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Mississauga News - Jul. 8, 2010 - By  Louie Rosella - lrosella@mississauga.net

Mayor pushed for hotel in City Centre

Mayor Hazel McCallion desperately wanted a hotel built in the city centre and was meeting with one of Canada's largest pension fund operators at the same time it was in final negotiations with her son's company to do just that, testimony and documents show.

The revelation was made public this afternoon in Mississauga court at the much-publicized judicial inquiry, which is looking into conflict of interest allegations against the mayor.

Bram Costin, a lawyer for the former owner of the property in question, testified the land deal negotiations that eventually sparked the allegations were triggered to satisfy the mayor's desire to build a hotel in the City Centre.

Costin, a real estate lawyer for Oxford Properties, a subsidiary of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), said his company entered into negotiations with World Class Developments (WCD) for whom the mayor's son Peter McCallion was a key player back in 2006.

"My understanding was that she (mayor) thought a four-star hotel was needed in the city centre to enhance the area," Costin told Commission Counsel William McDowell.  "My client wanted to satisfy the City's desire for there to be a hotel in the City Centre area."

The mayor believed a fancy hotel was "important to enhance the city centre's role as a true, downtown city centre," Costin said.

A conditional deal was in place for OMERS to sell the land to WCD, and in a memo from WCD lawyer Emilio Bisceglia dated Feb. 28, 2008 containing amendments to the agreement of purchase and sale, there are handwritten notes by OMERS president Michael Nobrega stating a "meeting with Hazel" will take place the following month in his office.

The document was part of several filed as exhibits today (Thursday) detailing the intricacies of the proposed deal.

Once WCD owned the land, it would build a four-star hotel run by an international hotel chain, possibly Marriott, complete with a fitness centre and full-service restaurant, the inquiry heard.

However, the deal fell through when conditions and revisions weren't met.

The second phase of the Mississauga judicial inquiry is probing conflict of interest allegations against the mayor and the role her son played in the failed $14.4-million bid by his company, WCD, to purchase the 3.5-hectare parcel of City Centre land owned by OMERS.

After the WCD deal was terminated, OMERS subsequently sold the land to the City, which, in turn, leased it to Sheridan College.

McCallion and her son are expected to testify during proceedings.


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