Questions have arisen regarding a possible conflict of interest in the awarding of a Toronto, ON contract for a 26-storey, 320-room, $100-million boutique hotel, to be built at the city-owned Exhibition Place by NewYork-based HKHotels, (See,New 20-room Boutique Hotel Approved for Exhibition Place in Toronto, TheWhat’sOnReport,October 13.) A long-term Exhibition Place Board of Governors member, well-known Toronto architect Rocco Maragna, was hired by HK Hotels to design the project in March 2009, but remained on the Board until September 22. Media reports indicate Maragna voted in favour of selecting HK Hotels in March 2009 and sat in subsequent Board meetings where the hotel project was discussed, having declared a conflict of interest. Board Chairman Joe Pantalone, who is also the city’s Deputy Mayor, said he is not concerned that HK Hotels chose a board member as its architect on the project. “There is no conflict of interest – period,” said Pantalone. Two other Board members said they found it unusual that Maragna spoke at a board meeting on behalf of HK Hotels, even presenting his initial architectural drawings to the Board’s Business Development Committee in September, prior to his resignation from the Board.
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