U of T neighbours fearful as selloff plan hits homes
Future uncertain for tenants as university seeks to raise funds by selling off property
Excerpt from an article by Louise Brown – Toronto Star
When his daughter was 7, Audi Dharmalingam got a call from the local corner store, where the owner spotted the young adventurer about to cross Spadina Ave. â€“ and thought her father should know.
“That’s the sort of neighbourhood this is: people watch out for each other,” said Dharmalingam, 74, a retired social worker.
He lives in the leafy enclave southeast of Bloor St. and Spadina Ave. in one of 80 Victorian homes rented out by the University of Toronto at modest rates for more than 40 years.
But suddenly, for the second time in six months, those living in the historic Huron-Sussex neighbourhood fear the university is gearing up to sell their homes â€“ and leave the future shaky for the 100 long-term residents, many of them seniors living on less than $30,000 a year.
Both City Councillor Adam Vaughan and MP Olivia Chow have asked the university this week for reassurance it will do nothing to disrupt this close-knit community, and are waiting for a reply.
“This is no way to treat your neighbours, to plan a big change â€“ nudge, nudge, wink, wink â€“ but not consult with the community,” Vaughan said this week at a public meeting attended by about 50 anxious residents.
Their worries were sparked by a sweeping new real estate plan approved earlier this month by the university’s business board, which discusses freeing up money the university has “tied up in real estate assets.”
The money would be channelled into long-needed repairs or used to build new facilities.
The plan cites the Huron Sussex quadrant as “an early opportunity” immediately after a paragraph entitled “Unlock the Real Estate Values.”
The report, which goes to the university’s governing council next week, pegs the value at about $40 million for the houses between Bloor and Harbord Sts., and Spadina Ave. and St. George St.
It notes that selling the homes in this quadrant “would provide needed funds for the numerous other capital projects currently being evaluated.”
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