The Forest Hill bridge club has nowhere to meet after being evicted earlier this summer from their space in the local library, leaving its approximately 50 members wondering if the club’s continued existence is in the cards.
Founded in 1968, the club, which caters to seniors, used a city-owned room at the Forest Hill library for 43 years, rent-free.
The club, which charged an annual $15 membership fee ($1 to bring a guest), provided a valuable service to the community, says club president Lea Gorvin.
“People grow old and they don’t go on outings anymore,” said Gorvin. “They don’t have as much interests anymore. It all comes down to bridge.”
The city leases some of its properties to community groups at rates well below market value, thanks to a policy established in 2007, and the city’s real estate department is tasked with reviewing the eligibility of renters.
In July, the club was told that if it couldn’t pay rent, $15,000 a year plus tax, they had to move.
When asked why it took four years for the city to review the bridge club’s tenancy, city spokesperson Natasha Hinds could not provide further details.
“The rent that the organizations do pay only funds the basic operational costs to keep the building open,” said Hinds, adding that the city provided Gorvin phone numbers of other community centres to try.
But the advanced age of the members makes it harder to meet and discuss the options, Gorvin says.
“I’m considered a youngster among the group,” Gorvin said. “It’s not a senior’s group, it’s a senior, senior group.”
Gorvin says the city should have at least allowed them to meet a final time to make plans.
“I was told on Tuesday and they changed the locks on the doors by Wednesday, the day we used to meet,” she said.
“I get phone calls from them saying, ‘Lea, don’t we play bridge today?’ I’m so lost.”
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