City investigating seizure of bikes at Hudson's Bay Centre

The city is investigating the seizure of bicycles by Brookfield Office Properties, the real estate company behind the Hudson's Bay Centre.

Bikes were on private property, company says. Not so, says city official

Bicyclist Lisa Ferguson poses by the pole from which her locked bicycle was removed by a security guard at the nearby Hudson's Bay Centre. (CBC)

The city is investigating the seizure of bicycles by Brookfield Office Properties, the real estate company behind the Hudson's Bay Centre. 

The company has been cutting off locks and removing bikes from a post on the northeast corner of Yonge Street and Bloor Street East, just steps from The Bay. 

Bicyclist Lisa Ferguson assumed her bike would be safe when she locked it to the pole but, upon returning 90 minutes later, it was gone, apparently stolen. 

"I spent several minutes kind of walking around in disbelief," Ferguson told CBC News. 

When Ferguson noticed a nearby security camera she approached a guard, thinking the camera might have caught the thief in the act.

The guard, who works for Brookfield, said he'd removed her bike by cutting the lock.

The pole, though it is topped by a TTC sign, is private property according to Brookfield. The company said security has been routinely cutting locks and confiscating bikes.

Three were impounded on Wednesday alone.

But according to the city, the pole is public property. 

City manager Andre Filippetti says its distance from the sidewalk — 4.8 metres — is just within city boundaries.

"It would appear that it's just within public property. It's very close," Filippetti told reporters. 

Clockwise from left: the pole with the TTC signage at the corner of Yonge and Bloor streets, a security guard with Brookfield Office Properties, and Lisa Ferguson's cut bike lock. (Lisa Ferguson/Facebook)

Safety concerns

Brookfield​ told CBC News the bicycles are removed because of safety concerns, and that there are many proper bike racks nearby. Bikes are stored for months and can be claimed any time, the company said. 

But Brookfield would not say how many bikes have been seized. 

Ferguson claimed her bike on Wednesday but wants Brookfield to replace her lock, which she says cost $134. 

"I wonder how many people have had their bikes removed from this pole and just gone home, thinking 'Oh my god, my bike was stolen,'" she said. 

City bylaw officers expect to complete their investigation in about a week. 

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