Ontario’s securities regulator has slapped Harry Stinson, the prominent Toronto real estate developer, with a cease trade order, alleging that companies under his control may have made misleading statements about investments in a Buffalo hotel.
The Ontario Securities Commission announced Tuesday that it was forbidding Mr. Stinson and four companies from trading or promoting any securities connected to the Buffalo Grand Hotel.
Mr. Stinson, who has developed several high-profile condominium buildings in downtown Toronto, such as Queen Street West’s Candy Factory Lofts and the 51-story One King West Hotel and Residence, did not respond to a message left with a receptionist at his Hamilton office or an e-mail as of Tuesday afternoon. In promotional material, Mr. Stinson has referred to himself as the “Condo King of Canada” and has compared the arc of his business career to “celebrated developer-turned-president, Donald Trump.”
The OSC’s temporary order states that the commission issued the directive expeditiously, and without holding a hearing, because the time required could be “prejudicial to the public interest.”
The temporary order, signed by the OSC’s vice-chairman Grant Vingoe, does not specify how Mr. Stinson or his companies may have allegedly misled investors.
“Staff are conducting an investigation into” the promotion and trading of the shares, the order states. The order also alleges that Mr. Stinson and the companies involved – including Buffalo Grand Hotel Inc., Stinson Hospitality Management Inc. and Restoration Funding Corp. – never registered with the OSC to sell securities to Ontario investors.
Mr. Stinson’s 2018 purchase of the 484-room hotel has been met with much fanfare in Buffalo, the closest major American city to Toronto and which has been undergoing something of an urban revival in recent years – attracting many creative professionals priced out the real estate market in New York and in Southern Ontario.
In December, the Buffalo Grand issued a news release touting itself as a “massive new live music and event venue ... that will give Canadian artists a much-needed boost and way into the lucrative and hard-to-reach U.S. market." The hotel held “an exclusive” New Year’s Eve concert featuring the Canadian rock band Glass Tiger, which achieved its the bulk of its commercial success in the 1980s.
In 2007, Mr. Stinson was effectively removed by court order from his role in the One King Street West project after a long-running commercial dispute with another investor, theatre impresario David Mirvish. Four companies connected to Mr. Stinson involved in the project were placed under the control of a trustee and receiver after Mr. Stinson was unable to settle a $10.4-million debt with Mirvish companies.
Mr. Stinson was also the founder of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, an anything-goes Toronto venue used for children’s birthday parties, famous for its food and pillow fights.