Cornwall to get legal advice on limiting ‘renovictions’

One of the multi-unit buildings at Cumberland Gardens at the corner of Yates Avenue and Fifth Street West in Cornwall, Ont. on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The City of Cornwall will talk with its legal firm about what can be done to control landlords from doing large-scale evictions under the guise of renovations.

Coun. Todd Bennett spoke to his new business motion Monday night, which was supported by Coun. Syd Gardiner and passed by council, to get advice from the city’s law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG), following the “renoviction” situation at Cumberland Gardens.

Bennett says 92 families were given eviction notices by a representative for Bedford Properties & Estates Ltd. that “basically aren’t worth the paper they’re printing on.” He also says the families won’t be able to find new homes with the housing crunch.

“Those 92 affordable, safe, family units just aren’t available right now. It’s unacceptable that a corporation would move into any community and kick out a large number of residents into the streets for the sole purpose of increasing their profits.”

“It is impossible to repair 92 units at the same time. There wouldn’t be enough workers in the city to do that and, if there was, it wouldn’t take seven months,” Bennett said, referring to the timeline in the eviction notices.

Bennett, whose daughter is a Cumberland Gardens tenant, also alleges the person who served the eviction notices is now harassing and scaring them, telling tenants at the door or yelling at them from the sidewalk “there’s no way you’re going to win. Give up your fight, you will not win.”

As for controls, the councillor threw out an example at last night’s meeting saying maybe the control could be apartments with more than 20 units can only evict 20 per cent of tenants at a time.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert said the city needs to step in in some shape or form as the tenants won’t be able to find similar dwellings than the “fairly low rate” they’re paying now.

CAO Maureen Adams said it will take about two weeks to get a report and talk to the legal team, suggesting a report could come for April 25 council meeting.