CBC News Toronto: Tenants demand answers from landlord in wake of fatal North York fire

Posted December 7, 2019

Tenants displaced by a massive fire last month rallied in the cold on Saturday to demand better communication from their landlord about when they can return to their homes.
The five-alarm fire at 235 Gosford Blvd., near Jane Street and Steeles Avenue West, killed one person, injured six others and displaced about 700 residents.
Dozens gathered outside the damaged building to call for answers to their questions. Holding placards, they called on Ronkay Management Inc., the building's property management company, to develop a plan.
"Tenants don't know what's going on," Gavin Krause, a tenant, said in a news release. "A lot of tenants are being denied their transition payments or struggling to find a place to live. It's not fair. We need to know what's going on."
According to the Toronto chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which is helping the tenants, families are frustrated because they do not know if they will have a place to live next month or when they will be able to return. 
The fire on Nov. 15 tore through six floors of the building. The person who died was found on the balcony of unit 808, the unit where the fire originated.
Tenants have been allowed to return to the building only to retrieve belongings.
Following the fire, some tenants sought shelter at the nearby Driftwood Community Recreation Centre. Then they were bused to the Tait McKenzie Centre at York University, an emergency shelter set up by the city. They were allowed to stay there for two weeks until Nov. 29.
Darryl Singer, lawyer at Diamond and Diamond, the firm representing the tenants, has said residents are asking for the following:
  • That the landlord ensure that all displaced residents are housed in alternate accommodations until the building is habitable
  • That all tenants immediately receive what he says is a promised cheque to help them make the transition to new accommodations.
  • And that some assistance is provided to get kids to school or daycare from new accommodations.
Singer said lawyers are debating legal action to ensure these things happen either in court or at Ontario's Landlord and Tenant Board, but it will depend on the management company's response to their requests.
In a Facebook post Saturday afternoon, Ronkay Management Inc. said it hopes to have many residents back in their apartments "sometime in the new year," and that it will provide updates on the timeline as best it can.
Ronkay Management is continuing to house people at a hotel, and those tenants are required to pay the same rental and parking fees as they did in their apartments before the fire, the company said. Residents who found their own accommodations are not required to pay rent to Ronkay.
"We are working to resolve many challenging issues and are providing the community with information as soon as it becomes available," the company said in a statement to CBC News.
Fire damaged 6 floors of building
Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal is continuing to investigate the fire's cause, origin and circumstances because it resulted in a death and extensive damage.
Officials from Toronto Fire Services have said the fire damaged six floors of the building from the seventh to twelfth floors. About 25 fire trucks and 100 firefighters worked to put out the fire.
Article Source: CBC News


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