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Park-Extension | Tenants in the dark about an evacuation

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No, the tenants of 7535 and 7545 boulevard de l’Acadie, in Montreal, do not have to leave the premises within six days as the City inspector, alongside a representative of the owner, told them last week. It was a mistake.

“A City inspector communicated the wrong information to some tenants regarding an evacuation date. This information has since been corrected,” said Benoit Dorais, responsible for housing at the City of Montreal.

“If an evacuation proves necessary, it would be planned according to the rules of the art and an evacuation notice with a reasonable time would be sent to the tenants,” he adds.

Twice, in 2006 and 2014, this three-storey building in the Parc-Extension district was the subject of a report in The Press on Montreal slums.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Acadie Boulevard building

Is it, yes or no, safe in 2022? In his e-mail, Mr. Dorais, who refused our request for an interview, said that since an inspection carried out by the City revealed certain anomalies, “an engineer’s report was requested from the owner. This report confirmed certain building structure issues”.

Can we see the report? To do this, the City replied, you have to make an access to information request (a process that takes from a few weeks to a few months).

Reached by phone, Abraham Leimzider, president of the numbered company that bought the place in 2021, said he could “say nothing” about the building.

Compensation offered to tenants

Invited to leave the premises in exchange for compensation, many tenants accepted the offer. Like Sujhwinder Singh, who accepted $2,000. “Pretty much everyone leaves, how could I do otherwise? he asks. I found a $1,200 home a little further away without electricity. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for groceries. I will try to call my daughter to see if she can help me. »


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Both Sujhwinder Singh and Gurdev Singh have decided to move.

On Friday, evacuation notices from the City of Montreal still litter the ground.

Another tenant, Geeta Rani, says that it has been “four or five times in the last few weeks” that representatives of the new owner have come knocking on her door. “Sometimes with a city inspector, sometimes alone. I have two children at school, one 7 years old, the other 5 years old, I can’t leave like that,” she said.

In a letter signed by attorney Gabrielle O’Reilly Patry dated December 20, 2021, it is stated that the foundations of the building “are not intact”.

According to the engineers’ report, it is recommended that the building be evacuated for the safety of the tenants.

Excerpt from letter from lawyer Gabrielle O’Reilly Patry

“Following the analysis of the project with the architect, it was agreed that it was the opportunity to subdivide the building and thus increase the number of housing units in the building. […] We understand that these unfortunate circumstances can cause upheaval for you. Therefore, our client is prepared to offer you higher compensation than what is required by law to vacate your accommodation as soon as possible,” the letter reads.

Mand O’Reilly Patry clarified to The Press that her mandate was limited to this letter dating from December and that she “does not currently represent the owner of 7535 l’Acadie”.

“Gentrification by abandonment”

In his email, councilor Benoit Dorais maintains that the City and the borough “work together with the housing committee so that the owner assumes his responsibilities towards his tenants and that their rights are respected”.

The Action Committee of Parc-Extension, very involved in the file, is however furious. “It’s gentrification by abandonment,” notes coordinator Amy Darwish.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, THE PRESS

Amy Darwish, coordinator of the Parc-Extension Action Committee in front of the building on boulevard de l’Acadie

The landlord’s pressure on people to accept minimal sums in exchange for their lease termination is unacceptable.

Amy Darwish, Coordinator of the Parc-Extension Action Committee

But isn’t it a building in disrepair that we would do well to flee? It doesn’t look like much, but things have to be done well to prevent people with very limited means from urgently moving into an apartment that is far too expensive for them, replies Mme Darwish.

If evacuation there really was, notes his colleague André Trépanier, the tenants would have priority on the HLM waiting list and they would have help from the City to relocate. And when work is needed in a building, he adds, the lease continues to be in force.

The gentrification of Parc-Extension

What is happening to these tenants is typical of what is currently happening in Parc-Extension, says Mr. Trépanier.

People are buying properties and asking people to leave.

André Trépanier, from the Parc-Extension Action Committee

The arrival in the neighborhood of the Science Complex of the University of Montreal is, according to him, at the origin of the gentrification of this neighborhood which is one of the poorest in Canada.

In the case of this building, it has been years since the City was made aware of the insalubrity of the place, notes Mme Darwish. “The City often tends to cooperate with the owners whereas it should use all possible means so that such neglected buildings are rehabilitated, even if the City has the work done itself. […] The City should also seek to withdraw this type of building from the rental market to turn it into social housing. »

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