Soon after it was confirmed that former Toronto mayor Rob Ford had died, a petition sprang up on change.org to immortalize Ford with a statue.
“The people of Toronto want to give back to a man who has given so much to them,” the description reads. “The man was a fighter until the end. Fighting for every single person he represented and known for keeping an eagles [sic] eye on every tax dollar spend in the city of Toronto, ending what was known as the ‘gravy train.'”
Regardless where a person may stand on the idea of a procession and televised funeral for the Ward 2 city councillor, it’s not uncommon to recognize a politician who has died in office.
They erected a bronze statue of former NDP leader and Toronto city councillor Jack Layton following his death in 2011. Sir Adam Beck has a statue on University Avenue. Police officers who die in the line of duty are commemorated at the Ontario Police Memorial outside of Queen’s Park.
And Toronto has a long history of naming things after former mayors. There’s Mel Lastman Square, Nathan Phillips Square, Allan Gardens, even the William Lyon MacKenzie fire rescue boat.
So there’s little doubt something will be done to memorialize Ford. But a statue?
Perhaps naming a park after the polarizing former mayor would be more appropriate. There already is a Douglas B. Ford Park in Etobicoke, named after Rob’s father, a one-term MPP who represented Etobicoke-Humber between 1995 and 1999. Because Ford proclaimed to be such a man of the people, maybe a park in Rexdale would be appropriate.
Or perhaps we could name a street after him. Most of Toronto’s streets are named after former politicians, and there’s no shortage of streets being built in the GTA. It would be a fitting testament to a man who claimed to be Toronto’s biggest advocate for growth.
A bit of a longer shot would be naming a school or library after Ford – he was never a big advocate of post-secondary education and shuttered Toronto’s libraries for 11 days during a labour dispute in 2012, during which he famously said he didn’t know who Margaret Atwood was. So … probably not. Maybe a sports facility is more appropriate, like the field where his Don Bosco Eagles played until he was dismissed as coach in 2013.
How about an airport? Calgary was considering naming their airport after former prime minister Stephen Harper. Unfortunately, both of Toronto’s airports already recognize a World War I flying ace and the 14th prime minister of Canada, so a change would be unlikely. And Toronto probably doesn’t want to remind tourists of Ford’s controversial mayoral reign every time they fly into the city.
So what’s left … a subway stop? That would be appropriate for a man who advocated subways over all forms of above-ground public transportation throughout his tenure on council. An office building or tower? A pub? Come on, that’s a cheap shot.
There are no clear requirements for a petition to be submitted to Toronto city council, so maybe this statue idea will get some traction. The city has already agreed to foot the bill for Ford’s memorial, so anything is possible.