The head of Toronto Community Housing has backed off a potential renovation of the corporation's Rosedale headquarters.
(See letter Gene Jones sent to Chair of TCHC Board below)
On Thursday, President and CEO Gene Jones lamented his "little office" is more worthy of a manager than a CEO. "I'm embarrassed to bring anyone up there.", Jones told reporters.
A spruce up of Jones' workplace was part of a wider proposal to renovate TCHC 's Yonge St home. Planned fixups included new paint jobs, carpets, toilets, light fixtures and furniture with a price tag of close to $2-million.
The plan infuriated the mayor. "I'm livid. I'm absolutely livid" Rob Ford told Newstalk 1010's Jerry Agar Friday. "I hope he's not losing track of what he's there for...And if an office spending two million dollars is his priority, then I'm gonna have to sit down and have a chat with him."
TCHC's Vice President and Chief Development officer told the board Thursday the corporation was suffering from a "chronic space problem".
TCHC staff has also proposed renting over 25, 500 sq ft of office space on Bay St, near College St. The potential cost has not been made public.
The expansion and reno plan comes as TCHC tries to make headway on a capital repair backlog of $751-million. The mayor says "the money has to go to the tenants, it has to go fixing up Toronto Community housing."
A woman who identified herself as a community housing tenant called Jerry Agar to share her frustration.
"I've got centipedes crawling all over me...I have mold, I've got mildew, sometimes I don't even get cold water", said the caller. "That office is nothing compared to what people have to live in".
Councillor and TCHC board member Frances Nunziata says the reno request "was absolutely insane. "I think it was one of the most insane requests that I've ever heard", Nunziata told Agar.
On Thursday, Nunziata questioned why TCHC couldn't use already open space in city-owned facilities like City Hall or Metro Hall, rather than rent.
Vice President Greg Spearn said "the city was canvassed for available space...and we were told, they have none".
TCHC President & CEO Gene Jones will join John Tory on the Live Drive at 4:10pm Friday.
The following letter was sent out Friday.
931 Yonge Street
October 25, 2013
Mr. Bud Purves
Chair, Board of Directors
Toronto Community Housing
Dear Board Chair,
After reflecting on concerns raised by several directors and my staff, I am withdrawing our
proposal to renovate 931 Yonge St. and lease office space at 777 Bay St. from the agenda
for the December 11th board meeting.
As you know, these were interim measures intended to address urgent space requirements
and improve service delivery while market conditions become more favourable to a sale of
I remain committed to developing a plan to find suitable office accommodation
for staff and residents located closer to the communities we serve. This plan will:
1. Improve resident access to services
2. Generate savings that can be used to pay for capital repairs to our housing, and
3. Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations.
We have already done a great deal of work to review our real estate options, including
issuing several requests for proposals. However, I have instructed my staff to step back and
take another look at our plan, and to consult with the City of Toronto, our residents, and the
real estate sector on potential solutions.
We will come back to the board sometime in 2014 to present a comprehensive analysis of
the options we have considered and recommended solutions. In the interim, we will make
the best use of our existing office space at 931Yonge and elsewhere in the city. We will
refocus our efforts on finding solutions to our space needs that will improve services,
increase efficiency and provide value for money.
At the December 11th board meeting, I will bring forward our 2014 budget setting out how we
deliver on the priorities identified in our three-year strategic plan. I thank you for the support
the board provided on items brought forward yesterday, including Phase 3 of the Regent
Park revitalization,the Don Summerville development, our investment plan, and the 10-year
capital financing plan with the City of Toronto. These are all positive steps forward in
achieving our goal of being a landlord of excellence.
Eugene Jones Jr.
President and Chief Executive Officer