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Weekend Newsstand: December 8, 2012

If you aren't already sick of Christmas songs, then it's time to get sick of Christmas songs because it's shopping day in the city. Or drinking egg nog inside day. Your call. In the news: underground infrastructure already in place beneath the waterfront, possible shut-down for Bloor West Village fire station, unused money for Gardiner repairs, security boost needed after York U sexual assaults, TDSB in trouble with provincial government, and a panda gender mix-up.

Do you ever look at the city’s waterfront and think, Man, not much going on there. Well have you ever tried looking through the top-layers of the earth’s surface to double-check if anything is going on underground along the waterfront? Oh, you did. Okay. So you know that there’s been a lot infrastructure being laid down ahead of plans to build an underground city most of us can flee to should the need arise to develop the land. All sorts of gas lines and power lines and sewer systems have to be built before other things can be, and that process is well underway.

Bloor West Village’s fire station may be closing down in the the face of budget cuts. The historic, hilly little berg in the west end just got notice on Friday that the station will close January 1 in an attempt to freeze the Toronto Fire Services budget. Locals and Councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13, Parkdale-High Park) are burning with rage, saying the cut will affect service. Fire Chief Jim Sales said in a memo that nearby stations, such as the other station in Swansea, could easily pick up the slack.

Wait, so is the Gardiner going to crush us all to death or what? Only math knows for sure. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) sounded the alarm earlier in the week about money budgeted for Gardiner repairs in the past not being used. But now the City’s director of design and construction says that’s just a thing that happens in the world of construction. Money budgeted for projects is often an over-estimation, and if the money is not used, sometimes it will carry over. So Minnan-Wong’s numbers may include some double-counts. But the councillor says those details are insignificant—what matters is the highway is up in the air and it’s starting to fall apart, and that’s a bad combination.

There are calls once again for York University to increase security after a series of sexual assaults on the North Toronto campus in the last month. And though the school has added security personnel and Toronto police have beefed up patrols in the area, students say it’s not enough. A student leader suggests installing more lights on campus, implementing key card systems, and adding more monitored security cameras.

The province is threatening to send the Toronto District School Board to their room so the grown-ups at the Ontario government can handle the mess. The school board has been facing some financial difficulties and a recent auditors report shows that bad management can be partially to blame. The province offered to send in a team to help, but the board couldn’t decide if they wanted that. So now the province might just swoop in anyway.

Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. But can two lady pandas do it? Well, they can do it of course (right?), but it turns out a panda set for a so-called breeding loan from China to the Toronto Zoo might not do too much breeding since she’s a female. The lady panda hadn’t been transferred yet, and now that the mistake has been discovered China is going to send a male instead.

CORRECTION: December 8, 2012, 11:50 AM This article originally stated that the fire station slated to be shut down is in Swansea, when actually the affected neighbourhood is Bloor West Village.

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