Today, the first of 1500 tenants are moving back into their homes at 650 Parliament Street after being displaced by an electrical fire since August 21, 2018.
It’s hard to comprehend just how long these residents have been forced from their homes. In the intervening 19 months, they have experienced incredible hardships. They have spent two full winter holiday seasons displaced from their homes. They have watched newborns grow big enough to start walking. Children have missed days of school and their parents have struggled to hold onto employment while commuting longer distances than accustomed. Families have taken on financial debts through no fault of their own just to make ends meet. I continue to be amazed and inspired by their resilience
At the beginning of this next phase of an 11-week journey in moving back to your individual apartments, I want to speak directly to all of the residents of 650 Parliament, and thank you. It has been an incredible honour to represent you, and I look forward to continuing the work we started together as the community comes back home.
Many residents are justifiably nervous about this re-occupancy. I want to assure them that my office and I have been in regular contact with the Toronto Building and Toronto Fire Services and they have assured me that the building has been thoroughly inspected and it is now safe for everyone to move back home.
For some residents, this will be the first time they will have seen their homes since August 2018, and the first time since all the repairs have been completed. They do not know what state their apartments will be in. They do not even know which of their belongings will still be there. We know that this is not the end of a drawn out and difficult process for the residents of 650 Parliament. I will continue to support them every way I can.
It is important to me that all landlords including the City of Toronto who own apartment buildings through Toronto Community Housing learn from this ordeal. We must collectively work hard to protect all residents living in the 2,700 high-rise apartment buildings across Toronto. It is why City Council is making improvements to the landlord licensing program, RentSafeTO, to strengthen the powers available to City inspection and enforcement staff to hold landlords accountable for the responsibility they have to the safety of their tenants. It’s also why I recently pushed to have City Council adopt new landlord performance standards in case of mass evacuations caused by emergencies and vital service disruptions.
My office will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that tenants get home safely and the move-in process goes smoothly. The entire process of moving everyone back home is expected to be completed by the middle of May. My staff and I will continue to be available to offer any support needed to make sure everyone is home safely.