Hamilton City Hall Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

The long-term tenants at 100 Charlton Avenue West will lose their housing “six to eight months from now” following a 4-2 vote at City Hall on Thursday.

Hamilton’s Committee of Adjustment voted 5-2 to approve a full parking exception needed for a planned conversion of six three-bedroom units in the building into twelve single-bedroom apartments.

City staff supported the parking variances as good planning.

A full parking exception is needed because the property has no parking.

Residents of the apartments spoke emotionally about their predicament.

“We urge the committee to factor the cost of tenant displacement into evaluating this application,” said tenant representative Susan McArthur.

“This would result in the demoviction of all individuals and families that call these three-bedroom units home.”

McArthur lives in the building and will be evicted when her apartment is renovated out of existence.

“The city must do everything in its power to protect the tenants and Hamilton’s affordable housing stock,” she said.

Resident Nicole Lamb says she only learned she will lose her housing when the City sent public notice of the variances.

“I do find this request arrogant and point out that the owners are parking the cart before the horse and seem to be quite confident in this political environment to get these variances approved before handing out notices to their tenants.”

Losing her apartment will force her into an unaffordable rental market, she said.

Another resident, Michael, choked up standing in the City Hall Council Chamber, “We’re going to be kicked to the curb.”

He asked the committee to listen to the residents.

“We are the people that live there. We need to stay in our homes, we don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Committee of Adjustment Member Nancie Mleczko said she was concerned to learn the owner had not communicated with the tenant.

James Webb, the planning agent for owners Fortino Properties Inc., said they wanted to await City Hall approvals. “There’s no point having those discussions unless there’s certainty that they can in fact proceed with what they want to do,” he said.

Webb says the owners will follow the Landlord Tenant Act “in terms of their responsibilities to those existing tenants.”

With City Hall’s approval of the parking exception, the owner can now demolish the existing units.

Tenants are only entitled to three months’ rent in compensation. The owner can then rent the new units at significantly higher monthly rents as one-bedroom units.

During the debate, Mleczko asked the agent to at least hold a town hall meeting.

“We know the rising cost of units today is unaffordable for most people. Is there an opportunity to have those discussions with these people before decisions made?” [YouTube video link]

“They need to know where they’re going to be in six months. They need to know if they’re no longer going to have three bedrooms and maybe only two. For someone who mentioned having two children. They’re going to be downsized and out the door with nowhere to go. So I guess I’m just wondering if there’s an opportunity to make that what do we call it town hall meeting?”

Webb said the owners will “dialogue with those existing residents provide them certainty on the timelines and talk to them about how they can assist them and manage them through that transition process.”

CoA Member Thomas Lofchik argued against the parking exception.

” I think the statement was no adverse effects. I think there are adverse effects. We’ve heard of some of them. As with the tenants, there’s not much we can do about that. I mean, if if they didn’t need a variance, they could go ahead and do the renovations, and these tenants would have to leave. And there’s nothing anybody could do about it,” he explained. The only issue here is that because they’re seeking a variance we have a say in the way it goes.”

Mleczko responded with disagreement saying they were “parking variances alone.”

CoA Member David Serwatuk, who is a landlord and developer, moved the motion to approve the variances.

Mleczko, who is a Realtor, seconded the motion to approve the parking variances.

“I think we’re in much need of units intensification downtown and what we’re doing is we’re adding more units. So I’ll make a motion for approval.”

“Here, here,” stated CoA Member Mark Dudzic, who is a real estate lawyer.

The motion passed 5-2.

Members Lofchik and Melvin Switzer voted against the motion. Both of them are retirees.

The Committee then moved on to its next application – variances for the new Mission Services men’s emergency shelter – as the tenants slowly walked out of the Chamber trying to comfort each other.

City staff will now work with the owner of 100 Charlton Avenue West to issue building permits.

Once the owners have the building permits, they can issue N13 eviction notices.

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Published: December 8, 2022
Last edited: December 8, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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