Private financing helps MaRS repay controversial loan three years early

Feb 9, 2017 | Biz/Tech, News

MaRS has repaid their public funding three years early, in part, by renting space in it’s building. Photo (Chjovans)

By: Corey Martinez

MaRS discovery district has announced that its latest partnership with private investors will help re-pay a majority of its controversial government loan three years earlier than expected.

Backed by Manulife, Sun Life Financial, and iA Financial Group, the booming research hub has leased out its West tower and will slowly be able to begin funding itself.

Companies such as Facebook, Air BnB and Easy began renting space in the West tower in early 2015,  joining more than 140 research labs and companies spanning health,science, technology and beyond. Now the 1.5 million square foot state-of-the-art lab and office space is looking a lot less like a ghost town.

When reached for a comment, a Sun Life Financial spokesperson referred Humber News to the public statement released by MaRS.

““MaRS has established itself as a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship, and we are pleased to support the continued growth of this market in Canada,” said Candace Shaw, Head of Private Fixed Income, Sun Life Investment Management in the statement. “The West Tower is an impressive state-of-the-art research complex with an exceptional roster of tenants, in one of the most desirable locations in Toronto. This transaction is an ideal fit to Sun Life’s long-term investment objectives.”

In 2014, the Liberal government gave MaRS $309 million to finance one of its towers in the distillery district.  Both the NDP and Conservative parties were critical of the plan to pay the rent on the formerly vacant building, calling it a money pit and a terrible decision.

Ontario taxpayers were originally slated to pay the $290 million loan given by the Ontario government, but because of the private investors- citizens are being let off the hook for the towers $450 thousand monthly interest payments.

“We are grateful that the Government of Ontario stepped up to help us solve an unforeseen problem, and we are delighted to welcome Manulife, Sun Life and iA Financial Group as financing partners,” said Gord Nixon, chair of the board of directors at MaRS. “MaRS has incredible momentum and is well positioned to build on this successful foundation for many years to come.”