$3.85M 'opulent McMansion' sits on the market in Toronto as longtime tenants displaced
In the decade Maria Bui lived in her downtown Toronto apartment, her rent rose a total of $70.
For 12 years, Bui lived at 140 Harrison St. in the city’s Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood. Then, in 2020, her longtime tenancy came to an end – the house of four-units would soon be converted into an opulent single-family home and placed on the market for $3.85 million.
Maria Bui is photographed at her former home of 12 years at 140 Harrison St in Toronto. “The renters on the street just all started disappearing, the class level started changing, they were no longer young artists and musicians,” Bui told CTV News Toronto. “Business professionals were moving into the neighbourhood.”
At its highest, Bui’s monthly rent came to $870 – almost $2,000 less than the current average in Toronto.
“By the time we left two years ago, we were just like, ‘We’re done with the neighbourhood. We can’t afford it, they don’t want us here, we’re out,’” Bui said.
“That whole sense of community has really shifted and disappeared.”
The house’s transformation – from a multi-unit with below market rent to a luxury single-family home – is not an anomaly in Toronto. But rather, housing and legal experts say that what happened at 140 Harrison is emblematic of why a housing crisis continues to grip the city.
‘I CALLED IT HOME’
For close to a decade, three tenants and an elderly landlord lived under a shared roof at 140 Harrison, a couple blocks northwest of Trinity Bellwoods Park.
In early 2021, the landlord placed the house on the market. It sold in two days for $1.75 million. The new owners then gave the house a facelift, nearly doubling its value, and re-listed it. At first, they listed the property for $3.85 million, but recently lowered it to $3.8 million. It still sits unsold.
In November 2022, Toronto Life published a House of the Week article about 140 Harrison, which stated: “The owners intended to renovate and move into the home. However, they’ve since changed their minds and are looking for a buyer with a taste for luxury.”
The current owners of the house rejected interview requests from CTV News Toronto and responded through legal representation. “The Clients do not wish to make any statements or comments about the subject property,” lawyer Anna Vinberg said in an email.
What was once a home basking with old school charm dating back to the 1800s, inhabited by tenured tenants, is now fully renovated for a “modern family,” built to “suit demanding taste and lifestyle,” according to its listing.
Glass-walled stairs and a kitchen-area is seen at 140 Harrison St. after renovations (Realtors.ca). A glass-walled staircase stands in the place of what were once wooden stairs adorned with an ascending red runner. Arched stained glass windows became rectangular black bordered panels, and white kitchen tiles were turned into smooth hardwood floors.
KT, to whom CTV News Toronto has granted anonymity, lived in the apartment for 12 years. From the start, she said she locked in affordable rent, just like Bui.
From her one bedroom unit in the attic she could see the CN Tower. The window with a view is still there, but now, her bedroom is a giant bathroom equipped with a soaker tub and heated floors.
“The place was small but I called it my home,” KT said.
After packing up her art studio in the kitchen and plants beneath her skylight window, KT said she was unhoused for months before finding a new affordable unit.
It took 10 months for the basement tenant in 140 Harrison to find a new place to live, and when she did, her rent almost doubled, consuming her entire Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) monthly allowance. “I was rejected as a tenant 10 times over that span of time. It was my first time applying for apartments as an ODSP recipient,” she said.
CTV News Toronto has also agreed to protect her identity.
At Harrison, her rent started at $700 in 2014. It never rose higher than $740 a month. After months of searching for a new place to live, her life began to unravel.
Wooden stairs as seen in 140 Harrison St. before renovations took place (Realtors.ca). “When my housing crisis started I had a part-time job, which I had held for eight years. Nine months into my eviction, I quit that job because fighting to stay housed, being harassed, looking for a place to live and being rejected, had completely and utterly devastated me,” she said.
“I could no longer think clearly enough to do my job. I was suicidal. I discussed assisted suicide with friends and family.”
Shortly after she left, the entire house was gutted and flipped, according to Samuel Mason, a lawyer with Parkdale Community Legal Services, which represented the basement tenant.
“Now it’s this opulent McMansion in downtown Toronto selling for over $3 million. It’s a real micro example of how forceful capital is displacing tenants in Toronto. This was a four-unit home, affordable rent for tenants in downtown Toronto, my client was on social assistance, happy, content, all was well,” Mason said.
A renovated bathroom is seen at 140 Harrison St (Realtors.ca).What happened at 140 Harrison is not a rarity, he said. “It happens all over the city, all the time.”
‘THE CITY’S JOB’
The transformation of 140 Harrison is textbook gentrification, according to Murtaza Haider, a professor of real estate management and data science at Toronto Metropolitan University.
“The question is: ‘What does it do to housing affordability?’” Haider said.
“When gentrification takes place, it pushes the low to middle income earners out of the neighbourhood to further, peripheral areas.”
While the evictions and renovations were at the hands of the landlord, Haider said it's not their responsibility to “fix” the housing crisis and provide affordable rental stock – it’s the job of the city and the province.
CTV News Toronto asked the City of Toronto if they would consider implementing a policy preventing the conversion of multi-unit homes into single-family houses. Despite repeated requests over the span of weeks, they did not provide a response.
In December, Ontario Premier Doug Ford granted Toronto Mayor John Tory “strong mayor” powers in an effort to fast track housing development. While the city says it is aiming to build 40,000 new affordable rental homes by 2030, Haider says it’s not enough. The city already needs tens of thousands of new affordable units, he added.
“The way to fix it is to facilitate the construction of more purpose-built rental houses … [but] the incentive to build and to hold these properties as rentals is not there,” Haider said.
“It’s the state’s responsibility to change the fundamentals of construction in favour of purpose-built rentals so that such arbitrary decisions about renovations and evictions should not happen.”
After leaving 140 Harrison, Bui moved into her partner’s place across the street. She watched from her window as her red brick home of 12 years was gutted and painted beige.
“It sticks out like a sore thumb,” she said.
Toronto Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Military under fire as thousands of troops face lost cost-of-living allowance
The Canadian Armed Forces is under fire for its plan to cut thousands of troops off a cost-of-living allowance without much notice.
Twitter: Parts of source code leaked online
Some parts of Twitter's source code -- the fundamental computer code on which the social network runs -- were leaked online, the social media company said in a legal filing on Sunday.
Court hearing for Prince Harry and Elton John's privacy case against U.K. publisher
The first hearing in a lawsuit brought by Prince Harry, singer Elton John and other high profile figures against the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper over alleged phone-tapping and other breaches of privacy, is due to begin on Monday.
South Korea says North Korea test-fired another missile
South Korea's military says it detected North Korea firing at least one ballistic missile toward the sea off its eastern coast, adding to a recent flurry in weapons tests as the United States steps up its military exercises with the South to counter the North's growing threat.
Netanyahu fires defence minister for urging halt to overhaul
Tens of thousands of Israelis poured into the streets of cities across the country on Sunday night in a spontaneous outburst of anger after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly fired his defence minister for challenging the Israeli leader's judicial overhaul plan.
Is 'David' porn? See for yourself, Italians ask Florida parents
The Florence museum housing Michelangelo's Renaissance masterpiece the 'David' invited parents and students from a Florida charter school to visit after complaints about a lesson featuring the statue forced the principal to resign.
Singh 'not satisfied' with confidence-and-supply agreement
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he's 'not satisfied' with his party's confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals — signed a year ago this week — because it's shown him he could do a better job running the country than the current government.
Ancient Egypt excavation uncovers 2,000 mummified ram heads at Abydos
At least 2,000 mummified ram heads dating from the Ptolemaic period and a palatial Old Kingdom structure have been uncovered at the temple of Ramses II in the ancient city of Abydos in southern Egypt, antiquities officials said on Saturday.
Ukraine demands emergency UN meeting over Putin nuclear plan
Ukraine's government on Sunday called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to 'counter the Kremlin's nuclear blackmail' after Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed plans to station tactical atomic weapons in Belarus. One Ukrainian official said that Russia 'took Belarus as a nuclear hostage.'
Montreal police confirm fifth body found in rubble of historic building fire
Montreal police say a fifth body has been extracted from the rubble of a heritage building that caught fire nine days ago, leaving two others still missing.
Nine-year-old girl succumbs to injuries after snow fort accident
A nine-year-old girl has died after a snow fort collapsed Sunday in the woods behind a Saint-Ubalde home, in the Portneuf RCM.
Veteran bodybuilder Roy Callender combines personal fitness and AI in workout app
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Roy Callender was at the top of the bodybuilding world. Now, at 78, he's taking on a new challenge: he's the cofounder of RC3, a fitness app that uses AI to give feedback on your workout.
London police investigating 'suspicious death'
NEW I Police in London, Ont. have launched an investigation following the discovery of a deceased man in the south end of the city on Saturday afternoon.
2 dogs rescued, tenants briefly displaced after early morning apartment fire
Residents of a central London, Ont. apartment were temporarily displaced from their units and were kept warm inside a city bus after a fire broke out early Sunday morning.
London Knights' coach sees milestone victory
Saturday night was a milestone victory for London Knights' Coach Dale Hunter. The Knights' 6-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires was Hunter’s 900th career win as an Ontario Hockey League coach.
Man charged with attempted murder in Cambridge
A 49-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon in connection to injuries suffered by a 50-year-old woman in Cambridge.
'I’ve really had to adjust': How one small Waterloo region business is fighting inflation and fear of a recession
Worries of a recession in 2023 got another jolt this weekend with former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz warning the country’s economy is at a greater risk of a “hard landing” – a rapid economic slowdown following a period of growth and approaching a recession. For small businesses, it's a prediction that brings concern.
Top snowmobilers compete in Kitchener
Winter may be over, but there was still snow on the ground for hundreds of highflying snowmobilers at Chicopee Ski Resort this weekend.
Northern resources, the highlight of Ontario’s budget
Continuing to put the region's critical mineral supply in the spotlight, northern Ontario and its critical mineral deposits are front and centre in the provincial government's 2023 budget.
Risk of a hard landing for Canadian economy is up, former Bank of Canada governor says
Former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says Canada’s economy is at a greater risk of a 'hard landing' — a rapid economic slowdown following a period of growth and approaching a recession.
Hwy. 17 partially closed north of the Sault due to a commercial motor vehicle crash
A crash involving a commercial vehicle north of the Sault has completely closed Highway 17 from Highway 101 East in Wawa, Ont. to Frater Road before noon Sunday, the eastbound lane reopened around 7p.m.
One person dead after fire in Hull apartment that lacked working smoke alarms
Gatineau firefighters are reminding residents about the importance of smoke detectors after a fatal fire in the Hull sector early Sunday morning.
Here's a look at eight things that will cost more in Ottawa starting April 1
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at eight things that will cost you more in Ottawa starting April 1.
Talks continue ahead of strike deadline for education workers at Carleton University
The union representing contract instructors and graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants is threatening to go on strike Monday if a deal is not reached with Carleton University.
Vehicle catches fire on E.C. Row in Windsor
Emergency responders attended the scene of a vehicle fire in Windsor, Ont. Sunday afternoon.
Christopoulos misses out on 50-goal milestone, Spitfires look ahead to playoffs
It was a bittersweet moment for the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday as the team looks ahead to the playoffs, but forward Alex Christopoulos fell short in his objective to reach 50 goals in a single OHL season.
A man who police say violated his bail condition found with dagger
A man has been arrested by Chatham-Kent police for allegedly violating his bail.
Hospice Muskoka left without funding in Provincial budget
Hospice Muskoka is pleading for help after being left without additional funding for palliative care beds by the Provincial government.
Story Book Park Road closed in Meaford, Ont. for death investigation
Grey Bruce OPP have closed a section of Story Book Park Road in Meaford, Ont. for a death investigation.
Driver charged with impaired after crashing through fence in Gravenhurst, Ont.
A Gravenhurst, Ont. man is facing impaired driving charges after a vehicle crashed into a fence early Sunday morning.
Messy mix of snow, ice pellets and rain Sunday into Monday
A low-pressure system moving up the coastline of Maine will cross Nova Scotia Sunday into early Monday morning, bringing a mix of snow, ice pellets and rain.
Emergency alert issued for woman with handgun in Indian Brook, N.S.: RCMP
RCMP in Nova Scotia have issued an emergency alert to warn the public of what they call “a dangerous female with a handgun” in Indian Brook.
HMCS Montreal departs Halifax for Indo-Pacific operation
A Royal Canadian Navy frigate departed Halifax today as part of the federal government's wider strategy of boosting its presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Big final weekend for amateur boxers, sledge hockey players in Calgary
The Calgary Scorpions sledge hockey team were victorious in their gold medal match against Team BC at the Western Canadian Sledge Hockey Tournament with a 4-0 win at Winsport Sunday.
Calgary's Buffalo Wild Wings locations shut their doors
Right in the middle of March Madness, Buffalo Wild Wings shuttered its doors Sunday.
KLM flight en route to Calgary following detour back to Amsterdam due to unruly passenger
A KLM flight bound for Calgary was delayed Sunday morning when an unruly passenger forced the airline to return to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
'The next generation of climate champions': Conservation-centered spring break activities inspiring youth
School might be out for spring break for many Manitoba students, but that isn't stopping them from learning about important climate issues.
‘When are we going to see action?’ The changes needed for Manitoba’s cannabis rules
Nearly five years after the legalization of marijuana in Canada, one local cannabis retailer feels Manitoba should be more proactive and flexible when it comes to regulating pot sales in our province.
Taxi driver recovering after early Saturday stabbing: Police
A Winnipeg taxi driver is recovering after being stabbed early Saturday morning.
Nanny who was fired after cancer diagnosis awarded $45K in B.C. discrimination case
A temporary foreign worker from the Philippines who was fired from her job as a caregiver after a cancer diagnosis has been awarded over $45,000 by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
Downtown Eastside crash sends 3 pedestrians to hospital
Three people were hospitalized after being hit by a car in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Saturday evening, according to authorities.
2 seriously injured in 'targeted' Chilliwack shooting: RCMP
Two people were found with "multiple gunshot wounds" in Chilliwack Saturday, after a shooting police say may have been gang-related.
Fire damages storage building where non-profit that helps homeless Edmontonians stores its supplies
A fire damaged a storage building on 104 Street early Saturday morning. Water Warriors – a charity that hands out water, food and clothing – is worried its supplies were damaged.
What you need to know about the regimental funeral Monday
The procession is scheduled to leave the Alberta Legislature grounds toward Rogers Place at approximately 11:45 a.m.
Two-time organ recipient designs Green Shirt Day logo years after Humboldt bus crash
April 7 is Green Shirt Day, which also marks the anniversary of Logan Boulet's death. Boulet, who was involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash five years ago, signed up to be an organ donor just weeks before the crash. Today, Green Shirt Day is meant to promote organ donor awareness and registration across Canada.