Donations pour in for 1,500 Parliament Street residents displaced by fire

A fundraising drive to assist residents of a St. James Town apartment building displaced by fire has raised more than $70,000, according to the city.

Need for accommodations, gift cards for clothing and food continues

A six-alarm fire caused significant damage to the apartment tower at 650 Parliament Street earlier this month, forcing about 1,500 people from their homes, including hundreds of children. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

A fundraising drive to assist residents of a St. James Town apartment building displaced by fire has raised more than $70,000, according to the city. 

"Our neighbours needed us to help them through this very difficult time and I am amazed by how well we are meeting the challenge," said Coun. Lucy Troisi, who represents Toronto Centre-Rosedale. 

On Aug. 21, a six-alarm blaze tore through the residential highrise tower at 650 Parliament Street, forcing 1,500 people from their homes. The fire caused substantial structural damage and also knocked out the building's electrical system. 

Later that week, Mayor John Tory put out a call for donations to help the displaced families find accommodations and ensure they have the basic necessities while they await word on when they may be able to return to their units. 

"I'm so pleased to see the response from Torontonians but I'm not surprised because I know Toronto is a caring city and this outpouring of offers from residents and businesses is precisely what I believe our city to be capable of when we all work together," Tory said in a news release.

As of noon on Thursday, the fundraising effort had generated $74,000 through the Red Cross, more than 1,200 gift cards from individual and corporate donations, and 155 offers of accommodation.

A number of corporations have also contributed, including 2,500 pieces of clothing from Loblaw and 300 backpacks filled with school supplies from Bell Media. With the first day of the new school year approaching, aid workers and city officials have stressed the need to assist families as children prepare.

Displaced families with school-aged children will be able to pick up supplies on Saturday in the gymnasium at Rose Avenue Public School. 

Residents of the building were able to access their homes briefly earlier this week to gather any critical items like medications. 

According to the city, the fire investigation at the building has been completed and the tower has been "returned to the care and control of the property owner." Officials have previously suggested that some families could remain displaced for several months. 

While the money and aid raised so far will go a long way to helping the affected families, Tory stressed that continued support will be necessary. He's encouraging anyone not making a cash donation to instead donate gift cards for clothes and supplies, as space for storing donated clothing is limited. 

Anyone who wishes to contribute a gift card can drop it off to Community Corner at 200 Wellesley Street E. until 8 p.m. on Friday. 

"I'm very thankful to everyone who has reached out and I look forward to the continuing generosity, especially offers of available homes for temporary use and gift cards for clothing and food," Tory said. 


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