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'Can we just have a little air?' Toronto apartment residents fight back after landlord screws balcony doors shut


Residents of a 35-storey apartment building in midtown Toronto say they’ll be able to breathe easier after management announced it will allow them to open their balcony doors — the only source of fresh air for many units — during a months-long renovation.

Late Thursday, people in Parkview Residences, just north of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, got a message that Q Residential, the company that owns the building, is changing its plan after two months of forcing the doors shut with a two-by-four screwed to the frame.

“For people in the bachelor suites, the only source of air is the door to the balcony and they’ve blocked that off completely,” said Marie O’Keefe, the co-president of the tenants’ association.

“It’s beginning to affect people’s mental state. We’re getting endless emails. People are frustrated,” she said.

The balcony doors were shut in September to avoid any interference with the construction. The company said that it decided to make things easier on tenants by doing only half of the building’s balconies at once, and changed the way it was working so that the balconies would open in the summer.

Jacquelyn Wint lives in a bachelor suite in the building. She said at first she didn’t expect to feel any impacts of the change — but soon she felt lethargic and foggy.

“It has contributed to me feeling disoriented which I wasn’t expecting,” Wint said.

That’s a feeling shared by dozens of others in the Parkview Residences. The building was built in the 1970s. Most suites have windows, but about 33 bachelor suites don’t have any option but to open their balcony door.

“For mental and physical health you need air,” said Sue Scully, the other co-president of the tenant’s association. “Please, there’s a better way of doing this, can we just have a little air?”

The tenants association had been considering going to the Landlord and Tenant Board, but staff there told CTV News Toronto that it’s so backlogged it takes three to four months to get most matters heard.

The City of Toronto told CTV News Toronto that there’s no requirement under its building permit to open the doors, as there’s a mechanical ventilation system in the building.

“However the inspector suggested to the building’s owner/operator that the sliding doors be permitted to open 4 inches (maximum) and advised the owner/operator to work with tenants on ways to support other ventilation opportunities where possible,” a spokesperson said.

Q Residential sent a letter late Thursday that some balcony doors may open under strict restrictions while the work is done.

“For the units in the building that have windows that open, and allow access to fresh air, the sliding doors will remain locked for the duration of the restoration project. While we recognize that this decision may cause frustration for those tenants in non-bachelor units, we are only able to make an exception for the bachelor apartments, as they do not have access to fresh air other than their balcony doors,” the letter read.

“We understand the need for fresh air, particularly as we enter the winter months and venture outside less frequently, and we hope this will help to alleviate the concern experienced by these tenants,” the letter read. Top Stories

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