Doug Ford is slamming a decision not to rename a stadium at Centennial Park in honour of his brother, former mayor Rob Ford, saying he’s “very disappointed but not surprised.”
City council voted 24-11 Wednesday night against renaming the site Centennial Park Rob Ford Memorial Stadium. Rob Ford, who became mayor in 2010, died of cancer in March 2016 at age 46.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” Doug Ford told CBC Toronto after the vote, saying the “fix was in” days before it ever took place. “A lot of the councillors are taking this more politically, more personal. It’s unfortunate that’s the way they operate down there.”
Rob Ford rose to prominence as a city councillor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North, quickly gaining a reputation as a cost-cutting crusader with everyman appeal. In his 2010 mayoral campaign, his calls to “stop the gravy train” and slash spending resonated with voters, propelling him to victory.
He became an international celebrity in 2013, after reports of a video of him smoking crack cocaine emerged. Afterward, he confessed to smoking crack cocaine but did not step down as mayor. Council ultimately stripped him of most of his mayoral powers late in 2013.
‘Rob did so many great things’
Reacting to the vote, Doug Ford pointed to other city sites that have been renamed in recent years in memory of late politicians, including the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. Last week, Tory voiced his support for finding ways to publicly recognize late councillors Ron Moeser and Pam McConnell, who both died in 2017.
“The thing that makes me laugh is not one of them who voted against him did one one-thousandths or were … one-one-thousandths as popular Rob was … Rob did so many great things for thousands of youth, hundreds of thousands of people around the city for a long period of time.
In 2014, a cancer diagnosis forced Rob Ford to bow out of his second mayoral race, with the disease ultimately taking his life two years later.
Calls for a permanent Ford memorial cropped up in the days after his death, with Tory responding at the time that he wasn’t going to rush any plans.
Centennial Park was quickly raised as the site of a possible memorial, with duelling petitions springing up in favour and against the Ward 3 park being renamed “Rob Ford Memorial Park.”
In March 2017, Doug Ford — who recently announced his intention to run again for mayor in the 2018 election — issued calls for the stadium inside the park to be renamed.
“In light of his many years of work on football programs in Etobicoke,” wrote Tory in a letter outlining his recommendation, “it is fitting that city council should rename the football stadium at Centennial Park.”
Among those who voted in favour of renaming the stadium for Ford Wednesday evening were Tory, Stephen Holyday, Glenn De Baeremaeker and the recently ousted Etobicoke deputy mayor Vincent Crisanti, who drew Tory’s ire by publicly backing Doug Ford’s mayoral campaign at the recent Ford Fest.
Asked if he would lead a push for another site to be named in his brother’s honour, Doug Ford replied:
“We could name our backyard after Rob and they’d try to shoot that down.”