Regent Park condo purchases were probably legit (but they’ll be reviewed nonetheless)

Regent Park condo purchases were probably legit (but they’ll be reviewed nonetheless)

Councillor Pam McConnell (Image: Christopher Drost)

The potentially shady condo purchases over at Regent Park have now grown from “Toronto Sun scandal” to “possibly legitimate scandal.” Following columnist Sue-Ann Levy’s articles over the weekend accusing councillor Pam McConnell, project developers and TCHC execs of wrongdoing by buying plum condos in the revitalization project, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation has asked former Ontario chief justice Patrick J. LeSage to review the situation. Still, whether he’ll find any misconduct remains to be seen, since Toronto’s former integrity commissioner okayed the purchases as long as no special discounts or treatment was given.

According to the Toronto Star:

The city’s integrity commissioner does not have jurisdiction over the TCHC, but Mullan — who had retired months earlier — was sought out for his reputation on such matters and his knowledge of local politics. A TCHC lawyer asked Mullan to offer his opinion on two questions.

One was whether it would be appropriate for TCHC employees to buy condos in the development. The other was whether it would be appropriate for the joint venture company to allow those employees to receive a direct-sale discount of 4.5 per cent.

Mullan strongly argued that it would be improper for the employees to accept any discount. But he said it would be perfectly acceptable for the employees to buy condos on the same terms as ordinary residents.

And, as the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee writes, McConnell insists she paid market rate, and never hid the fact that she was buying a condo—she actually boasted about moving into the neighbourhood in a newsletter. Moreover, the council vote to approve the project, in which McConnell did participate, took place well before she bought her unit. The question still remains, however, whether the upper-middle class people buying into Regent Park are squeezing out low-income residents (the project was supposed to integrate the poor into the fabric of a vibrant new neighbourhood, after all). Levy contends that the revitalization doesn’t include any rent-geared-to-income units—and that doesn’t sound like the making of a true mixed-income development.

TCHC reviewing Regent Park condo purchases by former employees [Globe and Mail]
Former integrity commissioner gave blessing to condo purchases by TCHC executives [Toronto Star]
Nothing shady about Pam McConnell’s Regent Park condo purchase [Globe and Mail]