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To the main Judicial Inquiry page - to the Hazel McCallion page.

Mississauga News - Sept. 24, 2009 - By  Louie Rosella,

Land deal could kill college plan

A deal that would bring a new Sheridan College campus to the City Centre could fall apart because the City of Mississauga missed a key deadline in their bid to buy the land where the school would be built.

OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) spokesperson John Pierce said this morning that the deadline for the City to sign off on an agreement to purchase 8.8 acres of land adjacent to the Living Arts Centre came and went last Thursday.

"We consider the deal to now be in default so we've passed it on to our lawyers," Pierce said today.

However, he stopped short of saying the deal is dead.

"We can't tell what the future holds," he said.

City councillors still hope the sale will be finalized next week.

"There's a deal there, but we're waiting on some answers," said Ward 6 Councillor Carolyn Parrish.

Ward 7 Councillor Nando Iannicca said the $14.9 million deal that would see the land become City property "is up in the air as we speak," due to a number of concerns expressed by City Council.

An independent lawyer has been hired to review the concerns and file a report to councillors at next Wednesday's council meeting.

Parrish was upset that OMERS the Ontario municipal employees' pension plan that also owns Square One last week refused to give councillors a two-week extension to investigate their concerns.

"For them to not give us a two-week extension is shocking," she said.  "(OMERS) has always been a good corporate citizen. I'm blown away."

One of the issues preventing the City from buying the land is a concern about legal repercussions over a conflict-of-interest matter involving Mayor Hazel McCallion and another bid to buy the same property earlier this year.

The issue arose after it was made public last week that McCallion attended at least two private meetings last year involving her son Peter's company, World Class Developments, even though zoning for a hotel he hoped to build on the OMERS property was under active consideration by Council.  That deal fell apart at the beginning of this year.

The mayor did declare her conflict of interest on the issue and told The News last Friday she has "fully complied" with municipal Conflict of Interest Act laws.

Still, councillors want the independent lawyer to review the situation.

Other questions raised by councillors regarding the OMERS deal include the finding of a potentially toxic chemical in the soil which has to be removed. Councillors are also trying to determine whether the purchase price of $14.9 million is fair market value.

If the City buys the property, it will lease it to the college.  There are also plans to put a pay-for-parking lot on the property, City Hall sources said.

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