Toronto not buying hotel housing homeless and refugees

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The City of Toronto has finally decided against buying the financially troubled hotel currently housing around 500 homeless people and asylum seekers.

Since 2017 to cope with the influx of asylum seekers, the city used the Toronto Plaza Hotel to house newly arrived refugees and homeless families from the charitable Fred Victor Centre.
The city has signed at least $4.5 million in contracts with Alternative Living Solutions Inc. (ALS), a private contractor, to house and feed those staying at the 199-room hotel near the juncture of Highways 401 and 400.

The Toronto Plaza Hotel is owned by Virk Hospitality Corp. The hotel is part of a chain of businesses controlled by Rehan Chaudary’s father, Akhtar Chaudary. Included among the businesses are Virk Holdings Inc., which operates Chaudary Poultry in Wainfleet, Ont., and supplies eggs to Burnbrae Farms.

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However, ALS doesn’t actually own the hotel. The company has a deal with Virk Hospitality, the Plaza’s owner, which was placed into court-ordered receivership in July. Virk also owes the city about $150,000 in unpaid property taxes.

But if a potential deal is not reached, the city risks a private developer buying the seven-acre property and forcing hundreds of people back into Toronto’s shelter system. This would undoubtedly cause headaches for the city.

While the Toronto Plaza Hotel is full almost every night, it’s facing serious financial problems. A court-appointed receiver is now trying to recoup as much money as possible from Virk Hospitality to pay back about $31 million the company owes to creditors.

According to reports the property is valued at around $35 million.

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If the city were to buy it, it may turn out to be cheaper than renting hotels at the cost of millions of dollars each year. -CINEWS

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