Angry tenants say they ‘have nowhere to go’ as landlord moves to cut parking spaces

Residents of a west Toronto high-rise are protesting an effort to take many of their parking spaces away from them – a move some long-term tenants say could force them to look for new jobs. other places to live.

Their building owner, North Edge Properties, plans to build a condo tower on the green space west of the 30-story property on Mabelle Avenue near Bloor Street West and Dundas Street West. The condominium building would be located directly above the underground rental tower parking lot, which will need to be reduced to accommodate the new structure.

“We are very angry because we have nowhere to go,” said Tawfiq Farah, who has lived in the building for 17 years. He and other residents say the shortage of parking spaces in the neighborhood is so acute that some tenants will have to move.

“What that means is that we’re going to have to leave our apartments,” he said.

The garage contains 520 parking spaces. Estimates of the number of spaces that will be lost vary, but all agree that more than 100 residents with cars could end up in the cold. Leaving their cars in paid public lots would cost them far more than the $100 to $150 a month they currently pay for parking.

Tawfiq Farah, who has lived in the building for 17 years, says he may have to move if the decision to remove his parking space stands. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

Their troubles began in 2018 when North Edge Properties asked the City of Toronto to build the 49-story tower. The city opposed the project, saying the proposed building was too big and there was too little space for parking. But the owner appealed last year to the Ontario Land Tribunal, which sided with North Edge, meaning the project will go ahead.

In a letter to residents, North Edge suggested tenants scout other buildings in the neighborhood for available parking spaces or use nearby paid parking. CBC Toronto has attempted to contact North Edge by phone and email, but has so far received no response.

Residents say the building’s owner initially gave them just a month to find new places to park their vehicles, warning them that their vehicles had to leave by the end of February.

They say the landlord only backed down after residents picketed the site of the new development last month. However, tenants say they have been warned that North Edge is still pursuing development and that they will have to remove their vehicles by April.

“Some people have lived here for over 20 years,” Farah said. “I will have to move if this continues. I will have no other choice.”

Tenants could get reduced rents, lawyer says

Residents have vowed to keep fighting. They want the condo’s design tweaked so that the rental building can keep its complement of parking spaces. And some experts say they might have a case.

If spaces are removed, tenants could apply to the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board for a rent reduction, according to Barrington Lue Sang, a paralegal who specializes in landlord-tenant disputes.

Artist’s impression of the new condo tower planned for green space just west of the existing rental building at 25 Mabelle Avenue. The parking garage is under the planned tower. (City of Toronto)

“Council could consider that interference with the enjoyment of the property, where now they would have to drive away from the rental complex to find parking,” said Lue Sang, who added that “could mean a substantial reduction” in rents. .

The Federation of Metro Tenant Associations has also taken up the cause of the inhabitants.

Euridice Baumgarten, a tenant organizer with the federation, says it’s increasingly common for landlords of rental properties to cut back on the amenities residents pay for as part of their rent, as they want to redevelop so many of their properties as possible.

“It happens all the time”

She says the owners are taking “all the space they can find, things that were only used for green spaces, tennis courts or swimming pools, and flipping everything upside down and building new buildings. “.

“It happens all the time for the past few years. All the time,” she said.

It’s not just the loss of their own spaces that tenants are concerned about. Some say an indefinite reduction in the number of places for visitors will make it difficult for friends and family to pass, which they say will seriously affect their quality of life.

Caroline Sayer, who will keep her spot in the parking lot because she has a disability, worries about the impact removing so many spots could have on her neighbours. (Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC)

Caroline Sayer will not lose her place because she has a disability, but she says she is worried.

“They’re making it difficult for us in this building,” Sayer told CBC News.

“When we have friends they will have to pay to park elsewhere, so it really affects everyone in the building.”