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A pedestrian walks by a bike locked to a sign post on King St. West in this file photo. Lisa Ferguson said her bicycle was locked to a pole at the northeast corner of Yonge and Bloor streets, but was gone when she returned.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

A commercial property giant was accused of being a thief for removing a locked bicycle from the city sidewalk outside one of its Toronto buildings.

Lisa Ferguson said her bicycle was locked to a pole at the northeast corner of Yonge and Bloor streets, but was gone when she returned. According to her irate posting on Facebook, security guards told her they were acting for the building's owner, Brookfield Property Partners, and that she could reclaim her bicycle.

"Since when is the SIDEWALK private property?" wrote Ms. Ferguson, who could not be reached for an interview. "I wonder how many people have just assumed their bike was stolen by some run-of-the-mill bike thief and gone home and cried like I was about to?"

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City staff confirmed on Thursday that the pole with a Toronto Transit Commission sign to which the bicycle was attached was on public property.

Brookfield, which has $50-billion in assets, scrambled to respond as a tide of outrage grew among Toronto cyclists.

Toronto-based spokesman Andy Willis said he was keen to contact Ms. Ferguson to ensure she gets her bike back and her lock replaced. But he also said it was his understanding that there was a long-standing agreement with the TTC that Brookfield would remove bicycles from this pole.

A TTC spokesman said he had no knowledge of this. "We, the TTC, do not have any concerns with anybody parking their bicycles or locking their bicycles to the pole," Brad Ross said.

Andre Filippetti, a manager with the City of Toronto responsible for rights of way in that area, said his department usually investigates complaints about abandoned bikes to determine if they are a safety risk or are impeding pedestrian traffic. There is no history of complaints for this site, he said.

"Quite frankly, the whole situation is, I'd say, uncommon. It's not something that typically happens. This is a unique situation for us," Mr. Filippetti said.

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