Insauga: Tenants protest apartment conditions as advocates call for rental protection in Brampton
Posted March 29, 2023
Tenants are rallying against the possible demolition of their apartment building as affordable housing advocates are calling for more rental protection rules in Brampton.
Residents of a building at 507 Balmoral Dr. in Brampton say they’ve been dealing with deteriorating conditions since the building was purchased by development company Pulis Investments and are holding a rally this Wednesday (March 29) to protest the possible destruction of the building to make way for a new development.
The company has filed a development application with the City in the pre-consultation phase for a three-building apartment complex containing a total of 552 residential units on the property.
And while Pulis says it is exploring plans that wouldn’t see the current building torn down, residents and rental advocates are speaking out about what they say are unsafe conditions in the building and a lack of affordable housing protections across Brampton.
“We were like a small community in here for a long time, that’s changed,” said building resident Margaret Badley who’s lived at 507 Balmoral for some 10 years.
Badley told Insauga.com that conditions in the building have been on the decline since Pulis and its management company took over the property, saying there are doors left unsecured, icy conditions in the parking lot and garbage area, intercoms unrepaired, and a general lack of maintenance and upkeep.
Badley uses a walker and said the new property managers only perform “light maintenance,” leading to slip-and-fall and safety concerns for herself and some of the building’s older or less mobile residents.
“There are a lot of seniors and a lot of people on disability and it’s unsafe for them to basically take out the garbage,” said Tanya Burkart, a leader and member of Peel ACORN which is organizing the rally on Wednesday.
An independent group advocating for low- and moderate-income residents in the Region, Peel ACORN is calling on the City to bring in rental replacement bylaws to make sure tenants’ “right to return is protected” when rental stock is demolished.
“Without vacancy control, it’s very profitable for landlords like Pulis to basically take affordable housing and turn it into unaffordable housing,” said Tanya Burkart, a leader and member of Peel ACORN.
Toronto and Mississauga already have similar rules in place, and ACORN says it wants to see Brampton City Council put a focus on the issue given concerns with how Ontario’s Bill 23, which Burkart says “makes it easier for developers to demolish existing rental stock” and will negatively impact affordable housing in the city.
Peel ACORN is also looking for action on proposed landlord licencing and City-wide inspection programs. Staff will give an update to a Committee of Council on Wednesday on the City’s current rental licensing and registration programs, benchmarking of other municipal rental programs and examples of other municipalities’ rental codes of conduct.
The group has butted heads with Pulis in the past, protesting what they called the “renovictions” of tenants from suites at a building at 143 Main St. South in Brampton last year.
Pulis says it is in the early stages of the redevelopment at 507 Balmoral and is looking at options “including plans that may add density without requiring the demolition of the current building.” A spokesperson for Mayor Patrick Brown said City planning staff “have not had any communication with the property owner since March 2022,” and there has been “no formal application from the owner.”
“We are confident that any future efforts to create new rental housing in Brampton, while ensuring the rights of current tenants, will be supported by those who share our goal of bringing new, purpose-built, affordable rental housing to the market,” a Pulis spokesperson said.
The rally will begin on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. outside Brampton City Hall, with plans to march to the Pulis Investment Headquarters a few blocks away.
Article by Ryan Rumbolt for Insauga