Ceme­tery land do­nated to city hits road­block

Of­fi­cials un­able to ac­cept 23 acres at Yonge-Shep­pard due to pend­ing law­suit by Samantha Peksa

Bayview Post - - News -

The Mount Pleas­ant Group of Ceme­ter­ies (MPGC) wishes to do­nate 23 acres at York Ceme­tery near Yonge Street and Shep­pard Av­enue to the City of Toronto. How­ever, the city has de­ter­mined it is un­able to ac­cept the land un­til lit­i­ga­tion be­tween MPGC and the Friends of Toronto Pub­lic Ceme­ter­ies (FTPC) is re­solved.

Al­though Toronto City Coun­cil voted to ac­cept the do­na­tion in late May, staff was later in­formed of the pend­ing law­suit. A re­quest to ter­mi­nate the of­fer was re­ceived by the gov­ern­ment man­age­ment com­mit­tee on Nov. 13, but was with­drawn af­ter­ward.

Rick Cowan, as­sis­tant vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing with MPGC, said the ceme­tery op­er­a­tor un­der­stands the city wants to tread care­fully so they have ex­tended their of­fer to do­nate the land un­til March 2018.

“It’s a wrin­kle, but we know that the city is ready to take th­ese lands on,” said Cowan. “We’re hope­ful that all of this gets put to bed, so we can all move for­ward.”

Margot Boyd, of FTPC, has main­tained that MPGC does not have the le­gal au­thor­ity to con­vey the land as it al­ready be­longs to the pub­lic. If the city were to ac­cept, Boyd ar­gued it could have larger im­pli­ca­tions con­cern­ing the rest of MPGC land in ques­tion.

“We are grat­i­fied to know that the city is tak­ing se­ri­ously the fact that there is lit­i­ga­tion pend­ing and that the ti­tle is not clear. The con­veyance is not cut and dry, and they can’t do any­thing un­til the courts make a de­ci­sion,” she said.

In 2013, FTPC asked the On­tario Su­pe­rior Court of Jus­tice to de­ter­mine if MPGC’s board is legally con­sti­tuted. It is their be­lief that the land MPGC claims to be in pos­ses­sion of ac­tu­ally be­longs to a pub­lic trust. The le­gal bat­tle is still un­der­way.

Coun­cil­lor John Fil­ion, of Ward 23, Wil­low­dale, said his ward has un­for­tu­nately been caught in the cross­fire.

“It’s dis­con­cert­ing that this le­gal pro­ceed­ing, which re­ally has noth­ing to do with th­ese lands, would stop the trans­fer from go­ing ahead,” Fil­ion said.

He said he is con­cerned with how long the process may drag on for, es­pe­cially since all par­ties seem to agree the city should own the land.

“The lit­i­ga­tion has been go­ing on for years, and I have no idea how long it might go on for,” he said. “But re­gard­less of what the out­come is, there’s noth­ing that would stop the city from re­ceiv­ing th­ese lands [in the end].”

A court date has not yet been sched­uled.

“We’re hope­ful that all of this gets put to bed, so we can all move for­ward.”

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