Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Brampton Tenants Fear ‘Demoviction’

 David MacKay, an 81-year-old resident, cherishes his current living space at 507 Balmoral Drive. He enjoys the community, walking his dog with neighbors, and the affordability of his rent—slightly lower than other units on the market. However, MacKay and fellow tenants fear that their peaceful abode may not last much longer.

The current owner, Lankin Investments (formerly Pulis Investments), has submitted an application to the City of Brampton for the redevelopment of the site. The proposal includes three apartment buildings with a total of 552 residential units. Unfortunately, this means the existing building, which currently houses approximately 55 units—many occupied by seniors and low-income residents—will need to be demolished.

MacKay points to signs of neglect, such as potholes in the parking lots, as evidence that the owner wants to “get rid of everybody” and allow the building to fall into disrepair. His concern is that once tenants are forced out, the rent for the new units will skyrocket.

The issue at 507 Balmoral Drive highlights the concept of “demoviction.” ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) describes demoviction as developers mass-evicting tenants from older, rent-controlled buildings to construct new, higher-end, and more profitable apartments or condos—units not protected by grandfathered provincial rent controls.

Cheryl Craig, another long-term tenant, emphasizes the lack of affordable housing alternatives. She has been in the building for 20 years and worries about the prospect of homelessness if the building is demolished. Gail Michalsky, yet another resident, echoes these concerns, noting that one-bedroom apartments in the area start at around $2,000 per month—more than she earns on her biweekly paycheque.

ACORN and the tenants are advocating for a rental replacement bylaw in Brampton. They want developers to replace lost affordable units in new developments and offer them back to current tenants at existing rental rates. Additionally, they propose temporary accommodations during construction or a “rental top-up” to mitigate the impact on residents.

Wards 7 and 8 Councillor Rod Power acknowledges the challenges faced by Ontario municipalities, including rising rental costs. He has engaged with ACORN and residents to find a path forward during the pre-consultation phase of the project. Meanwhile, Councillor Pat Fortini remains open to meeting with residents and addressing their concerns as the project progresses.

As the fate of 507 Balmoral Drive hangs in the balance, tenants continue their fight to protect their homes and advocate for affordable housing solutions.

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