Posted April 26, 2021
Tenants of a late 1970s north Etobicoke highrise charge the city’s closure of their unsafe underground parking garage for repairs made the property “look like a used car lot,” got them parking tickets and is just the latest maintenance issue.
Last week, Toronto ACORN (Association of Community Organization for Reform Now) members and tenants rallied outside the 2667 Kipling Ave. building, also citing flood damage, mould and broken security lighting.
“It was awful, really awful,” said Maurine Campbell, a 20-year resident and tenant board co-chair. “It looked like a used car lot. People were parking across the street at (North Albion Collegiate) and getting ticketed. You’d literally need to drive on the sidewalk to get out. People were parking on the grass. It was first come, first served. Whenever you could find a spot, when you left, it was gone.”
Toronto Building ordered the parking garage closed March 5 and the garage reopened for most tenants on March 26, confirmed Humber Property Management spokesperson Regina Gaspar in an email.
Currently, the 40 tenants' vehicles that still can't be parked in the garage have temporary designated parking outside, Gaspar added.
She did not address in the email the issue over the outstanding parking fines.
Gaspar said Humber Property waived all parking fees effective March 5: “But since some already paid from March 1 to 5, we credited their parking fee to the following month.”
Gaspar also said property management is not aware of flooding issues and broken outdoor security lights.
Toronto Building will authorize full garage occupancy once permanent repairs are completed, Toronto Building spokesperson Bruce Hawkins said, adding the building owner has hired a design engineer to do the work.
“We tried to resolve this issue since Feb. 22 by providing the requirements that (the city) needs from our professional engineer,” Gaspar explained. “We also submitted reports that was asked to be amended several times. … “Management did not foresee this scenario (closure).”
Jamal “J” Senior said maintenance issues are long-standing.
“It’s very dangerous for young women; my sister is afraid to come outside,” Senior said of broken outdoor security lights. “My unit flooded. I lost more than $1,000 in clothes, musical equipment. Since I’ve lived here, it’s always something. It’s traumatic. Sometimes, people give up. They’re tired of fighting for their rights.”
Yet, Senior added: “It’s a lot better than it was previously after the National Film Board of Canada did an (interactive web) documentary on it,” titled “One Millionth Tower” in 2011.
Last October, RentSafeTO rated 2667 Kipling Ave. a score of 79 (out of 90) on 20 criteria.
But none include health and safety within tenants' units, Campbell said: "The city needs to revise the bylaws."
"It's all about collecting the rent," Campbell charged. "Anything needs done, it's not one time and done. It's a patch here, a patch there. Then, you're back to square one."
The city conducts evaluations of buildings under RentSafeTO at least once every three years.
A score of 79 is a marked improvement over the building’s 2017 score of 43, which triggered a city audit in 2018, when it scored a 69.
In 2017, city inspectors cited deficiencies including absent window safety devices, garbage, dirty and deteriorated walls, floors, ceilings and doors, and water penetration on external walls and in the parking garage.
“The City has been working closely with the property owners/operators at 2667 Kipling Avenue and staff advise that the owners/operators have taken positive strides to ensure maintenance standards, which can be seen through the improvement of their evaluation scores,” a city communications staffer said in an email.
RentSafeTO requires landlords to respond within 24 hours to issues like no heat or water. Non-urgent issues must be dealt with within seven days.
Article by Tamara Shephard for Toronto.com