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Shirtless protesters urge Mayor Ford to resign

Protesters call for Mayor Rob Ford to resign as he tries to speak at a news conference at Eglinton Avenue and Westover Hill Road on July 8, 2014. 680News/Carl Hanstke

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was met by vocal, and shirtless, opponents at a news conference on Eglinton Avenue on Tuesday morning.

Ford was addressing a proposal to turn a 19-kilometre stretch of Eglinton into a Grand Boulevard, once the Crosstown LRT is complete ahead of Tuesday’s city council meeting.

But he was drowned out by protesters hurling questions and shouting “Resign!” repeatedly.

Ford’s staff attempted to quiet the protest, but to little avail.

The mayor plowed on and delivered his message, a strong opposition to the proposal.

“They can protest all they want. All I’m doing is saving taxpayers money and keeping the traffic moving,” Ford said.

John Furr, who organized the protest via Twitter, said the message of the group is that “average Torontonians are fed up.”

“We have to stop the narrative of the Fords that wherever he goes he’s treated like a rock star,” Furr, 52, said. “He’s not. Most people avoid him like the plague.”

Furr said this is the second protest organized by the group — the first was on Friday outside the Newstalk 1010 studio where Ford was giving an interview.

Connie Boudens, 52, was among the protesters on Tuesday.

She said there is a lack of transparency in Ford’s administration, and “he hasn’t taken responsibility for things he’s done in the past.”

Since Ford returned last week from two months in rehab he has given a handful of interviews, but has not taken questions from city hall journalists about the circumstances surrounding his alcohol and drug use, the company he kept and offensive remarks he has made.

“We all thought when Rob Ford came back from rehab that things were going to change,” Boudens said, adding that she still sees his office as “secretive.”

“There were all these outstanding questions people wanted answered,” she said. “Now that he has come back, it’s back to being a circus.”

Boudens said Tuesday’s protest created a “contentious” atmosphere, with Ford supporters voicing disagreement with the shirtless protest group.

“It was a little bit chaotic,” she said.

At the end of the news conference Ford said he would take questions on the transit proposal and answered two about that issue and one about the protesters before leaving.

On the Eglinton plan, councillors will consider amendments to the official plan put forth by the Planning and Growth Management Committee at the council meeting, which began at 9:30 a.m.

Click here to view the full agenda. You can also watch it live on CityNews.ca and 680News.com.

The idea is to take space — once used by transit and HOV lanes — and use it to widen sidewalks, create dedicated bike lanes and add more trees and street furniture.

On Monday, the Toronto Sun reported parking spaces would be lost and the transformation would reduce Eglinton to one lane in each direction. However, the city’s chief planner has defended the project, saying that is not the case.

Click here to read the agenda item.

 

 

With files from Canadian Press