Parent of daughter with disability faces GRCA home eviction

A family hopes to keep living at a GRCA-owned rental property because their daughter with complex special needs needs a neighbour-free, rural residence such as the Grand River Conservation Authority currently rents out. But the tenancy program is ending.

'A move for Tabitha would be absolutely devastating,' says mother

Home owned by the Grand River Conservation Authority occupied by Mary-Timothy Hare and family. (Mary-Timothy Hare)

A tenant of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA)'s residential tenancy program is fighting her eviction notice for December 31, 2017 because of her daughter's complex special needs.

Over the years, the GRCA acquired numerous properties as part of flood control and conservation projects. They reviewed the residential tenancy program in 2016, identified it as a poor business model, and decided to wind down the program in four stages over the next 10 to 15 years.
Mary-Timothy Hare faces eviction in 2017 from the home owned by the Grand River Conservation Authority. She says her daughter depends on non-transferable medical and school accommodations in the area. (Mary-Timothy Hare)

Hare's house has been classified as a Stage Two home, one that presents current and future financial liabilities for the organization and is targeted to be closed this year.

Mary-Timothy Hare has lived on her Rockwood, Ont. property for 23 years with her husband and two daughters. Her 16-year-old, Tabitha, has a documented rare neurological condition and attachment disorder.

"She will go with anybody, she wanders off, and she has been the victim of predators a number of times," Hare told Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition on CBC Radio, "A move for Tabitha would be absolutely devastating."

Special needs

Hare said Tabitha's attachment disorder is a result of experiencing severe abuse while she was a toddler in the foster care system prior to her adoption 14 years ago.

Tabitha's neurological disorder is called Bilateral Perisylvian Fissure Syndrome with Pachygyria, which affects her development, learning and speech.

Hare said the education accommodations and medical supports for Tabitha took years to get through pro-bono lawyers and the Human Rights Commission — which are non-transferrable outside of the Guelph, Ont. area.

"We can't simply pick up and go to different doctors out of the jurisdiction," she said.
Mary-Timothy Hare said her daughter Tabitha has a rare neurological disorder and both medical treatment and school accommodation cannot be transferred from the area where they currently live. (Courtesy of Mary-Timothy Hare)

Dr. Juzar Jafferjee from Fergus, Ont., Tabitha's doctor, said in a note that moving the youth will "compromise [her] personal safety."

"Due to her condition and history she is advice [sic] to stay in her current place till she graduates in three and half years as she requires private rural living environment and supports she has in place," Jafferjee wrote.

'No negotiation'

Hare says the initial email about eviction on June 1, 2017 came as a surprise; she thought she would have the full 10 to 15-year time period to plan for a move.

Cameron Linwood, the communications and development coordinator for GRCA said the Stage Two phase of the wind-down will take approximately five years.

"As part of this process, we have been providing advance notice to all of our tenants as to the status of their residences and the termination," Linwood told CBC News.
Tabitha Hare drew a picture of the GRCA rental home where she grew up. (Mary-Timothy Hare)

The property manager of GRCA, Samantha Lawson, outlined two options for Hare in the initial email.

Either Hare can sign a termination agreement for evicting by June 1, 2018, or the GRCA will apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for the eviction.

While Linwood said GRCA property staff are "negotiating" with affected residents, Hare said she sees the experience differently.

"There has been no negotiation. There has been demands, and there have been very terrifying threats," Hare said.

Linwood declined to comment on previous or current negotiations the GRCA has had with specific tenants, on the basis of protecting their privacy.

Outlook: 'living in a car'

Hare said the GRCA suggested she attend the July board meeting to present her case, but she said nothing resulted from that. 

"The answer from the board has been that — 'our employees, we do not have any control or authority over what the property manager does,'" Hare said.

After alerting the GRCA about a potential human rights issue involved in this eviction process, Hare said the family received "an immediate official eviction notice" for December 31, 2017.

The notice indicates that the landlord intends to demolish the unit.

Hare says the family needs to stay in the unit until Tabitha graduates from school in about four years.

"We're hoping to have a legitimate negotiation or mediation with the Grand River Conservation Authority," Hare said.

"Because there are no alternate housing options for us that will permit her to access education or any of her other supports, we are literally looking at living in a car at the end of December," Hare said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.