I have received a report that the Deputy Chief of Community Risk Reduction at Toronto Fire has issued orders for both properties at 238-240 Berkeley Street to be shut down immediately, effective January 21, 2021.
This extreme measure is a result of Toronto Fire’s long-standing involvement with the property and the violations before the Provincial courts that existed prior to Monday’s fire. This decision is in alignment with demands made by the community calling for the permanent shut down of the property.
On numerous occasions, this property owner failed to comply and adhere to City orders in a timely and appropriate manner.
I trust that this history of non-compliance and the glaring disregard for meeting the City’s property standards and endangering the lives of tenants in the dwelling will be strongly considered in the upcoming Court hearing. They are the only authoritative body with the legal ability to permanently prevent this property owner from re-operating 238-240 Berkeley Street as a rooming house.
The existing tenants that were displaced by the fire are currently being supported under the City’s Emergency Social Services policy. As standard support, the Red Cross is providing immediate needs, food, clothing, and accommodation to the residents. Again, I will be monitoring this situation very closely over the next few weeks.
I am aware that tenants and neighbours have outstanding questions about the specifics and the cause of the fire and are highly anticipating the outcomes of the investigation. The investigation of Toronto Fire, Municipal Licensing & Standards, and the Toronto Police remains ongoing and several details of this case cannot be released publicly in order to ensure the integrity of this investigation. What I know is City Staff in all three respective departments involved are working incredibly hard and exercising all of their legal authority pursuant to the powers and regulations they have.
The property owner is only permitted to enter the building to commence repairs and modifications as well as allowing tenants to retrieve their belongings but must notify Toronto Fire at all times before accessing the property. Toronto Fire Staff will be diligently monitoring the property to ensure that the property owner is not violating the orders. Residents who witness individuals breaking into the residential dwellings are encouraged to immediately contact 911.
The frustration and concerns stemming from this property are long-standing and I want to thank the community for their remarkable patience, especially with the latest investigation. I deeply sympathize with the residents who have experienced an alarming level of deterioration in regard to community safety and well-being. My office is still committed to working with the community and all stakeholders to resolve these issues once and for all.