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  • Writer's pictureNo Demovictions

CP24: Torontonians facing 'demoviction' are organizing to fight for their right to housing

Updated: May 10

by Joanna Lavoie, Friday, April 21, 2023


Cancer survivor Annette Trevorrow loves her home in downtown Toronto.

Her large bachelor apartment is close to the hospitals and medical facilities she frequents several times a week. It’s also near public transit and the places where she runs errands as well as friends and family.

But, that could all change by early next year as the rent-controlled apartment in the 24-storey, 259-unit high-rise that Trevorrow has called home for eight years is slated to be torn down.

Earlier this month, Toronto and East York Community Council unanimously approved a rental housing demolition application for 25 St. Mary St., which is just south of Bloor Street East between Bay and Yonge streets. The property’s owner, Tenblock, wants to construct two new towers that are 54 and 59 storeys in place of the current v-shaped structure on that site. City council is set to consider the matter at its May 10 meeting.

Trevorrow is one of thousands of tenants across Toronto facing what is known as “demoviction” and is worried about her future and where she’ll live.

“It’s very stressful. I’m at risk of losing certain healthcare options by not being in the catchment area,” she told Friday afternoon.

“It’s all so overwhelming. … Forty to 50 per cent of our building is elderly tenants and, like me, they’re all terrified.”

"Currently in Toronto, there are 73 residential building demolition applications, which could displace tenants in 3,400 units.

Geoff Hayworth, a tenant organizer with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said so far this year he’s seen a notable uptick in the number of renters in the city raising concerns about being displaced by demolition or renovations.

He said many of the tenants he’s spoken with fear they’ll be pushed out of the city because they can no longer afford to live here. He also pointed to provincial laws that he said are usually not enforced when it comes to landlords informing rent-controlled tenants that they can return to their unit once a property is redeveloped.

“(This practice) is completely uprooting people’s lives,” said Hayworth, whose job is to help educate and support renters when it comes to their right to housing.

In late 2022, Hayworth assisted tenants at 55 Brownlow Ave., near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, who are also facing possible demoviction, in their efforts to get organized.

Earlier this year, those renters started working with tenants at 25 St. Mary St. and 145 St. George St. and founded a new group called No Demovictions."

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