First, I’d like to say to the families, seniors and individuals at Cumberland Gardens who received the worst news this weekend, how deeply sorry I am that in that moment, life as you knew it was turned on its head. I’ve spoken to a few of you over the last 24 hours. I know you’re scared for your future housing, your families and for your neighbours. Many of you have expressed directly to me or in social media posts that deep concern for your neighbours and their well being; it is that compassion and thought for each other despite facing some scary prospects yourselves that has driven me to a letter writing campaign. It feels small, in the face of these renovictions, housing insecurity, and the huge issues of housing affordability in our communities, but I hope the letters I’ve written to our local papers and politicians offer some push back in the face of all of this.
As a community, as a region, we have to use our collective voice to hold leadership accountable. MPs, MPPs and councilors aren’t elected to take pictures with local businesses, help fill out forms at their offices, or volunteer at local events. Those are small community engagements, that while nice, are, let’s face it, about making them look good.
Their jobs are to advocate on behalf of their communities. Their jobs are to ensure balance and proper legislation are in place to provide for community well being, security, and safety. Right now, companies like the one evicting hundreds of people in Cumberland Gardens, Bedford Properties, aren’t being held accountable by our leaders. They aren’t being held to the standards set in place in the landlord and tenant act. They are tricking vulnerable people out of their homes to turn a hefty profit. Then, they turn over the property to a management group and move on to the next property they can flip. Greed is allowed to drive our housing market and rental market.
This situation will only continue to happen in our communities as renters and home owners are being driven out of bigger cities; as a community, we MUST hold our leadership accountable. We must raise our collective voices on behalf of our neighbours, friends and fellow citizens. I urge any of you reading this to contact our MPP Jim McDonell, the Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, and all of the city of Cornwall councilors.
Cumberland Gardens is one complex…but it is the home and safe space of many. They need our help!
Kelsey Catherine Schmtiz