Take marathons off Toronto's roads: Ford
Mayoral race frontrunner Rob Ford said he wants to take marathons off Toronto streets and into the parks after a weekend run closed a number of downtown roads.
"If we have to use the roads maybe once or twice a year, people can understand it," he told CP24 Monday.
"But I think we're using the roads one too many times and it's really frustrating for people trying to get in and out of the city."
He said the marathons could be held in Toronto parks such as High Park or Downsview Park, and on bike paths. "Every year, we have the same problem over and over again," he told CTV News. "People just say: 'Oh well, it's a marathon. We're just shutting down the city."
George Smitherman, Ford's main opponent, reacted with scorn.
"Can you imagine the mayor of Boston saying: 'Gosh all mighty, we better get that damned marathon off our streets. It's causing too much tourism.'"
Both his mayoral opponents and marathon organizers said Toronto parks and bike paths do not have the capacity to handle large marathons.
Ford made the comments one day after the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, in which more than 20,000 runners took part. Another such event, the Goodlife Fitness Marathon, is scheduled to take place in three weeks.
Mayoral competitor Rocco Rossi called Ford's comments an example of "small vision" and said Toronto is a major city that should have a signature marathon.
Rival Joe Pantalone said Ford did not research his idea to move marathon to the parks.
"For a marathon you need clearance, you need streets that are safe, you need sidewalks. Councillor Ford thinks all you need is to go to a park with a tiny path, with hills on the side and have 20,000 people (running)," he told CP24. "It won't work."
Organizers also note that Toronto's marathons bring in millions in tourism dollars. The events are also major fundraisers for charity.
The Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon raised more than $2.7 million for charity on the weekend.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Alicia Markson