MONTREAL – The mad scramble has begun. This week, staff and volunteers at a food depot in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood are busy packing boxes, removing light fixtures, and taking the walk-in fridge apart. They’re in the middle of a big move. The operation was supposed to take up to three months. Instead they have about three days to get it all done.
“There is some frustration. We had a verbal agreement to stay in place until the end of June,” intake coordinator Peter Butler told Global News.
Staff at the popular Oxford Avenue food bank are upset with their building’s landlord. They say he broke his verbal agreement to allow them to stay until June 30, while they look for a new home. The NDG Food Depot‘s lease expires Saturday.
“My colleague got a phone call from the landlord demanding a meeting last Friday,” Butler said. In that meeting, the owner notified the staff they needed to pack up and leave right away.
“I think it’s very unfair”, staffer Mathieu Goulet said. “The landlord is looking after his own interests.”
Goulet said the building which houses the food bank will eventually be demolished to make way for new luxury condos.
As of Tuesday afternoon, directors have still not found a new location for the food bank.
St-Philip’s Anglican Church in nearby Montreal-West has offered its facility to the food bank’s directors on a temporary basis.
“This is just short-term because the space we got is not the best,” pastor James Pratt said.
The controversy surrounding the forced move has reverberated all the way to Hollywood.
Actor Jay Baruchel called the landlord’s decision “bush league.” In a telephone interview with Global’s Domenic Fazioli Tuesday, he said, “It sort of reaks of slumlord stuff to me.”
“They do incredible work, they’re the lifeblood of the neighbourhood I grew up in. They could be treated better.”
The NDG Food Depot serves about 700 disadvantaged families a week across west-end Montreal.
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