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Some residents from 150 Sanford evacuated and put in hotel rooms

Living conditions at 150 Sanford Ave. N. went from bad to worse on Tuesday and the the city and the Red Cross had to step in and temporarily put some residents in hotel rooms and a local community centre.
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      City workers and Red Cross volunteers helped evacuate some residents of a troubled Sanford Avenue North highrise Tuesday when the residents were left without working elevators and a local power outage cut heat to their apartments.

      As the living conditions at 150 Sanford Ave. N. went from bad to worse Tuesday, the city and Red Cross moved in and took some residents to a local community centre and put some in hotel rooms.

      The city has numerous orders on the 13-storey apartment building, which has suffered with issues related to health, safety and security in recent months. The city set up space in the Pinky Lewis Recreation Centre as a warming centre for residents of 150 Sanford and surrounding area, while Red Cross workers also arranged hotel rooms for some.

      Residents needed help because both of the building’s two elevators are broken, essentially trapping those with mobility issues in their apartments, said Coun. Matthew Green of Ward 3. It was combined with a neighbourhood power outage that knocked out the heat in the building.

      What about people who have walkers? People who have wheelchairs? It was bad enough when it was just one elevator.- Sam McBeth

      “(The outage) just compounded the fact that people were cold and stuck in their units,” he said.

      In addition, city staff and Red Cross workers trekked up and down the steps delivering blankets and meals to residents who couldn’t leave, Green said.

      Residents dropped by the Pinky Lewis warming centre until about midnight, he said.

      It’s the latest incident in an ongoing saga at the highrise, which is owned by Toronto-based Tourbillon Facility Inc. Over the past six months, residents have noticed garbage piled in the chute six floors high, urine and feces in the stairwells, squatters in vacant apartments and a broken security system on the front door. Some of those issues have since been fixed.

      But the fire department still has three outstanding orders on the property, and is considering at laying charges under the Ontario Fire Code, said Bob Simpson, chief fire prevention officer with the Hamilton Fire Department.

      Tourbillon has complied with some of the handful of city orders, but a number are still outstanding, city staff say. If the company doesn't comply with all of them, the city will hire contractors to do the work and charge the cost back to Tourbillon, spokesperson Ann Lamanes said. It's already done this with a snow removal order.

      The company has complied with a health unit order to work with a pest control company to get rid of bed bugs and cockroaches.

      Life without elevators

      Green has worked with tenants to take stock of the issues, and held a public meeting in December. He’s holding another on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at the community room of Mission Services. Many of the residents have moved out, and Green estimates the building is less than half full now.

      The elevator problems have created a serious problem for residents with mobility issues, said Sam Macbeath, a tenth-floor resident.

      Macbeath has trouble with his knees, which means considerable pain climbing 10 flights of stairs. The fire alarm went off twice yesterday, he said.

      “What if it was a fire?” he said. “What about people who have walkers? People who have wheelchairs? It was bad enough when it was just one elevator.”

      Macbeath won a case at the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal this month to have his rent reduced 20 per cent for every month three electrical outlets in his apartment fail, as well as 12.5 per cent for every month the pest control problem goes unresolved and another 12.5 per cent for every month both elevators aren’t working.

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