A statement from Martin Blake, Vice President of The Daniels Corporation, Toronto.
TORONTO, March 28, 2012 /CNW/ - "It is unfortunate that the Toronto Sun is attempting to discredit a public/private partnership celebrated around the world as the model by which challenged urban neighbourhoods can be re-imagined and re-created. Most importantly, it is a shame that the historic work and incredible accomplishments of local residents who have worked tirelessly since 1995 to transform their community are being undermined.
"Questions have been raised regarding the appropriateness of Executives from both Toronto Community Housing (TCH) and The Daniels Corporation (Daniels) purchasing units in Regent Park.
"The success of the revitalization depended entirely on Daniels ability to sell condominiums in a neighbourhood that carried a significant stigma throughout the city.
"Leading up to the first sale at Regent Park, a majority of people watching the revitalization unfold questioned the ability for anyone to be able to sell units within this neighbourhood.
"Their predictions were supported by the fact that we would be trying to sell homes during the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
"This was at a time when the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) referred to sales as 'dismal', which included a 77% drop in High Rise condominium sales.
"Toronto Sun Columnist Sue-Ann Levy, wrote on January 4, 2009, that 'a looming recession, widespread layoffs and consumer confidence that has plunged into the dumpster and there's no doubt in my mind real estate sales will continue to slump this year'.
"Given the dire predictions, we felt it was essential that we demonstrate our confidence in the revitalization.
"TCH and Daniels Executives did not just talk about the revitalization, we 'walked the walk', and purchased in Regent Park.
"These purchases were supported by a review from the former City of Toronto Integrity Commissioner David J. Mullan, who noted 'provided that there is no preferential access or priority, there can be no objection to any employee of TCHC (whether a member of the project team or not) purchasing a condominium in the Regent Park Revitalization at the price at which that condominium is available to the general public.'
"TCH and Daniels Executives purchased at full market price, without discount, after Regent Park residents and a waiting list of potential purchasers had chosen their suites.
"Questions have also been raised regarding the mix of rental and ownership within the same buildings. Integration in this form was not part of the Revitalization plan.
"The goal was to ensure a healthy mix of rental and ownership opportunities for Torontonians. TCH has achieved this by ensuring that both Rent-Geared-to-Income and Affordable Rental units are provided within each of their rental buildings.
"Over 800 people have chosen to invest their equity and live in Regent Park, including TCH residents and first-time homebuyers who have been able to make use of funds provided by the Canada-Ontario Affordable Housing Program, which has helped them transition from being a tenant to becoming a Toronto taxpaying homeowner.
"Toronto taxpayers do not subsidize the market condominiums sold in Regent Park. A portion of the revenue from the sale of the condominium units is used to offset the cost to replace the new Rent-Geared-to-Income and Affordable Rental units in the community.
"One of the fundamental principles of the Revitalization was to provide jobs and career path opportunities for Regent Park residents. To date, over 450 people have gained employment as a direct result of the revitalization.
"National brand corporations believed in the vision and firmly planted their banners in Regent Park.
"The Royal Bank of Canada is a true champion of the revitalization, and has hosted three job fairs in the community, and has hired local residents not only for the Regent Park branch, but also across the city.
"The Sobeys FreshCo team have been incredible partners in the revitalization, with 80 of their 96 employees walking to work from their homes in Regent Park.
"Tim Hortons sponsors youth from the community to attend their Camps program, and 35 of 37 employees are Regent Park residents.
"The revitalization is truly transforming this neighbourhood. The new City of Toronto Aquatic Centre is under construction on the north side of Dundas Street, in the new six acre Park.
"Across from the Park, at the very heart of this transformation, you'll see the new Arts and Cultural Centre opening this fall. This Centre will become the heart and soul of the 'new' Regent Park, where owners and tenants will come together to be inspired by music, dance, film, theatre and visual arts. Where the diversity of Regent Park and our city will shine, and where kids from the neighbourhood will connect and collaborate with artists from Toronto and around the world.
"The revitalization is working, transforming Regent Park into a healthy and desirable mixed income, mixed use neighbourhood. It is working because the vision is clear and strong, and because all the partners - residents, social services agencies, and both public and private sector partners, share that vision, and are working diligently to make it real.
"All of us at Daniels are proud to play a role in applying our community development expertise to ensure that the social infrastructure of the 'new' Regent Park will be as strong as the steel and concrete that support these beautiful new buildings."
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