The Toronto Community Housing Corporation is launching a review of condominium purchases by two of its former executives in Regent Park after a newspaper report raised conflict-of-interest questions over the sales.
A series of stories in the Toronto Sun this past weekend said that several people connected to the redevelopment of the east-end neighbourhood had bought condos in the project. Those named in the story included the two former TCHC employees, Derek Ballantyne and Gordon Chu; three executives at Daniels Corporation, the project's developer, including CEO Mitch Cohen; and local councillor Pam McConnell, one of the project's boosters.
The revitalization of Regent Park is a 15-year project to replace the massive social-housing project's aging apartment blocks and isolated parks with new, mixed-use buildings and improved streetscapes. The idea is to create a neighbourhood with a mix of social housing and market-value condos.
Bu the Sun pieces alleged that low-income residents had been squeezed out of the area by middle-class condo buyers, some of whom had used public money to help finance their purchases.
In a statement Tuesday, the chair of TCHC's board said the organization had asked Patrick J. LeSage, a former chief justice of Ontario, to lead a review of the situation. A TCHC committee will meet with him shortly.
"There is a need to clarify the facts and address the governance and structure of these purchases, including any possibility of a conflict of interest," said Bud Purves in the statement. "This is necessary to maintain the trust of our shareholder and the public. … I want to confirm that Toronto Community Housing remains committed to the goals of the Regent Park revitalization. This review will not affect current commitments at Regent Park nor detract from projects currently under construction."