Ottawa, August 18: The owner of a historic church in Ottawa’s Lowertown neighbourhood is evicting a group with ties to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ occupation planning to purchase the property this fall, in an apparent dispute over unpaid rent for the facility.
A “Notice of Termination of Tenant” notice on the front door of St. Brigid’s Church on St. Patrick Street says the landlord has terminated the occupancy of the United People of Canada under the Commercial Tenancies Act, and the locks will be changed.
The notice says the landlord has terminated the lease, effective Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, as a result of “arrears of payment of rent in the amount of $10,000” and “failure to provide proof of liability insurance in the minimum of $5 million.” Another notice on the door says the tenants are in violation of the Ontario Heritage Act and failed to obtain necessary permits for construction under the Ontario Building Code Act.
The United People of Canada have said they are in the process of purchasing St. Brigid’s Church on St. Patrick Street, with plans to turn it into an “Embassy.” The historic church has been for sale for over a year, with an asking price of $5.9 million.
The bailiff returned to the church on Thursday morning after initially visiting the church the day before to issue the notice of termination. Several Ottawa police cruisers were spotted outside St. Brigid’s Church early Wednesday evening to assist with a dispute between the landlord and tenant.
Police have left. The bailiff told me this will likely be solved by a judge/police tomorrow.
— Andrew Pinsent (@a_pinsent) August 18, 2022
On Thursday afternoon, the locks were changed at the Rectory, where an art studio has been using the space.
There were several people standing outside the church Wednesday evening when police arrived. Volunteer Patrick Lafleche told Newstalk 580 CFRA the rent has been paid, but noted he had not talked to the owner and the potential buyer of the church.
Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Andrew Pinsent said a locksmith was not allowed on site to change the locks and decided to come back on Thursday.
In a statement early Thursday morning, William Komer of the United People of Canada said the attempt to “unlawfully evict” the group was in retaliation for complaints.
“It is our understanding that there was an attempt by the property owners this evening to unlawfully evict The United People of Canada from The Embassy following our raising of concerns regarding what we understand to be breaches of the Ontario Human Rights Code by the property owners, including, but not limited to, what we understand to be unlawful reprisal against us for refusing to discriminate against people based on their creed,” Komer said.