We need your help—we’re fighting uphill battles in court against both a $10-billion landlord/developer and the City of Ottawa and this is a critical moment for us.
We lost the battle on the ground. On October 4, 2018 the last family moved from the large block of row townhouses targeted for demolition by $10-billion dollar, Toronto-based Hazelview Properties (formerly Timbercreek Asset Management). In January 2019, Hazelview demolished what was once a vibrant neighbourhood. They pressured over 500 people to leave their homes. Most families ended up moving far away from their neighbours, schools and community. Some left the city all together. Families are paying hundreds of dollars more in rent. Others went from a 3 or 4-bedroom townhouse to a 2-bedroom apartment.
Why the fight continues.
Thanks to the generous support of the people of Ottawa, the Herongate Legal Defence Fund has been able to build a solid legal defence team. Daniel Tucker-Simmons of Avant Law and Yavar Hameed and Nicholas Valela of Hameed Law, three respected and experienced human rights and social justice lawyers who have made careers out of fighting for oppressed and exploited people, have helped us file five court cases against Hazelview. Four of these cases are before Small Claims Court right now. The fifth, which is also against the City of Ottawa, is before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
And based on Hazelview's approved development plans for the “revitalization” of Herongate, there is more demolition coming our way. We haven't stopped organizing to resist this upheaval.
Our ask to you.
We never wanted to end up in court. We knew from the beginning that this is the arena where Hazelview could drown us in costs and delays. The reality is that Hazelview is a $10-billion dollar multinational corporation and has hired the biggest law firm in town, Gowling WLG. Our legal team has faced a mountain of motions and paperwork submitted by Hazelview's lawyers. Gowling WLG is using delay tactics to drag the process out. They're hoping we'll run out of money and energy.
We haven't run out of energy, but the money is a different story.
We're working to make our legal cases as strong as possible. We've commissioned experts reports that show the structural nature of the Herongate demovictions.
In spite of the delays, the costs, and the monumental size of our opponents—Hazelview and the City of Ottawa—tenants in the neighbourhood have continued to work tirelessly organizing and helping the legal team build the cases.
Over the three years, our Legal Defence Fund has also helped other tenants in Herongate with legal support. We've helped them fight abuse from landlords and supported them at their Landlord and Tenant Board hearings. This support has been crucial because until now, tenants had nowhere to turn for help. Now they have their neighbours and a solid legal support team. We've had a number of victories, but we're still being fought by Hazelview at every step along the way.
The Herongate Legal Defence Fund has also worked closely with the Access 2 Justice Lab at the University of Ottawa's law school. In collaboration with HTC, 2nd and 3rd year law students hosted weekly drop-ins at a local community centre to provide free support to neighbourhood tenants.
From our neighbourhood to yours—thank you.