On January 22, 2019, a flood in a St. James Town building located at 260 Wellesley Street East resulted in an electrical shutdown that impacted approximately 564 apartments. Over one thousand residents were left in the dark without hydro, heat and water for five days. That night both Mayor Tory and I were personally onsite to meet with Toronto Fire, the Office of Emergency Management, representatives of the building owner and affected tenants.
The very next day, we hosted a public meeting at the Wellesley Community Centre to provide an update on the emergency and electrical restoration process to the tenants. Over 250 local residents attended the meeting with another 1500 persons watching on Facebook Live. From these inconvenienced residents at 260 Wellesley Street East, there were also 26 tenants whom had been temporarily relocated from 650 Parliament Street, due to a similar incident that resulted in a significant fire.
During this public meeting and in subsequent communications with our office, we heard from residents about their experience and a history of maintenance neglect and tenant concerns being ignored. Tenants reported that their buildings were often left without water multiple times per month, drafty and damaged windows unrepaired, broken elevators and malfunctioning laundry equipment left for long periods of time. For these tenants, the flooding that damaged the outdated, owner-operated electrical system at 260 Wellesley Street East was not a surprise, but sadly an inevitability. The tenants had multiple unanswered questions for the building representative including inquiries about rent abatement and reimbursement for their out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the electrical shutdown.
Following up the 260 Wellesley East blackout, my Member Motion, seconded by Mayor Tory, "Holding Landlords Responsible For Property Maintenance And Improving Crisis Communications In Emergencies," was successfully adopted at last week's City Council meeting. Both the Mayor and I recognize the need to take immediate action.
St. James Town Buildings Inspection
Over the course of the following weeks, Municipal Licensing and Standards will be conducting visual inspections and Toronto Fire Services will be inspecting the electrical systems, independently directed by Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) in select St James Town buildings. The ESA has determined that these inspections are essential to ensure the safety and health of tenants. The necessary testing for each building may take up to 24 hours and requires power to the building be temporarily disabled. During the outage, Toronto Fire Services will monitor the building to ensure resident safety, and property management will have food provided in the lobby and security posted throughout the building and at most points of entry.
In order to ensure you receive important information during this time, please fill out this survey so we can provide updates.
Resident Fact Sheet - With Translations