Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is pleased the TTC will have a third party review a proposal from a private company to operate the newsstands and a handful of other kiosks at subway stations, even though another company is slated to negotiate a lease extension for those same locations.
"I'm glad they’ve seen the light," Ford told reporters late Wednesday afternoon.
The Gateway-brand newsstands located at subway stops across Toronto are currently operated by Tobmar Investments International Inc., a company which the TTC recently agreed to negotiate a lease extension with.
Tobmar also runs eight lottery kiosks, two bakeries and two cafes at various subway stops in Toronto. They are also included in the lease extension that is supposed to be negotiated with the TTC.
Critics, including the mayor, say that the TTC should have an open-bidding process to determine who picks up the business when the leases end in 2014.
To that end, another company, International News, has brought forward a proposal that TTC chair Karen Stintz describes as an "unconditional" offer.
Stintz sent a letter to her fellow TTC commissioners Wednesday advising them that staff would have a third party compare and review the two offers.
But she is adamant that the TTC made the right choice in pursuing lease-extension talks with Tobmar.
"I stand by the deal that the commission approved, that it's a good deal for the city," Stintz told reporters Wednesday.
"We're going to have a third-party review and you know what, if there's new information that comes to light, I will welcome it when it comes."
She denied that the TTC was backing down in the face of criticism over the plan to extend the Tobmar lease.
"We are not revisiting anything. I've simply asked for a third-party review to be done on the proposal that International News just provided last night."
There was some confusion about how much communication Stintz and the mayor had about the issue, as the TTC chair said in her letter to transit commissioners that "the mayor has yet to contact me on this issue."
Yet on Wednesday afternoon, Ford said he had phoned and left a message for the TTC chair last week, while Stintz said she had received that message and attempted to call the mayor back, but ended up leaving him "a detailed message" in return.
Stintz said she is taking the recent situation "as a learning moment and one we're going to move forward from."