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CBC Ottawa: Heron Gate residents protest squalid conditions - ACORN Canada

CBC Ottawa: Heron Gate residents protest squalid conditions

Posted July 27, 2011

Dozens living in squalour at one of Ottawa’s most complained-about residential complexes protested what they called deplorable living conditions on Tuesday.

The tenants of several apartments at Heron Gate are calling for the property management firm, TransGlobe, to improve their living conditions. They’ve previously complained about infestations of vermin, mould, and a lack of proper building maintenance.

“It’s just completely disgusting,” said tenant Jennifer Macwaters. “It smells awful and it’s unsafe for me, my kids. It affects all of us.”

Erica Marx, who is with the local advocacy group ACORN, organized the action on Tuesday. She said a lamppost in the common area behind her home collapsed last year and one of her children, as well as another child, both received electric shocks from the post while playing outside.

TransGlobe, based in Mississauga, Ont., eventually cut the wires.

Dozens living in squalour at one of Ottawa’s most complained-about residential complexes protested what they called deplorable living conditions on Tuesday.

The tenants of several apartments at Heron Gate are calling for the property management firm, TransGlobe, to improve their living conditions. They’ve previously complained about infestations of vermin, mould, and a lack of proper building maintenance.

“It’s just completely disgusting,” said tenant Jennifer Macwaters. “It smells awful and it’s unsafe for me, my kids. It affects all of us.”

Erica Marx, who is with the local advocacy group ACORN, organized the action on Tuesday. She said a lamppost in the common area behind her home collapsed last year and one of her children, as well as another child, both received electric shocks from the post while playing outside.

TransGlobe, based in Mississauga, Ont., eventually cut the wires.

150 visits from city inspectors in 2009

“They rely on the landlord to do a job, and the job is not getting done, so there are people moving out and there are people moving in who are not aware of the problem,” said Marx, who has lived at the complex since 2007.

While the problems have been adding up, tenants said they have seen little progress.

Three buildings in the complex held the top three positions on the City of Ottawa’s housing complaints list for 2009. City by-law officers visited the buildings roughly 150 times that year.

Macwaters said she called city inspectors for a mould problem, but TransGlobe failed to follow up.

“They just ignore the letters,” she said.

Residents’ responsibility

TransGlobe, which took over management duties over the properties about four years ago, acknowledged the building has problems, but the firm wouldn’t accept full blame, saying residents have a responsibility to take better care of their homes.

“In no way am I saying that we are not responsible for the care and management of this community,” TransGlobe spokesperson Danny Roth said. “But I would go so far as to say that the residents play a role in helping keep the community clean and functioning in a way that we can be proud.”

Roth said the company is open to addressing legitimate safety issues.

That wasn’t a satisfying response for Fazil Omar. The tenant took video footage of water seeping through the ceiling and into his apartment — a problem he said has persisted for months. Omar said it was clear to him that this was a legitimate safety concern.

“If ceiling come down, I have four kids. This is not danger?” he said. “I am shocked.”

In the coming weeks, advocacy groups like ACORN will be collecting complaints from tenants and putting those complaints to TransGlobe in the hopes of finding a long-term solution.