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Complaints of homophobia prompt Toronto councillor Ford to withdraw bathhouse remarks

Toronto councillor Doug Ford.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Councillor Doug Ford withdrew a remark during Friday's bike-station debate after a fellow councillor complained it was "homophobic."

Council was discussing a $1.2-million public bike station that would be built in the city hall parking lot. The 380-space bike station has been criticized by both Councillor Ford and the mayor as wasteful. The Fords have pointed much of their criticism at the fact the bike station will have shower facilities, despite the fact that that accounts for only $20,000 of the overall cost.

During Friday's lunch break, Councillor Ford told reporters the bike station would become a bathhouse complete with a towel boy. He later repeated that remark in council, prompting jeers from some councillors.

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"It's going to turn into a bathhouse," he said.

Councillor Shelley Carroll was the first to ask Councillor Ford to withdraw the remark. She was followed by Councillor Gord Perks, who called the comment homophobic.

Councillor Ford shot back: "Don't tell me I'm homophobic. I'm donating to the gay Pride Parade."

Councillor Ford then said there would be "hanky-panky" in the bike-station showers.

Speaker Frances Nunziata, at the councillors' request, asked Councillor Ford to apologize, which he did. However, during the apology he said he'd like to see council's reaction when someone is caught doing something untoward in the bike-station showers.

He then apologized for that remark.

Council went on to approve the bike station. The vote was 26 to 5.

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Speaking with reporters after the vote, Councillor Ford reiterated his view that the bike station is unnnecessary, though his tone was far less adversarial than at council.

When asked about his comments being construed as homophobic, he said that was "ridiculous."

"I'm the last guy who's homophobic and I think everyone knows it," he said. "I'm not even worried about those ignorant comments like that. I don't care if you're straight, gay, purple, pink, it doesn't bother me."

He added: "You have showers in a basement in a parking lot. Is it going to happen? I don't know. Is it likely going to happen? I'm not too sure. But who would want to take a shower in the basement of a parking lot, with everyone else taking a shower? Do they have shower monitors? One female shower monitor for the females, and one for the males? It's just a waste of money."

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