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Owners of 150 Sanford promise to fix bad building: Matthew Green

The owners of 150 Sanford Ave. N are willing to fix the ailing apartment building, and have already started work on it, says a local councillor.

'I don’t think anybody should have to live in those conditions'

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      The owners of 150 Sanford Ave. N are promising to fix the ailing apartment building and have already started work on it, says a local councillor.

      Coun. Matthew Green of Ward 3 says he met Tourbillon Facility Inc. on Monday. The company told him it wants to fix the problems, which include a bed bug infestation, garbage chutes clogged six stories high, holes in ceilings, squatters staying in vacant apartments, and within the last week, lack of heat.

      They’re willing to address these things. I just think there was a gap in the management process.- Coun. Matthew Green

      Green says his meeting with the building owners, where he discussed the issues and outstanding compliance orders, went “very well.”

      The owners plan to act on the city's enforcement orders and intend to meet the deadlines for doing so, he said. 

      “I get a sense that the ownership had a lapse in property management, and that they are now in full understanding of the needs,” Green said.

      “They’re willing to address these things. I just think there was a gap in the management process.”

      Over the past few months, issues at the 13-storey building in central Hamilton have worsened. Tenant complaints include bed bugs and cockroaches, a broken elevator, urine and feces in the stairwells, and within the last week, temperatures so cold that families are huddling together under blankets.

      Public Health issued an order on Friday for Tourbillon to work with a pest management company to rid the building of bed bugs and cockroaches, said Robert Hall, the city’s director of health promotion. The company has 19 days to comply, but “we’re hoping it doesn’t take 19 days,” Hall said.

      Under the bylaw, if Tourbillon doesn’t comply, “we can hire a licensed pest control operator to do the assessment, obviously working with the residents,” he said.

      Toronto property investors

      The fire department has issued three orders, two of which are outstanding, including testing the fire alarms. The city has laid numerous property standards orders, including holes in the walls and ceiling.

      Tourbillon’s principles are Toronto-based real estate investors. Daniel Gryfe is involved in the long-standing Toronto business Gryfe’s Bagel Bakery. Marc Bistricer is associated with Talisker Corporation, which owns real estate and golf courses across North America and Europe. Hanan Shemesh and Richard Wells are also involved in the company.

      Gryfe didn’t return calls from CBC Hamilton last week or Monday. But Green said he wants to fix the issues.

      “They were, once made aware, very willing to take those things on,” he said. “I don’t think their intention is to skirt their responsibility.”

      Tenants suffered from lack of heat last week. Jamie Bullock says she and her two children wore lots of sweaters and huddled under blankets to keep warm.

      She tried to contact someone involved with the property, but “everything’s disconnected, so it’s frustrating,” she said on Monday.

      “My heaters are still ice cold. There’s nothing coming out of them.”

      Heating fixed 'in very short order"

      Public Health officials went to the building on Saturday and tested the temperatures, which were cold, Green said. They ordered Tourbillon to fix the heating, he said, and the company did the same day, “in very short order.”

      The Gibson and Lansdale community planning team has followed the situation. It arranged for about six space heaters to be donated to the building, treasurer Brenda Duke said. Bullock has made them available for neighbours.

      “They live in our community,” Duke said. “That building is located in our community, and I just wanted to reach out to them and let them know that there’s a community that cares.”

      Duke passes by the building, and in the last year, noticed that “It was starting to look more run down,” she said. And hearing of the tenants’ troubles moved her. “I don’t think anybody should have to live in those conditions.”

      The tenants have formed two committees. One is conducting a survey of residents to quantify the issues, Green said. Community volunteers are helping. Everyone will be trained on Thursday.

      Green met with tenants on Saturday, and it was “extremely positive,” he said.

      “I would say the vast majority of the residents living in 150 Sanford are responsible and engaged and care about their building,” he said. “There are challenges coming out of a very small minority of residents.”

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