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Could Rob Ford soon have a Toronto stadium named after him?

A motion set to be discussed during a council meeting on Wednesday will consider naming a football stadium at Etobicoke's Centennial Park after late Toronto mayor Rob Ford.   (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
A motion set to be discussed during a council meeting on Wednesday will consider naming a football stadium at Etobicoke's Centennial Park after late Toronto mayor Rob Ford. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

The football stadium at Etobicoke's Centennial Park could soon bear a new name — the Rob Ford Stadium.

That is, if some members at city council get the green light.

A motion has been added to the agenda of next week's council meeting to discuss renaming the stadium after the late mayor, who was once a prolific high school football coach. The motion is even garnering support from Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow — who ran against Rob Ford's brother — now Premier Doug Ford, in the 2014 mayoral election. Her office confirmed Friday she will support the motion.

Coun. Paul Ainslie, who represents Ward 24, Scarborough-Guildwood, is tabling the motion. He says in the motion that the City of Toronto has recognized former mayors, including Mel Lastman with Mel Lastman Square, Barbara Hall with Barbara Hall Park and June Rowlands with June Rowlands Park.

Late Mayor Rob Ford previously coached high school football at Centennial Stadium, both before and during his time in City Council chambers.
Late Mayor Rob Ford previously coached high school football at Centennial Stadium, both before and during his time in City Council chambers.

Former mayor Rob Ford previously coached high school football at Centennial Stadium, both before and during his time in City Council chambers. (CBC)

"All of those who served with Rob Ford on Council knew that he had two passions — representing his constituents not only across the city but in particular in his home community of Etobicoke, and football," the motion reads.

Coun. Shelley Carroll, who represents Ward 17, Don Valley North, is seconding the motion. For it to be considered by council, the motion requires the votes of two-thirds of city council members.

Motion has previously gone before council

This isn't the first time the city has considered renaming the stadium after the football coach-turned mayor.

In 2017, just over a year after Ford's death, then mayor John Tory backed a motion to name the stadium in Ford's honour. Council voted against it, 24 to 11. His brother, who was a past city councillor, said the "fix was in" days before the vote even happened.

Ainslie was one of the councillors who said 'no' to Ford's namesake being on the park at the time.

Now, in his motion, Ainslie said it's the right time, citing upgrades coming to the park.

"As Centennial Park undergoes a significant re-imagining through the Centennial Park Master Plan, approved by City Council in 2021, the time is appropriate to consider renaming the Centennial Park Stadium the 'Rob Ford Stadium' in recognition of his decade and a half of public service."

Not all councillors on board for name change

While some councillors support the move, not all are in favour.

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul's, told CBC Toronto in a statement that there are people more deserving of such an honour.

"I can think of many people, all of whom who haven't been dishonest, misogynist, homophobic or caught smoking crack with gang members and disgraced our city, who would be more deserving," he said. "I cannot in good conscience support this motion."

During his four-year stint leading the city, Ford made headlines worldwide — often overshadowing his mayoral duties. He admitted to smoking crack while in office and received treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

"I don't think Rob Ford's shortcomings are being forgotten or overlooked in this," Myer Siemiatycki, a professor emeritus of politics at Toronto Metropolitan University, said.

"There's sort of a larger picture here. The mayor is the mayor of all Torontonians. A substantial amount of Torontonians, especially in Etobicoke, supported and appreciated Rob Ford."

Siemiatycki added there might be a personal element involved for Chow to support the motion. In 2012, then-mayor Rob Ford pushed for the Toronto Island Ferry Terminal to be named after the late Jack Layton, a former city councillor and Chow's husband.

He also notes provincial political considerations of the move, at a time when Toronto remains cash-strapped and its relationship is improving with Premier Ford.

The motion will go to council on Wednesday.