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Hampstead tenants in affordable housing worry about plans to demolish building

Click to play video: 'Hampstead tenants in a low-income housing worry plans to demolish building will leave them homeless' Hampstead tenants in a low-income housing worry plans to demolish building will leave them homeless
WATCH: Some tenants in a building on Cote St-Luc road say a plan to demolish their apartment building in favour of a luxury development is going to leave them on the street. – Jun 26, 2019

Patrick Demers is in disbelief.

He and tenants at an apartment building at 5783 Côte Saint-Luc Road in Hampstead got a notice saying the building owner is seeking approval from the town of Hampstead to demolish the complex.

“I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to move again'” he told Global News.

READ MORE: Tenants’ rights group denounces lack of affordable housing in Montreal

The two four-storey buildings are almost 70 years old and have 26 apartments between them, but the new building would be nine floors and would have 90 units.

“This building hasn’t been renovated in some time,” says Johnathan Goldbloom, spokesperson for the company, of the existing building.

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“It lacks a number of amenities. For example, it doesn’t have an elevator.”

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But tenants say with the lack of affordable housing in Montreal, some who now pay rent as low at $600 at the complex will have trouble finding a place they can afford, especially the elderly.

“Some people have been here for 30 years,” explains Demers.  Some people, if they cannot live over here they’re going to end up in a CHLD — an old people’s home.  The quality of life is gonna drop tremendously.”

Stephen Beker, another tenant, agrees.  “We have families with children who go to school around here, they have friends around here.”

They say the owners shouldn’t feel they can do as they like, though, just because they own the property.

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“Housing is not something you dispose of,” Demers fumes.  “People need a place to live.”

READ MORE: Montreal unveils new housing plan to help low-income earners

But town of Hampstead officials say nothing has been decided yet.  A demolition committee is meeting July 3rd to decide if the apartment complex can be torn down.  If demolition is approved, the developer will then present details of the new project publicly.

“We will have a meeting on July 15 at 8:00 in the evening, at the community centre in Hampstead, to present the whole thing,” explains Hampstead Town Clerk Pierre Tapp.

After that, residents who would be affected — including those on neighbouring streets — can draw up a petition.  If there are enough signatures then the town will decide whether to hold a referendum.

“If the majority of the people say no, the project will be put away and it’s over,” Tapp says.

A spokesperson for the developer says the owners are sensitive the the tenants’ needs.  If the project does go ahead they will help tenants.

“We will be setting up a data bank so that we can find equitable or equivalent properties where they can move,” says Goldbloom.

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He says no construction would start for another 12-18 months.

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