Toronto wasn’t always a megacity. Twenty-one years ago, Mike Harris’ Progressive Conservative government amalgamated East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York, and Toronto into one huge unit – ousting a few mayors in the process. The Planning Act, Sections 37 and 45, then guaranteed residents community benefits via developers in order to improve the neighbourhood surrounding the development. Now the City of Toronto is seeking to recoup $700,000 of unpaid bills from condo developers.
The money represents income owed post-city approval on a lucrative exception made to certain developers who were requesting for extra height and density on their building projects. More storeys on a building added to more density equals more units sold – a trend we are likely to see more of within GTA condos.
In June of this year, CBC News reported that Housing Minister Steve Clark supported a provincial push to boost development around transit hubs that removed a cap on tower heights and got rid of the city’s push for community infrastructure around growing communities.
That’s why the community investment fund is important – it was to be spent on parks, community centres, and other neighbourhood public spaces. So far, the city has collected $3.3 million in unpaid bills first identified by a review of the total $486.50 million Toronto builders agreed to pay between 2008 and 2017.
The city says outstanding payments remain from 920-922 Sheppard Ave. W., 359-377 Roehampton Ave., 695-717 Sheppard Ave. W., 758-764 Sheppard Ave. W. and 2388-2398 Lake Shore Blvd. W., and 13 Superior Ave.
Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 12 Toronto) urged colleagues to keep insisting on the money owed. He argued that the money was urgently needed by the city. After reaching out to Roehampton, which fell within his ward’s boundaries, the developer Ron Herczeg of Soho Developments expressed shock at the $200,000 bill saying, “This project built by Roehampton Birch Properties was completed over 10 years ago. It is a little odd that we were made aware of this issue only many years later. All fees to the city are always paid at the time of building permit issuance. One has to go back a long time to find out what happened here but we are in discussion with the city and rest assured, if there was an error made by the city or perhaps ourselves it will be rectified shortly.”
Toronto Star researched developers behind the projects, sometimes listed under corporations set up specifically for one development, and contacted them about the unpaid bills.
Joe Morano of Elm Developments was apparently also unaware of an unpaid $180,000 bill for 695-717 Sheppard Ave. W. and vowed to look into it.