The Debate Over a Few Toronto Mortgages
With all the debate over Toronto condos that’s been going on for the last several months, there are a few units in particular that are causing a huge stir in the city. The concern over these units is not that they’re overpriced or that they’re contributing to an already overheated market. Nope. The worry with these condos lies in the fact that some citizens of the city believe that they were given to Toronto politicians. And that those politicians were given discounts on their Toronto mortgage – as well as other perks – just for buying the unit.
The whole mess surrounds The Regent Park Revitalization Project. The project was started in 2005, and it was a big one. It involved tearing down the post-war building that once stood (just barely) and replacing it with a more modern, mixed-use, and mixed-income community. Once only a place of low-income tenants, great poverty, and violence, the revitalization at Regent Park was supposed to change that, and bring a new face to something that was once decrepit.
And new faces it has brought! The two most controversial of those were undoubtedly Derek Ballantyne, who was president of TCHC at the time; and Daniels Corp. executives – the company that was hired to redevelop the area and bring it back to life. Of course, once word got out that Ballantyne and those executives purchased units in Regent Park, people started to cry favouritism and unfairness. And many of those people were in Mayor Rob Ford’s office.
Now though, an Ontario court judge, has ruled that not only was their no conspiracy at Regent Park, but that those buyers did the right thing by showing faith in a project that so few wanted to attach their own faith to.
Patrick LeSage is a retired Ontario court judge who wrote a special report on Friday in regards to the project. In that report he said,
“The relevant information and pertinent documentation I have reviewed, and the individuals with whom I have spoken who were involved with the decision-making process…satisfy me that TCHC employees did not receive any benefit or preference not available to the general public.”
In that same report, LeSage pointed to the success of the Revitalization Project which, even though it isn’t finished yet, has been able to achieve its goal. The project now not only includes assisted housing, as it once did, but housing that’s available at full market price, too. And unless you’re the one buying the unit, no one knows which ones are which.
LeSage admitted that it was these purchases that most likely helped, saying,
“Their purchases did enhance the success of the Revitalization Project.”
However, this kind of thing needs to be avoided in the future. It’s turned something great into something full of scandal (no matter how imagined.) Ballantyne was forced out of TCHC at the time it was found they were overspending – and at a time when the Revitalization Project was in full gear. He then moved on to Build Toronto, where Rob Ford once again forced him out. And although little of that had anything to do with The Revitalization Project, having his name attached to one of the condo units was no doubt was created the stirring of this condo pot.
Because of this, LeSage says that perhaps some new measures could be implemented that would ensure this kind of scandal wouldn’t happen again. His suggestion?
“Disclosure through a publicly-accessible Register….that would include financial transactions between TCHC and TCHC staff or executives.”
That could be a good solution to keep something positive in the city from becoming so dark and shady.