Rob Ford’s travels: Sports, a sister city and a splash pad

On the eve of his visit to Texas, a brief history of Rob Ford's travels in office
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, top right, waves to photographers during a boat tour of the Chicago River waterfront in 2012. (Associated Press/Charles Rex Arbogast)

As Rob Ford leads a delegation of councillors and members of local music industry to Austin, Texas, here's a rundown of his past trips as mayor of Toronto.

Winnipeg and Regina

July 2013

What got done: Ford mixed business and pleasure on this Prairie swing, which included meeting one mayor and taking in some Canadian football.

He watched the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play the Toronto Argonauts in Winnipeg and then took in the Saskatchewan Rough Riders play the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Regina. He reportedly met the mayor of Regina.

Coun. Doug Ford said at the time his brother Rob would "spread the great news about Toronto and invite everyone to Toronto, and hopefully he’ll boost our tourism and we’ll get some of those wild Roughrider fans to come and pay us a visit in Toronto."

Takeaways: Ford returned from Winnipeg with a renewed vigour for a Toronto football stadium, saying he’d do "everything in his power" to bring a new CFL arena to the city.

"We need a football stadium in this city, bad," Ford said upon his return, citing Winnipeg's new $200-million, 33,000-seat Investors Group Field as an example of what could be in Toronto.

"Just go out to Winnipeg — they have a brand new stadium and it’s packed.”


September 2012

What got done: Mayor Rob Ford toured Millennium Park, greeted Chicagoans on the street, met with his mayoral counterpart Rahm Emanuel and attended a luncheon with then-U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson.

"Coming from a business background, you have to be a mover and a shaker and go out and knock on doors and you've got to sell your product,” said Ford at the time. "And Toronto is an easy product to sell."

Takeaways: Ford and Emanuel re-signed a 1992 sister city agreement, which now includes an additional commitment to enter into "a more business-oriented partnership." But Ford also shared ideas about garbage collection, which both mayors have pledged to reform. Emanuel has privatized recycling and overhauled garbage pickup in Chicago, and Ford has partially privatized curbside pickup in Toronto’s west end.

Ford brought 70 business and civic leaders with him for trade meetings and claims the trip brought "millions" into Toronto.

Edmonton and Calgary

August 2012

What got done: This is another hybrid trip, which the mayor referred to as a "working holiday." He toured Edmonton and Calgary with his wife, Renata, and took in two CFL games. He paid a visit to Edmonton city hall, but Mayor Stephen Mandel was on vacation at the time. Ford took a tour of council chambers and the mayor’s office instead.

He also missed meeting up with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who was also on vacation, but later met up with him in Toronto.

Takeaways: Aside from the visit to Edmonton’s city hall, the trip appeared to be mostly recreational. "He’s expanding his horizons," said his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, at the time.

The mayor saw a splash pad outside Edmonton’s city hall, which got him thinking about the possibility of building one at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. But the idea wasn't popular with his fellow councillors and a motion he moved to study the possibility of doing so, was voted down.

Guadalajara, Mexico

October 2011

What got done: The mayor was a late addition to a delegation that went to Guadalajara for the 2011 Pan American Games. He appeared at the closing ceremonies waving a Canadian flag in front of a stadium of 50,000 people. He also visited the athletes village and met with dignitaries at the games.

Takeaways: Ford returned from Mexico with a new zeal for the Pan Am Games, telling reporters on several occasions he was "pumped" about hosting the 2015 event. "It was well worth the trip and I wish everybody saw what I saw," said Ford.


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