Evicted N.B. tenants say they can't find new apartments close to home

These tenants in Campbellton have just learned that they will have to move out of their building between now and July 2. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada - image credit)
These tenants in Campbellton have just learned that they will have to move out of their building between now and July 2. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Residents of an apartment building in northern New Brunswick say they're scrambling to find a new home after their building was sold to a company that specializes in housing for health-care workers.

Tenants of the building in Campbellton have been told they have until July 2 to move out.

But they say they can't find anything suitable to rent in the area.

Raymond Pitre, one of the residents, told Radio-Canada that no local apartments of the same quality are available. He had sold his property to move to the apartment he now calls home.

"I would have wanted to stay here for the rest of my life," he said in French. "That's why we had sold. We were starting to get older and we did not want to have the troubles that come with a house."

Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada
Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada

Francine O'Brien, another resident of the complex, agreed that their other choices were slim.

"No one wants the ones that are left," she said, also in French. "We have a nice apartment here and we hope to have the same thing, but it's not easy to find."

Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada
Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada

Jean-Guy Levesque, the mayor of Campbellton, was not optimistic and confirmed that finding rental housing in the city is a problem.

He said he met with one of the tenants being evicted and is looking into whether there is anything the municipality can do to help, but he sees no immediate solutions.

"I'm really sad about this situation. … Right now in Campbellton the rental availability is under one per cent and that means we don't have [many] apartments," said Levesque.

"Right now, to be honest with you, we don't have a specific plan but we're working on building a plan, but at the same time, making sure we have something for this summer," he said, acknowledging that new units will not materialize soon enough to help those being evicted in this case.

This apartment building is a relatively new development, according to the mayor. It's a former church that was converted to residential units about two years ago.

Submitted by Jean-Guy Levesque
Submitted by Jean-Guy Levesque

Levesque said it's the second building the new corporate landlord has bought in the city centre, and tenants were told the units will be rented out to medical staff working in the region temporarily.

The new owner of the building is listed as CSL RE Inc., a corporation with a registered office in Stanhope, P.E.I.

When CBC News requested an interview, the request was directed to Canadian Sustainability Labs. According to its website, Canadian Sustainability Labs specializes in accommodation and transportation for health-care professionals.

In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for CSL said it would answer questions Friday.

Levesque said he understands the property is purchased privately, and the new owners can do what they want, but he wishes they would give the tenants more time.

"Of course we want doctors here, we want nurses also, because this is … another big issue," said Levesque. "But I would like to see [them] wait until those people find another apartment.

"They're not young, some are close to 80 to 85 years old … it's really a sad way to do it."

Levesque said housing has been his top priority since he took office in January.

"We didn't have a plan in the region for housing. Again, we're starting at zero," he said.

"It's going well, but it's not going to solve their problem right now. It's going to take time … we're going to have maybe 15 to 20 new units. That's good news, but they won't be ready until late October."