Brampton councilor racked up more than $12,000 in fines for abandoned property

An abandoned property linked to a Brampton city councilor racked up $12,500 in fines across dozens of fine notices over several months, as city officials warned it was becoming a rat haven and homeless encampment, records obtained by CTV News show.

Emails show Gurpartap Singh Toor, who represents Brampton’s Wards 9 and 10, ignored increasingly terse warnings from a property standards officer that the boarded-up house on Queen Street, just blocks from the Brampton City Hall, was becoming a safety hazard. .

“Gurpartap, what does it take for you to comply with the rules of your property? Do you have no respect for the city and its statutes? the frustrated officer asked in an email to the Toor councilor’s account in January.

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

Photos taken by the property standards officer show access points in boarded up windows and doors, trash strewn across the property, barrels “of an unknown liquid” in a driveway and mattresses – signs that people were occupying the building, which according to records was purchased for $1.06 million in 2017.

It was an intolerable condition, especially on a main street, one neighbor said.

“There was a whole network or organization of people squatting back there, doing all kinds of shady activities,” said Mark Santarossa, who operates a saloon next door.

“It got pretty bad: my customers were afraid to get in their cars because they saw people selling things, doing things, it was pretty scary for the average customer coming from out of town to see that,” he said.

house shed

In September 2021, long before the fines were issued, the property standards officer wrote to Toor that he saw problems including broken windows, trash, a broken fence, and “rodents and small animals coming in and out of the building below.” of the roof and shed.” .”

“I am investigating the matter right now and can assure you that it will be completely resolved,” Toor assured him by email that same day.

Records show the officer returned repeatedly and took photographs illustrating ongoing problems with the property.

Beginning in late 2023, Toor received 29 different tickets over about eight months, including failing to secure a vacant property, failing to remove trash and failing to comply with an order, which totaled $12,500, 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 fire department.

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

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

That action led his managers to remove him from the record, according to an email from Robert Higgs, director of compliance and bylaws services.

“The law enforcement official is responsible for filing a complaint with the integrity commission regarding this council member. I just learned the steps and have instructed the supervisor to remove the law enforcement officer from the investigation and assign the investigation to a supervisor. I consulted with HR before doing this and they are on board with this step-by-step action plan,” Higgs wrote in February.

After that, no new notes were issued, according to records.

A CTV News visit to the property last week showed some improvements, including mowing grass and repairs to the wood planks on the windows and doors, but the two barrels were still there, a large hole could still be seen in a wall and The trash could be seen from the front door.

A sign indicating that the property was scheduled to be redeveloped into an 11-story building had fallen down.

home

Toor, contacted by email Thursday, said his development application is on pause for now.

“This structure on 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 the City Council and a redevelopment application that was pending prior to my intention to run for office, campaign and be elected. In an effort to avoid a conflict of interest, the company felt it would be best to suspend the redevelopment application at that time. “I have not contacted anyone in the City regarding this property since I took office in 2022,” he wrote.

“To my knowledge, there are no outstanding fines at this property and the company has been taking appropriate steps to address concerns about the standards of the property,” Toor said.

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

Toor did not provide receipts, although the City of Brampton confirmed there was no longer any money owed on the property as of last week.

City of Brampton records show Toor paid some of those fines: around 12:25 p.m. last Thursday, about 10 minutes before CTV News received his email response.

Another neighbor, Jason Vallancourt, said in an interview that he sympathizes with what Toor’s property faces. He said a sizable homeless population in the area often accesses the property seeking shelter.

Vallancourt says he hopes the fines will go toward making the property habitable.

“I think what the city should do is allow some type of supervision 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,” Santarossa said. “But if it’s not like that, you shouldn’t be allowed to leave something like this.”