City to launch 'inspection blitz' at some Toronto highrises
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:01AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 13, 2019 1:45PM EST
The city will be launching an “inspection blitz” at a number of residential buildings in Toronto after two incidents at separate St. James Town highrises left hundreds of tenants displaced.
Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday that the Electrical Safety Authority, along with Toronto Fire Services, and bylaw enforcement officers will conduct a series of inspections at buildings in St. James Town as well as other locations in the city to make sure landlords are properly maintaining equipment.
The inspections, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said, are in response to "lessons learned" following the emergency evacuation of two highrises in St. James Town over the past year.
Nearly 1,000 tenants of an apartment building at 260 Wellesley Street East were left without power for more than three days after a pipe burst and caused damage in the electrical room. An electrical fire at a highrise at 650 Parliament Street last August displaced 1,500 residents who have not yet been able to return to their homes.
"The Electrical Safety Authority brought to the attention of Toronto Fire Services significant concerns out of 650 Parliament that they are concerned appear in a number of other buildings," Pegg said.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Tory said it is a "miracle" no one was killed or injured in the fire.
“Hundreds of families are displaced. That is not even to mention the huge public and private cost," he said.
Tory said officials are currently reviewing the city’s housing stock to determine where new inspections should be conducted.
“Once this review of the building stock across the city is completed, a detailed risk-based inspection process will then be utilized to prioritize the building and the order in which they will be inspected,” he said.
“This is about public safety and to do all that we can so that we don’t have a repeat of the Wellesley Street situation or far worse, 650 Parliament.”
Tory said the “lack of preventative maintenance” on the part of landlords is “unacceptable and needs to stop.”
“The message to landlords … should be clear. Make sure your buildings and their electrical systems have been inspected and brought up to a safety and state of good repair immediately for the safety of your tenants and to avoid the worst case scenarios,” he said.
Tory noted that the city manager will also be working with the fire chief to update Toronto’s emergency response policies and procedures.
He said when people need to be evacuated from highrise buildings, it can be a “very complicated” situation.
“As the city continues to experience more vertical growth, more highrise density, we need even more complete plans to deal with these incidents, which as we have seen, take a huge toll on people, on residents, and on the city’s resources,” Tory said.