The head of a group with ties to the Freedom Convoy says they are planning to leave an Ottawa church after a judge ordered the group can be evicted.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Sally Gomery granted an application on Friday by the owners of St. Brigid’s in Lowertown to evict The United People of Canada from the property.
The owner, Patrick McDonald, sought the court order to enforce the group’s eviction, saying they failed to make $100,000 payments as part of a conditional sale of the church, owe $10,000 in rent and have broken heritage rules. Gomery’s ruling sided with the landlord.
“TUPOC materially breached the agreement by failing to pay deposits of $100,000 on August 10, 2022, despite two extensions of the deadline granted by the applicants,” she wrote.
Gomery also ruled that TUPOC must pay $53,000 in costs to the owners of the property within 30 days. William Komer, the group’s chair, said Friday afternoon that the group is planning to appeal the decision, but is planning to pack up and leaving the church.
“We’re waiting for the order to be finalized, but we understand it was against us and we need to vacate,” he said. “We know they’re asking, I believe, for us to be immediately out, so we’re getting out as quickly as we can.
“We will be appealing the decision.”
Members of the group had long insisted the eviction notice they were served was invalid, and said they would not leave the property. But Friday afternoon they could be seen packing up a vehicle in the church’s parking lot.
As they packed their belongings, several protesters arrived to shout at the TUPOC members. One of them brandished a sign reading “Go home terrorists” as a verbal confrontation broke out.
Police could be seen speaking to Komer at the church around 6 p.m. Friday evening.
Mayor Jim Watson called the judge’s decision “great news” for Lowertown residents.
“They’ve put up with a lot of nonsense and immaturity, people being squirted by water guns and spitting on people,” he told CTV News. “My hope is that these crackpots who have been basically encamped there for weeks respect the judge’s decision, pay the court costs and get out of town.”
The ruling is earlier than expected—Gomery told court on Monday she would not have a decision until after Sept. 27.
St. Brigid’s church was conditionally sold to The United People of Canada on June 15, with the group planning to turn the historic property into an “embassy”. Documents obtained by CTV News show the sale has fallen through, and the property was back on the market as of Aug. 12.
McDonald’s lawyer told reporters on Sept. 2 that by the hearing this past Monday, there would be two grounds on which to argue TUPOC should be evicted: their failure to pay rent, as well as the end of the 30-day waiting period after the termination of the group’s purchase and sale agreement.
Lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, representing the United People of Canada, argued earlier this week the group had a verbal agreement with McDonald and that he wanted to back out of the deal because of media reports about the goings on at the property.
McDonald denied there was a verbal agreement with TUPOC during cross-examination. The judge sided with McDonald’s version of events.
The church, located 1.3 kilometres from Parliament Hill, had been on the market since July 2021 and had a $5.95 million price tag.
– with files from Jeremie Charron, CTV News Ottawa
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