TRCA working in a renter's wonderland

TORONTO - Despite regular pleas for more public money to help prop up their watershed management efforts, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is sitting on 118 homes valued at $35 million, the Toronto Sun has learned.

And TRCA CEO Brian Denney -- who cashed in with about $340,000 in pension and wages in 2013 -- is living in one of the homes that are being rented, from all signs, to a limited pool of TRCA staff and others with ties to the conservation authority at modest rents of anywhere from $759 per month to at the most, $1,800 a month.

Former Toronto budget chief, Mike Del Grande, who presided over three TRCA budgets, knew nothing about the existence of the homes or that they were being rented until told by the Toronto Sun last week.

While there is nothing legally wrong with renting them, Del Grande thinks the homes are not being rented at market values considering $1,500 gets one a two-bedroom apartment -- and not a very good one -- in his part of Scarborough.

"If these homes aren't attracting market rent, they're basically giving subsidies to the people in there," he said. "It seems the rents were picked on the fly."

Del Grande said the proper procedure would have been to go in there and get a real estate appraisal to determine what the house would command on the open market.

But that does not appear to have happened. According to Lori Colussi, TRCA's manager of leases and risk management, the homes are advertised on Kijiji, Craigslist, through e-mails to staff, word of mouth and in Renter's News -- but evidently not on MLS.


TRCA working in a renter's wonderland | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun