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Toronto Regent Park purchases intended to demonstrate confidence, developer says

The Toronto Police Services Board meeting held at police headquarters at 40 College St.. Vice Chair Pam McConnell.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The company charged with redeveloping the inner-city Regent Park neighbourhood is defending its executives' purchases of condominiums in the project, saying they were made to "demonstrate confidence" in the area.

Over the weekend, the Toronto Sun ran a series of stories attacking Daniels Corporation and Toronto Community Housing Corporation, along with a city councillor, for buying condos in the development. The story also suggested the project, designed to transform the run-down public housing project into a mixed-income neighbourhood, was simply allowing wealthy condo buyers to displace low-income residents.

But Daniels says there was nothing improper about the transactions.

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In a statement, vice-president Martin Blake said that, with the social stigma traditionally attached to Regent Park and the country in the throes of an economic downtown, executives decided they should show that they believed in the neighbourhood by buying there.

"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," he said. "Given the dire predictions, we felt it was essential that we demonstrate our confidence in the revitalization."

He said executives bought their units at full market price and only after Regent Park residents and people on a waiting list had been given the chance to buy.

Mr. Blake also argued that the Sun was wrong to characterize the developments as a failure because low-income people are not housed in the same buildings as condo buyers. He said that sort of integration was never part of the plan: instead, Daniels is building the condos while the TCHC runs rental buildings with a mix of market-value and subsidized units.

The TCHC's board has already announced plans to review former housing executives' condo purchases, with a former judge, Patrick LeSage, leading the investigation.

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