Toronto

'Tenants are scared to speak up': Protests held over conditions of 2 Weston Road buildings

ACORN, a national association for low and moderate-income families, held a rally outside two Weston Road buildings Saturday, where tenants say they are living with cockroaches, mice and bed bugs, among other health and safety issues.

Tenants say cockroaches, mice, bed bugs are frequent unwanted guests

Pictured here is a three-day accumulation of cockroaches caught in an adhesive trap. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Tenants of two Weston Road buildings gathered Saturday to protest their living conditions after finding cockroaches, mice and bed bugs in their apartments. 

"There's a lot of cockroaches, I have to buy pesticides every month," said one resident, whose identity CBC Toronto has agreed to keep confidential. 

He heats water in a kettle and bathes himself using a bucket because he often doesn't have hot water. 

"Winter is coming. If I get kicked out, I have nowhere to go," he said.

"That's why I wanted my identity to be covered. There's hundreds of people who want to [protest] but they're really afraid to get kicked out." 

For this reason — and for what tenants say to be many others — a protest was held outside the buildings, located at 1755 and 1765 Weston Road, by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).

Weston ACORN leader Marcia Stone says she believes residents are scared to speak up in fear of repercussions from their landlord. She says it's ACORN's job to voice their concerns. (John Sandeman/CBC)

"No matter what your income is, your postal code should not determine the type of life that you have," boomed Weston ACORN leader Marcia Stone into a megaphone at the rally. 

'They choose to do nothing'

Resident Janice Arsenault says if she wants to shower, bathe her children or wash her dishes, she is limited to doing so before 3 p.m. or after 7 p.m. 

Between those hours, she says her apartment building doesn't usually have hot water. 

"We have long-running problems with maintenance in the building," says Arsenault. 

"It's not that they're unaware. They are aware and they choose to do nothing about it," she said of Weston Property Management, the buildings' landlord. 

Residents say more has to be done to maintain their building. (John Sandeman/CBC)

But Stone says tenants fear the repercussions — including eviction — that might follow if they voice their concerns.

"A lot of tenants are scared to speak up," she said.

Stone says those fears are why more protesters didn't attend Saturday's rally.

"A lot of people [here] are low- to moderate-income families...It's not like they get kicked out of here and have somewhere else to move to," she said.

CBC Toronto reached out to Weston Property Management by email and in person and did not receive a response. 

City says buildings meet safety standards 

In an email statement to CBC Toronto, The City of Toronto says its bylaw enforcement program — RentSafeTO — ensures building owners and operators comply with building maintenance standards. 

The city says both 1755 and 1765 Weston Road were evaluated by RentSafeTO staff on Dec.14, 2018, and passed their evaluations. 

It also says there are no open investigation requests or property standard violations against either property.

Residents say they plan to meet again to discuss their issues and try to come up with a solution on Monday night.

With files from Talia Ricci

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