Metro Morning

Toronto dealing with elevator technician shortage, industry says

There aren’t enough elevator technicians in Toronto to keep up with the city's demand to build new elevators and fix aging ones, two industry experts say.

Elevator woes continue at 78-storey Aura condo tower after leak

Three elevators remain out of service and in need of extensive repairs at the Aura condo. But who will do the work? (Google)

There aren't enough elevator technicians in Toronto to keep up with the city's demand to build new elevators and fix aging ones, two industry experts say.

This week, a leak from a burst water pipe at the 78-storey Aura condo tower damaged the building's elevators. Some service has been restored, but several other elevators have been seriously damaged and will take more time to fix.

Condo residents have described a "hell" of waiting between 10 and 20 minutes to get an elevator from the top floors of the building to the bottom, while others have worried about what would happen in the event of an emergency.

Al Groot, an engineer and elevator consultant, said he's seeing more cases of elevators breaking down because of burst pipes.

On average, he said he personally investigates at least one case per week of elevators breaking down due to water damage.

"Unfortunately it's becoming more and more common with the number of high-rise buildings that are going up throughout the city," Groot told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

Also, there's a shortage of people qualified to fix elevators.

Currently, Groot said, elevator technicians are installing new elevators — ones that have to go higher, faster in less space than older models — in the many new towers springing up around the city. At the same time, they're also maintaining aging elevators in older buildings.

Aura elevators require 'extensive repairs'

John Straube, a professor of building science at the University of Waterloo, said more than half of Ontario's residential elevators are more than 25 years old.

Straube said elevator maintenance is a high-paying job, yet there's still a mismatch of supply and demand.

"It's a great job … we need it so badly, particularly in Toronto," he said.

Groot agreed more technicians need to be trained, if only to ease the demand on those already working in the field.

"The problem with the industry is that it's not like a lot of trades — the elevator industry is not very well known," he said. "There are trade programs in place, but it's not very common."

Otis Elevator, the company working on the Aura's broken elevators, said in a statement Tuesday that three of the tower's elevators require "extensive repairs to key critical components," and that it's waiting for approval from the property management company to resume repair work.

The other three damaged elevators have been repaired, Otis said. 

With files from Metro Morning

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