Jays prez Shapiro says he supports ActiveTO

Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said his comments on ActiveTO in early June were widely misconstrued.

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Shapiro spoke to reporters on Thursday, his first public appearance since writing an open letter to Toronto city councilors about the program that has closed busy Lake Shore Boulevard West most weekends for the past two years. Shapiro said he doesn’t want to end ActiveTO, just customize it.

“I’m pro-ActiveTO, I’m pro-move and get out there, especially get out there and experience it,” Shapiro said at a press conference announcing the new renovations at the downtown Rogers Centre of Toronto pictured just north of the lakefront.

“I think ActiveTO is a great idea, but what I have to think about first is our fans, the hundreds of thousands of fans on weekends that are affected by closures.”

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ActiveTO was designed to provide a traffic-free space for cyclists, joggers and other pedestrians during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city council was scheduled to vote on continuing the program on June 15, when Shapiro released his open letter.

“I am writing to ask you not to vote for the extension of ActiveTO on Lake Shore Boulevard West,” Shapiro wrote on June 10, noting “unprecedented construction and other diversions.”

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Shapiro said Thursday his intention is to ask Toronto City Council to recalibrate ActiveTO’s times and locations.

“So (the message) was just to look at the routes, consider the other things that are going on and remember that we’re not in the same place where we started,” Shapiro said.

Due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic, the Blue Jays did not play in Toronto for most of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, instead playing at the team’s minor league facilities in Dunedin, Florida and Buffalo, NY when the Blue Jays did so did return to Rogers Center at the end of the 2021 season with limited capacity.

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That meant traffic generated by Blue Jays games and ActiveTO-related closures did not overlap until April of this year. Shapiro said in his open letter that he was writing after feedback from fans.

“Only complaints about how difficult it is to get into games on days where ActiveTO has restricted access,” Shapiro said Thursday of what fans in particular had told him.

Shapiro had been widely criticized online for his letter, and Toronto Mayor John Tory publicly defended the President of the Blue Jays before the City Council decided ActiveTO’s fate. Tory then took part in the City Council debate on ActiveTO and voted with other council members to approve a new plan that would see Lake Shore being closed less frequently.

Civic activist Adam Chaleff said on Tuesday he had filed a formal complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner against Tory for participating in the ActiveTO debate and voting on the matter.

Tory has long worked with Rogers Communications, which owns the Blue Jays. Tory was an executive for Rogers in the 1990s and still sits on the advisory committee of the Family Trust, which controls Rogers.

“I believe Tory was trying to serve two masters at once – Rogers and the public interest – which the[Integrity Officer]wants to prevent,” Chaleff said in a tweet on Tuesday. “I’m saying a judge must now decide whether and what consequences Tory has to bear for this apparent conflict of interest.”

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Tory’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Canadian Press on Thursday.

Shapiro said he was aware of the complaint filed against Tory but had not commented on the matter.

“I read it and went back to running the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s just not my expertise. That’s not my focus,” Shapiro said.

“I wrote the letter because it was in the best interest of the Blue Jays and our fans, and I got back to running the Blue Jays.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 28, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

https://globalnews.ca/news/9023419/jays-prez-shapiro-says-he-supports-activeto/ Jays prez Shapiro says he supports ActiveTO

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