Home Canada City of Vaughan won’t say why it refunded $11M earmarked for parks to developer

City of Vaughan won’t say why it refunded $11M earmarked for parks to developer

by News Desk
0 comment

The city of Vaughan has refused to disclose why it secretly refunded more than $11 million to the developer, despite fighting it in court to protect the money for taxpayers and public parks.

Royal 7 Developments paid $11 million to suburban Toronto as a condition of approval for the Expo City condominium project. It also gave land parcels adjacent to the city and turned them into urban parks.

Vaughan, like other Ontario cities, requires developers to provide land, cash, or both as a condition of approval for new developments. Royal 7 paid him $11 million in exchange for a larger plot of land.

However, according to documents unearthed by local activist Richard Lorello, the city council returned the money in 2018 and also agreed for Royal 7 to build a parking lot under the lot.

“It’s really disappointing that the city hasn’t clarified why this money was returned when it could have clearly been used for parks and recreation centers,” Lorello said.

“If it was such a good deal, why didn’t you know the terms of the contract?”

Local activist Richard Lorello has been trying to find out the terms of the city’s settlement with the Royal 7. (Nicole Brockbank/CBC)

Lorello discovered an $11 million refund in hundreds of pages of documents received through a Freedom of Information request about the Expo City project.

Four of the five condo towers on Highway 7 near Highway 400 were built. Construction of the 5th floor and underground car park is underway.

Royal 7 is a subsidiary of Cortel Group, the company of famous developer Mario Cortellucci.

Lorello has been trying to find the benefit, if any, that the city has seen in returning millions of dollars and allowing Royal 7 to build a garage under its intended park.

He says the city shouldn’t be able to write off millions of dollars that may have been directed at park facilities without explaining to the public what they got in return.

“Don’t let this go,” he said. “If this is OK, you can do everything like this, right? You approve things in a public meeting of the city council and then go into a closed meeting and basically undo everything without the public’s knowledge.” I was able to.”

Construction is underway for an underground parking garage adjacent to Royal 7’s Expocity condominium development and a park above it. The city hopes the park will be completed by the end of the year. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

paid under protest

Royal 7 paid $11 million under protest, claiming Vaughan had no right to ask for it. That requirement was different from a previous Ontario City Council (OMB) decision regarding a proposed development on the same site.

In its decision, OMB ruled that the city would only acquire park land from previous owners as a condition of development. The Royal 7 took the fight to the Ontario Superior Court over his $11 million.

The city retained an outside law firm that claimed it had the right to acquire both the park land and the compensation.

“Royal 7 seeks to resort to a technical and narrow interpretation of the Planning Act … to circumvent its obligations and thereby obtain a windfall at the expense of taxpayers,” read court filings. is. “That shouldn’t be allowed”

Judge Robert Charney dismissed the case in January 2018, finding it more appropriate for OMB to hear it.

However, that September, the Vaughan City Council, in a session closed to the public, approved a settlement in which the city refunded money and Royal 7 dropped the case, so the case never materialized.

Lorello is still fighting through a complaint against his Freedom of Information request to get access to the city council minutes.

City says it will ‘solve’ confidential deal with Royal 7[s] Alternative cash-filling attractions for parklands, including dedication of parklands. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

As his own “sanity check,” he hired environmental and local government attorney David Donnelly to review the documents he obtained.

“I’ve never seen a situation where local governments have waived their right to collect both land and cash in return,” Donnelly said. There are numerous cases claiming that you can also have cash instead. [OMB] position over the years. “

CBC Toronto asked the city why it agreed to a cash refund.

In a statement, the city said it had entered into a confidential agreement with Royal 7 to “resolve appeals to pay cash in lieu of park sites, including the consecration of park sites.”

Work on the park above the garage is being coordinated with other work related to the fifth condominium tower, and landscaping is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The park will include “recreational facilities such as nature playgrounds, ice skating loops, splash pads and pavilions” for public and private events, it said.

Royal 7’s attorneys say the client has paid all necessary development costs.

“My client provides a geological park … and a four-story underground public car park for use by the city as part of the settlement,” said attorney Quinto Annibale.

In an email to Lorello reviewed by CBC Toronto, city staff said the garages contain parking for the general public and commercial and residential visitors for the three Expocity towers. It also said the developer owns the garage and owns the park.

In a report to Lorello, Donnelly said that if the city refused to provide details about the settlement, his client would be required to report the council’s decision to the Ontario Police Department for further investigation. I am concluding.

“Why did they give away the money? There doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation,” Donnelly said.

“If there’s a document that describes the situation, or if there’s something we don’t have, the police can find out the truth very easily and the file will be opened and closed.”

Four of Expocity’s five condominium towers on Highway 7 near Highway 400 were built. Work will be done on the 5th. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Canadian Trends