Doug Ford comes out pro-Pepsi and anti–healthy drinks in another acrimonious city hall battle pitting left versus right
Depending on whom you ask, Doug Ford is upset because either the city is force-feeding kids healthy drinks or it’s not force-feeding them enough sugar. Apparently, Ford is angry that regulations, which ban bottled water and require vending machines on city property to be half-stocked with healthy (healthier than pop, at least) options, are costing the city a nice chunk of change.
From the Globe and Mail:
The high-profile councillor and brother of mayor Rob Ford took several minutes of a government management committee meeting on Wednesday to rip council and city staff for health regulations weighing down an exclusive beverage vending contract with Pepsi.
That contract began in 2005 and was expected to bring $850,000 in annual revenues to city coffers – or $2.5-million over the life of the contract. But a new report to the committee shows actual income topped out at $359,000 in the first year and dwindled to $313,000 last year.
City staff blame council’s healthy vending initiative, which requires Pepsi to stock its machines on city property with 50 per cent health drinks, for the huge gap between forecast and reality.
Read on, and the issue starts to feel more and more like a microcosm of municipal politics. In one corner, there’s a lefty in favour of government involvement in things like what children eat and drink. In the other, a small-c conservative who believes any sort of intervention is an unjust burden on the glorious free market. They bicker back and forth about a sum of money that’s rather inconsequential considering the size of Toronto’s budget. Then, somebody gets accused of sole-source contracting, and everyone goes home unhappy.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star is reporting that some small tweaks could see Toronto raking in $2.5 million from the city’s red light cameras while also making the city’s streets safer. Of course, if anyone finds a way to frame this discussion in terms of left versus right—or suggests that red lights are a tool of the iron-fisted nanny state—we figure any hopes of collecting that additional cash will be quickly squashed.