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Rob Ford bested by Karen Stintz in climbing race
By Don Peat ,City Hall Bureau Chief
First posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 02:59 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 06:44 PM EDT
TORONTO - Karen Stintz won the playground photo-op war with Mayor Rob Ford on Wednesday.
Ford arrived at Brookdale Park for a ribbon-cutting on another new playground. It was the second time in two weeks he’s ventured into his mayoral rival’s council ward to grab the media spotlight. But this time, Stintz appeared ready for the mayor.
The Eglinton-Lawrence (Ward 16) councillor challenged Ford to a climbing race almost as soon as he arrived and the mayor didn’t have much choice but to accept.
After inspecting the jungle gym, Ford took off his suit jacket and readied for the climb while Stintz — who kept her high heels on — got kids playing on the equipment safely out of the way.
A few seconds later and despite a desperate last leap by the mayor of Canada’s largest city, Stintz had come out on top and raised her fist in victory.
“She’s the winner,” Ford told the kids after climbing down in defeat.
After posing for selfies with several residents, he shrugged off the playground loss.
“She’s an athlete, she’s in good shape,” he said. “I’m getting there, don’t worry.”
Stintz said she thought it would be “fun” to have a “playful challenge.”
“The mayor was gracious in having that challenge with me and I’m pleased to say I won,” she said.
Not everyone was pleased to see Ford at the playground opening.
“I thought it was inappropriate,” said local resident Warren Coughlin. “I think there is a lot of people — Karen Stintz’s staff, city staff, the (park) working committee — here who really deserve the recognition and credit.”
Ford has attended a rash of park and playground openings this month including some he’s opposed.
Ahead of Ford’s park appearance on Wednesday, mayoral candidate John Tory said elected officials should act with “sincerity and honesty.”
“It is a bit hypocritical to show up at park openings for parks you’ve opposed,” Tory said. “But it is a safe thing for him to do to show up at these kinds of public ceremonies and at least there isn’t as much of a circus as there is other places he goes.”
Ford fired back at Tory and claimed he “doesn’t understand the budget process.”
The mayor defended his vote last year to stop the city from replacing more than 10 playgrounds every year. Ford argued the move kept the tax increase lower.
“John Tory’s absolutely wrong, he doesn’t know how City Hall works,” Ford said.
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