Heron Gate evictions a human rights issue, says housing advocate

July 3, 2018

An international housing advocate believes the impending eviction of residents of Ottawa's Heron Gate community is a human rights issue, and says politicians haven't done enough to prevent it.

Leilani Farha, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, lives in Ottawa and recently visited the residents facing eviction.

The owner of the development, Timbercreek Communities, announced plans in May to evict hundreds of people in order to tear down 105 low-rent townhomes along the east-west extension of Baycrest Drive to Sandalwood Drive.

The company says many of the units are past repair and can't be saved.

Timbercreek gave tenants four months of notice and has offered some financial assistance in the amount of three months of rent, a $1,500 moving allowance and help from a "relocation consultant."

But Farha said alternatives to eviction have to be explored, both by the developer and the municipal government, which she doesn't believe has been done.

"Under international human rights law, governments have certain obligations. They have obligations to make sure that communities aren't just completely evicted from where they're living. The government needs to be working with Timbercreek to get Timbercreek to do the right thing," Farha said.

Timbercreek did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CBC Ottawa on Monday.

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