Some tenants of Nepean's Manor Village say they're not leaving their homes, even though eviction dates issued to them have come and gone.
The dozens who remain, including Amanda McMahon, are in a protracted dispute with Smart Living Properties in Ottawa and Forum Equity Partners in Toronto, which co-own Manor Village — now called Woodroffe Place.
In April, tenants in 35 units on Majestic Drive and Woodroffe Avenue were issued N13 eviction notices by Smart Living, which manages the community. The notices are used by landlords to end tenancies so that a building can be demolished, renovated or converted to non-residential use.
But the tenants are calling them "renovictions," a term to describe renovations being used as an opportunity for landlords to bring in new tenants and charge them significantly higher rents.
"I really don't know what I'm gonna do," said Amanda McMahon, who has lived in Manor Village for 36 years. "We pay our rent."
She said she currently pays just more than $1,400 per month for her three-bedroom townhouse, and that similar units that have already been renovated are now being rented for much more.
While the tenants have the right to move back in when renovations are complete, McMahon is worried she wouldn't be able to afford higher rent.
Caring for four boys, her ill mother and having medical conditions of her own, she said it's not just a fight for her home — it's a fight for her life.
"I don't know what we're gonna do. We could very possibly end up on the street or living in my van," she said on Wednesday.
"We don't have a family that could take all of us in and how do you separate a mother and her four children?"
Most of the tenants who remain had until Aug. 31 to leave, but they say that without their day in front of Ottawa's Landlord and Tenant Board, they're staying put.
Future LRT line readjusted
This is not the tenants' first battle.
In June, after they made their voices heard, Ottawa city council changed the path of the future light rail line to Barrhaven to avoid tearing down Manor Village and Cheryl Gardens.
If left unaltered, the project would have expropriated 120 relatively low-cost rental homes.
On Wednesday, the tenants and ACORN — a national social organization that advocates for low- and moderate-income people — held a "block party" to raise morale and encourage remaining tenants not to move.
"Let's uplift and let's focus on what we're doing and let's win this battle," said Peggy Rafter, who is supposed to leave her home of 30 years by the end of September.
In a statement, Smart Living Properties said it needs tenants out in order to repair and renovate the units, some of which "require all new roofs and full interior retrofits."
Relocation deals have been reached with some of the affected tenants, and they were also offered "home finding services and moving expenses," Smart Living's statement added.
The packages "remain on offer," the company said.
After the renovation work is done, Smart Living said the 111 newly renovated units will be an asset to west Ottawa's rental market.
But McMahon said she doesn't understand why they can't stay while other units are renovated.
"I'm supposed to be moving today," she said. "As you can see, we're not going anywhere just yet."