Judge grants order allowing landlords to evict TUPC group from former church

·3 min read
A Superior Court Justice has granted an application for the owners of St. Brigid's to remove The United People of Canada (TUPC) from the property. (Pierre-Paul Couture/CBC - image credit)
A Superior Court Justice has granted an application for the owners of St. Brigid's to remove The United People of Canada (TUPC) from the property. (Pierre-Paul Couture/CBC - image credit)

A Superior Court Justice has granted an application for the owners of St. Brigid's in Ottawa's Lowertown area to evict The United People of Canada (TUPC), a group with ties to the Freedom Convoy.

Justice Sally Gomery's decision, released Friday, also orders the controversial group to pay $58,000 in costs to the property owners within 30 days.

Patrick McDonald, who owns the property near the ByWard Market along with three other partners, alleges a deal for TUPC to buy the building collapsed because TUPC failed to make deposits totalling $100,000, according to court documents.

His sworn affidavit states not making those payments, coupled with the $10,000 the group owes in rent and its failure to provide proof of $5 million in liability insurance, entitles the landlord to terminate the lease.

WATCH | The United People of Canada to be evicted from St. Brigid's, leaving residents relieved:

Notices were posted on the buildings in mid-August indicating the deal was terminated, but TUPC refused to leave the property.

On Monday the group's lawyer argued it had a "verbal agreement" with the owners rather than a written lease, while the landlords say the only agreement was one of purchase and sale, which TUPC director William Komer signed.

That agreement shows the site was to be sold for $5.95 million.

CBC
CBC

In her decision, Gomery wrote the terms of the lease were set out in the sale agreement and TUPC "materially breached the agreement" when it did not pay the $100,000 "despite two extensions of the deadline."

The judge also stated the notice of termination was valid and TUPC is not entitled to any relief from consequences because it still hasn't paid what it was supposed to under the agreement, and "has not come to the court with clean hands."

Gordon Douglas, lawyer for the landlords, said Gomery has signed an order stating the lease was terminated properly.

"We're literally in the hands of the sheriff, awaiting execution of the writs [of possession] and we look forward to that occurring shortly," he said Friday evening, adding his clients were pleased by the day's news.

Dan Taekema/CBC
Dan Taekema/CBC

Packing their bags

On Friday afternoon, people could be seen taking bags and other material from inside the church and putting them into vehicles.

Later, a shouting match between community members and TUPC erupted, with a chorus of honking horns in the background. The crescendo quickly dissipated as the two camps separated.

Komer said they plan to appeal the decision, but will comply in the interim.

"If the court would like us out, we're gonna get out as quickly as we can," he said.

WATCH | Ottawa mayor 'very pleased' with eviction decision for group occupying St. Brigid's:

The judge's decision follows months of tension between Lowertown residents and the group. TUPC repeatedly called police to the site and supporters, including Komer, had sprayed people with water guns.

Officers were called to the area so often that police pledged an enhanced presence around the property until the situation is resolved.

Sylvie Bigras, president of the Lowertown Community Association, called the last few months "concerning."

"We didn't want this to become kind of a headquarters or gathering place for future convoys," she said outside St. Brigid's Friday afternoon. "That was really one of our concerns and we're glad that doesn't seem to be the case now."

Mayor Jim Watson said he hopes pressure is placed on the group to ensure they pay the money they've been ordered to.

"I'm very pleased with the judge's decision. It was very clear cut. The residents of Lowertown and surrounding neighbourhoods have put up with a lot of nonsense by this group," he said.

"And the sooner they get out of that building, the better it is for everyone."