Stintz: TTC not reconsidering newsstand deal
Chris Fox and Paul Johnston , cp24.com
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 4:05PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 10:05AM EST
Toronto’s mayor and the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission offered very different interpretations of a third-party review announced for a recent bid to operate newsstands and lottery kiosks in the city’s subway stations Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m glad they’ve realized they made a mistake and they’re going to revisit it,” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said at a press conference shortly before 5 p.m.
Ford’s comment comes following a memo TTC Chair Karen Stintz sent to commissioners announcing that a third-party review will be conducted on a proposal submitted to the TTC Tuesday night by International News.
The proposal was submitted in the wake of heavy criticism that was directed at Stintz for reaching a 10-year, $50 million deal with Gateway Newstands to continue operating newsstands on TTC property without a call being made for other proposals.
At a separate media conference moments after, Stintz said that the matter was not being re-examined.
“We’re not revisiting anything,” Stintz said of the approved Gateway deal. “I stand by the deal that the commission approved, that it’s a good deal for the city.”
In the memo released earlier Wednesday, Stintz said that purpose of the third-party review was to “demonstrate that the Tobmar/Gateway lease extension proposal is very solid.”
“It makes enormous business sense to extend leases for good tenants when the rents are increased by 67 per cent,” she wrote. “This is not a sole-source contract; it is a lease-extension and a very common practice throughout the TTC, the city and its agencies, boards and commissions where there is a landlord-tenant relationship.”
According to Stintz, the review will evaluate each proposal on value-for-money, the current relationship each organization has with its respective landlord and the customer-service impact on the TTC.
“If there’s new information that comes to light, I will welcome it when it comes,” she said at the press conference.
The review will be conducted before the next TTC meeting.
“I feel strongly that this review be conducted by a third-party since TTC staff have been inconsistent in their recommendations to the commission,” Stintz said in her memo. “I also believe very strongly that this issue has become a distraction to the good work that is going on at the TTC. This needs to end.”
In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, Gateway Newstands CEO Michael Aychental said the deal his company agreed to will provide the city with more revenue than the proposal from International News would due to a $1.4 bump in the previously agreed to rent for 2013 and 2014.
Aychental also said that untendered lease extensions are common in public transit and that Gateway Newstands has followed a similar process with VIA Rail and OC Transpo in Ottawa in the past.
"This is clearly the best deal for the TTC, for its ridership and for taxpayers," he said. "In every respect, the harmonization and extension of our lease agreements provides the TTC with better value than a competitive bid that appears to offer a great deal, but in fact provides far less."
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