Open Letter to Bloor-Yorkville BIA From Concerned About Bloor Retailer Coalition



    Bloor Street Retailers Seek Release Of Documents

    TORONTO, Aug. 15 /CNW/ - The Concerned About Bloor retailer coalition
today released the following letter requesting documents from the
Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area.

    August 15, 2008

    BY COURIER

    
    Douglas Jure
    Chair, Bloor-Yorkville BIA
    55 Bloor St. W., Suite 220
    Toronto, ON
    M4W 1A5

    Dear Mr. Jure:

    Re: Bloor Street Transformation Project - Request to Examine Documents on
        Monday, August 18, 2008 at 12:00pm
    

    My client has made numerous requests to the Bloor-Yorkville BIA asking
for information on the Bloor Street Transformation Project (the "Project")
since October 2007.  As you know, my client has real concerns with the process
and the final design of the Project, particularly since it is being charged a
retail surtax to pay for this Project without any input or representation. 
For ten months, none of its requests for documents has been meaningfully
answered. Details of the Project were not shown to retailers until July 8,
2008, shortly before construction began. This lack of timely and full
disclosure by the Bloor-Yorkville BIA and the City has been a significant
problem with the Project. Below, we outline our requests again.
    By letter dated July 30, 2008, you agreed to produce to my client,
William Ashley China Ltd., the following documents in relation to the Project
provided we pay to you the amount of $831.00 (including a 50% deposit which
you indicated must be paid before any documents will be produced):

    
    -  Bloor-Yorkville BIA:
       -  All constitutional documents;
       -  All annual budgets in the last three years;
       -  Minutes and dates of all board meetings in the last three years;
       -  Minutes and dates of all annual meetings in the last three years;
       -  Copies of all meeting Agendas to include the business to be
          transacted at those meetings issued in the last three years;
       -  Dates on which all notices of meetings and any other notices in the
          last three years were issued;
       -  A list of dates on which William Ashley China and all other BIA
          businesses were provided with information (by way of mailing or
          invitations) about an opportunity to comment on the particulars of
          the Project;
       -  Mailing list of Bloor-Yorkville BIA members, of which the BIA does
          not warrant the accuracy of the information.

    -  Bloor Street BIA:
       -  All annual budgets in the last two years;
       -  Minutes and dates of all board meetings in the last two years;
       -  Minutes and dates of all annual meetings in the last two years;
       -  Copies of all meeting Agendas to include the business to be
          transacted at those meetings issued in the last two years;
       -  Dates on which all notices of meetings and any other notices in the
          last two years were issued.
    

    You also indicated to us that the Bloor-Yorkville BIA is taking the
position that it is up to the City of Toronto to decide whether or not to
produce the following documents to us given that the City has a "greater
interest" in such documents:

    
    -  The Bloor Street construction contract;
    -  The construction schedule;
    -  The complete drawings of the Project;
    -  A list of names of 48 assessed owners to whom notices were sent in
       January 2006 as part of the polling process proscribed under the
       Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, C. 25 to establish the Bloor Street
       BIA; and
    -  The 26 tenant lists (with 579 commercial tenants) received from the
       assessed owners as part of the polling process mentioned above.
    

    You will recall that I wrote to you on August 11, 2008 enclosing a cheque
in the amount of $415.50 (ie. the 50% deposit) and requesting that you begin
to process our document request as soon as possible. We note that we do not
accept that this is legitimate fee.
    Given that you have not provided any indication as to how long it will
take to process this request, representatives of my client, William Ashley
China Ltd., would like to attend your office on Monday, August 18, 2008 at
12:00pm to conduct a visual inspection of all of the above documents and to
make any copies (at their own expense) they deem necessary. We include in this
request all of the documents in which you say the City of Toronto has a
"greater interest", provided they are in your possession, because they relate
directly to the Project. We note that the City of Toronto has not yet
responded to our request for access to these documents.
    We think this is a reasonable request given that many of the above
documents were originally requested by my client nearly one year ago on
October 27, 2007 at a meeting between Dean Stark, Briar de Lange and Bob
Saunderson at your office. Documents related to the Project were requested
again on June 3, 2008 when Dean Stark and Bryna Berman attended your office;
on June 5, 2008 when Mr. Stark again attended your office; on June 6, 2008,
when Ms Berman wrote to Briar de Lange; on July 15, 2008 when Amanda Assing
wrote to your office; and finally on July 23, 2008 when I wrote to your
office. Notwithstanding these repeated requests, my client has never received
any access to these documents.
    I also note that your office cancelled a previous meeting it had promised
to hold with Mr. Stark on July 18, 2008 in relation to the above documents on
the inventive theory that confirmation of a meeting he had requested and that
you had agreed to was required. Your office also cancelled a subsequent
meeting with Mr. Stark that you had originally scheduled for July 30, 2008. 
In light of this, we wish to hereby confirm that Mr. Stark and other
representatives from William Ashley China Ltd. will be attending your offices
on Monday, August 18, 2008 at 12:00pm.
    As you know, the input of stakeholders, in this case the Bloor Street
retailers, in a Project of this magnitude, is critical to the viability of the
Project. It is also vital to the future ability of these businesses to
continue to thrive, for the sake of their customers, their staff and their
bottom lines.
    The Project has been wrongly categorized as a Schedule A / A+ (ie. a
pothole/maintenance project) whereas it should have been classified as a
Schedule C project such as was done in the case of the Jarvis Streetscape
Project. A Schedule A / A+ classification conveniently allowed the City to
circumvent the extensive public consultation and environmental study
requirements for projects of this magnitude under the Municipal Class
Environmental Assessment.
    In spite of the allegations you have made in the news, which claim that
retailers had sufficient information about the Project, a poll of the
retailers on Bloor Street, conducted on July 16th, revealed that 96% (84 of 87
canvassed) did not have input into the formation of the Project. Consultation
with landowners and residents is not a substitute for consultation with
retailers and tenants. Neither landowners nor residents are paying the surtax
which is funding the Project, and neither depends on the ongoing functionality
of and access to the area in order to stay in business.

    I trust the foregoing is satisfactory.

    Yours truly,
    Clayton C. Ruby

    
    cc: Darrel Smith, City of Toronto, Legal Services
        Suzanne Craig, City of Toronto Corporate Access and Privacy Office
    




For further information:

For further information: John Ratchford, (416) 640-1579,
www.ConcernedAboutBloor.com

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