Posted August 17, 2021
Scarborough’s little apartment buildings are under threat, or that’s how it feels to people living in them.
Three low-rise walk-ups on Glen Everest Road gave people, including many with low or fixed incomes, secure homes as rents elsewhere rose out of reach.
That’s how Helen Porter pays $861.53 a month for her bachelor while a neighbour in her building pays $1,400 for his.
Retired, Porter says she worked all her adult life, but without chances to put money away. Low rent keeps things affordable.
“If I had to rent a one-bedroom apartment right now, I wouldn’t be able to eat,” she said.
Finding apartments, however, is what Porter and others at 54, 58, and 62 Glen Everest may have to do.
A developer, Altree, bought the low-rises and proposes 350 condominiums on the properties, which also face Kingston Road in Cliffside.
Altree is offering 68 rental replacement units in the new building, and a compensation package. Tenants could come back, years later, to a reconstructed version of their community and home.
But where can they go until then?
Glen Everest tenants say competition is stiff for apartments and landlords choose renters with good credit histories and incomes, not minimum wage earners or people on pensions.
Ron Janes, a former mover on Ontario disability support, predicts he and many others will move out of Ontario to afford rent, since even small towns here are now unaffordable.
Ray Demers, 75, who can barely walk after surviving three cancers, now shares his home of 17 years with two small dogs, his “babies” and best friends; he feels landlords will refuse him because of his pets and small pension.
“I’m not sleeping properly anymore because I don’t want to leave this place,” Demers said.
Tenants and supporters got horn honks by marching to Kingston Road and will stage a tent protest later this month, spotlighting what Janes called the sad reality that some will wind up homeless.
Cindee Berry suggested Altree knows tenants being asked to leave won't return.
“How many people will come back? This is their polite way of saying ‘get out,’” she said.
Altree representative Thu Vo responded to questions about displacement and rental replacement Monday by directing a reporter to information about company proposals on the city's website.
On its website, Altree says it’s “passionate about enhancing the communities in which we operate,” and its charitable trust matches contributions for Daily Bread Food Bank and other Toronto causes.
Altree isn’t the only developer in Scarborough whose plans call for replacement of low-rise apartments, but the Glen Everest proposal comes after tenants at the Lenmore buildings in Birch Cliff, 1615-1641 Kingston, were told another Altree proposal would see them relocated eventually to new apartments where a Day’s Inn stands at 2151 Kingston Rd.
On Aug. 4, Lenmore tenants learned by email Altree’s re-submitted application will group replacement units in a building beside the proposed Birch Cliff condominium.
Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, a member and leader of housing advocacy group Toronto ACORN, says developers are targeting small buildings across Toronto, and tenants feel insecure as news of ‘demovictions’ spreads.
“With every communication from landlords, we expect the worst,” said the East York resident.
“The law is not protecting us, and in the meantime, people are panicking.”
Ruiz Vargas said the city should ensure tenants return to replacement units and top up their rents until they do, but Ontario needs “real rent control” that won’t allow landlords to charge what they want after vacancies.
Local Coun. Gary Crawford met Glen Everest tenants and said they have justifiable fears about displacement.
Crawford said he wants tenants to understand the process and their rights, but added people generally support redevelopment on Kingston Road, where areas are designated for more density.
The area has “been discovered,” he said, with growth crossing Victoria Park Avenue 10 years ago accelerating and heading east.
Article by Mike Adler for Toronto.com