Cancer survivor Annette Trevorrow loves her home in downtown Toronto.

Her large bachelor apartment is close to the hospitals and medical facilities she frequents several times a week. It’s also near public transit and the places where she runs errands as well as friends and family.

But, that could all change by early next year as the rent-controlled apartment in the 24-storey, 259-unit high-rise that Trevorrow has called home for eight years is slated to be torn down.

Earlier this month, Toronto and East York Community Council unanimously approved a rental housing demolition application for 25 St. Mary St., which is just south of Bloor Street East between Bay and Yonge streets. The property’s owner, Tenblock, wants to construct two new towers that are 54 and 59 storeys in place of the current v-shaped structure on that site. City council is set to consider the matter at its May 10 meeting.

Trevorrow is one of thousands of tenants across Toronto facing what is known as “demoviction” and is worried about her future and where she’ll live.

“It’s very stressful. I’m at risk of losing certain healthcare options by not being in the catchment area,” she told Friday afternoon.

“It’s all so overwhelming. … Forty to 50 per cent of our building is elderly tenants and, like me, they’re all terrified.”

Under City of Toronto Act, renters who are displaced by a building’s demolition are entitled to return to their unit and pay similar rent once the building is redeveloped. They’re also entitled to be compensated for their moving expenses as well as the gap in rent for a comparable temporary unit, and notice before vacating.

Those rights could, however, be compromised by the newly introduced provincial legislation, says University-Rosedale's MPP Jessica Bell, who serves as the NDP’s housing critic. She said, if passed, Bill 97, the Helping Homebuyers, Protecting Tenants Act, would "weaken municipal rental replacement bylaws and give the province greater authority."

Bell went on to say that she’s working to ensure that developers aren’t essentially given a “carte blanche” when it comes to these kinds of projects an vowed to fight to ensure tenants displaced by demolition don’t end up in worse situations.

“We aren’t confident that the new provincial bylaw will be better than what the City of Toronto currently has in place,” she told

“Tenants are scared, they’re worried, and they’re paying higher than ever (rent). People just want this city to be affordable.”

Bell said many tenants do not trust the government, adding many renters she's's spoken with don’t believe that the province will pass strong legislation that will support them if their building gets demolished.

The Toronto MPP said she appreciates that there is a high demand to build more housing in the province, and Toronto specifically, however she said renters shouldn’t have to “suffer” to make that happen.

Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, however, is stressing that a final bill hasn’t even been released, adding claims by the NDP that it would weaken rental replacement bylaws and give the province greater authority have no “factual basis.”

“There’s an ongoing consultation that will decide the issue,” Jason VandenBeukel, a spokesperson for the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, wrote in an email to

He also reiterated that the act itself does not stipulate what measures may replace municipal rent replacement bylaws as a final policy has yet to be announced.

The Ministry, in a statement, went on to note that that provincial government’s latest housing supply action plan contains a “variety of proposals aimed at protecting tenants against so-called demovictions and renovictions and clarifying and enhancing tenants’ rights to air conditioning.”

“As part of these proposals, our government has proposed prescribing minimum requirements for municipal rent replacement bylaws that would establish tenants’ right to rent a replacement unit at the same location and at a similar rent, as well as require that replacement units have the same core features (i.e. number of bedrooms),” it wrote.

“The purpose of these proposals is to increase Ontario’s supply of rental housing, facilitate the renewal of rental housing and strengthen tenant protections by helping to ensure minimum standards are established in municipal rental replacement bylaws province wide.”

Further, VandenBeukel said that the purpose of these proposals is to “facilitate the renewal of rental housing stock in Ontario and protect the rights of tenants when doing so by ensuring there are common rent replacement rules province wide.”

“In other words, to increase rental supply and strengthen tenant protections by ensuring minimum standards are adhered to in municipal rental replacement bylaws provincewide,” he said.

Annette Trevorrow

Trevorrow, meanwhile, is on a waiting list for breast cancer reconstruction surgery and is worried that the $17,000 in compensation she’s being offered won’t be enough to cover the more expensive rent she’ll have to pay to live nearby for roughly three years while 25 St. Mary St. is being redeveloped.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said.

“The owners of buildings (slated for demolition) need to do the right thing and take care of people first.”

Currently in Toronto, there are 73 residential building demolition applications, which could displace tenants in 3,400 units.

Geoff Hayworth, a tenant organizer with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, said so far this year he’s seen a notable uptick in the number of renters in the city raising concerns about being displaced by demolition or renovations.

He said many of the tenants he’s spoken with fear they’ll be pushed out of the city because they can no longer afford to live here. He also pointed to provincial laws that he said are usually not enforced when it comes to landlords informing rent-controlled tenants that they can return to their unit once a property is redeveloped.

“(This practice) is completely uprooting people’s lives,” said Hayworth, whose job is to help educate and support renters when it comes to their right to housing.

In late 2022, Hayworth assisted tenants at 55 Brownlow Ave., near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, who are also facing possible demoviction, in their efforts to get organized.

Earlier this year, those renters started working with tenants at 25 St. Mary St. and 145 St. George St. and founded a new group called No Demovictions.

Their first rally was held outside 24 St. Mary St. on April 1.

A second demonstration is planned for April 29 at 55 Brownlow.

April 1 No Demovictions rally

Brownlow resident Megan Kee said a key concern is the loss of affordable housing in the city.

“A lot of the buildings that are being bought up and demolished are under rent control,” she told

“There’s a huge wave of demoviction happening lately and it’s happening at a very fast and aggressive rate.”

Kee said trying to find an affordable apartment in Toronto, especially in a highly desirable neighbourhood, is almost impossible.

A report by and Urbanation released earlier this month suggested that the average list price for a one-bedroom apartment rental in Toronto in March was up more than 22 per cent year-over-year to $2,506. The average two-bedroom rental in the city was listed for $3,286 a month.

“(Demoviction) is pushing people out of communities and the city,” she said. “It’s really heartbreaking. … We feel so alone.”