Residents group says Etobicoke MP James Maloney is backing developer, not residents
'There’s a definite lack of transparency with the way he’s gone about it,' resident group says
Several community groups in south Etobicoke say they're "astounded" their MP seems to be backing a local developer, instead of them, in their fight against city hall.
CBC News has learned that two weeks ago, Liberal MP James Maloney approached Metrolinx's Chief Planner Leslie Woo and encouraged the agency to drop its appeal of a controversial rezoning decision made by city council this summer.
Martin Gerwin of the Mimico Lakeshore Community Network, an umbrella group representing seven neighbourhood organizations, told CBC News "there's been no public consultation that we know of that the community is behind [Maloney]. There's a definite lack of transparency with the way he's gone about it."
Local resident Judith Rutledge echoed the comments saying the organization is "outraged" and that Maloney "doesn't reflect the viewpoint of the community."
Metrolinx warned facility might have to close if residents complained
For decades, a stretch of land on Judson Street had been used for commercial and industrial purposes. But in June, city council voted 21-15 to rezone the lands to allow for residential development. Etobicoke-based developer Dunpar Homes Limited had applied to build townhomes and a commercial building there.
But city planners found the lands were unsuitable for homes because they're too close to a busy rail line and to a massive Metrolinx rail maintenance facility that will soon run 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Metrolinx recently spent millions of dollars to upgrade the facility. Transit officials told council that rezoning the lands could have dire consequences for the agency's plans to expand GTA rail service.
In fact, Metrolinx warned councillors the facility might have to close if new residents complained about noise or vibrations coming from the maintenance yard. Yet city council, at the request of Etobicoke councillors Mark Grimes and Justin Di Ciano, voted to rezone the lands — a move that would benefit the developer.
Maloney rents constituency office in building owned by Dunpar's president
CBC News has reported on Di Ciano's ties to Dunpar.
The city's integrity commissioner is now investigating allegations Di Ciano may have benefited "financially and politically" from the developer. They are claims Di Ciano has denied.
In a statement to CBC News, the councillor said, "I do not believe that I have contravened the City's Code of Conduct (or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act for that matter), and am taking that position in responding to the complaint with the Integrity Commissioner."
CBC News has learned that Maloney, the rookie Liberal MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore also has some ties to Dunpar. His Etobicoke constituency office is located on Islington Avenue in a building owned by Dunpar president John Zanini.
Parliamentary records show Maloney spent $12,435.00 in public funds in the last quarter to rent the office. The office is on the second floor of a two-storey strip mall, that will likely be demolished. Dunpar has begun selling townhomes they plan to build on the site.
Maloney 'should have known better,' resident says
Dan Irwin is a long-time resident of Judson Street and has been a vocal opponent of council's move to rezone the lands, a move that benefits Dunpar.
He says Maloney "should have known better" than to urge Metrolinx to drop the appeal.
"Maloney is a well-known political ally of Grimes and Di Ciano," said Irwin. "Instead of supporting the local councillors, Maloney should be supporting the residents." Maloney is a past campaign manager for Coun. Grimes.
In a statement to CBC News, another community group, the Lakeshore Planning Council Corporation, said, "LPCC is surprised and disappointed to learn that Etobicoke federal MP James Maloney has approached Metrolinx and asked them to drop the appeal." The group says it supports the wishes of local residents and Metrolinx.
CBC News has learned the Metrolinx official declined to discuss the matter with Maloney when approached, citing the pending appeal.
Maloney has not responded to questions from CBC News.
John Lancaster can be reached at 416-205-7538 or email@example.com