City council votes against 'Rob Ford Memorial Stadium'
The late Rob Ford will not have a stadium named after him following a vote by city council on Wednesday night.
City council voted 24-11 against renaming the stadium at Centennial Park after Toronto’s former mayor.
The vote took place after Mayor John Tory recommended the Ford dedication in a letter issued to city councillors on Sept 27.
“Councillor Ford’s community involvement went well beyond politics,” the letter said. “He was passionate about the game of football and founded the Newtonbrook North Stars football team in 1989.”
Ford died in March 2016 at the age of 46 after being diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer.
At city hall on Wednesday night, Tory told city councillors he had been asked to recommend this motion by the Ford family. He asked councillors to vote based on their personal feelings and what their constituents would want.
“I also recognize the fact that we cannot erase history or gloss over very difficult parts of our city’s past and I know that some of the mayor’s former actions and comments while in office were hurtful and disrespectful to some,” Tory said at the meeting.
Prior to the vote city councillor for Ward 26 Jon Burnside – who voted against the stadium being renamed – said there should be a wait of between 5 and 10 years before naming something after a person in the city.
“I do appreciate the generous intent of this motion,” he said. “Unfortunately, I can’t support it.”
“This is obviously a very polarizing debate in regards to Centennial Stadium. However, I think the question is actually bigger than one person. To me, we need to shift our focus and do more to recognize everyday citizens – people who have dedicated hours of their lives to make our city better.”
The suggestion to rename the stadium initially came from Rob Ford’s brother, Doug Ford.
Speaking with CP24 on the phone on Wednesday night, former city councillor Doug Ford said he is “very disappointed” with the vote.
“We’re disappointed but I’m not surprised with the council that we have down there,” he said. “I’ve worked with them for a number of years and it’s disappointing because Rob gave thousands and thousands of hours back to his community. It’s disappointing but I guess that’s politics and that’s really what it comes down to -- is sheer politics.”
“It’s disappointing that they’re still going after him as he’s been passed away for a year and a bit now.”
Doug Ford announced on Sept. 8 he will be challenging Tory for the mayor’s seat for the second time in the next Toronto municipal election, which is scheduled to be held on Oct. 22, 2018.
City council voted 33-2 on Wednesday night in favour of discussing ways to honour Ward 44 Coun. Ron Moenser and Ward 28 Coun. Pam McConnell, who both passed away earlier this year.
Moeser died at the age of 74 in April after a battle with cancer and McConnell died at the age of 71 in July after being hospitalized for an ongoing health issue involving her lungs.
Nine city councillors were absent for both of these votes on Wednesday night.