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  • Writer's pictureNo Demovictions

240 units voted to be demolished at Toronto East York Community Council

Updated: Jun 12



Another community council meeting, another set of buildings up for demolition. Despite desperate pleas from tenants who were eager to keep their affordable, rent-controlled homes in the middle of a housing crisis, Toronto East York Community Council voted to demolish another 240 units.


Since December 2022, 2,486 units in Toronto have been approved for demolition.


To watch this Community Council meeting, which took place on Tuesday, June 11th, 2024, please view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGGUipApnmQ. Today, four buildings were on the chopping block:


  • 55-75 Brownlow Avenue - 121 rental units (watch at 52 minutes)

  • 239-255 Dundas Street East - 8 rental units (watch at 1 hour and 39 minutes)

  • 561 Jarvis - 31 rental units (watch at 1 hour and 40 minutes)

  • 135 Isabella - 80 rental units (watch at 2 hours and 2 minutes)


55-75 Brownlow Avenue



55 Brownlow Avenue started organizing in January 2023, 2 months after tenants received their notice. Since then, the tenants association has been fighting to save their homes through rallies and in meeting with their developer outside of city protocol. Megan Kee, a member of the Tenants Association, is one our founding members.


Unlike other demovictions, the Tenants Association at 55 Brownlow Avenue negotiated a 'staged move' with their developer––Menkes Development. This means that tenants will be allowed to stay in the building while the first tower is being built, and once the first tower is completed, tenants will move next door, at which time their building will be demolished and the second tower will be built. Despite this being a better outcome for demovicted tenants, Megan explained in her deputation:

"Yes, a staged move may inflict less harm on tenants than displacement, but it is not without its harms. The seniors, overnight and remote workers, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups have told us how the increased noise and air pollution 6 days a week for up to 7 years will impact their lives. Compensation or reduced rent gives tenants agency––the freedom to put down first and last month’s rent somewhere else, money to buy air purifiers, noise cancelling headphones, or access to other supports. Real freedom is choice."

The countless hours that tenants put into this negotiation should not be in vain. Tenants will work with the Mayor's office to ensure that tenants in a 'staged move' are protected; they are pushing for a new City by-law that does exactly this, using their building as a standard.

 

135 Isabella Street


The lead organizer for 135 Isabella Street has been an avid housing advocate since receiving her notice. She has demystified the Tenant Relocation and Assistance Plan (now on our website), and contributed to the increase in rent gap payments in a win at Toronto City Council on April 18th.


Ai Rei Dooh-Tousignant has worked tirelessly to organize not only her own building, but in making the lives of tenants across the city better. Read more about her building story here.


135 Isabella Street is being demolished between '2-8 years from now'. A timeline given to tenants by King Sett Capital, a multi-billion dollar company. During the deputation, one comment from Cynthia MacDougall, Senior Counsel, McCarthy Tretrault on behalf of King Sett Capital really stood out:

"I know its always difficult to remove rental units and replace them, however whats worse, in fact, is if there is no change."

I can guarantee you, Cynthia, that what is worse is the demolition of people's homes and inadequate protections for tenants. A white woman of privilege has no place telling tenants that their concerns are not valid.


We encourage you to watch Ai Rei's deputation, a 12-minute masterpiece that is spread across 4 deputants that highlights what City Council can actually do to improve demovictions for tenants (despite them telling everyone that there is 'nothing they can do').


561 Jarvis Street



If you have time to watch just one of today's deputations, we implore you to watch this one. Richard is the first deputant on this item and pours their heart out in a plea to the city to 'help us'. We know how heart wrenching it is to get up in front of Community Council and bare your soul for 3-5 minutes knowing that it is going to fall on deaf ears. We are inspired by Richard's bravery and authenticity. Their situation highlights the intersectional nature of demovictions, and how city policies fail to ensure that tenants don't fall through the cracks.


We have connected with some of the tenants at 561 Jarvis Street leading up to this vote. One tenant explained:


Many tenants are elderly, face physical ability challenges, and have been in the building for 30 years. Needless to say, the move will be detrimental to many of their health.

Conclusion and Next Steps


Another disappointing vote with more complacency from City Councillors. At 2 hours and 28 minutes, Councillor Saxe continues to perpetuate the lie that Tenant Relocation and Assistance is appealable at the Ontario Land Tribunal––it is not. We have confirmed this with City Planning staff many times. Saxe, Moise, Perks, and Matlow have all used this as justification for approving demolition and redevelopment applications.


But despite today's result, we are more determined than ever. We will keep deputing, showing up at Planning and Housing Committee, and finding ways to advocate at a Municipal, Provincial, and Federal level to protect tenants from predatory corporate developers.


While tenant organizers often face these struggles alone, No Demovictions has provided a safe space for demovicted tenants to learn, grow, and vent together. Our strength is the kindness, compassion, and support that we get from one another––as well as the skills, expertise, and hard work of everyone involved. The only way we can win is together.



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