Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is calling on Waterfront Toronto's CEO to resign, accusing the agency of "blatant disregard for taxpayers' money" – the same day he declared himself "as sober as a judge" amidst renewed questions over his sobriety.
Mayor Ford took questions from City Hall reporters Thursday for the first time since returning from rehab, at a news conference where he slammed Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell, but sidestepped questions over his own role on the agency's board. Spending by the agency has been criticized in recent weeks, after reports revealed that the rocks and pink umbrellas at Sugar Beach cost nearly $1-million.
"This is simply the latest example of a pattern of blatant disregard for taxpayers' money at Waterfront Toronto," Mr. Ford said on the latest media reports that a new washroom at Cherry Beach cost around $600,000.
"Folks, this latest example is the final straw. $600,000 for a washroom? The CEO of Waterfront Toronto must step aside and allow the corporation to be steered in a new fiscally responsible direction."
But even as Mr. Ford denounced the agency for what he claimed is a lack of accountability, he did not respond directly to reporters' question on the fact that he, himself, had a seat on the board between 2010 and 2012 – when the Cherry Beach washroom he criticized first opened.
The mayor was given a spot on the agency's board of directors when he was elected in 2010 – along with three other board seats for the City of Toronto – but did not attend a single board or committee meeting, according to a Waterfront Toronto spokesperson. Councillor Jaye Robinson was appointed the mayor's designate on the board in November, 2012.
Still, the mayor told reporters Thursday that the agency, which answers to all three levels of government, "does not report directly to me … I assure you that if they did, we would not be seeing any of this nonsense going on."
In response to the mayor's comments, the agency's 12-person board issued a letter of support for Mr. Campbell, who was not available for comment.
"John Campbell has the full confidence of the board as the president and CEO of Waterfront Toronto," the letter read.
"His collaborative approach and leadership have earned him the respect of all three governments, across multiple administrations, as well as the community and the private sector."
Mr. Ford's comments on Waterfront Toronto were made on a day where he spent most of his morning at Toronto Western Hospital being treated, according to his office, for a toe injury. On Thursday, he also faced new questions about his recovery.
Since his return from rehab in late June, the mayor has been accompanied full-time at City Hall and public events by his Montreal-based sobriety coach Bob Marier. And though Mr. Marier would not reveal the details of his contract with the mayor in an interview with the Globe last week, he did say he planned on staying "as long as it takes."
But the mayor said Thursday that he is no longer working full-time with Mr. Marier, saying "he's moved on to helping other people."
"I'm as sober as a judge,"Mr. Ford told reporters. "I can assure you, Rob Ford is not going to fail. Rob Ford is not going to touch alcohol."
When the mayor, who has admitted to substance abuse in the past, was asked when the last time he's had a drink or taken drugs, he refused to respond.