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Records detail Brampton councillor's standoff with city over derelict property

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A derelict property connected to a Brampton city councillor racked up $12,500 in fines in dozens of penalty notices over several months as city officials warned it was becoming a haven for rats and a homeless encampment, records obtained by CTV News show.

Emails show that Gurpartap Singh Toor, who represents Brampton’s wards 9 and 10, didn’t heed the increasingly terse warnings from a property standards officer that the boarded-up home on Queen Street, just blocks from Brampton’s city hall, was becoming a safety hazard.

“Gurpartap, what is it going to take to get you to bring your property into compliance? Do you not have respect for the city and its bylaws?” asked the frustrated officer in an email to Toor’s councillor account in January.

“How about you stop harassing me at work? Let’s start there,” Toor replied.

Photos taken by the property standards officer show access points in boarded-up windows and doors, garbage strewn through the property, barrels “of an unknown liquid” in a driveway, and mattresses — signs that people were occupying the building, which records show was bought for $1.06 million in 2017.

It was a condition that was intolerable, especially for a main street, one neighbour said.

“There was an entire network or organization of people squatting back there, doing all kinds of shadiness,” said Mark Santarossa, who operates a salon next door.

“It got pretty bad – my clients were scared to get into their cars because they would see people selling stuff, doing stuff, it was quite scary for your average client coming from out of town to see that,” he said.

A home connected to Brampton councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor on Queen Street. (Jon Woodward/CTV News Toronto)

In September, 2021, well before any fines were issued, the property standards officer wrote Toor that he saw issues including broken windows, garbage, a broken fence, and “rodents and small animals coming and going from the building under the deck and the shed.”

“I am looking into the matter right now, and can assure you of complete remediation,” Toor assured him by email the same day.

The records show the officer returned repeatedly and took photos that illustrated the problems with the property remained.

Starting in late 2023, Toor was slapped with 29 different tickets over about eight months, including failing to secure a vacant property, failure to remove refuse, and failure to comply with an order, which added up to $12,500, the records show.

“Your refusal to maintain your property is creating a potentially very dangerous safety risk by not being secure or maintained,” the officer wrote in January 2024.

Toor's property also received a notice from the city’s fire department.

Some fines were assigned to collections by mid-April, and the city commissioned almost $2,000 of work to add to the owner’s tax bill, the records show. The property is owned by a numbered company and one of its two directors is Toor, according to corporate filings.

With no resolution, the property standards officer filed a complaint with the city’s integrity commissioner, according to the documents, which were obtained via a freedom of information request.

That action prompted his managers to remove him from the file, according to an email from Robert Higgs, the director of enforcement and bylaw services.

“The enforcement officer is taking it upon himself to complain to the integrity commission in regards to this councillor. I have just become aware of the steps and have instructed the supervisor to remove the enforcement officer from the investigation and have the investigation assigned to a supervisor. I consulted with HR prior to doing this and they concur with this step plan of action,” wrote Higgs in February.

After that, no new tickets were issued, the records show.

A visit by CTV News to the property last week showed some improvements, including cut grass, and repairs to the wood boarding up the windows and doors, but the two barrels were still there, a large hole could still be seen in one wall, and garbage could be seen from the front gate.

A sign that indicated the property was slated to be redeveloped into an 11-storey building had fallen over.

A home connected to Brampton councillor Gurpartap Singh Toor on Queen Street. (Jon Woodward/CTV News Toronto)

Reached by email on Thursday, Toor said his development application is paused for now.

“This structure at this property is not habitable and the only option is to demolish the structure for redevelopment,” he said.

“The property was purchased prior to my appointment to City Council and an application for redevelopment that was under way prior to my intent to run for office, campaign, and becoming elected. In an effort to avoid a conflict of interest, the business felt it would be best to pause the application for redevelopment at that time. I have not engaged with anyone at the City regarding this property since taking office in 2022,” he wrote.

“As per my knowledge, there are no outstanding fines on this property and the business has been taking appropriate steps to address the property standards concerns,” Toor said.

“To be very clear, I am not above the law just as any other Brampton resident isn’t either. I have not and will not use any political intervention in matters outside my duties as a member of council,” he said.

Toor didn’t provide receipts, though the City of Brampton confirmed there was no longer money owing on the property as of last week.

Records from the City of Brampton show that Toor paid some of those fines: at around 12:25 p.m. last Thursday — about 10 minutes before CTV News received his email response.

Another neighbour, Jason Vallancourt, said in an interview he has sympathy for what Toor’s property is facing. He said a considerable homeless population in the area often accesses the property for shelter.

Vallancourt says he hopes the fines will go to making the property livable.

“I think what the city should do is let some kind of supervision be there and allow these people to stay and get some sleep,” he said.

Santarossa said more needs to be done to clean it up.

“If you’re going to develop it, develop it,” said Santarossa. “But if you’re not, you know, you shouldn’t be allowed to leave something like this.”

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