The construction of a recreational facility at a Toronto high school could be delayed by two years, mired in legal wranglings and further disappointing residents and students.
The seasonal domed stadium at Central Technical School, near Bathurst and Harbord Streets, was scheduled to be completed in time for the school's spring athletic season. But the private operator, Razor Management, said his lenders froze financing last month after he was hit with an unexpected property-tax assessment on another school facility and did not receive any support from the Toronto District School Board for an exemption.
Matthew Raizenne, the owner of Razor, said in a letter to the board on Friday that he has to pay $700,000 in property taxes for a dome erected a few years ago at Monarch Park Collegiate, near Coxwell and Danforth Avenues, and he is unsure how much the Central Tech project will be assessed. He has appealed the assessment. He said that his lenders are awaiting the outcome, but have stopped financing the Central Park field in the meantime because they feel Mr. Raizenne is being targeted.
He has requested a two-year extension from the TDSB to complete the Central Tech project, allowing time for the appeal to be heard.
Construction recently restarted after almost two years of roadblocks. The field was about 25 per cent completed.
Mr. Raizenne believes the latest hiccup was caused by school trustees and city councillors opposed to his private company operating on public school land. Trustees recently asked TDSB staff to look at other ways to finish work on the field if Razor doesn't complete the project.
"I'm just tired of the way we're being treated," Mr. Raizenne said.
TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird said that the school board will support Mr. Raizenne in his appeal.
Razor's request for a time extension will be referred to trustees, Mr. Bird said. "Its on-time completion remains a priority," he added.
Central Tech's field has been closed since November, 2013, after testing revealed contaminants in the soil.
Under the 21-year deal between the school board and Razor, the company would create and maintain the facility at Central Tech. A dome would cover the sports field during the winter. Students would have use of the facility on weekdays during the school year.
The deal, however, faced resistance from residents and the city.
Many feared that private facilities on public land would limit their access to school grounds and cause traffic congestion. But a mediated settlement at the Ontario Municipal Board was reached last March with the city, the TDSB, community associations and Razor that would, among other things, reduce the size of the dome and give local residents more access to the field.
Tim Grant, chair of Harbord Village Residents' Association, said he was disappointed to hear of the latest delay, but is hopeful that the TDSB will find a way to pre-empt the appeal.
"We all worked hard to reach the settlement at the Ontario Municipal Board. It was a big compromise for the TDSB and the community and Matthew Raizenne," Mr. Grant said. "It's been several years since the kids have had a field and the community has had a field, so we're anxious to see the new project completed and occupied."