Council approves Raptors' facility, bans e-cigarettes at city work spaces
Joshua Freeman and Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Monday, August 25, 2014 11:17AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 25, 2014 6:09PM EDT
As city council works through the lengthy list of agenda items at the last meeting of the term, two big ticket items have been given the green light, including a ban on e-cigarettes at city work spaces and a new Raptors' practice facility on Exhibition grounds.
The agenda for the final meeting includes some 400 items, representing an array of issues from election signs to coordinating traffic light signals.
Council passed the motion on e-cigarettes by a vote of 36-2 Monday near the start of its final meeting, which is expected to be a marathon session that could last days.
The city also passed a motion to ask the province to place restrictions on e-cigarettes that are similar to those already in place for regular cigarettes.
With the exception of Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, council members voted in favour of leasing land to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment for the new $30-million Raptors practice facility at Exhibition Place.
Mayor Ford said he voted against the MLSE motion because a stipulation to dedicate 10 per cent of the facility's use to youth in Toronto Community Housing was not included.
“It is very simple. I asked MLSE to consider 10 per cent for Toronto Community Housing. The city manager agreed with it," Ford said. "This is just another slap in their face for no reason."
With an election coming up at the end of October, councillors are expected to take the opportunity to have their final say of the term and to use their time to show constituents they’re worth keeping around.
“Given that it’ll be folks’ last opportunity to kick the can before the election, I think there will be lots to say,” Ward 8 Coun. Anthony Perruzza told CP24. “A number of folks will be running for re-election so they will want to put their best foot forward.”
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker put forward a motion to shorten the window candidates have to post campaign signs before the election. He proposed that candidates only be allowed to post signs 14 days before the election.
The mayor spoke out aganist the proposal Monday, telling CP24 that the change would make it difficult for those challenging incumbents to get their name out.
"You can start technically voting on Tuesday, Oct. 14. If 14 days passed, people that are running against the councillors and the councillors would be able to put their signs up one day before people start to vote," Ford said.
“The election signs should be for 25 days so it is a level playing field... The incumbents, councillors, I believe want a short time so their competition can’t come out and advertise."
Council voted to defer the motion until 2015.
Wong Tam wears pink to protest Ford
While some councillors described the tone of the meeting as being akin to ‘the last day of class,’ some councillors are using the meeting to signal that there’s one council member they’d rather not have as a classmate next year.
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam wore pink to the meeting and took to Twitter to explain the gesture Monday.
“First day of the last #TOcouncil meeting of 2010-14. Wearing pink to commemorate the end of #RobFord as Toronto's worst mayor ever,” Wong-Tam wrote on Twitter.
Speaking with CP24 during Monday’s session, Wong-Tam said she sees Ford as a bully and she chose pink as a colour to protest bullying.
“Under Ford we’ve seen scare tactics and intimidation,” Wong-Tam said.
“I don’t want him to come back. He’s been a huge distraction to council,” she said.
She also said her choice of colour is a play on the start of council’s term when sports broadcaster Don Cherry helped induct Ford as mayor and called Ford’s non-supporters “pinkos.”
Wong-Tam, who is council’s only openly gay member, has described Ford as being hostile toward the city’s LGBT community.
Still, some Ford opponents criticized the move as presupposing who might win re-election.
“In that last council session you have to be respectful of one another and be keenly aware that some of us might not be back. And you don’t know who,” Coun. Shelley Carroll said.
The meeting also marks the last for a number of councillors who will not be seeking re-election, including Coun. Karen Stintz, who last week ended her mayoral bid and said she was leaving politics; and Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and campaign manager.
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