August 14, 2019

Statement on One-Year Anniversary of 650 Parliament Street Fire

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.

Lisa Hoffman

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