Mayor Rob Ford's war on gravy may have succeeded, at least when it comes to the City Hall cafeteria.
The City of Toronto is considering ending its lease with the company that operates the Café on the Square, arguing that it owes more than $330,000 in unpaid fees.
The café, which has operated the cafeteria frequented by politicians and visitors since 1999, renewed its $700,000 lease with the city in 2012 for 10 years. But a new report from city staff says that, just two years into that term, the company has failed to pay more than $190,000 in maintenance fees, and has not carried out $140,000 worth of renovations agreed upon in the lease.
According to the staff report, the café's problems stem from changes to the lease terms in 2012 that dramatically increased the "common area and maintenance" rates, and removed the company's exclusive rights as food-service provider at City Hall.
Another reason it cites for the café's financial situation is that in 2010 – shortly after Mayor Rob Ford was elected with a mandate to "stop the gravy train" – city council voted to end the practice of providing snacks and drinks at meetings.
City staff are urging the city's government management committee to "demand rectification" for the arrears at its meeting next Monday, and to "exercise all remedies available to the city pursuant to the lease or otherwise at law, including, without limitation, terminating the lease…"
If the lease is ended, the staff report says, the city will "make the necessary arrangements for an interim food service operator to provide grab-and-go service at City Hall until other options for delivering food service can be evaluated and implemented."