Toronto city councillors are trading accusations and denials over a report that two councillors pay cheap rent to a company that does business with the city.
Councillors David Shiner and Giorgio Mammoliti each rent two-bedroom apartments in a building at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue that is run by Greenwin Property Management and owned by sister company, Verdiroc Holdings, CBC News reported Tuesday. While the building's website says such units start at $1,650 a month, CBC said Mr. Shiner was paying just under $630 as of last June and Mr. Mammoliti paid slightly above $1,050.
Mr. Mammoliti took aim at the story and other investigations done recently of his affairs by the CBC.
"I think most of what the CBC has done over the last year has been incorrect," he told The Globe and Mail. "I have given everyone a statement and I hold firm to that. If CBC wishes to make any other comment then my lawyer will know about it."
In that statement, Mr. Mammoliti said he would not address stories "involving personal matters."
Mr. Mammoliti, who recently returned to Mayor Rob Ford's inner circle and is in line for an appointment to the executive committee, said he has not discussed the matter with the mayor. "It is something that there is no need to talk about," he said.
Mr. Shiner did not respond to requests for comment. However, he told the CBC in the summer that he was unsure of the exact rent because it is withdrawn from a bank account he looks at once a year, but he thought it was either $1,300 or $1,500. CBC said his rent was increased to slightly over $1,300 a month after it contacted the companies for comment.
A spokesman for Greenwin, which manages several buildings for Toronto Community Housing Corporation, declined to answer questions on the matter.
"In accordance with privacy laws, we strive to ensure our residents' privacy and protect the confidentiality of the terms of their rental agreements. As such, Greenwin will not offer comment on any individual tenancies within our buildings," Danny Roth said by e-mail.
Mayor Rob Ford refused to comment while attending a community council meeting to recommend an appointment for the council seat in Etobicoke left vacant by the provincial by-election win of Doug Holyday.
Councillor Adam Vaughan said Mr. Shiner and Mr. Mammoliti should declare conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from any related votes to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. He noted that Mr. Mammoliti is a former member of the housing corporation's board of directors.
"It's concerning any time a politician gets a special deal or a privilege which isn't part of the public record or acknowledged in a documented way," Mr. Vaughan said. "It casts a shadow and whether it's cast fairly or unfairly, you go back and review – you start to wonder. Greenwin was awarded several contracts, for example, when Giorgio Mammoliti was there. You know, there's a relationship. What impact did the relationship have?"
CBC said it had not found any evidence Mr. Mammoliti had voted on any Greenwin contracts while a TCHC director.
Councillor Frank Di Giorgio said he is not familiar with this case, but as a rule said councillors should be paying full rent.
"There should be some investigation of it," he told reporters. "You would assume that someone who has a position of councillor should not necessarily get any special consideration."
The story provoked outrage among some Twitter users. "I'm being priced out of my neighbourhood and Mammoliti and Shiner get rent deals," one said.
"This will make you a bit ragey," another wrote.
With a report from Kaleigh Rogers