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EXCLUSIVE: TCH squandering taxpayer money with shoddy renovations, says whistle-blower

Last Updated Jul 20, 2015 at 9:28 pm EST

Despite being strapped for cash and facing a repair backlog to the tune of $2.6 billion over the next ten years, Toronto Community Housing (TCH) is squandering taxpayer money with poorly executed and mismanaged renovations, a person within the company tells CityNews.

The whistle-blower has come forward with internal emails that seem to back up the claims, despite denials from TCH officials.

In one of the emails obtained by CityNews, a senior TCH superintendent calls renovations at an east-end home “ass backwards.”

According to the email, cosmetic interior renovations at the home on Rushbrooke Avenue were completed before weather-proofing exterior work.

The end result, according to the whistle-blower, was a leaking roof that caused thousands of dollars in damages.

The superintendent’s frustrated tone is evident in the email.

“Rushbrooke still sitting empty, has been over one year now,” it reads. “A fiasco trying to renovate…done ass backwards…Cosmetic interior work done first…rather than exterior work first in order to stop the weather.”

The insider says it’s not the only example of interior work being done before exterior work is addressed at some of the nearly 900 stand-alone homes TCH owns.

But a spokesperson for TCH vehemently disputes the allegations.

“We have carefully gone over all the work records and work orders,” TCH’s Lisa Murray said. “And of the examples that were brought to (CityNews’) attention it has been demonstrated that the roofs were not leaking before the interiors were done.”

“We did do the inspections,” she said. “The roofs were not leaking, there was no sign of leaks, and the interior repairs went on.”

In another internal email, a different senior superintendent noted the same problem at a TCH home at Bloor and Ossington last June.

“Again, contractor going to do inside work before a lot of exterior works,” the email states. “We have already brought a few times this unacceptable situation to attention at different meetings, but still no changes.”

When asked how to explain the internal emails, Murray responded: “I think there is probably frustration. I think that there are a lot of people in this company that wish that we could do things faster.

“There has been a long-standing gap in the funding to repair all our properties, including stand-alone homes,” she said.

Former Toronto mayor Art Eggleton is leading a task force on how TCH is being run. He admits that there’s problems with the day-to-day operations and governance at the housing corporation.

“From everything we’ve heard, there is no confidence in terms of the ability to do these repairs properly,” he said. “I think some of them are done properly, but there’s a lot that aren’t and there needs to be a lot of improvement.”