Newspaper article The Canadian Press

City of Montreal Criticized after Low-Income Tenants Forced from 'Unsafe' Homes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

City of Montreal Criticized after Low-Income Tenants Forced from 'Unsafe' Homes

Article excerpt

Eviction of Montreal tenants sparks criticism


MONTREAL - Between the leaky ceiling, rats, and occasional squatters in the staircase, the two-storey apartment building in Montreal's Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood had its share of problems.

But as the mostly low-income tenants left the building for the final time Thursday following an eviction notice, some questioned whether, in its zeal to protect citizens, the city was leaving them homeless.

As they walked down the staircase one by one, carrying plastic shopping bags and -- in one instance -- a cat, some said they didn't know where they would live in the future.

"We had 20 days to find a place, you can't do that, if you're lucky, OK, but you can't just find a place in February," said 58-year-old resident Glenn Fox.

"So they just throw everybody out in the wintertime. That's it."

The City of Montreal issued eviction notices to more than a dozen apartment residents in early February, noting the landlord had failed to address issues with maintenance, sanitation and emergency exits, which were deemed non-compliant and a possible fire hazard.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said Thursday the city had no choice but to ask the residents to leave immediately.

"As mayor, I cannot leave people in a building if I'm told it isn't safe," she said. "I can't have an accident on my conscience."

But Stephane Proulx, the lawyer representing the tenants, criticized the city's handling of the eviction, saying residents weren't given enough time to prepare.

"People didn't even have three weeks to completely change direction and find a new place to live," he said, noting the building's problems didn't appear overnight.

On Wednesday, a Quebec Superior Court Justice upheld the eviction notice and refused Proulx's request for an injunction to grant the tenants upfront compensation, saying the request must instead go through the province's rental board. …

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