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Toronto bar owner fighting aggressive cancer is also trying to reverse home eviction notice

The Toronto bar scene has rallied around a local bar owner who is battling cancer and also facing a potential home eviction.

Abra Shiner, the owner of Swan Dive on Dundas West says she was recently served an N12 eviction notice at her home for 23 years at Queen and Dovercourt.

The entire unit was sold and the landlords want to move in, leaving Shiner with the possibility of having to find a new home as she undergoes treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

"It is not just me and my husband being evicted, but all the tenants in this building, that is several people that have been very long-term residents [that] will have no place to go in a very real and scary housing crisis," said Shiner.

Between coping with her reality, undergoing treatment and facing a large surgery in the coming weeks, Shiner says the stress has been excessive. 

"The stress this is causing me has had an incredibly detrimental effect on my health. I am not sleeping and dropping weight at an alarming rate. For someone in my condition that is very bad news," she tells blogTO.

Speaking with the Shiner's landlord's paralegal Elaine Paige, the situation isn't as clearcut as one might imagine.

"There has been no order terminating her tenancy, it will go through the process like any other file," she said.

The application will go to the Landlord Tenant Board and then an adjudicator, where it will be determined if the landlord has met the correct requirements and where Shiner can explain her case and health concerns.

According to Paige, if Shiner does need to leave her home, it won't be for months in the future and there is always the chance it could be reversed, though it is "unlikely," since the landlords own the building and have certain entitlements. 

As a result, lots of members from the local bar scene and Shiner's friends have started a petition in an attempt to have the notice reversed, with nearly 6,000 signatures received so far.

Though this might not hold any legal weight, it shows how the neighbourhood support speaks to the dire situation Shiner and her neighbours now find themselves in. 

"The amount of support from my community (and beyond!) has been AMAZING, thank you so much to everyone!" said Shiner.

Shiner's doctor has always written letters explaining how this "sudden change in living arrangements, in addition to her poor health, can have a detrimental effect on her physical and emotional well-being."

"I strongly urge you to consider Abra’s current medical condition and the stress that this eviction notice is causing her," read the note.

Shiner tells me she does not want to fight with the landlords and hopes that they change their minds and will reserve their decision. 

"I want peace, I want to work things out, I want to stay in my home and develop a good working relationship with them," she said.

Paige also has a similar message, saying the landlords and herself want to find a solution to this situation and work with Shiner.

"We wish her good health. We understand that she is ill and we want her to get better," she said.

Lead photo by

Abra Shiner

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