June 16, 2019
On June 11, our office hosted a meeting for 650 Parliament tenants to meet with counsel for the 650 Parliament class action lawsuit. The meeting was well attended, and focused on the request from the landlord to move tenant belongs from their apartments downstairs to facilitate repairs. A summary of that meeting is provided this update.
A court hearing was held on June 14 on the request to relocate tenant belongings. The judge, Justice Belobaba, has agreed in principle to allow the items to be moved, although details are still going to be worked out. An order is expected to be issued by the court on June 19, 2019.
In addition, following from a previous update regarding asbestos concerns that some 650 Parliament tenants had, Toronto Public Health has confirmed that tenants are at a very low-risk of themselves or their belongings being impacted.
Residents have provided numerous questions to our office for Toronto Building and the landlord. We will do our best to get answers to these questions for our July 1 update.
650 Parliament: Fire Class Action Information Session Summary
Following discussions with counsel for 650 Parliament Tenants ("Counsel"), the 650 Parliament landlord ("Landlord") will only be pursuing the removal of items from apartment buildings, to be stored in the basement. The Landlord is not pursuing any measures such as getting tenants to sign release forms or providing limited windows for tenants to review their contents. The only issue that was heard on Friday, June 14 was whether Justice Belobaba would agree to allow the Landlord to remove items from apartments to be brought to the basement of 650 Parliament Street.
Counsel has extensively questioned experts hired by the Landlord about the details of how items were packed and how items will be moved and securely stored. A transcript of this interview is available online at the WPSQ website. There are still more details that are yet to be provided, but the following key pieces of information were provided:
1. The Landlord has proceeded without the permission of tenants to pack items. They did not do an inventory of items before packing them. More on this below.
2. Items were packed by high-quality movers to ensure fragile or valuable items were not mishandled. All packing was done under the supervision of the Landlord. Those contents, unless requested by the tenant, will stay there until tenants return to their unit at 650 Parliament.
3. The Landlord has created a temporary storage area together in the basement to hold the contents of every apartment in the building. A significant amount of effort has been put into securing items. They include;
- Sealing off all but one entrance to the basement;
- Providing 24/7 on-site security;
- Providing 24/7 surveillance;
- Efforts made to maintain the climate to ensure tenant belongings are damaged by water or humidity; and,
- All storage for units will have measures to maintain privacy between tenant contents.
4. Based on the information that they have been provided, Counsel believes the best estimate for work to be substantially complete is September 2019. The Landlord will then need to get an occupancy permit from the city to allow people to return to their units. Residents would need to be cycled back into the building. The full return of 650 Parliament tenants is therefore estimated to be November 2019 by Counsel.
5. Regarding the privacy concern, Counsel made it clear to 650 Parliament tenants at the meeting that the Landlord moving ahead with the packing of tenants items may have constituted a breach of privacy. This potential breach is not within the scope of the class action lawsuit. Tenants are encourage to speak to their own legal counsel. For tenants that cannot afford their own legal counsel, our office encourages you to contact Neighbourhood Legal Services at 416-861-0677.
Our office is in touch with Counsel, and shall provide updates and clarifications as required.
From 650 Parliament Inc. management:
The landlord continues to post important documents regarding their request to relocate tenants’ contents to a secure facility under 650 Parliament. Their latest update, from Friday, June 14, 2019, indicates that their request was granted by Justice Belobaba, with details still to be resolved. An order from the court is expected on Wednesday, June 19, 2019.
From Toronto Fire Services:
No update to provide.
From Toronto Building:
No update to provide.
From Toronto Public Health:
During the remediation of 650 Parliament, asbestos was found. Following concerns to our office, Toronto Public Health has investigated and has determined that based on the work that was done and the measures taken, there is very low-risk of health impacts to 650 Parliament tenants.
Asbestos was widely used in the construction of buildings up until about the 1990s, so it is not surprising that it can be found in older apartment buildings such as the ones in St. James Town. Its presence does not, itself, constitute a health risk. From the City of Toronto Asbestos Fact Sheet:
"When left intact and undisturbed, asbestos containing materials do not pose a health risk to people working or living in buildings. Asbestos containing material is not generally considered to be harmful unless it is releasing dust or fibers into the air where they can be inhaled or ingested."
According to Public Health, there was very limited work done involving asbestos containing materials as part of the remediation of the building. Remediation work was undertaken as per Ministry of Labour legislation. Verification air sampling revealed that clean up and removal was effectively undertaken. Public Health staff visited the site and have concluded that there is no indication that there has been a significant asbestos release.
Next update: July 1, 2019