Residents still don’t know 6 months later when they can return to 650 Parliament St.

Exactly six months after the an electrical fire tore through a residential high rise at 650 Parliament St. and displaced 1,500 residents, it’s still unclear exactly when they will be able to return.

The latest update on the property owner’s website states “re-occupancy of the building is not expected until June 2019, at the earliest.”

But Ashkan Ansari, one of the many displaced tenants, is skeptical.

“They keep pushing it further back and further back,” he said.

After being forced to vacate the building, Ansari initially moved in with his brother, but is now living with a friend in Richmond Hill, commuting an hour each day to go to class at George Brown College.

“I’m tired of it, and I’m tired moving from one place to another. I just want to go home,” he told CBC Toronto.

While many are still frustrated, Mark Slapinski, another displaced resident, says, “the sense of urgency has kind of died down.”

Slapinski was finally moved to a temporary apartment at King Street west and Spadina Avenue in December, provided by Wellesley Parliament Square, the property management company that owns 650 Parliament.

Before that, he had been staying in hotels.

“Once I moved into this [apartment], I sort of just moved on and focused on school again. It’s not the easiest thing, being displaced, but I’ve made peace with it.”

Ward 13 Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam says her heart goes out to the displaced tenants of 650 Parliament. ‘To endure what you have endured is just almost unthinkable,” she told them.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13 and the St. James Town area, says all displaced tenants are now staying in “apartments and condos within the vicinity” or have “arrangements to stay with  family and friends.

“I am aware that the residents are feeling very nervous, about whether their accommodations are going to continue,” she said.

She has assured tenants the city will ensure the property manager continues to provide them with accommodations until 650 Parliament is habitable again.

Still much work to be done

The Aug. 21 fire started in the basement, and sent thick plumes of smoke pouring out of multiple apartments, causing substantial structural damage and knocking out the electrical system.

The ceilings in all of the corridors had to be removed to release trapped smoke, and most of the electrical components in the building had to be removed and replaced.

The property manager lists the damage as “catastrophic,” adding “more than 100 construction workers are attending to the site daily and the necessary efforts to prepare the site for the reconstruction are ongoing.”

Dozens of Toronto firefighters battled the flames at the Parliament Street highrise on August 21. The fire destroyed the building’s electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

Though she feels their frustration, Wong Tam also wants to remind tenants of the importance of ensuring everything is safe before they move back in, “Those tenants, they have been extremely patient. I am encouraging them to hold heart, continue to hang on.”

Inspection at 240 Wellesley Street E.

On Thursday, the Electrical Safety Authority will be conducting a electrical safety inspection at 240 Wellesley St. E., another St. James Town highrise.

The city ordered the inspection following the fire at 650 Parliament, as well as another incident at  260 Wellesley Street E. in which a water pipe that burst in the electrical room left the building’s tenants in the dark for more than three days.

Starting at 9 a.m., 240 Wellesley will undergo a physical inspection of its electrical system. The building will have no electricity, heat, water, or elevator service for a minimum of 24 hours, and up to 48 hours.

The notice handed out to residents of 240 Wellesley Street E. (Submitted)

This is the same kind of inspection performed at 280 Wellesley Street East earlier in the month. During the inspection there, a fault was found that impacted one of the electrical risers.

Many tenants, though, were frustrated the inspections and repairs left them without heat and water for over 48 hours.

Wong Tam says this time will be different.

“If the property owners are not be able to bring the power back within 48 hours, they will bring… alternative power sources to the site, which means outside electrical power will be brought into the building to power up the heat, to power up the elevators, to power up the building again, and also to make sure the water’s running,” she said.

She also says the city has made a list of vulnerable tenants, and is making sure the landlord has the information.

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