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Weekend Newsstand: January 25, 2014

Get outside and enjoy some weekend, kids! But before you do that, definitely sit inside and read this news: there's going to be a huge battle over the city budget this week, the TTC is considering a time-based transfer system (but also any change at all might bring the whole organization to its knees), and porcine epidemic diarrhea hit a farm in Ontario—but don't worry, frienderinos, it's not going to affect humans. It's not. They promise it won't.

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There’s a potential city budget, but nobody likes it. Even Mayor Rob Ford and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly agree on that much. Ford dislikes the budget’s plan to spend revenue on program enhancements even though it sticks to his cut-off of a 1.75-per-cent property tax increase and also includes funding for his pet Scarborough subway extension; Kelly thinks property taxes need a larger increase, of 2.23 per cent, to leave the budget balanced. Other councillors are upset over too much spending here, too little spending there, and in fiscal conservative Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong’s (Ward 34, Don Valley East) case, too much pork (spending, not meat). The budget goes to council next week, so look out for an epic battle at city council on Wednesday.

The TTC is considering moving to a time-based transfer system rather than its current nightmare one-way, continuous-trip system. Under the potential new system, riders would be able to use their transfer to move around wherever they like, get off the TTC to run errands or what have you, and get back on the TTC as many times as they need or want in a set period of time without paying an additional fare. Imagine going for groceries and not having to pay $6 for the trip! (Or using the same transfer to get home, which is Illegal and Immoral.) The drawback to this is that it will result in a loss of revenue for the cash-strapped TTC; spokesperson Brad Ross said that if the TTC instituted a 90-minute transfer, the loss in annual revenue would likely be around $12 million. For a two-hour transfer, that would jump up to $20 million. The lost revenue would be counterbalanced to some degree by more people riding the system, but then that would strain the system. Maybe the TTC just needs some more money so that all its dreams, and by extension the dreams of the hard-working people riding the TTC on the reg, can come true.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea has hit pigs in Ontario, but Premier Kathleen Wynne insists it is “not a human health issue. This is strictly an animal health issue.” The outbreak, at a southwestern Ontario pig farm, was confirmed Friday by the Canada Food Inspection Agency. The debate for officials now is whether or not to “depopulate” the herd (yes, it means what you think it means). While the disease is highly contagious, officials say it is limited to one herd on the farm. No one seems worried about anything happening to people, so if you eat pork, don’t let this ruin your appetite. If you don’t eat pork, you’re definitely in the clear and you can probably get away with a smug look or two at some bacon-eating brunchers this weekend.

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