TORONTO, October 2, 2010 - Today, a week after a six-alarm fire at 200 Wellesley St. E. displaced 1,200 residents, including many vulnerable tenants, the first group of residents is returning home.
A third-party has tested the air quality in the South tower and Toronto Public Health has reviewed the results and cleared the building for occupancy. Because the central fire alarm system was damaged, fire wardens will carry out a 24-hour fire watch until the system is repaired for tenant safety.
Toronto Community Housing is taking a phased approach to tenants going home, beginning with the South tower this weekend, with the exception of floors 23, 24 and 25 and some other affected units. Tenants who live in the South tower have unit numbers ending in 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15. The South tower was least affected by the fire. On Saturday, the focus will be on tenants who are staying at the Wellesley Community Centre and those in hotels and other temporary accommodation. On Sunday, the focus will be on South tower tenants who have been staying with their family and friends.
Staff from Toronto Community Housing, the City of Toronto, community agencies, Toronto Police Services, Toronto Public Health and Toronto Emergency Management Services will be on site to provide support throughout the process. Tenants will receive a kit that includes information about fire safety, food safety, cleaning supplies, contact numbers and a gift card for groceries. Use of the building's washers and dryers will be free for two weeks.
Units in the building's North tower are not yet ready for occupancy. Tenants who live in the North tower have unit numbers ending in 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26. The North tower was harder hit by the fire. The North tower has significant water and smoke damage and lots of soot to clean up. Staff are working 24 hours a day to clean and make repairs to the building. Until the building is fully ready, Toronto Community Housing will make sure North tower tenants have a place to stay and are updated regularly. North tower tenants will be notified when their units are ready for occupancy.
The 23rd, 24th and 25th floors were the hardest hit. These are the floors located closest to the fire. They will require extensive clean up and repairs before tenants are able to return. Toronto Community Housing staff have been contacting these tenants to make arrangements for long-term accommodation in a furnished Toronto Community Housing apartment. Many have already been relocated.
Toronto Community Housing has identified a number of vulnerable tenants. They are currently staying in temporary housing and connected to supports. Toronto Community Housing is working with community agencies to ensure the availability of continued supports and a successful return home.
The Wellesley Community Centre will remain open to provide support and information. Tenants with questions can call the Tenant Hotline at 416-981-5520, visit www.torontohousing.ca or visit the information desk at the Wellesley Community Centre.
Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider and home to more than 164,000 tenants, about 6% of the city's population, with low and moderate incomes. Toronto Community Housing employs 1,400 staff in a broad range of jobs who deliver its mandate to provide quality housing and build great neighbourhoods. Toronto Community Housing is one of Canada's 2010 Top 100 Employers.
Sinead Canavan, Toronto Community Housing, 416-891-8665