Reports emerging from Canada have revealed that hundreds of immigrants are currently facing mass evictions from their affordable community Housing in Ottawa following eviction letters issued to an entire community of settlers mostly from Somalia and the middle-east.
More than 100 immigrant families are being evicted from Heron Gate, a Southern Ottawa neighbourhood that houses Somalian immigrants; Canadian locals have called it the largest forced displacement in the recent history of Canada
Immigrants were told they had until September 30 to find a new home and although some families have already found new dwellings and moved on, most other families are still stuck in a limbo.
Narrating their ordeal, most of the inhabitants of the community have large families and haven’t been able to find an affordable alternative to Heron Gate which was an affordable housing unit offered to immigrants by the Canadian government.
Many immigrants have also expressed dismay at the situation as many of them say they never expected something like this to ever happen in Canada.
“I came to Canada thinking it was an escape, only to realise its like torture. People are playing with our lives, winter and the cold is coming and we have nowhere to go.” Says one of the immigrant families issued with an eviction notice.
The real estate Company in charge of the community Timbercreek Communities, have however defended their actions saying the houses in the community were no longer viable while announcing plans to demolish about 150 units of housing in the area.
Heron Gate is one of Ottawa’s most diverse communities, home to a large number of immigrants of Somali and Arab backgrounds. It comprises a mix of townhouses, medium-sized buildings and tall apartment towers.
The company subsequently issued a notice as far back as May for tenants to move out of the area by September 30. The required notice period under the law in the province of Ontario is at least 120 days.
Under the provincial Residential Tenancies Act, a landlord can issue eviction notices for the purpose of demolishing a property or conducting extensive renovations, among other reasons.
The real estate company also said about 70 percent of the affected immigrants has found alternative housing.
According to the company’s representative;
“The company is also offering displaced tenants three months’ rent, as well as an additional $1,530 ($2,000 Canadian) compensation, up from an original offer of $1,150 ($1,500 Canadian), to move. It is also negotiating reduced rates with moving companies, and employing a relocation team to help tenants find other properties. Timbercreek is going beyond the requirements of the law in providing relocation assistance.
Timbercreek’s vision has always been for Heron Gate to be a diverse and sustainable community. A project of this magnitude, however, requires that tenants relocate during the revitalisation process. We will offer all impacted residents the right to return to Heron Gate when the redevelopment is completed.”