650 Parliament: Update August 15, 2019

August 15, 2019

This update provides some recent news about 650 Parliament following the 1-year anniversary of the fire that has pushed tenants out of their homes. The last year has been a difficult year for all 650 Parliament tenants, and our office wants to acknowledge not only the struggle that residents continue to go through, but how incredibly patient and understanding residents have been throughout this harrowing process. 

Included in this update is a statement that Councillor Wong-Tam made on August 14, 2019 to recognise the anniversary. An interview that Councillor Wong-Tam did with CP24 on August 14, 2019 is also included.

The landlord has provided an update through the media which indicates the likely return date is November 2019. The landlord has estimated that approximately 65% of the work required to rehabilitate the building has been completed to date. The landlord has also published a statement on their website which is also linked to in this update.

A recent article by the Toronto Star by Donovan Vincent has provided some information about a soon-to-be-released report by Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal. According to a representative with the Fire Marshal, water got into the building’s electrical room, potentially due to heavy rainfall, which in combination with a decades-old electrical system played a role in the fire. The Fire Marshal's report is expected to be finished next week, and the summary of the causes that led to the fire will be made public. 


Statement by Councillor Wong-Tam

A year ago, 1,500 tenants found themselves displaced from their homes at 650 Parliament Street due to a fire. Since then 650 Parliament tenants have lived with instability, uncertainty and frustration as they have moved between temporary housing, seen promised move-in dates get pushed further and further back and have been often left with more questions than answers about how they remain in this situation more than a year later.

Despite this, 650 Parliament residents have also shown themselves to be incredibly resilient, patient and thoughtful, using this tragedy to build new relationships both within their building and in the wider St. James Town Community. 650 Parliament is a microcosm of both Toronto's diversity and the strength of its communities, and I am proud to represent such an incredible neighbourhood.

I have been working with local residents, community organizations and city staff to improve safety, communication and support for tenants who live in buildings of a similar vintage to 650 Parliament. 

Since taking office, I have provided bi-monthly updates for 650 Parliament tenants on our website that collects information from the landlord and city staff. This website represents our effort to provide residents as much information as we can about what is going on inside and outside their building.

Through City Council, I have moved to have buildings in St. James Town properly audited to ensure building and life-safety systems are compliant, and to improve the city's emergency response in the event incidents similar to 650 Parliament Street or 260 Wellesley Street East occur again.

My work will also now require landlords under the RentSafeTO program to create vital service disruption plans to be implemented during periods of prolonged disruption. These plans are designed to improve communications between tenants and landlords, but also to provide supports for residents that require them, so residents know what they should expect when a building-wide situation occurs.

Finally, based on a request from local service agencies in St. James Town, I have directed staff to review St. James Town for potential inclusion as a Neighbourhood Improvement Areas under the city's Strong Neighbourhood Strategy to drive new investment to this diverse and resilient neighbourhood. Building neighbourhood capacity is critical to ensuring residents have the supports they need when a major incident occurs.

Work continues to repair the homes that were damaged; the latest update from the landlord is re-occupancy will occur in November of 2019. Toronto Building staff have been reviewing the work the rehabilitation work that has been occurring inside 650 Parliament Street, and will ensure that residents can return to a safe building. 

Our office continues to push both the landlord and Toronto Building staff for up-to-date information, and will continue to publish information on my website until tenants return to their homes.


Councillor Wong-Tam spoke to CP24 yesterday about the landlord's announcement yesterday. Please visit their website to watch the interview.


650 Parliament Inc. management:

An update for 650 Parliament residents has been posted on the WPSQ website on August 14, 2019.


From Toronto Fire Services:

No update to provide.


From Toronto Building:

No update to provide.


Next update: September 1, 2019

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