An integrity complaint was filed against Toronto Mayor John Tory for failing to declare an alleged conflict of interest in commenting on and voting to end the Active TO program due to his ties to Rogers Communications.
Toronto resident Adam Chaleff provided documents to CP24, stating that he filed a complaint with the Toronto Integrity Commissioner about Tory’s public comments and vote to end the show on Lake Shore Boulevard West.
Chaleff alleges Tory contravened sections of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) by discussing and voting against extending the program outdoors after the Rogers-owned Blue Jays publicly said ActiveTO was hurting their business.
Tory is a shareholder in Rogers Communications and has a long personal history with both the Rogers family and the telecom giant, where he ran two different subsidiaries in the ’90s.
“This sequence of events raises concerns that Mayor Tory violated sections 5, 5.1 and 5.2 of the MCIA. The Integrity Commissioner has a duty to conduct an investigation into the matter and use the investigative powers in Part V of the City of Toronto Act 2006,” the documents state.
The Integrity Commissioner, Jonathan Batty, is an independent official who oversees the conduct of elected and most appointed officials in Toronto. The commissioner also conducts investigations into complaints of broken standards.
Tory says the commissioner’s office has not yet contacted Tory about the complaint, first learning of it through a media investigation by the Toronto Sar.
Tory added that the matter has been a broad discussion and that she has followed the rules in addressing it.
“I follow the rules. I think people trust me to follow the rules. I’ve done it, you know, in a very deliberate way during my time as mayor. And the Integrity Commissioner, I respect him a lot and he hasn’t contacted me about this yet,” Tory told CP24 on Wednesday morning.
“We’ll deal with it, like we did before with this kind of thing, but I trust that I follow the rules and I continue to follow the rules and I will continue to follow the rules. I’ve been very transparent about it.”
In the summer of 2020, the city implemented ActiveTO, which closed select city streets, including Lake Shore Boulevard West, to vehicular traffic on weekends to give pedestrians, bicyclists, and joggers space to physically distance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While some residents enjoyed the experience of car-free roads, others expressed frustration with rising traffic levels, particularly in recent months as more people commute into the city due to better conditions from the pandemic.
In June, Tory said the council had received a report from city staff about the program’s impacts on weekend vehicular traffic.
Tory has spoken publicly about the matter, saying the program would not be eliminated entirely, but instead would demonstrate a “balance” between easing the flow of traffic and keeping the streets clear of cars at times.
“I have the traffic data. There is no question that it had a greater adverse impact on traffic during that time,” Tory told CP24 on June 8. “All I can say is that we are looking very carefully at all these results, data and real evidence rather than stories. .”
In light of news about the council considering changes to ActiveTO road closures, Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro sent a letter to the mayor and city staff asking the council not to vote to extend the program on Lake Shore Boulevard West.
“The Toronto Blue Jays are a major sports franchise that draws millions of fans to the Rogers Center each season. Given the unprecedented levels of construction and other entertainment in downtown Toronto, removing one of the only ways in and out of downtown Toronto would be a huge challenge for our fans, who rely on these routes to get to our games.” Shapiro wrote in his letter. on June 6.
On June 15, the council reviewed traffic data and city staff recommendations and voted to limit the number of ActiveTO closures on Lake Shore Boulevard West this summer.
Instead of recurring weekend closures, the closures will be “limited special events” and will be based on various factors, including the number and location of planned street events in the city on any given weekend.
Chaleff’s complaint argues that Tory had a conflict of interest in the matter and should not have spoken publicly about it or voted to end the show, given her relationship with Rogers.
“As a member of the Rogers Control Trust Advisory Committee, Mayor Tory has an indirect pecuniary interest in any matter affecting the finances, economic prospects and/or property value of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre, and was obliged to declare this interest,” the documents state.
The mayor’s office says it will not comment further on the matter as it is before the commissioner.
“We respect the Integrity Commissioner and will not comment further on this while the complaint is in front of him other than what we said at the time: This vote was on a city program that the mayor introduced and championed during the pandemic. and this was a very broad public issue that involved every road user in the city,” Tory executive director of communications Don Peat said in a statement.