Mice, cockroaches and structural issues force families from condemned Cote-des-Neiges apartments

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Residents of two buildings in Cote-des-Neiges are being forced to leave because the structures are so rundown that the city has ruled they must be torn down.

Iran Aamir’s family has lived in the same apartment on Barclay Avenue for 15 years. It’s a spot she described as welcoming, where she can let her kids play knowing her neighbours will help keep an eye on them. When she received a letter in late July telling her she and her family had to move, she said she was devastated.

“This is our home, we don't want to leave this place but the city isn’t listening to us," she said. 

The two apartment buildings on the Cote-des-Neiges street are now under mandatory evacuation order. Some of the basement units have been vacant since 2012 because of mold issues. Aamir says for the past eight years there have been mice and cockroach infestations. The Office de L’Habitation de Montreal said the buildings are in such bad condition, it had no choice but to tear them down.

“They have a big structural problems, we have to re-enforce the buildings so we can extend the period the tenants can say there," said Office de L'Habitation spokesperson Mathieu Vachon.

Residents in 16 units received letters telling them they need to vacate by October 31.

Aamir’s apartment has visible signs of damage. In a bedroom a hole in the wall is stuffed with clothing, to ensure no mice or rodents get into the unit. 

“I'm heartbroken,” said resident Marilyn Hooper. “My kids are going to school in the area, that's going to be very hard.”

Most of the residents said they hope to stay in the neighbourhood considering their children attend nearby schools. While the OMHM says it will help residents relocate, Vachon said they can’t guarantee it will be in Cote-des-Neiges.

“It is more difficult this year (with the low vacancy rate in Montreal), will we be able to find them something in Cote-des-Neiges?" he said. "We'll have to see, it might be hard.”

Vachon added the city plans to build social housing on the land. The OMHM confirmed current residents will have priority to live there, but the new apartments won’t be ready for years.