Toronto bar owner battling cancer is also battling an eviction notice

Abra Shiner, owner of the Dundas West bar Swan Dive is reeling after receiving an N12 eviction notice at the Queen and Dovercourt home she has lived in for 23 years. The notice comes at a particularly challenging time in Abra’s life as she is in the middle of treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

In an interview with CTV News, Abra was candid about the ways the stress of this eviction is impacting her already ailing health saying, “I don’t understand how one human being could do this to another human being. This could actually kill me at this stage in my illness.”

Abra is of course referring to the landlord’s attempt to get her out of her home, selling the entire building. The new owners are evicting not just her and her husband, but the many other individuals and families who have called this place home for years.

She goes on to say, ““I don’t want to have my entire life uprooted and destroyed. Displacing me from my home, I wouldn’t be able to survive the stress of moving 23 years of life.”

For months Abra has been managing her commitments at work while balancing doctors’ appointment, treatment, scheduled surgeries and her Swan Dive managerial duties. Despite the competing priorities, Abra has remained consistent with paying her rent on time, something she has never faltered in the over two decades of living in her unit.

Friends and community members have started a petition to help stop the eviction of Abra and her husband, Mike. As of today, it has over 15,500 signatures —  just 9,500 shy of the 25,000 goal. Abra hopes the petition will be sent to the landlord and tenant board and ultimately, the eviction will be withdrawn.

In a message on the petition’s web page Abra says, “I am a good tenant. Furthermore, the chances of finding a home within my restricted budget are very low (due to the amount of time I spend dealing with my cancer I cannot work very much). Moving me from my home at this time is unreasonable. The stress that this is causing me is having an extremely negative impact on my health and could very well impact my chances at a few more good years of life.”

CTV News also interviewed lawyer Brendan Jowett at Neighborhood Legal Services who said, “There is a legal framework for considering compassionate arguments, although it can be very difficult to override or overcome the interests of a land owner. Adding, “But it can happen.”

According to the article, Abra’s general practitioner even jumped in to send a personal letter to the new landlords, advising that this situation is having a detrimental effect on Abra’s health.

Abra’s cancer is currently spreading throughout her lymphatic system, and she has a surgery scheduled next week to remove her ovaries. Abra is focused on ensuring that remaining time is spent happy and in her beloved home.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO