fee and shove it: in the ground. Berardinetti is proposing that the money retailers currently pocket from the fee should go toward a tree-planting program, especially ahead of the decimation of the city’s tree canopy by the emerald ash borer; it’s expected that most of Toronto’s 860,000 ash trees will be gone in five years time.

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