08/15/2014 10:48 EDT | Updated 10/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Removing bikes at Hudson's Bay Centre wrong, councillor says

A Toronto city councillor says security staff at the Hudson's Bay Centre "overstepped" when they cut through bike locks and removed bikes from a post in front of the busy shopping centre at Yonge and Bloor streets.

"The bikes were removed, in my opinion, without lawful means," said Kristyn Wong-Tam in an interview Friday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "And the bikes should be returned to their owners with a new lock and a heartfelt apology for the inconvenience."

As CBC reported yesterday, cyclist Lisa Ferguson complained after her lock was cut and her bike removed from a post located on the sidewalk outside Hudson's Bay Centre.

Brookfield Office Properties, the real estate company that operates the Hudson's Bay Centre, said its security guards routinely cut locks and confiscate bikes locked to poles outside.

In a post on its Facebook site, the Hudson's Bay Centre says it has the right to remove a bike "if it poses a perceived risk to pedestrians."

"There have been numerous instances at this location where pedestrians have tripped over or have otherwise been injured by bicycles affixed to the pole," the company says.

The post also says the Hudson's Bay Centre provides bike parking inside and outside the building and said in the future security staff will try to provide "verbal or written notice" before removing bikes.

However, Wong-Tam and a city manager who spoke to CBC News yesterday said the post in question is on public property.

"They do not have any jurisdiction over the public right of way, and this is what this is," said Wong-Tam. "And it is not within their right to cut private property belonging to someone else off of public property and public infrastructure."

Brookfield's policy is to store the removed bikes until they are claimed by their owners.

Ferguson spent 90 minutes looking for her bike — all the while fearing it had been stolen — before a security guard told her he had cut the lock and removed her bike.

Ferguson collected her bike from Brookfield but wants the company to compensate her for the destroyed lock, which she says cost $134.

Meanwhile, Wong-Tam admits the city needs to address a lack of bike parking spaces and general "bike unfriendliness" in the area.

One Twitter user posted a photo Friday showing more bikes locked to the post.

Other cyclists say the incident highlights the need for more bike parking in the area.