Toronto-based broadcaster raises $36m in one week for charity

The online auction website has taken just a week to raise more than $36m for charity, which has led to conflicts with the two owners.

WCPTV, a Toronto-based television station, offered its downtown property as a “cash-on-cash buy-back”, with the auction ending on Wednesday afternoon. The retired and longtime presenter Lee Vandervis first inquired about it on 13 October, and it closed at just after 2pm. The auction has generated wide coverage from Canadian media outlets.

The auction removed for sale signs from the front of the property, and the realtor has spent weeks taking photographs of the exterior, interviewed prospective buyers, looked through available books of painting products and asked the few people who had visited if they would consider bidding.

The proceeds will be split between two groups: the WE Charity, a training and mentoring program for high school students who are poor, refugees or from low-income families, and the Greenfield Park Cares Community Foundation, a family foundation that helps fund local causes.

‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: downtown Toronto goes online with charity auction Read more

A statement from WCPTV said that the property was being sold “on a recommendation” from the company’s chief financial officer and the realtor’s calculations had been based on $140,000 of monthly property tax revenue. Vandervis told the Guardian he had paid just $110,000 in total since buying the place 14 years ago. “What really broke my heart is that my neighbour sold it for cash,” he said. “I was not going to finance it, and given that I’ve been in there 14 years and he’s been there 36, I don’t think I can make a profit on it.”

The auction website shows the mortgage note on the property at $165,000, and that it is currently two months behind on payments. Another neighbour who had leased their roof space from the station told the Globe and Mail he was surprised to see the house on the block. “It’s one of the nicest, most beautiful places I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I had never really thought about selling it. I hadn’t heard that it was up for auction before.”

When asked about profits from selling the property, a WCPTV spokeswoman provided a statement, saying the proceeds will be divided among the two organizations “on a proportional basis”.

It says that the broadcaster has been talking with “interested parties” since 2 October, when it first advertised the auction site, and the two parties signed a confidentiality agreement.

“We would like to thank all those who made a bid,” the spokeswoman said. “We are confident that future investments in technology will result in improved efficiency for future investments to meet the needs of our viewers.”

This story has been amended to clarify that the owner had already been collecting $140,000 in property tax.

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