Long-term tenants at Summerside hotel can stay, for now

About 60 people being evicted from the 106-room Causeway Bay Hotel have now received notice that eviction is cancelled, for now.   (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
About 60 people being evicted from the 106-room Causeway Bay Hotel have now received notice that eviction is cancelled, for now. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

The new owners of a hotel in Summerside, P.E.I., where tenants received eviction notices at the end of August, have cancelled those orders.

About 60 people were told Aug. 30 they had 30 days to leave the 106-room Causeway Bay Hotel since new owners had take over and wanted to renovate it, creating first-class tourist accommodations, not long-term rentals.

But tenants awoke Thursday to another notice on their doors from the hotel, telling them the eviction notices had been cancelled and that the owners have asked the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission not to enforce the evictions.

"It was a big weight off my shoulders, I was pretty happy with it," said tenant Robert Wall.

However, he said he believed that the owners would try again to evict him and other long-term tenants.

Didn't follow rules

Tenants are supposed to get at least 60 days' notice of eviction under existing P.E.I. legislation, not the 30 days they received.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

The group P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing also pointed out the new owners were not acting in accordance with the provincial moratorium on evictions due to renovations, which will stay in place until the long-awaited new Residential Tenancy Act is brought in. Spokesperson Connor Kelly said Friday he's pleased the hotel withdrew its eviction notice, and thinks IRAC would likely have thrown it out.

"I think they're going to attempt it again with a different approach," Wall said. Kelly said he wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. He urged tenants to continue to press the hotel and make noise publicly about their plight.

Wall said he plans to stay at the hotel as long as possible while looking for other accommodations in his price range. He said the cheapest apartment he has seen is renting for $1,300 per month heated, "and that's way out of my price range. I don't know what we're going to do."

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Wall said he has a meeting with officials from the City of Summerside next week to discuss the situation at the hotel. There is no shelter in Summerside for people experiencing homelessness.

His said his approach to any eviction will be "fight it till you can't fight anymore."

Cheryl MacLean, another hotel tenant, said she is also worried she will be soon served another eviction notice, and she too is continuing to search for another place to live.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Hotel tenants John and Carol Larkin said they've found a spot at another motel, but worry the same thing will happen there, too.

"It's all we can afford. We can't the afford rents landlords are charging and they don't include heat and lights sometimes. We're on a fixed income so we have to take what we can get," Carol Larkin said.

Frank Covello, another tenant, said renovictions are a pattern across the country, and he encourages Islanders to lobby governments for better housing and rent subsidies. He said increases in rents due to skyrocketing inflation have placed affordable housing out of reach for many Islanders through no fault of their own.

"You start to see this kind of domino effect of stress that is unnecessary and paying taxes for that is kind of a kick in the pants," Covello said.

Covello, the Larkins and other tenants said they think Summerside should come together with the province to do what they are planning to do in Charlottetown and purchase mobile housing units in a central location for Islanders experiencing homelessness.

In an email to CBC News, the owners of the hotel said it is "seeking to work with the Province, IRAC, community partners and tenants to find solutions going forward."