Toronto school board raises rent for church group 800%

TORONTO – So if you are a Filipino Christian congregation renting space from the Toronto District School Board, you face a shocking 800% gouging increase in your rental permits. But if you are a Muslim Imam using a school cafeteria as a mosque for Friday prayers, there is not only no increase – but no charge at all.

So much for inclusiveness and religious equality at the TDSB. Double standard, highway robbery and gutless political correctness are three phrases that come to mind.

Not necessarily in that order.

However the TDSB calls rent permit increases on churches an “initiative to offset the costs.”

Rev. Charles McVety, of Canada Christian College, calls it nothing but a “mean spirit eviction” primarily against “new Canadians.”

He will lead a “Call to Action Prayer Rally” on Sept. 7 at 7 p.m at the college, located at 50 Gervais Dr. He has started a petition at:

“This, with Toronto council’s disturbing new bylaw removing ‘Place of Worship’ from general zoning categories, will make it very difficult for new churches to operate,” said McVety.

Case in point is the tiny Jesus Reigns Ministry Church – Filipino Chapter, which has a 70-member congregation about to become homeless.

“Our current annual contract from a TDSB school (Bloorlea Middle School) has gone up from $5,673 to $44,695,” explained Pastor Larry Junio in a memo to other religious leaders.

Who else would treat a tenant in this way?

And why?

“The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to say they want the church out of here,” said Rev. Neil Zagala, who is the Secretary of the Ontario Filipino Fellowship. “Such a rent increase seems so out of place.”

TDSB Director Chris Spence: Strangling survival of religious minorities?

It’s obscene is what it is. It’s unjustifiable on any level.

But the TDSB is defending it.

“The Board charges fees for permits and currently incurs an $11-million loss on permit revenues compared to costs,” it said in a written document. “The ministry has provided funding through the Priority Schools Initiative to offset the costs of permits for non-profit groups, but it is a fixed amount each year. If permits are not cost recovery, the Board must redirect the funding intended to support care, cleaning and maintenance

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