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Weekend Newsstand: May 12, 2012

It's here! The weekend! You've counted down, you've done your TGIF dance, and now, finally, it's Saturday. Soak up all the weekend vibes while you can. They're fleeting. Also, enjoy some news: the mayor's executive committee set to meet Monday to discuss casinos; a new Pan Am Games map has been released; your concerns about falling concrete have been addressed (and dismissed); Councillor Karen Stintz gets a scolding; and birds, so many birds.

On Monday, Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee will consider two anti-casino motions. One to potentially reaffirm the City’s 1997 referendum result rejecting a casino, and one requesting that the province not put a casino at Ontario Place. Also happening at this meeting, deputy mayor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) will make a request to ban councillors from being lobbied about a Toronto casino. MGM resorts has already been reaching out to councillors via a Toronto lobbying firm, and the Canadian Gaming Association has signed up with the City’s lobbyist registry. But come on Holyday, have you no faith in your fellow elected officials? Surely they wouldn’t give in to promoting private interests that easily? Oh, right.

In order to scale back on the costs associated with competing in and viewing the events, the organizers of the Pan Am Games coming to Toronto in 2015 have scaled back physically. New maps released yesterday show events taking place in just seven clusters, mostly centred around Exhibition Place. Events there will include the marathon, the cycling road race, squash, triathlon, rugby, and beach volleyball. The other clusters will be in Mississauga, Markham, Etobicoke, York University, and the Scarborough and downtown campuses of the University of Toronto, and the athletes village will be located in the Lower Don Lands. A quick tip for Liberty Village dwellers: this may be a good time to cash in that coupon for meditation that you’ve been sitting on. Start practicing getting your relaxation on now while there’s still time.

Concerned about a bump on your noggin after the two separate concrete falling incidents this week? Don’t be. Or at least, don’t get all worked up about it. This sort of thing is totally normal and no big deal! According to John Bryson, manager of structures and expressways for the City of Toronto, the concrete that has fallen over the last week has been “cover concrete,” and is simply meant to protect “structural concrete” from the elements. Bryson also told reporters that the Gardiner Expressway is “structurally sound” and that falling concrete is bound to happen from time to time. Oh. Well that’s just great. All is well, Toronto! Just go back to your everyday business of living in fear, wearing a helmet, and carrying a steel umbrella.

In news that is likely to give the mayor a satisfactory smirk, TTC Chair and City Councillor Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) got a “scolding” from a police officer when she rolled her bike through a stop instead of coming to a full stop at the stop sign at Duplex Avenue and Orchard View Boulevard around noon on Friday. At least she wasn’t texting!

If The Birds made you scared to leave your house, you might wish to revert back to that agoraphobic behaviour tonight as up to 10 million birds (mostly songbirds) fly over the city on route to breeding grounds in Northern Canada. More than 50 million are expected to pass in total, as Toronto is along a “bird superhighway.”

While it’s outside our Toronto-area mandate, it is almost impossible not to mention today’s biggest piece of news. Michael Rafferty has been found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm, and kidnapping in the death of Tori Stafford. A conviction for first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of applying for parole for 25 years.

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