May 23, 2017
This week Toronto city council will vote to create a city-wide real estate board called the Toronto Realty Agency, as well as remortgage Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
The purpose of the board is to centralize all of the city’s real estate activities and strategize how to best use the 6,976 buildings (or 106.3 million square feet) the city owns. The purpose of the remortgage is to allow the city to fix a mortgage rate and lock in plans for repairs and development.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Mayor John Tory said the new real estate board will not be in charge of decisions for Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). “At the moment [TCHC] have their own board and while they’re going to obviously be affected by the [new real estate] agency, I think a lot of those kinds of decisions, with respect to redevelopment of some of those lands, and the kinds of revitalizations we see at Lawrence Heights and Regent Park, would continue to be focused in the housing corporation itself.”
TCHC (through council) wants to move forward a refinancing plan with Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation. The result would see TCHC borrow $64.8 million for its buildings and would involve an investment mechanism for the renewal and repair of 22 buildings.
However, some of that money could end up going towards brand new housing developments.
A comparison of the 22 properties listed in the terms sent to TCHC from Infrastructure Ontario with data obtained by The Toronto Star published on Tuesday reveals some of the funds the organization intends to borrow from the province are for buildings that have, and will continue to have, a “good” status, such as the property at 42 Hubbard Blvd.
At least seven of the TCHC properties listed for repairs were previously intended for sale, according to a letter addressed to city clerk Ulli Watkiss from then CEO of TCHC Len Koroneos.
There are also some big changes to some of the properties. Take 118 Paton Rd.: according to a background document from 2012, this building was a “2 – Storey Semi-Detached House Single Fam” building for one unit. However, in the recent “Appendix 2” for the refinancing plan, this building is listed as having 19 units. And yet The Toronto Star’s map shows no social housing properties on Paton Rd. at all.
The report by city staff describes a very long-term approach: “TCHC has negotiated refinancing terms with Ontario Infrastructure and Lands Corporation (‘IO’) that will result in a new 30-year term for these mortgages at the much lower interest rates that prevail today. By extending the repayment term, TCHC will be able to raise the $25.9 million required to repay the existing CMHC mortgages as well as a further $38.9 million in funding that will be used for capital maintenance work on the twenty-two refinanced properties.”
City council will vote on both the Toronto Realty Agency and the TCHC refinancing plan at this week’s council meeting.