The leader of a group associated with Freedom Convoy says they plan to leave an Ottawa church after a judge ordered the group to be evicted.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Sally Gomery on Friday granted an application from the owners of the St. Brigid’s in Lowertown to evict The United People of Canada from the property.
The owner, Patrick McDonald, sought a court order to enforce the group’s eviction, saying they failed to pay $100,000 as part of a conditional sale of the church, owe $10,000 in rent and have broken inheritance rules. Gomery’s ruling sided with the landlord.
“TUPOC materially breached the agreement by failing to pay the $100,000 security deposit by August 10, 2022, despite two extensions of the deadline granted by the applicants,” she wrote.
Gomery also ordered TUPOC to pay $53,000 in costs to the owners of the property within 30 days. William Komer, the group’s president, said Friday afternoon that the group plans to appeal the decision, but plans to pack up and leave the church.
“We are waiting for the order to be completed, but we understand that it was against us and we have to leave,” he said. “We know, in my opinion, they’re asking us to be out right away, so we’re going to get out as fast as we can.
“We will appeal the decision.”
Members of the group had long insisted the eviction notice they were given was invalid and said they would not leave the property. But on Friday afternoon, they could be seen packing a vehicle together in the church parking lot.
Mayor Jim Watson called the judge’s decision “good news” for Lowertown residents.
“They’ve been dealing with a lot of nonsense and immaturity, people being sprayed with water guns and spit on people,” he told CTV News. “My hope is that these crackpots, who have basically been camped out there for weeks, respect the judge’s ruling, pay the court costs and get out of town.”
The ruling is earlier than expected – Gomery told the court on Monday that she would not have a decision until after September 27.
St. Brigid’s Church was conditionally sold to The United People of Canada on June 15, with the group planning to convert the historic property into an “embassy”. Documents obtained by CTV News show that the sale fell through and the property was back on the market on August 12.
McDonald’s lawyer told reporters on September 2 that at last Monday’s hearing there would be two reasons to argue that TUPOC should be kicked out: their failure to pay rent as well as the expiration of the 30-day waiting period after terminating the group’s purchase and sale agreement .
Despite the suspension notice, The United People of Canada continues to host events at the church. A Facebook post invited people to join its weekly “Community BBQ” on Sunday.
Lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, representing the United People of Canada, argued earlier this week that the group had a verbal agreement with McDonald and that he wanted to withdraw from the agreement because of media reports about what is going on at the property.
McDonald denied that there was an oral agreement with TUPOC during cross-examination. The judge agreed with McDonald’s version of events.
The church, located 1.3 kilometers from Parliament Hill, had been on the market since July 2021 and was listed at $5.95 million.
– with files from Jeremie Charron, CTV News Ottawa