Yesterday, an incident at Yonge and Bloor has cyclists asking everyone “Have you had a bike stolen at Yonge and Bloor in front of The Bay?” Perhaps it wasn’t stolen at all, at least not in the eyes of the thieves. Perhaps it was removed by security! Before jumping to conclusions, let’s look at the key facts first. One thing that seems certain is that Brookfield Properties owns the building facing the post where bikes have been removed, and Russell Security (RSSI) is contracted by them. RSSI was allegedly instructed to remove bikes from this pole. A TTC pole which at least ‘appears’ to be on public property. Incidentally, Brookfield Properties is a division of the same Brookfield that was implicated in the infamous Zucotti Parc eviction threats during Occupy Wall St. But don’t let that colour your opinions of this incident…too much.
Just the Facts Ma’am
The TTC has already stated that although the sign is indeed theirs, it’s not on their property, nor have they instructed the removal of any bikes. Head of TTC Communications Brad Ross was also very helpful in connecting the dots with City of Toronto officials for more info.
@JoFergs Just found out. It is our sign, but it’s not our property.
TTC is not giving direction to remove bikes
— Brad Ross (@bradTTC) August 14, 2014
For it’s part, the City of Toronto, was not only prompt in their responses and assured that “the matter has been reported to Right of Way Management and is being looked into” – but they also immediately processed “a request to Public Realm for installation of bike/post rings at this location”.
— 311 Toronto (@311Toronto) August 14, 2014
Additionally, the city reminds us that construction on Bloor St. has required the removal of many post-ring locks, which are to be replaced. In the interim, there are other post-rings at Bloor/Yorkville and Bay/Bloor.
City staff have now confirmed, that the sidewalk within 5.5 metres of the curb is public property. The councillor for the area, Kristyn Wong-Tam, tweeted saying the same thing.
— Kristyn Wong-Tam 黃慧文 (@kristynwongtam) August 14, 2014
However, city manager Andre Filippetti says its distance from the sidewalk — 4.8 metres — is just within city boundaries.
“It would appear that it’s just within public property. It’s very close,” Filippetti told reporters.
City bylaw officers expect to complete their investigation in about a week.
Brookfield has released the following statement:
We have free exterior and interior bike racks at Hudson’s Bay Centre in Toronto, as well as a secure bike storage facility within our garage. As adjacent property owner, we have the right to remove a bike or otherwise affixed object to property and the TTC pole on the sidewalk outside of our building if it poses a perceived risk to pedestrians. It is our first and foremost responsibility to protect the health and safety of our tenants and all those that visit the building. There have been numerous instances at this location where pedestrians have tripped over or have otherwise been injured by bicycles affixed to the pole.
We apologize to anyone who believed their bike was stolen and in the future endeavor to provide either a verbal or written warning before removing a bike or other property from a prohibited area.
Here’s a written account of the incident from Lisa Ferguson herself:
“Today, my bike was stolen.
Or at least I thought it was stolen. After a 90-minute client meeting at Yonge/Bloor, my bike had disappeared from this pole outside the Hudson’s Bay Centre. I walked up and down the sidewalk for several minutes, not accepting that this was really happening. I was about to head home and have a good bawl — I can’t afford a new bike — when I noticed a security camera on the RBC that would have captured the bike thief.
So I approached a security guard standing outside the Centre and explained my situation. “Yeah, I cut some bikes in the last hour and a half,” he said. “That’s private property,” he said, and told me that the building owner — Brookfield Office Properties — orders their security staff to remove bikes from the pole. Since when is the SIDEWALK private property? I told him he needed to give me my bike back right now or I’d call the police to report a bike theft. While waiting in the lobby for my bike, the security guard on duty there commiserated with me, saying, “Yeah, we get several angry cyclists in here a day.” And those are just the ones who figured out what really happened! I wonder how many people have just assumed their bike was stolen by some run-of-the-mill bike thief and gone home and cried like I was about to?
I mean, who would guess that a company worth $18.7 billion steals bikes from low-income people? What does this $18.7 billion company do with all the bikes they steal — do they actually sell them? Sickening.
I was treated like dirt by their RSSI Security staff (including the rude, condescending, sarcastic jerk pictured here). In fact, one of them threatened to cuff me when I stood in front of two more bikes they were about to cut off the pole. “This is public property, and what am I doing that’s illegal?” I kept asking her.
I want my $134 (+ tax) lock paid for. They will rue the day otherwise. Any ideas are appreciated on how I can kick up a good, public stink if I don’t get reimbursed for my lock. My social media campaign starts tomorrow
Please share this post! If anything it may prevent someone from actually going home without their bike thanks to these crooks.
” Absolutely LIVID.”