Mayor Ford's parking patterns hint at city hall workload
A look at the parking records of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford offers a glimpse into his life at city hall and how he divides his time.
Ford was sworn in as mayor on Dec. 1, 2010, after winning the municipal election weeks before.
Since taking office, Ford has not typically made his schedule public, marking a change in practice from previous Toronto mayors.
However, CBC News recently obtained the mayor’s parking records, through a freedom-of-information request, stretching from his first days in office to the middle of last year.
Each time the mayor swiped his parking pass either entering or exiting the city hall parking lot, the time was recorded. The data recorded thus gives an indication as to the times that the mayor’s vehicle was parked at city hall.
While Ford may not travel to work in his personal vehicle on every occasion, the mayor has often been spotted behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade — and before that, his minivan — while making his way around the city. And he has not responded to suggestions from others, including his brother, that he get a driver.
Late starts, some long days
The days that Ford has passed through the parking gates at city hall have included some long and short stretches at the office through the regular workweek. His hours vary considerably.
One long day that came early in his time as mayor was on Dec. 16, 2010, when the records suggest he parked his car at 8 a.m. and didn’t drive it home until 10 p.m.
That was the same day that city council voted in favour of asking the province to declare the TTC an essential service, which MPPs at Queen’s Park made a reality three months later.
Just over five months later, Ford had another 12-hour day at city hall, when he had parked his car by 7:45 a.m. on May 17, 2011. That was the day council voted to move ahead with a plan to privatize garbage collection west of Yonge Street. He didn’t drive out until after 8 p.m.
Another long day came on Feb. 7, 2012, when Ford drove in shortly after 9 a.m. His vehicle didn’t pass back through the gates until after 10:30 p.m. That was the day that the mayor participated in a council vote on a confilct of interest matter that eventually prompted a removal challenge from a Toronto resident, which was first ordered and then overturned by a Divisional Court.
Some days, he drove to city hall for much briefer periods of time, such as on May 5, 2011, when his car was parked for less than two hours. That was the same week that a pair of Toronto residents asked for a compliance audit into the mayor's spending during the election the year before. Throughout that Monday to Friday week, Ford's car was typically parked for between two and seven hours each day.
Looking at the weekday records from Dec. 1, 2010 to June 21, 2012, it is clear that during this period, the mayor often arrived at city hall during the midday and headed home during the supper hour.
On average, he spent about four hours at city hall on the days he went to the office during the week.
In total, his vehicle was parked at city hall on about three-quarters of the available weekdays during this period.
But Ford also parked at city hall on several dozen weekend days during this first part of his tenure as mayor.
A mayor who makes house calls
Asked about the hours he puts in at city hall, Ford said his work ethic can't be accurately judged by the time he spends behind a desk.
"I work hard," Ford said when speaking to CBC News on Thursday.
"Just call me. I return your call and go to your front door to serve you."
It's a point he has also made when his schedule has also fallen under scrutiny on prior occasions.
Coun. Jaye Robinson, a member of the mayor’s executive committee, agrees that a key part of the job at city hall is getting out of the office.
"It's really being in the neighbourhoods and in the communities you serve, that’s really what this job is about," she said.
In the past, the mayor has also alluded to the fact that his job extends beyond regular office hours and even when he is not in the city.
After returning from a recent trip to Florida, the mayor told reporters his phone "didn't stop ringing" while he was away.
With a report from the CBC's Jamie Strashin