TTC Chair Karen Stintz is pushing back against council critics who are calling foul on a new 10-year contract arrangement with a company that provides newsstands and lottery kiosks in subway stations.

The $50 million deal with Gateway Newstands gives the company license to continue operating newsstands, lottery kiosks and two cafes on TTC property.

Speaking with CP24 Monday, Stintz said she’s surprised to hear Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, criticizing the deal as a sole-source contract.

“It’s surprising to me that they didn’t know the details of the deal because this deal has been before the commission in various forms since October,” Stintz said.

Stintz described the deal instead as a ‘contract extension’ and said it’s the best way to get value for the city.

“What we’ve done is we’ve extended the leases for Gateway, who is already a partner in the TTC,” Stintz said. “What we’ve done is extend all the leases to a consolidated end date and in the process we’ve achieved a 67 per cent increase in our rents, retroactive payments, capital improvements and a $2 million bonus for the TTC that we actually included in this year’s budget.”

She said the mayor’s office was fully briefed in October and that no one there expressed concern about the arrangement for months afterward. Stintz said she also called the mayor’s office about the deal after Coun. Doug Ford recently made public comments suggesting it had been influenced by lobbyists. She said so far she has not heard back.

In addition to the Fords, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong has also criticized the deal. Speaking to CP24 Monday, he likened it to the Tuggs Inc. food deal in the beaches, an untendered exclusive contract signed several years ago at the behest of then area councillor Sandra Bussin.

“Two years ago Sandra Bussin said the Tuggs deal down by the waterfront was the best deal for the city,” Minnan-Wong said. “You never really know what the best deal is unless you put it out for tender and that’s what we should have done.”

The Tuggs deal landed former councillor Bussin in hot water and resulted in a libel lawsuit against Mayor Rob Ford after he referred to the deal as an example of possible corruption at city hall.

“It’s a significant lease worth a substantial amount of money and now we know that there are other bidders who would have liked to sharpen their pencils and put their bids in,” Minnan-Wong said.

Speaking to CP24 last week, Coun. Ford also likened the Gateway deal to Tuggs.

Speaking Monday, Stintz shrugged off the suggestion that she’s ‘under attack’ by the Fords as a political rival.

“I think they just don’t understand the details of the deal,” Stintz said. “I welcome the opportunity to explain those details to them so that they’ll feel more comfortable.”

A new poll released Monday suggested that in a two-way race for mayor, Stintz is the only member of council who could defeat the Rob Ford outright, with a theoretical nine-point lead.

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