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‘We’re stuck’: Only elevator in Toronto apartment building broken for days

A disability advocate is raising the alarm after a woman with mobility issues found herself trapped in her Toronto apartment for days when the only elevator in the building was taken out of service.

The elevator at the building, located on Dawes Road in East York, has not been usable since early Monday morning, with at least one tenant completely trapped.

A resident who Global News has agreed to identify as C, because she fears potential eviction if she speaks out, lives with disabilities and said removing the elevator has made it impossible to leave.

She said she attempted to use the stairs instead one day but quickly realized she couldn’t.

“I had to stop because it was too much for my legs, especially my left side,” C said.

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She normally relies on a walker and a wheelchair, struggling with both arthritis and long COVID-19, C told Global News.

She said she is still stuck inside her apartment, unable to access the outside world. As of Wednesday afternoon, the elevator was still not working and the company running her building could not say when it would be usable again.

“This is a very serious accessibility and safety concern,” David Lepofksy, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, told Global News.

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“Sometimes you need to get out of your home very quickly for purposes of your safety and we didn’t just invent people with disabilities last week. So, it can be no surprise to a landlord that they have residents who depend on an elevator.”

A sign informs tenants in the Toronto building the elevator will be out of service. Global News

North44 Properties, the company that operates the building, told Global News it orders annual inspections for its elevators and other tests every five years.

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In a statement, the company said notice was given a month ago and the elevator was taken out of service at 6 a.m. on Monday.

North44 Properties did not provide a date or time for when the elevator will be functional again. The company said the elevator will also need to be signed off by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), a provincial safety regulator.

“(It) will be put up once Schindler (the elevator company) is able to get the TSSA to sign off on what is being done and work is complete,” North44 Properties said.

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A spokesperson for the TSSA said the contractor had found “further maintenance” was needed for the elevator during its testing and maintenance.

They said, however, the work needed “does not require TSSA approval” and can be completed without a review by the regulator.

C is frustrated with the entire experience, saving some blame for the charity that assigns homes in the East York building.

Fred Victor, a charity that helps connect people struggling with homelessness with somewhere to live, has seen some of her ire. C told Global News she expected the charity to advocate for an immediate fix for the tenants they placed in the building.

“This is a Fred Victor building, it’s to help us, right? Not to help themselves, it’s to help us,” she said.

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A spokesperson for Fred Victor said that “safety and accessibility of our tenants is a priority.”

They added: “We promptly communicated with the building owner to request that elevator service be restored and that this matter be resolved quickly.”

While the repairs take place, C has found herself unable to leave.

“We’re stuck here — we can’t do anything,” she said.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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