We need your help—we’re fighting uphill battles in court against a $10-billion landlord/developer 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 Timbercreek Asset Management. In January 2019, Timbercreek 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. Yavar Hameed and Daniel Tucker-Simmons, two 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 Timbercreek. Four of these cases are before the court right now. The fifth is going before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario within the next year.
And based on Timbercreek’s proposed secondary plan 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 Timbercreek could drown us in costs and delays. The reality is that Timbercreek is a $10-billion dollar multinational corporation and has hired the biggest law firm in town, Gowling WLG. Our legal team is facing a mountain of motions and paperwork submitted by Timbercreek'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.
In spite of the delays, the costs, and the monumental size of our opponent, tenants in the neighbourhood have continued to work tirelessly organizing and helping the legal team build the cases.
Over the last year, our legal 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.
The Herongate Legal Defence Fund is also working closely with Professor David Wiseman and the Access 2 Justice Lab at the University of Ottawa's law school. These 2nd and 3rd year law students are hosting weekly drop-ins at a local community centre to provide free support to neighbourhood tenants. By empowering our neighbours we will more effectively resist the ongoing exploitation of our community.
From our neighbourhood to yours—thank you.