The mayor's brother says he has no knowledge of the Etobicoke house where Rob Ford was reportedly photographed with murder victim Anthony Smith.
The widely published picture was given to reporters from the Toronto Star and Gawker by a man who claimed represent drug dealers attempting to sell a video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
The image shows Mayor Ford outside a residential garage with three men, one of whom is Smith, a 21-year-old with purported ties to the drug trade who was shot to death outside a King Street nightclub in March.
The location of the house in the photo was previously unknown and Ford has never explained the circumstances surrounding the image. But on Wednesday, both the Globe and Mail and the Star identified the house as a bungalow at 15 Windsor Road in Etobicoke. According to the papers' investigations, the police are frequently called to the house by neighbours concerned about possible drug activity at the location.
The house is in the Etobicoke North ward represented by Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor's brother. He told reporters on Thursday that he didn't know anything about the dwelling or the people who reportedly live there.
"No I haven't," Councillor Ford said when asked if he had ever heard of the house.
Pressed by reporters as he walked from a budget committee meeting to his office, Doug said, "I don't even know what you're talking about, what house. Maybe I didn't listen to the news this morning."
The councillor also said he didn't know the Basso family, three siblings in their 40s and 50s who the Star reports live at the house with their mother. According to the newspaper Fabio Basso, the middle sibling, went to Scarlett Heights high school with Rob Ford for one year.
City council records show that in November 2011 local residents petitioned Councillor Ford to seal off a fence at the south end of Windsor, in order to prevent people travelling between the street and a notorious apartment complex on Dixon Road.
A petition signed by approximately 121 people and delivered to Etobicoke community council said, "In the last 6 months, there have been 3 shootings at that location. It is a safety concern for all the residents in the... area. There has also been an increase in theft, vandalism, and noise at night especially on Windsor Road. We pay high taxes and the value of our homes is going down."
City staff suggested in a report that fence be closed off "due to concerns over crime and vandalism," but also flagged the possibility that doing so could be difficult because it was unclear who owned the adjoining piece of land. Doug Ford moved a motion to go ahead with closing the fence anyway, and it was approved by council at its November 2011 meeting.
On the way into his office shortly before noon on Thursday, Rob Ford would not respond to questions about the house. Following a ceremony outside City Hall to commemorate the 69th anniversary of D-Day, the mayor was trailed by dozens of reporters but again refused to say anything.
His interim press secretary, Sunny Petrujkic, told reporters to "Stop shouting questions at me!" He said Mayor Ford would not be holding a media availability on Thursday and stated, "There are no comments right now." Update 4:26 p.m.: The mayor called a press conference for 4 p.m. to discuss the recently announced $248-million surplus in the 2012 city budget. After delivering prepared remarks, he refused to answer questions about the Windsor Rd. address and called an abrupt end to the press conference.
The newspaper descriptions of the Windsor Rd. house and its residents bear notable similarities to a comment posted anonymously to the site of a local blogger in March. The comment on the Toronto Mike site, which predates the crack cocaine allegations that were made public by Gawker three weeks ago, claims that the mayor frequently smoked the drug.
"A friend of mine, her mother is a serious drug addict. Rob Ford regularly goes over to her house to smoke crack," wrote the commenter, who gave their name as Rinse.
"The problem is this: The daughter wants to expose Rob Ford's drug abuse, but her oldschool [sic] Italian grandmother won't allow her to ‘bring shame' upon the family, long story short. So basically the daughter has become complicit with the entire thing instead of doing the right thing. Shame on you Jasmin."
A 2009 obituary for a man named Elio Basso says he was grandfather to a person named Jasmin and lists his wife as Lina. According to the Star, Lina is the name of the Basso siblings' mother, who owns the house at 15 Windsor.
Rob Ford denies using crack cocaine, and maintains the alleged cellphone video does not exist.