Abra Shiner leaned in the narrow hallway of her home of nearly 25 years at Queen Street West and Dovercourt Road in late January, the reddish glow of her fairy lights matching her crimson hair.
“It seems like my energy is divided between fighting directly for my health and fighting for my home,” the Swan Dive bar owner said.
The battle to stay in her home has continued since December 2022, when an N12 eviction notice arrived at her door. The new owners took over the Victorian home, at the time divided into four affordable units, less than a year after she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
So Shiner took her case to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), which has the power to deny or delay an eviction on compassionate grounds. “I’m just trying to hold on as long as I can,” Shiner said.
In response, the three owners of the property told CTV News Toronto that they could not “comment on the legality of [the case]”as he remains before the court.
The next hearing date is set for March 18, when the LTB said it would “consider the circumstances of both parties.”
The March hearing is not the first scheduled: Shiner missed an initial LTB hearing in September 2023 after being hospitalized due to a low white blood cell count, which she attributed to stress.
“The court itself was probably the reason I couldn’t attend,” he said at the time.
After the hearing was postponed until March, he maintained six months of stability. But facing eviction again, Shiner says the added stress of the situation has only made things worse.
Stress can arise from something as small as a phone call to homeowners about a leaky faucet, he said. “When something goes wrong in the house, I tend to end up pretty sick,” Shiner continued, sitting on the couch where she spends most days with her bulldog, Nugget, while she tries to run the bar from her iPad. .
Shiner’s doctors have written letters to the owners. Mainly highlighting the need for her to be close to Princess Margaret Hospital and the lack of affordable housing available near the facility.
“Moving would probably mean the end for me,” Shiner said, pointing to a note from another doctor, Dr. Ratika Birdi, who said a sudden change in her living conditions could be “detrimental.”
With less time left before possible eviction, Shiner says his health has begun to deteriorate further. By tracing the lump on his neck, often covered by a colorful scarf, he says he can feel another one forming in his groin and the pain returning to his left breast.
Dr. Stephen Hwang, a research scientist at the MAP Center for Urban Health Solutions, said stress has a direct impact on the immune system and its ability to fight cancer.
When patients move away from where they receive treatment, he said, “it will often result in missed appointments and difficulties accessing care. That certainty could have an adverse effect on someone’s health,” Hwang said.
Plans obtained by CTV News Toronto for 1086 ½ Queen Street West reveal plans to demolish two rental units on the second floor and one on the ground level at the rear of the house, and expand an existing commercial space below.
Shiner’s apartment is the only one that will remain; The owners, however, have said they plan to renovate it for one of his children. No plans for a family member to move therethe owners would have been legally required to offer Shiner the renovated unit before putting it on the market.
“Things don’t really add up,” said Samuel Mason, an attorney representing one of the second-floor tenants. “How can you demolish something on the second floor while moving your child to the third?”
Dan Noffke, 79, has lived in a one-bedroom apartment below Shiner for 20 years, with a large desk leaning against one wall, an adjacent bed and a medium-sized refrigerator at the foot. His income source comes from Old Age Security and other government financial supports totaling $2,000 per month.
“It’s a no-brainer to want to stay,” Noffke said. However, she received an N13 termination notice, meaning she must vacate the unit permanently.
The LTB sided with the owner in a written order last December, but Mason is appealing the decision in divisional court, claiming the board “erred” in determining that the owner’s plan constitutes demolition.
“It’s certainly very important that whatever final decision is made is the right one because the stakes are high,” Mason said.