TORONTO — Rob Ford’s body will lie in repose for two days at city hall before he is laid to rest next week — a rare honour the city says has not been granted to a former mayor in decades.
A statement on behalf of Ford’s family said mourners will be able to pay their respects to the late councillor on Monday and Tuesday.
A procession Wednesday morning will start from city hall and end at St. James Cathedral, where a funeral will be held. After the service, Ford’s family will leave for a private ceremony.
City protocol calls for flags to be lowered at half-mast and condolence books provided to mark the death of a former mayor, but “anything beyond that would be at the discretion of the mayor and depending on what the family’s wishes are,” said city spokeswoman Jackie DeSouza.
“Typically the family would make the arrangements and request the city’s assistance,” she said.
Mayor John Tory’s office said Ford’s family made the request and the mayor gave his blessing, as then-mayor Ford did for Jack Layton, who laid in repose at city hall after his death in 2011.
No other former mayor or councillor has lain in repose at city hall since the city amalgamated in 1998, and municipal staff don’t have access to earlier records, DeSouza said.
Ford’s supporters will also get the chance to celebrate his life Wednesday evening at the Toronto Congress Centre.
The former mayor’s family is asking for people to submit short video clips of their experiences with Ford, which will be compiled into a montage and played at the celebration.
The family is also asking that instead of sending flowers, people donate to the Ford-Panov research panel at Mount Sinai hospital, where Ford was treated for cancer.
“Coun. Ford’s family wishes to express their gratitude for the thousands of messages of support they have received from around the world,” the statement said.
“As difficult as it is to say goodbye, they would like to do so in the same manner in which he lived his life, by sharing it with the people.”
Ford died in hospital Tuesday after battling a rare and aggressive type of cancer.
The diagnosis in September 2014 came less than a year after Ford confessed to smoking crack while in one of his “drunken stupors.”
The illness forced him to withdraw from his bid for re-election in favour of running for councillor in his west-end ward, which he won in a landslide.
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team in Toronto in 2012; he was dropped by the team in May 2013