97-year-old woman feels 'exhausted and worn out' as eviction looms from Davenhill Senior Living
Seniors’ home sold last summer and residents given until the end of the year to move out
The last remaining resident of Davenhill Senior Living says she intends to fight to the very end to keep the home in which she intends to live out the remainder of her life.
The building housing Davenhill Senior Living at 877 Yonge St., just north of Davenport Road, made headlines last May when it was sold to a numbered company, and the 150 residents were given until the end of the year to leave.
"I just feel exhausted and worn out and tired of thinking of what am I going to do, where am I going to go," Betty Robinson, 97, told CBC Toronto on Thursday.
"We've been very pushed, and one of the things I've always understood is old people should not rush and they need time to adjust to change.
A lot of people just feel they've been bullied into getting out. I'm still here because this is where I want to live," added Robinson, who has lived at Davenhill Senior Living for about five-and-a-half years.
Robinson says she does not want to "go through another upheaval of moving," adding that she has a lot of possessions that she's had all her life and she does not want to part with them.
"When I look at them they bring back all my memories. It's my whole life. I find it very convenient here," she said.
"When I moved here, I expected to be here the rest of my life. I was born in Toronto, I love Toronto, and the area where I want to be is close to my daughter."
Anne Washington, who moved out on Sept. 3, says government should tighten up tenants' rights, especially in seniors' buildings.
According to Washington, things are too "iffy" at the moment, and seniors don't seem to have anyone fighting for them.
"If we hadn't aired this . . . so the whole nasty situation got into the media, they would have done it without anyone noticing," Washington told CBC Toronto.
"I think they need to take a very careful look at the Landlord and Tenant Act and see how they can make changes so this sort of situation doesn't arise again."
Minister of seniors and accessibility Raymond Cho said during question period Thursday that he had been in touch with the retirement home authority.
"They told me that the home actually didn't provide a safe and secure environment for the seniors," he said. However, Davenhill was still accepting new residents two months before the closure was announced.
'I don't think anyone is secure'
Dan Tomlinson, chair of Davenhill's board of directors, said in a note to the remaining residents that the company has helped 98 per cent of the building's residents find new places to stay.
"As one of only two residents remaining in the building, we are concerned for your long term health and safety," he wrote. "Although we have repeatedly tried to contact you, Davenhill Senior Living has not been informed of your planned exit date. We encourage you to urgently finalize your relocation plans."
Washington's daughter, Catherine Nasmith, says what residents of Davenhill Senior Living have gone through has also taken a toll on their families.
"For anyone who's ever gone through moving a senior family member from their home into a retirement home, it's a big deal. It's a big deal for the family," she said.
"What is the most disturbing for me is that the Davenhill ... process lays a template for every developer who wants to kick people out of their homes in the city for redevelopment.
"With the redevelopment pressures that the city is experiencing, I don't think anyone is secure. There's no security of tenure for seniors," Nasmith added.
Local MPP Jessica Bell says the mass exodus of 150 seniors from Davenhill should not have happened.
She says seniors deserve the same protection as renters and should be protected from unfair evictions.
"The forced removal of the seniors is legal, but it's unethical. I believe that we should change the rules to give seniors better protection so that what is happening with Davenhill doesn't happen to any other senior in Ontario," Bell told CBC News.
"It's very upsetting to hear Betty's story. She's a 97-year-old mom and she's being forced to leave the home that she thought that she would die in."
With files from Nick Boisvert