Tenants displaced by North York highrise fire concerned about financial support come January
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, December 3, 2019 6:52AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 3, 2019 1:30PM EST
A lawyer representing residents displaced by a deadly five-alarm fire at a North York highrise last month says many tenants could be homeless come New Year’s Eve if the landlord does not step up and provide suitable housing.
At a news conference on Tuesday morning, Diamond & Diamond lawyer Darryl Singer, who represents the tenants of 235 Gosford Boulevard, said the building’s management company Ronkay Management Inc. has told tenants they will have to sort out their own accommodations at the start of the New Year.
“The landlord has provided some, and I stress the word some, temporary housing for some of the approximately 700 tenants. But the landlord has advised that even those people will be on their own after Dec. 31,” Singer said.
“Many of these tenants have nowhere to go and limited financial resources.”
The devastating fire occurred at the building, located in the city’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood, on Nov. 15, killing one man and injuring six others.
Extensive damage has rendered the building uninhabitable until further notice and Mayor John Tory previously said that it will likely take months before tenants can return.
Immediately after the fire, several displaced residents were housed at the Tait McKenzie Centre at York University, an emergency shelter which was set up by the city.
But the city only provides emergency support for a 14-day period and last week, the 30 people staying at the shelter were forced to leave.
While many people displaced by the fire are staying with friends and family, Brad Ross, a spokesperson for the City of Toronto, said the landlord would be responsible for providing hotel accommodations for those who do not have a place to go.
Singer claims that is no longer the case.
“This is a building populated by some of the most vulnerable members of our community: New immigrants and refugees, many of whom do not speak English as a first language, elderly people who have lived in the building for most of their adult lives, people on social assistance, and individuals who work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Many are families with young children,” Singer said.
Gavin Krause, a tenant of the building, also spoke at this morning’s new conference, alleging that the landlord is no longer communicating with the residents, who he said feel “ignored, hopeless, and scared.”
“As families prepare for this busy holiday season, tenants are overcome by thoughts of, ‘Where will we find shelter during cold winter storms? What our next meal will be?’”
Speaking at city hall on Tuesday, the mayor said while he believes there may be some miscommunication going on between the landlord and tenants, he plans to continue to be an “advocate” for the residents of the building.
“It is my job as the mayor to make sure these people who are… displaced through no fault of their own are properly looked after,” Tory said.
“We are watching this very carefully. We are watching something that we believe principally to be the landlord’s responsibility but we are going to make sure that those responsibilities are properly carried out.”