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Newsstand: January 31, 2014

It's Friday and you know what that means: just one more day until another disappointingly Drake-less SNL. Oh, well. News for youse: city council passed a budget, retired councillor Norm Gardner is running for mayor, and better pipelines will soon be bringing natural gas to your house.

matt newsstand wateringlawn

After heated discussions and a rancorous debate, Toronto city councillors voted 35-9 in favour of the proposed 2014 budget. This year’s budget will see a 2.23-per cent property tax increase, much to Mayor Rob Ford’s chagrin. Ford suggested a number of budgetary changes at the last moment, one of which was to charge low-income families $14 per child for applications to the Welcome Policy program, which subsidizes children’s access to recreational programs. Another suggestion was getting rid of public library security guards, whom Ford feels “are not being put to good use.” He cited a 2010 murder at the Main Street library branch, which he felt a guard would not have been able to prevent.

Former city councillor Norm Gardner filed Thursday to enter the already crowded mayoral field. Gardner, a political veteran who served on North York council, Metro Council, the amalgamated city council, and the Toronto Police Services Board, has been retired for nine years, but is re-entering the fray because of what he sees as a “lack of leadership.” He opposes Ford, but says he doesn’t “want to see the city go back to the freewheel spending that Miller had,” in reference to Olivia Chow. Gardner created some controversy while on the TPSB: in 1992, he shot a man robbing his bakery, although he was never charged. Later, while chair of the board, he accepted a handgun from a weapons manufacturer and ammunition from the Toronto police, both for personal use. Accepting ammunition from the police force led to Gardner’s suspension as TPSB chair, though that was later dismissed in court.

The Ontario Energy Board has approved energy company Enbridge’s plan to upgrade its GTA natural gas distribution system supplying Brampton, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Markham, and Toronto. The system has not been updated in over 20 years, in which time the number of customers has doubled to two million. Construction on the pipeline is set to begin in late 2014 and wrap up around October 2015.

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