On February 13th, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced plans to implement new apartment tower safety measures after hundreds of families were displaced due to electrical failures at two high-rise buidlings in Toronto’s St. James Town neighbourhood.
In August, a fire broke out in the electrical room at 650 Parliament Street resulting in 1,500 residents being displaced for upwards of six months. In January, a burst water pipe in a neighbouring building on Wellesley St. caused power outages and the evacuation of some 550 residents. Though heat and water were restored after just a few days in this case, the financial and emotional strain to both the residents and the city are what spurred Tory to relook how building inspections were being handled.
Moving forward, the mayor is proposing that a comprehensive series of inspections be carried out in apartment buildings in St. James Town and other areas around the city where older apartments are prevalent. These inspections would be executed by a team of workers from the Electrical Safety Authority, Toronto Fire and City of Toronto bylaw enforcement officers.
“This lack of preventative maintenance is unacceptable and it needs to stop,” Tory told reporters. “There is simply too much safety risk involved and it simply can’t be the standard we accept when it comes to the daily lives of hard working tenants in these buildings around the city.”
This newly-created group will review building stock to identify which other buildings in the city have some of the same risks as those damaged in the St. James Town instances, and need to be subjected to the same comprehensive inspection process.
“Once this review of the building stock across the city is complete, a detailed risk-based inspection process will then be utilized to prioritize the buildings and the order in which they will be inspected and then, of course, the inspections will proceed,” he said.