A businessman at the center of a church sit-in in Ottawa is accused of deceiving several people

A London, Ont., business owner says she lost nearly $20,000 to a business owned by the man leading a group accused of squatting an Ottawa church .

Jodie Marshall hired Campus Creative from William Komer in November 2021 to develop a website to manage school catering orders for her pasta shop. Months later, she said she was still waiting for the website and her calls went unanswered.

“They were supposed to return my website to me in August,” Marshall said. “The programmer kept saying that William should just put it on the secure server. But I never got my website.”

Marshall is among the southwestern Ontario residents who claim to have been deprived of services and money by Komer.

CBC News reached out to Komer, who responded to the claims Thursday, including saying Marshall owed her even more money for the website, on top of the $20,000 she already paid.

William Komer leads the United People of Canada, which says it plans to turn St. Brigid’s in Ottawa into a community hub. Komer, who is linked to at least five media companies in London, Ont., told CBC News that Marshall still owes her money for her website. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Once known for his entrepreneurial spirit, the owner of five London-area businesses recently came to prominence for his role as director of the United People of Canada (TUPC).

The group has alleged ties to the Freedom Convoy, which has staged protests against the pandemic mandate in Ottawa and other cities this year. The group moved into a historic church in Ottawa’s Lowertown neighborhood last summer, and despite the landlord terminating the lease for unpaid rent and lack of insurance, the group refuses to go.

The TUPC says the group paid and filed numerous affidavits alleging aggressive behavior by neighbors. A judge is due to decide on the expulsion on September 27.

The organization erected red banners on the church bearing a white tree badge and set up its own private security force around the property.

Other complaints

Stephanie Steele of Ingersoll Ont., said she had booked wedding photos through Komer’s Under the Umbrella company, but on the big day in June, she said she was worried they might not present. It then took more than a month to see the promised photos of the $1,300 package, all of which were of poor quality, she said.

A man in a homemade royal costume sits in a chair at the top of the steps, flanked by two people with water guns.
Komer, center, sits in a chair on the steps of the former property of St. Brigid’s Church in Ottawa on August 25. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)

“There are some weird groups where my husband is in the back row, and my dad’s face is completely covered and everyone is facing different directions, and it just wasn’t professional,” Steele said.

When she couldn’t reach a representative from Under the Umbrella, she called the photographer, who said she would have to pay for better photos. She made several attempts to reconcile the situation with the company itself, but there was no further response.

Campus Creative leases premises from the Diocese of London in St. Peter’s Cathedral. (Angela McInnes/CBC)

Under the Umbrella’s website lists the company at the same address as Campus Creative, at 533 Clarence St., in a building owned by St. Peter’s Basilica, which is home to several organizations.

When CBC News went to visit the site, another tenant said no one had been to the Campus Creative office for at least three weeks.

Matthew Clarke, director of communications for the Diocese of London, said Campus Creative is still renting the space and the business remains active as far as he knows.

Komer also told CBC News he was unaware of customer complaints about services not being provided for wedding photography.

He said a number of his employees quit due to harassment related to his work for the TUPC, which is why customers have not received responses to refund requests. He said he plans to hire more staff and continue operations in London while remaining in Ottawa.

Martha J. Finley