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Scanned or retyped copy, if there are errors, please e-mail me with corrections:
  Aug. 30,  1989    Mississauga News  -  Editorial  -  Page - ?

City's true intent is being questioned

by Albert Atkins

In the summer of 1988, the City-owned residence at 1469 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W., which Brian and Lois Stevens have called their home for 10 years, was subjected to a feasibility study to determine whether it might be adapted to other uses.  The study discouraged that idea.

Mr. and Mrs. Stevens rent the property from Mississauga under a lease agreement which their lawyer suggests is legally defective.

Last October in response to an invitation from the local branch of the Ontario Humane Society, Brian Stevens outlined his wife's much-praised work with stray cats to an audience which include people from Mississauga's Animal Control Division.

Two days later the place was eye-balled by the City, which satisfied itself that "Mrs. Stevens is operating a cat shelter.  She takes in stray cats, nurtures them back to health and then adopts them out.  Not only is it contrary to the City's animal control (bylaw), but also contravenes the lease agreement."

The report I saw did not reveal that the Stevens cat shelter is far removed from other dwellings, that Mrs. Stevens pays all the costs out of her own pocket, that she is performing a valuable public service, and that she adopts the cats out free of charge to screened applicants.

A subsequent inspection by Animal Control personnel "found the house and the small shed where animals are kept in a very clean and well kept manner..."  Also noted was that the cats received regular veterinary care.

The city's reaction to this was to command Brian and Lois Stevens to vacate by October 31. The order was later propped up by the city's decision that "there are several major building deficiencies…(the house) will be demolished in 1989."

Says Lois Stevens:  "The city wants people to believe the house is unsafe.  It isn't.  Anyone visiting us can see that.  We wouldn't live there if it were unsafe.  Those so-called ‘major building deficiencies' the City is using as their justification for demolishing a perfectly good house are nothing more than neglected wear and tear that should have been taken care of by the City before they became a problem in terms of money."

True, the house does need some work to bring it up to snuff – repairs that should have been authorized long ago as part of normal maintenance which is the responsibility of every property owner and landlord.

To me, it's neither sensible nor profitable for the City to wreck a property on which it collects over $10,000 yearly.  It seems hardly right and just kick out long-term tenants whose repeated requests for routine maintenance have either been ignored or refused on budgetary grounds.  It is positively mean and nasty when you consider that Brian and Lois have sunk more than $40,000 of their own money fixing up the house and grounds; the interior of the house especially, which they assert "was a shambles when we first saw it."

Mayor Hazel McCallion sees it differently.  "As far as we're concerned," she told me, "all we're doing is asking the Stevenses to live up to their lease and vacate as requested under the terms of the lease so that we can demolish the house rather than spend $8,000 to bring it up to the requirements of our property standards bylaw."

Yet, on August 1, Mayor Hazel issued a news release in which she stated: "The real issue here is that the tenants have contravened City bylaws and their lease agreement…"

Are the other 29 of the City's rent-paying tenants to understand that the penalty for allegedly contravening City bylaws and their lease agreements will be expulsion from their homes?

What is the city REALLY up to?

It will make a difference!
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