Residents are moving back into Toronto high-rise

Heat and power being slowly restored in 260 Wellesley St. E.

260 Wellesley St. E. high-rise building shut down on Tuesday. Zeba Khan/Toronto Observer

Many residents of 260 Wellesley St. have returned back to their homes which had previously lost power.

Fire officials, Toronto police and the building contractors are still working on re-powering the building, one suite at a time.

Hundreds of tenants were forced out of their homes as Toronto’s 33-floor high-rise building shut down last Tuesday.

That evening, the power went out and hundreds of residents were either forced out of their homes or trapped in their homes as electricity, hydro and heat were cut off.

A water pipe exploded in the garbage disposal room at 260 Wellesley causing a hazardous leak in the building’s electrical room. As a result, the Electrical Safety Authority ordered Toronto Hydro to immediately turn off the power to avoid any large fires.

The city’s chief communications officer Brad Ross tweeted that residents of 260 Wellesley St. E.  can stay at the Wellesley Community Centre to stay warm, charge devices and get water and snacks.

“I can’t believe this happened here,’ said Priya Patel, 21, an international student from India living with her roommate in the building. “I mean I’m used to it because in my city back home, we had this problem of electricity cutting off sometimes. It’s just freezing outside and inside so I’m not used to it.”

She’s been told it might take another two days to get the power on for her unit. Tomorrow she has to go to class, so this evening she’s going to a friend’s house to study and sleep there.

This is the second time St. James Town residents were forced to move out due to a misfortune. Last year residents of sister building 650 Wellesley St. E. were evacuated due to a fire.

“A lot of people moved from 650 Wellesley to this building after the fire last year,” said Michael Harlow, a resident of 260 Wellesley. “Now they’re stuck here again. We live up pretty high and my neighbour has two dogs. We’ve been stuck with no heat, no water for hours now. The city needs to do something about this.”

Residents of 260 Wellesley gathered in a public meeting last Wednesday night to learn about updates, next steps, and safety measures.

Deputy fire chief Jim Jessop said he would not allow residents to stay in the building if it was deemed unsafe.

“We have 24-hour fire watch by private security that the owners have complied with and you also have seen our Toronto firefighters on scene 24/7 throughout the building doing their job,” he said.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said there will not be a minute wasted to update residents of 260 Wellesley as soon as new information comes up. A separate website has been created to inform residents with quick updates. Wong-Tam also said that all special circumstances requests will be dealt with immediately.

“The special circumstance may be, for example, ‘I can’t stay in the apartment, it’s too cold, my immune system is not strong enough.’ A special circumstance may be ‘I just got an operation. I can’t go up five flight of stairs.’ A special circumstance may be ‘I have a bad leg.’ Any of those things would qualify as a special circumstance. We need to hear from you,” she said.

On Friday afternoon, Jessop also said that Toronto fire service, Toronto police service, electrical safety authority, and the building contractors are literally starting a door-by-door, suite-by-suite sweep of the building to restore power.

“We’re very happy to announce that heat has been restored to the building. Electrical Safety Authority and the contractors are slowly going to start reenergizing the individual suites,” he said. “That means individual heat and power again to make sure we don’t have any unintended fires and unintended flooding.”

Danny Roth, spokesperson for WPSQ management, said that no management wants to see their tenants relocated.

“This is not as simple as turning on a light switch and getting back to normal,” he said. “There are going to be some limitations and difficulties ahead but as we’ve seen so far we have a resilient group and we’re grateful.”

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Posted: Jan 26 2019 12:22 pm
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