Toronto

Metrolinx responds to criticism over selling land expected for Jane Finch community hub

Provincial transit agency Metrolinx says it is committed to getting a community centre built in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood after coming under fire for apparently reneging on a promise to donate the land for the project — and sell it at market value instead.

Transit agency says it is '100% committed to getting this community hub built'

Metrolinx is selling a parcel of land in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood at market value that city officials believed would be donated for the construction of a community hub. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Provincial transit agency Metrolinx says it is committed to getting a community centre built in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood after coming under fire for apparently reneging on a promise to donate the land for the project — and sell it at market value instead.

News of the decision to sell the land in the Finch Avenue West and Yorkgate Boulevard area drew sharp criticism among members of the community.

The reaction followed a letter penned by Toronto city councillor Anthony Perruzza to the agency calling the move an "abrupt reversal" that would "dash the hope of any future community hub."

 

In a statement Thursday, Metrolinx said it is "100% committed to getting this community hub built in partnership with the Community Action Planning Group (CAPG) and the City of Toronto. We recognize the importance of this project to the Jane Finch neighbourhood."

The agency added it has been working with the city for several months to explore "a variety of innovative options" to find the best solution to support the community hub.

In a statement issued Thursday, Mayor John Tory said discussions are ongoing between city staff and Metrolinx about the land.

"Council made it clear to Metrolinx in 2018 that this land should be designated for a combined community hub. I stand firmly behind that objective," Tory said.

"Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said this morning that they are 100 per cent committed to finding a way to make this happen. We will make sure we hold Metrolinx to that commitment."

The area where the land sits will eventually be served by the Finch West LRT line, which is now under construction. The city has long viewed the area as a priority neighbourhood badly in need of investment.

Perruzza said in his letter he was recently told by Metrolinx officials that "the matter of turning the property over to the City/community was in its final stages" but that an email from agency staff dated July 14 said that it would "put the land to market when it was no longer needed for the project after 2023."

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne-Marie Aikins told CBC News on Tuesday that the agency is responsible for following processes and is therefore is unable to donate the land or sell it at less than its market price.

"It sounded like it was an understanding that the city and the community organization had that we were either going to give them the land or give it to them at a reduced price, or something like that," she said.

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