Toronto Bar Owner Facing Eviction From Her Home Of 23 Years While Fighting Cancer

Abra Shiner, a Toronto bar owner, is facing eviction from their home of 23 years while battling metastatic cancer, and they say the stress is interfering with stabilizing their condition.

“It’s the tail end of my life, and I’m just trying to be happy and stay calm and make it last – draw it out for a little while,” Shiner who uses she/they pronouns, told Narcity

Shiner says when she was diagnosed about a year ago, she was told she’d be lucky to live another five to ten years if her condition stabilized, but the stress of a possible eviction isn’t helping.

Battling cancer and an eviction notice

“I’m losing weight rapidly, I’m not sleeping well, I’m very stressed out…I say laughter heals and cures, and I was maintaining a smile through everything until this started.”

With eviction hanging over her head Shiner says she’s crying more often than laughing these days.

Shiner says they’ve never been late on rent for their Queen and Dovercourt home, according to a call out on change.org, where over 20,000 people have signed in a petition for the eviction notice to be withdrawn.

“[Three investors] purchased the building right before the beginning of December, and after the beginning of January, we were all served notices,” said Shiner.

The landlords initially said they were going to do repairs on the building, according to Shiner, and just a month after showing them cracked tiles and small leaks in the bathtub and sink, notices started to roll in.

Shiner says they and their husband were served with an N12 which is a notice to end a resident tenancy so it can be used by the landlord or owner to live. While the other units in the building were served with N13s, which means a landlord wants to demolish the unit or repair it.

The notice calls for Shiner to be out of the unit by March 31, and after repairs, one of the three landlords’ sons is set to move in, they say.

Although the eviction will have to go through a tribunal first.

How moving could impact treatment

Shiner owns Swan Dive, a bar on Dundas Street West which is still in the red post-pandemic.

Shiner and their husband can’t afford to move to another place close to her support system, work, and the hospital where she receives her treatments, with the two of them making under $5,000 per month.

Shiner’s Doctor wrote her note on how the eviction would negatively impact her battle with cancer.

“When they gave me the paper N12, I gave them a doctor’s note from my general practitioner in rebuttal to the note explaining it could kill me.”

Shiner said her landlords filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, but she hoping to convince them to withdraw and settle before the case goes to the tribunal.

Shiner is still settling on a treatment plan, and is set to have her ovaries removed which may lead to a full hysterectomy.

“The inevitability is that I will just keep having to have surgeries; my treatment will be ongoing,” said Shiner. “I need to maintain close proximity to my job. I have no way to get another one, people don’t hire terminally ill people.”

Trying to find a middle ground

“I understand that they bought this building with the view of making an income, and I’d like to work something out with them that’s fair to all parties. But asking me to vacate my home at this point is not fair or humane.”

Narcity reached out to the landlords for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Previously the landlords were working with Elaine Page as their legal representative, but Shiner says she’s no longer on the case.

Page told CBC that they “certainly recognize that this is people’s housing, and it’s a sensitive issue.”

“What we try to do is balance the needs of a landlord and balance the needs of the tenants and come to some kind of amicable resolution.”

Page said that the property was in a “very bad state of repair” when they took possession and that no plans for the space have been approved yet.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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