Karen Stintz

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Karen Stintz
TTC Chair Karen Stintz.jpg
Councillor Karen Stintz, 2012
Toronto City Councillor for (Ward 16) Eglinton-Lawrence
In office
December 1, 2003 – December 1, 2014
Preceded byAnne Johnston
Succeeded byChristin Carmichael Greb
Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission
In office
December 1, 2010 – February 19, 2014
Preceded byAdam Giambrone
Succeeded byMaria Augimeri
Personal details
Karen Ruth Stintz

(1971-11-02) November 2, 1971 (age 47)
North York, Ontario, Canada
Spouse(s)Darryl Parisien
ParentsHenry Stintz, Barbara Bear
ResidenceToronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Western Ontario
Boston University
Queen's University
OccupationCivil servant

Karen Stintz (born November 2, 1971) is a former City Councillor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She represented Ward 16, one of two municipal wards enclosed within the federal-provincial riding of Eglinton—Lawrence. She was Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission from 2010 until February 2014 when she stepped down in order to run for mayor.[1][2]


Born and raised in North York, Karen Stintz is a Toronto resident. She went to St. Joseph's Morrow Park Catholic Secondary School. After receiving a BA from University of Western Ontario, she obtained a Master of Science degree in Journalism from Boston University and worked briefly as a journalist. Returning to school, she received a Master of Public Administration degree from Queen's University, and was hired by the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Before being elected to council, she acquired seven years of experience in the public and private sectors, managing and delivering multimillion-dollar programs in the healthcare sector.[3]

Her parents are Henry Stintz, a NASA engineer and Barbara Bear.[4][5] In 1999, she married software executive Darryl Parisien. She and her husband live in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood with their two children.


In March 2009, Stintz came under some scrutiny when it was revealed that she spent $4,500 of her councillor's office budget on voice lessons. She did so after being told "she speaks too fast and that her message is being lost as a result." She said that the lessons improved her speaking during council meetings.[6][7]

In 2009, Stintz was one of the leaders of the Responsible Government Group centre-right caucus on City Council which opposed the policies of Mayor David Miller.[8] The group opposed Mayor Miller’s handling of the 2009 City Workers’ strike.[9]

As the City Councillor for Ward 16, Stintz initiated and supported a wide array of initiatives to improve the community of Eglinton-Lawrence. To deter graffiti, Ward 16's youth were recruited to create murals in the Anne Rawson Laneway, Duplex Parkette and Eglinton Park field house.[10] When a development was proposed at 1717 Avenue Road, urban design guidelines were created. This established the framework needed for constructive dialogue for development in the community.[11][better source needed] By supporting Orchard View Pedestrian Square, Stintz not only assisted in bringing increased pedestrian safety to a dangerous intersection, but found a new home for the local farmers market. This Square has received "overwhelming positive support".[12] With the "Can the Trash Contest", students from schools across the ward were asked to create posters that illustrated the various reasons for why we should all "can the trash." When disagreements arose from the use of public spaces, Stintz played an active role in resolving the issues. This included finding equitable ice time for those who use the ice rinks in North Toronto,[13] finding space for dog owners to walk their dogs off-leash in a way that did not interfere with other residents [14] and being part of the revitalization of the parks in Ward 16.

In April 2009, Stintz accused Mayor David Miller of lying during a debate about payroll costs. Miller said "I know a group of you went up to see the minister and... asked for a $25,000 grant in order to study political parties in the city of Toronto,". Stintz retorted, "I'm actually shocked that you would... so blatantly lie,". Stintz later produced a document addressed to Municipal Affairs Minister Jim Watson and titled, Next Steps for the Strong Mayor Model in the Toronto Context. A spokesman for the minister said the request was for a "study of city hall governance that would have included a look at political parties."[15]

Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission[edit]

In 2010, Stintz was appointed to the position as Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission with the support of Mayor Rob Ford.

During her time as Chair, the TTC introduced a "Customer Charter" which included: posting performance reports on TTC surface routes, an annual TTC Town Hall, 6 Twitter Town Halls per year and 5 "Meet the Manager" events where customers can engage with senior TTC staff.[16] As Chair, 153 articulated buses were added to the fleet [17] and new subway cars were placed on the Yonge-University-Spadina line.[18] Customer service operating hours were extended to make assistance available 7 days a week from 7am-10pm.[19] A new position of "TTC Station Manager" was created to improve accountability to customers [20] while more next vehicle arrival screens and debit and credit card payment systems were made available.[21] In addition, a suicide prevention program was launched with the help of Toronto Distress Centres and Bell Canada [22] and she oversaw the approval of Presto's introduction to the TTC.[23] The TTC also began the introduction of WiFi services in its stations.[24]

During her time as Chair, the TTC also approved a number of measures to improve the Commission's fiscal imbalance. The TTC made decisions to balance its budget while also reducing the government subsidy received by 10%. This included a process to realign services to match revenue[25] and negotiating new fuel contracts to save the TTC $23.5 million between 2010-2012 and an estimated $30 million from 2013-2014.[26][27] By agreeing to a new benefits package, and reducing administrative staff, an additional $18.5 million was saved while Stintz served as Chair.[27][28] By successfully contracting out bus and washroom cleaning services and leasing the Toronto Coach Terminal, a further $4.9 million was saved.[29][30][31]

Restructuring TTC Board[edit]

Stintz successfully moved a motion on March 2012 at City Council to remove 5 City councillors from the TTC Board, who were all Rob Ford supporters,( Vincent Crisanti, Frank Di Giorgio, Norm Kelly, Cesar Palacio and Denzil Minnan-Wong ). The 5 councillors, who constituted a majority of the TTC Board, had voted to terminate the services of the TTC General Manager Gary Webster.[32]

Toronto City Council expanded the TTC Board in 2012, on Stintz' recommendation, from nine councillors to an 11-member body with seven councillors plus four citizen members.[33]

Undercover Boss[edit]

Concerned about budget cuts and negative public perception of the TTC, Stintz revealed on an episode of the show Undercover Boss that aired February 16, 2012 on W Network that she had gone undercover at the TTC for a week in 2011. Changing her appearance and posing as "Ruth Bear", a newly hired TTC trainee, she shadowed a subway train operator, an upholsterer, a station caretaker, and a night shift bus serviceperson, trying each of their respective jobs (for the subway operator, she used a simulator instead). Afterward, she revealed her true identity to those employees, that she understood and valued their work, and their ideas on how TTC riders could help them. She had hoped to gain an idea what could be cut and what should not be, and saw the front-line employees as the best source.[34]

2014 mayoral race[edit]

On October 27, 2013, Stintz announced that she would run for mayor in 2014. She said, "I believe in the fiscal agenda of Rob Ford, but I worry that another four years of Rob Ford may not move the city forward. And I want to continue to build our city."[35] After stepping down as TTC chair in February, registered as a candidate on February 24, 2014.[36] The Karen Stintz campaign will focus on fighting congestion, creating safe neighbourhoods and building strong communities.[37] Some of her proposals are a "downtown relief subway line, reform the land transfer tax, [and] a joint Toronto-U.S. bid for the 2026 World Cup and explore a 'hybrid' solution for the eastern part of the Gardiner Expressway."[38] On August 21, 2014 Stintz announced she was dropping out of the race and would not seek re-election as city councillor.[39]

Post-political career[edit]

In late August 2014, after withdrawing from the mayoral election, Stintz expressed interest in becoming Commissioner of the Canadian Football League[40] when the position was to become vacant in April 2015.[41] When this opportunity did not pan out, Stintz was appointed as the Executive Director of ArtsBuild Ontario – a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to realizing long-term solutions for building, managing and financing sustainable arts facilities needed in Ontario communities.[42] In November 2015, Stintz was named Variety Village President and CEO for an 18-month term.[43]


  1. ^ "TTC marks its 90th anniversary" TTC news release, September 1, 2011
  2. ^ "The defiant outsider inside T.O. City Hall" Archived 2013-09-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (January 9, 2012). "Toronto Star - TTC boss goes undercover". Toronto Star.
  5. ^ Grant, Kelly (March 15, 2008). "The defiant outsider inside T.O. City Hall". National Post. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014.
  6. ^ Vincent, Donovan; Moloney, Paul (March 23, 2009). "Stintz tapped public purse for public speaking tips". Toronto Star.
  7. ^ Vincent, Donovan; Brown, Louise (March 24, 2009). "City paid $4,500 to fix politician's 'shrill' voice". Toronto Star.
  8. ^ Elizabeth Church - City Hall Bureau Chief. "Rob Ford gets his first high-profile challenger for mayor". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  9. ^ "More hits to your wallet proposed". National Post. September 30, 2009. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014.
  10. ^ "Laneway mural project to be extended down the street". Town Crier. March 17, 2006. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014.
  11. ^ "THE TRUTH BEHIND THE RIOCAN 1717 AVENUE ROAD DEVELOPMENT". The Urban Daddy. August 3, 2010.
  12. ^ "A Pedestrian Square Grows in North Toronto". Torontoist.com. July 29, 2011.
  13. ^ "Debate over girls' hockey iced". Toronto Star. December 1, 2009.
  14. ^ "Dog owners angered at losing Ledbury Park off-leash area". Inside Toronto. June 23, 2011.
  15. ^ Gray, Jeff (April 8, 2009). "Councillor accuses Miller of 'blatantly' lying". Globe and Mail.
  16. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (February 28, 2013). "2013 Customer Charter". Archived from the original on February 26, 2014.
  17. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (October 3, 2013). "TTC introduces new articulated buses".
  18. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (May 26, 2011). "New TTC subway trains built for comfort".
  19. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (May 30, 2012). "2013 Customer Charter".
  20. ^ "Meet Your TTC Station Managers". Toronto Star. April 18, 2013.
  21. ^ "TTC ready to adopt debit payments for Metropasses". Metro Toronto. July 4, 2012.
  22. ^ "TTC launches suicide prevention program". Toronto Star. June 15, 2011.
  23. ^ "Presto cards coming to entire TTC system by 2016". CP24.com. November 28, 2012.
  24. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (December 10, 2013). "TTC, BAI Canada launch free WiFi at two subway stations".
  25. ^ "TTC eliminates 482 positions to balance operating budget". 680 News. September 19, 2011.
  26. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (June 8, 2011). "2012 TTC OPERATING BUDGET" (PDF).
  27. ^ a b Toronto Transit Commission (November 18, 2013). "2014 TTC and Wheel-Trans Operating Budgets" (PDF).
  28. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (June 29, 2012). "STAFF COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS" (PDF).
  29. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (February 25, 2013). "Update – Bus Servicing and Cleaning" (PDF).
  30. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (September 27, 2012). "Notice of Award - Procurement Authorization – Subway Public Washroom Cleaning" (PDF).
  31. ^ Toronto Transit Commission (May 1, 2012). "Office Lease – Property Development Department" (PDF).
  32. ^ https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/mayor-loses-as-ttc-board-restructured/article551600/
  33. ^ https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2012/03/05/ttc_ford_loyalists_booted_stintz_stays_as_chair_in_expanded_board.html
  34. ^ Kalinowski, Tess (January 9, 2012). "TTC boss goes undercover". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  35. ^ "Karen Stintz to run for mayor". Toronto Star. October 27, 2013.
  36. ^ "Karen Stintz to formally register Monday in Toronto's mayoral race". CBC News. February 22, 2014.
  37. ^ "Karen Stintz mayoral campaign to focus on congestion". Toronto Sun. February 24, 2014.
  38. ^ "Karen Stintz offers first glimpse of platform for mayoral run". Toronto Star. February 24, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  39. ^ https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/toronto2014election/2014/08/21/karen_stintz_to_make_announcement_after_no_comment_on_remaining_in_mayoral_race.html
  40. ^ "Karen Stintz wants to be the next CFL commissioner". Toronto Star. August 22, 2014. Retrieved August 25, 2014.
  41. ^ "Cohon will not seek third term as CFL Commissioner". CFL.ca. Retrieved 2014-08-21.
  42. ^ http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/5527230-karen-stintz-has-new-gig-with-arts-organization
  43. ^ "2016 Real Estate Roundtable: Does Toronto's red-hot market still have room to run?". Retrieved 2018-10-03.

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