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Displaced residents of 650 Parliament won’t return until 2019
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Thursday, September 27, 2018 1:25PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 27, 2018 9:01PM EDT
The 1,500 residents of a St. James Town highrise that caught fire last month will not be able to return to their homes until sometime in early 2019, months later than they were first told.
In a note circulated to tenants Thursday, the property managers told tenants of 650 Parliament Street that fire restoration work will take the remainder of the year to complete.
“After beginning restoration work and conducting extensive testing, we have learned that you will likely not be able to move back into your apartment until sometime early in the new year,” the note reads.
The landlord and property manager had earlier said that at least some tenants would be able to return by Thanksgiving.
The Aug. 21 fire did little damage to most units in the building, but completely destroyed the building’s electrical system and caused significant smoke damage.
The electrical infrastructure of the building must be replaced before anyone can move back in.
“We hadn’t been told we needed to expect an outage that long,” Mayor John Tory told reporters on Thursday.
Displaced tenants were first housed in hotels, paid for by the Red Cross. When that ended, tenants moved in with friends, into AirBnB accommodations, or other rental housing.
Approximately 100 tenants are staying at the Regent Park Community Centre.
But starting on Oct. 1, the City of Toronto says all displaced tenants staying at Regent Park will be moved elsewhere, and the community centre will revert to its normal functions, including drop-in swimming and field sports.
The tenants staying at Regent Park will be offered alternate accommodations by the landlord of 650 Parliament Street, the city said Thursday.
“It’s not perfect to have people in hotel rooms for example, but (the landlord) has been doing their best to put people in hotel rooms so they are not in community centres and wherever possible put people in apartments,” Tory said.
One man who was preparing to leave Regent Park Community Centre told CP24 the move was bittersweet.
““I’ll be happy to get into something permanent for a while, give this back to the community because the kids need it very badly. But I’ve made some good friends with some people I didn’t even know existed in my building. I’ve gotten very close with some people from the Red Cross who have just done an outstandingly superb job.”
On Sept. 5, law firms Charney Lawyers PC and Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP said they were organizing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of tenants, saying they may be entitled to compensation for the loss of enjoyment of their homes, lost employment income, physical injuries and emotional trauma.
The property manager says that they have increased the capacity at their response office, located at 260 Wellesley Street, saying it has been “enhanced with a call centre.”
“We have sourced additional available accommodations,” the managers added.
They are urging tenants to contact them for assistance.