Toronto subway trains will be pulling into stations named after burger joints and pizza parlours if the mayor and his brother have their way.
Etobicoke councillor Doug Ford says the city should be selling naming rights to just about everything but city hall in order to raise badly needed funds - including transit stations.
"As long as it is called the right name - Spadina, McDonald's - whatever," he said Tuesday. "It brings in revenue. I honestly don't believe anyone cares."
That's a view shared by his sibling, the mayor. "Sure, we would look at that," said Rob Ford when asked about selling subway station naming rights.
The city's executive committee will consider ways to increase revenue from naming rights at its meeting next week In 2009, the city raised more than $7-million from 87 sponsorship agreements, says a staff report prepared for that meeting.
The city is facing a $774-million funding gap in its budget for next year and Mayor Ford said selling naming rights or signs on highways and bridges could generate badly needed cash. "I think we have to get the private sector in. If they want to advertise, let them advertise," he said.
Councillor Karen Stintz, chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, said staff are working on ways to involve the private sector in plans to revamp busy Dundas station in order to raise money.
"We are looking at all options because we do want to refurbish our stations and we know we are going to need some help to do that," she said. .
Ms. Stintz cautioned that the TTC's advisory group for users with disabilities prefers stations named for the intersections where they are located. Tacking on a corporate name might cause problems, she said.
Councillor Joe Mihevc, former TTC vice-chair, dismissed the notion, saying naming rights would not generate the cash required to do major station renovations. "You need millions of dollars to fix up a subway," he said, noting that just changing names on signs and on platforms would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. "It really is not the way we should be naming these public assets," he said.