Jennie Stevens MPP, St. Catharines

Government of Ontario

‘Renoviction’ proceedings stopped against St. Catharines senior with terminal cancer

Published on February 21, 2020

Ken Gogo wants only to spend the months he has left living in his home. 

Instead, he has been living in fear he might soon be evicted.

The 76-year-old St. Catharines man, diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in November, received notification from his landlord Bedford Properties late last year warning he could be evicted from his apartment of 13 years at 137 Church St., to allow the company to renovate.

But Gogo had no intention of leaving willingly.


"I've never had a problem with rent. I was always a good tenant there. I basically told them, at this point I wasn't willing to move out, and to do whatever they had to do," he said. 

The company responded by starting eviction proceedings, scheduling a Landlord and Tenant Board hearing for April 23.

That changed Thursday, after Gogo joined St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens at Queen's Park as she shared his story during Question Period.

In response to questions from The St. Catharines Standard, Bedford Properties area property manager Jack Cohen said the company will no longer proceed with the hearing to evict Gogo.

"In light of Mr. Gogo's health situation, we have decided to cancel the hearing April 23 with the Landlord and Tenant Board," Cohen wrote in an email Thursday.

For Gogo, it means he will be able to remain in his home among the dozens of models of vintage warplanes he meticulously crafted while creating music on his guitars.

"That's good news," he said. "I can't thank Jennie and The Standard enough."

Gogo, however, said his landlord should have known about his health concerns long before the newspaper contacted the company.

His physician wrote a letter to the landlord on his behalf months ago, explaining his medical condition and the added duress eviction proceedings were having on him. But Gogo said he received no response.

Despite Cohen's email, Gogo said he has yet to be personally informed of his landlord's decision.

Nevertheless, he fears it won't be long before his apartment is vacant.

Gogo said the disease has spread to his liver and bone tissue in his shoulder. Doctors estimate radiation and immunotherapy treatments he's receiving could extend his life by another year.

"Because of my health situation — the cancer — Bedford Properties is going to get the apartment back. It could be three months or a year from now. They're doing this for nothing," he said.

"But there's no guarantee. Eventually, if you don't have anyone to help you pass away at home you're going to have to go to hospice or something."

Gogo isn't alone.

He said Bedford Properties has issued numerous N13 forms threatening to evict tenants since purchasing the building about four years ago. He said he's one of only two tenants in the 12-storey building who have fought to remain in their apartments.

Gogo, too, said he previously received one of those forms. At the time, however, he said he informed his landlord that he planned to return to his apartment when the renovations were completed. As a result, he said the landlord informed him the renovation plans had been cancelled.

After the recent notice was sent to Gogo, Cohen said the company notified him he had a right to return to the apartment when renovations were complete, at the same monthly rent he had paid previously. Cohen said the company also offered to compensate Gogo for moving expenses, plus additional compensation "well above the guideline" if he chose to terminate his tenancy. 

Cohen said Gogo declined both offers.

The company's eviction application "was made in order to improve our property," Cohen added. 

"Mr. Gogo's apartment has not received any significant upgrades in 50 years — the plumbing and electrical are original and prone to failure, which put other tenants at risk, especially water leaks," he said.

On its website Bedford Properties lists three St. Catharines buildings among its rental properties, including Camelot Towers, Galeview Apartments and 82 Church St. 

While Gogo's monthly rent is $717, the cheapest apartment listed on the website is $995 a month, and a one-bedroom apartment comparable to Gogo's is $1,295. 

At Queen's Park, Stevens said the government has "sat by and allowed rents to skyrocket, and they have created an environment that encourages landlords to pursue aggressive and illegal renovictions."

"Premier, why does this government think creating anxiety and doing nothing to protect vulnerable seniors like Kenneth from losing their homes to renovictions is OK?" she asked.

Stevens said she is developing a private member's bill in hopes of protecting tenants on compassionate grounds when they face evictions. She said it should be ready to be presented in a few weeks.