New law would protect tenants in smaller buildings from elevator outages

The change comes after the Red Cross had to take blankets to residents trapped in their apartments.

Change comes after Red Cross and city workers took blankets to residents trapped in their apartments last year

The 150 Sanford high-rise apartment building. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Last year's debacle at the 150 Sanford high-rise apartment building is prompting the city to add a new rule saying that one elevator always has to be working in smaller apartment buildings.

The city will look at amending the property standards bylaw this week to force landlords with apartment buildings six stories or less to always have one elevator working.

The Ontario Fire Code already says that buildings taller than six stories have to have a working elevator. But this gives city laws more teeth coveriung smaller buildings. The impetus to look at elevator laws came after an incident last February where the Red Cross had to help residents of a trouble Sanford Avenue North highrise.

City workers and Red Cross volunteers helped evacuate some residents from the 13-floor building during a local power outage because both of the elevators were broken. They also trekked up and down stairs taking blankets and hot meals to those with mobility issues.

"I've seen people wheelchair bound, during a cold warning, stuck on the 11th floor with no way to get out," Coun. Matthew Green said at the time. "They're stuck. Conversely, in the same building, I saw a pregnant woman in the lobby and a senior citizen with serious mobility issues, and they can't even get to their apartments."

Building residents had complained of poor conditions for months, including piled garbage and squatters in empty apartments. The building has since been sold, Green said, and conditions have improved.

But the elevator incident prompted Green to ask the city to look at options to make sure such an incident didn't happen again and in that process, it discovered neither the fire code nor city bylaws provide requirements about working elevators to tenants in low rise apartments. The new law would close that gap.

City councillors will vote on the change at a planning committee meeting on Feb. 16.


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