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CBC News : This London highrise’s elevators constantly break down. One tenant fears it’ll wreck her move - ACORN Canada

CBC News : This London highrise’s elevators constantly break down. One tenant fears it’ll wreck her move

Posted March 18, 2024

Kayla Davies says she’s unsure she’ll be able to move her belongings from her top-floor apartment at a highrise in London, Ont., next month because the service elevator hasn’t been working for months.

“We live on the eleventh floor and we only have one elevator working which breaks down frequently,” she said. “I’ve talked to management about it and they’ve basically said it’s my problem to figure out how to get all my stuff down to the main floor to move it.”

Davies, 23, is among many tenants at 560 Proudfoot Lane who blame property managers for not keeping the two elevators in service consistently.

The service elevator used for moving and by firefighters in emergencies hasn’t functioned in four months, and the other one breaks down frequently, leaving seniors and those with mobility issues stuck in their units and others in limbo, she said.
Davies and other residents are creating a tenants’ association in hopes they’ll be able to push Sterling Karamar Property Management, which is in charge of the building, to resolve maintenance issues.

She said the regular elevator needs repairs, is overworked and breaks down multiple times a week.

“Essentially we’re being held hostage on our floors. If you’re a senior struggling to use the stairs, you can make it down but you’re not going to get back up to your apartment,” said Davies, who pays $1,800 a month in rent.

“We also have parents with young kids and strollers who aren’t able to get up the stairs. I’m young and healthy and even I struggle to get up and down, so imagine trying to drag a stroller up 11 flights of stairs while holding a kid or groceries … it’s impossible.”

Sterling Karamar declined an interview but said in an emailed statement that ongoing maintenance is required given the property’s age and building systems, and a more extensive restoration of the elevator system is necessary.

Why do repairs take so long? The complex economics of elevator maintenance

The company recognizes the inconvenience and frustration elevator service interruptions cause residents, wrote spokesperson Danny Roth.

“We are currently finalizing plans for this work and detailing an approach that limits the inevitable challenges that will result from a restoration program of this magnitude. Once confirmed, we will communicate directly with residents,” he said.

“We are optimistic that although the anticipated elevator modernization program will create some inconvenience in the short term, once complete, it should result in greater reliability and improved performance.”

‘This is our home’

George Laskaris, who has lived in the building for a decade, said it’s falling into disrepair due to negligence from management who “brush off” tenants’ concerns and don’t give timelines for when issues will be resolved.

“For [property managers] this is just a building they come to work in but we have to live here — this is our home,” Laskaris said. “It’s not a great outcome for what should be your home and people are frustrated by their inability to fix these problems.”

On Sunday, the working elevator broke down three times and using it amid ongoing issues feels unsafe, he said.

“Our elevator is now working double time and it’s a questionable ride,” Davies added. “Sometimes it drops or shakes and makes horrible noises. It’s just not a safe living condition. We pay an insane amount of money to live here and don’t have the amenities we were promised.”

The situation is devastating but not shocking to Jordan Smith, who chairs the Carling-Stoneybrook chapter of ACORN London, an organization that advocates for better communities.

“What’s happening here is just absolute neglect,” said Smith about the elevator issues at 560 Proudfoot Lane. “The biggest issue is there’s no communication from management so tenants feel like they’re being given the runaround,” he said.

“For people with mobility issues, trying to traverse that many flights of stairs is putting a strain on their health and safety, but beyond that, the large elevator is for firefighters access and many people are in need of that.”

Smith said ACORN is working with the tenants and plans to take their grievances to the city’s bylaw office to ensure the elevators can be fixed in a timely manner.

Article by Isha Bhargava for CBC News