Toronto

Elderly, ailing tenants fume as 'ludicrous' elevator outage drags on for months

Residents of a six-story apartment building in East York are speaking out after the city gave their landlord until July 1 to fix their only elevator, which has been out of service since last November.

City grants landlord 5 more months to fix problem

Shirley Gastis lives on the fourth floor at 185 Cosburn Ave., which has had no elevator service since the beginning of November. (Mike Smee/CBC)

The ad on Kijiji is concise: One-bedroom plus den for rent on Cosburn Avenue, for $1,650 a month plus utilities.

What the ad doesn't say: you'd better be into stair climbing.

There's been no elevator service in the six-storey building since last fall. And there likely won't be until July.

Residents — many of them elderly or frail — say they began complaining to the landlord and the city about the broken elevator early last November. A city inspector came by on Nov. 19, city records show, and gave the landlord four weeks to fix the problem.

But the owner, Montreal-based Golden Equity Properties, appealed and on Monday, the city's property standards panel extended the company's deadline. They now have until July 1 to have the only elevator at 185 Cosburn Ave. up and running.

"I think it's ludicrous," retiree Jane Smart, who lives on the building's fourth floor, told CBC Toronto. "You've got elderly people.... who pay their rent every month, on time, in good faith. And nothing in return. Except ignored."

Smart and her dog Charlie go out for walks three times a day, she said, "so that's up and down three times a day, which is a strain.

Jane Smart and her dog Charlie live on the fourth floor. She says it's 'ludicrous' that the owners will be given another five months to fix the broken elevator. (Mike Smee/CBC)

"I have angina, I have heart disease. I had a stent put in my heart in December," she said. "So while my breathing and the pain's gone, it's still pretty hard going up and down the stairs. Very inconvenient even doing the laundry on the ground floor."

CBC Toronto spoke with several tenants about the elevator problems. Residents say 65 to 70 people, including about a half dozen children, some still in strollers, live in the building.

Shirley Gastis said her husband had hip surgery last year. Without a working elevator, they can't do weekly grocery shopping, because the load is too much to carry up to their fourth-floor apartment.

Coun. Paula Fletcher, who represents Ward 14 Toronto-Danforth, says there is little the city can do to speed up the repair process. (Mike Smee/CBC)

"What I've been doing is getting a little bit every day, or every other day or whenever we need something," she said. "I would like the elevator fixed."

She and other residents suggested communication has been a problem ever since Golden bought the building last summer.

'I just can't do it'

"No one gives us a straight reply," according to Nicole Dupont, who lives on the sixth floor and suffers from asthma.

"I have to climb the stairs sometimes three times a day and I just can't do it. I have to stop every two floors and just breathe."

She said on laundry days "my boyfriend has to come down with the clothing because I can't carry and breathe at the same time."

A spokesperson for Golden Equities told CBC Toronto the elevator is being repaired, not replaced, and the company hopes to have the job complete by April or May.

Coun. Paula Fletcher, who represents the neighbourhood, said there's little the city can do to speed up the process.

"Unfortunately, the city can't do anything until this has run its course," she said.

In 2018, the province introduced legislation to ensure quicker repair times after elevator breakdowns.

A spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Government and Consumer Services said in a statement to CBC Toronto that consultations on Bill 8 are still under way.

The statement reads in part:

"In Spring 2020, the government will consult on some of the changes in Bill 8, Access to Consumer Credit Reports and Elevator Availability Act, 2018. These consultations will help inform us how to best improve elevator safety and availability as we consider: stronger enforcement tools to improve compliance with elevator law, data collection to better inform policy development, and online data publication to educate and inform consumers."

With files from John Lancaster

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