Blue Jays President Shapiro says he supports ActiveTO after asking council to vote against it

By Brandon Choghri

Weeks after penning a letter to Toronto city council asking members to vote against extending ActiveTO, Toronto Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro says he’s “strongly in favour” of the program.

“I did not ask for an end to ActiveTO,” said Shapiro during a media availability to introduce $300 million renovations at Rogers Centre.

“What I precisely asked for was a consideration of the routes and the days.”

In June, the Blue Jays President and CEO wrote an open letter to councillors who at the time were considering ending the ActiveTO program due to ongoing concerns about weekend traffic.

“I am writing to request you do not vote in favour of extending ActiveTO on Lake Shore Boulevard West,” Shapiro said in the note, citing “unprecedented levels of construction and other diversions.”

Shapiro faced strong criticism online over the letter. On Thursday, the Blue Jays boss clarified his comments.

“I am strongly in favour of ActiveTO. I’m in favour of exercise and getting outside… and I think ActiveTO is a great idea,” he said.

“What I have to think about first, though, are our fans and the hundreds of thousands of fans that over a weekend are impacted by closures. So, [the letter] was considering the routes. [For council to] consider the other things going on, and consider that we’re not in the same place we were when ActiveTO started. It wasn’t to end ActiveTO.”

Toronto mayor facing integrity complaint over ties to Rogers, ActiveTO council vote

Mayor John Tory now faces an integrity complaint at city hall in association with Shapiro’s letter.

Tory has long-standing ties to Rogers, the parent company of the Blue Jays, and voted to limit weekend road closures along Toronto’s Lake Shore.

Civic activist Adam Chaleff filed the complaint with the municipal Integrity Commissioner, saying he believes there was a conflict of interest when Tory voted and spoke about ending the Lake Shore Boulevard West ActiveTO road closures last month.

mayor john tory

Toronto Mayor John Tory fields questions one day after the province lifted mask requirements in most settings, including on public transit, as of June 11, 2022. Photo: CityNews Toronto.

“A Rogers-owned company, the Blue Jays, contacted Tory directly to tell him that their business suffers because of a particular road closure,” Chaleff wrote on Twitter. “Tory should have immediately declared an interest and refrained from speaking.”

Shapiro was succinct when asked for a response to the integrity complaint against the mayor.

“I read it and went back to running the Toronto Blue Jays,” he said. “That’s not my expertise, that’s not my area of focus, and frankly, it’s not anything I really understand.”

Tory is a shareholder in Rogers Communications Inc. and has been on the Rogers family trust for over a decade, being paid $100,000 a year for his role.

Rogers Communications Inc. is the parent company of CityNews

With files from Lucas Casaletto of CityNews

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