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'This was my home': N.B. senior believes renoviction was unfair

Ann Marie Lavigne just wants to go back home.

The 68-year-old lived at Résidence Ste-Thérèse in Dieppe, N.B., for three years before her lease was terminated this spring.

She said she was told by the building's management that, due to a renovation project, her residential unit would be turned into a workshop and storage space.

This summer, Laviegne took the matter to court, but lost the case. There is currently no legal aid for tenants' rights in the province. She was then given five days notice to leave her home.

"I want my apartment back. It's not fair what they did to me. It's horrible treating a person like that, no matter how old the person is," said Lavigne.

Résidence Ste-Thérèse, a non-profit building for people over 55-years-old, has 36 apartments and is managed by board members.

"I think it's just shameful," said Lavigne. "I don't understand why I couldn't be transferred."

Lavigne's friend Sanford Petitpas is a former board member of the federally-funded building.

He said he can't make sense of the situation either.

"If I would have been a board member at the time I would have said we have to find this woman another unit, or if we don't have one right away, she will get the next one," said Petitpas.

The general manager and the president of the building’s board of directors said it's an unfortunate situation, but they believe all the proper channels were followed and they haven't done anything wrong.

"We need the space," said Mariette Allard, the president of the building's board of directors.

Allard said Lavigne caused quite a commotion the day she moved out in July and her behaviour was "too aggressive," so the board decided to have her legally banned from going inside the building or on the grounds.

Lavigne said she made a handful of complaints to management over the years about a variety of things, but the building's administration stressed that did not motivate their decision in any way.

Building general manager Gisele Steeves said they went to the rentalsman's office for everything they did and the office approved the decision. She also said a judge decided what they did was acceptable.

"There wasn't anything to do with what she said or what was done," said Steeves. "We're doing a big project of $3.8 million and we're renovating all the apartments, and we need an apartment to put our stuff in."

Lavigne said she's devastated about not being able to visit friends.

"I don't want to do anything against them, I just want my apartment back or another apartment. That was my home," said Lavigne.

Cecile Cassista, the executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents' Rights, believes Lavigne is being punished for voicing concerns she's had over the past few years.

"I think that it's unfair and I think there should have been a better investigation by the entire board," said Cassista. "She wants to live in a community with her friends. That is her home and I think it's important that there's a reconnection to review the situation."

Lavigne is now living with a friend temporarily as her search for a new home continues.

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