08/15/2014 11:28 EDT | Updated 08/16/2014 02:59 EDT

Brookfield Bike Seizure Forces Company To Change Policy

Brookfield Canada Office Properties says it’s changing its bike-seizing ways after a Toronto cyclist called out its practice of confiscating bicycles without prior warning.

“We have changed our policies on the way we deal with bikes that are locked to the TTC post on Bloor St. and Yonge, to ensure we respect both pedestrians and cyclists,” Matthew Cherry, vice president of investor relations and communications, said in an email to HuffPost Canada on Friday.

“We now tag bikes that are parked in a manner that is unsafe for pedestrians on Bloor,” he explained.

Cherry did not elaborate on what the company’s specific safety concerns are related to locked bikes near its buildings.

On Wednesday, Toronto-based communications strategist Lisa Ferguson accused the company of stealing bikes from “low-income people” after she returned from a 90-minute meeting to the Hudson’s Bay Centre to find her bicycle gone.

She discovered the private property management company’s practice of clipping bike locks after she approached a security guard to ask about possible footage captured from a nearby closed-circuit camera. The unnamed guard reportedly admitted he “cut some bikes in the last hour and a half.”

Ferguson said she was told by the guard the TTC pole she locked her bike to was on private property – a claim that was defended by the company on Thursday, but has since been debunked by city officials.

According to Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, the bike was parked on city property:

“I wonder how many people have had their bikes removed from this pole and just gone home, thinking ‘Oh my god, my bike was stolen,’” Ferguson told CBC News.

The incident has also attracted the attention of city bylaw officers and an investigation into the matter has been launched. Findings are expected to be revealed within a week, the broadcaster reported.

With files from Sunny Freeman

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