07/16/2015 09:42 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Unionville seniors face eviction after homes sold to developer

A group of seniors say they feel blindsided after finding out they have just 18 months to find a new home before theirs are razed to make room for a new tower.

About 110 seniors who live in Unionville's Heritage Village, a seniors' housing complex run by the non-profit New Unionville Home Society, are being displaced because management has sold their properties to York Region and the developer Minto.

The seniors' homes will be replaced with a multi-storey building, where they will all be invited to live, but that building may not be finished until 2020, meaning many will need to find temporary homes.

"This is an oasis for seniors and they're taking that dream away from us," said Gillian D'Amato, one of the residents who has to move.

"I'm most angry because we absolutely had no warning … how can they sell this land from under us?"

Many of the residents found out about the plans on Canada Day, when they were invited to a celebratory tea then given the bad news. On Wednesday, dozens showed up at a special meeting with management, where they heard that the plans will be moving ahead.

Debra Cooper Burger, the President and CEO of New Unionville Home Society, said management will help the seniors find new places to live.

She also said the organization, which has entered into agreements to sell the land with both the municipality and Minto, has to sell because it can't afford to repair the buildings — noting a lack of sprinkler system there.

But residents disagree, saying their homes are fine. Many say even if there is construction around them, they want to stay in their homes until the new building is ready.

"The bottom line is we don't want to be separated," said Joan Balgobin, adding her neighbours are like family to her.

D'Amato said she'll stay as long as she can and even suggested she'll force security to remove her, "wheelchair and all."