Parliament Street residents displaced by fire report messy units, stolen items
For a fourth straight day, tenants of a St. James Town highrise who were displaced by a fire are lining up outside the fenced-off building in hopes of re-entering their units to retrieve winter clothing.
Some tenants, many of whom haven’t seen their homes in weeks, say they were shocked to find them in disarray.
“There’s stuff everywhere,” one man said. “It’s messy.”
“It smells super bad in there,” a woman said. “There was some stuff left on the bed that was full of bugs.”
Some residents reported finding clothing scattered on the floor and items strewn across beds.
Other tenants claim that they returned to find items missing.
“One of my iPads and a Samsung tablet, they were both missing,” Rabia Idrees told CP24.
“I spoke to the guy and he told me talk to the security supervisor, so I found him right away but nothing happened after that. I haven’t got my stuff back yet.”
Idrees is one of nearly 1,500 residents of 650 Parliament Street who were forced from their apartments in August after a fire broke out at the building, leaving the electrical system badly damaged.
The scope of the repairs has pushed their return to sometime in early 2019.
After some confusion, all tenants were eventually placed in temporary housing.
Idrees said she is living on a temporary lease at a building on nearby Wellesley Street.
“I’m okay. There’s no furniture at all so I have to buy all new stuff again,” she said. “Today I just came to grab some stuff, because its winter now.”
As it was summertime when they fled, many residents are unprepared for the increasingly cold weather.
Since Monday, tenants have lined up outside the building, waiting to be escorted to their units to collect what they need.
The discovery of disheveled units and missing items was not what they expected to return to.
“They have moved everything,” said another tenant. “With how they have moved things, there’s dust everywhere. It’s messed up, totally messed up.”
Officials say repairs are underway inside nearly every unit in the two towers.
James Thomas, the response office manager for Wellesley Parliament Square, said the messes could be a result of crews needing to access electrical systems.
“In the closet, one of the main closets where you walk in, that’s where the electrical panel is for each apartment,” Thomas said Wednesday. “So they have to take everything out.”
Property officials say they’ve also received reports of stolen purses and jewelry.
They’re urging anyone who believes items have been taken to file an incident report with Toronto police.
Selenne Iira said she showed up at the building last week, but was told she couldn't enter her unit because they were cleaning it.
When she returned on Monday, she said she was shocked to see items were missing.
"My toilet paper, perfume, stuff for my son, stuff for me. All my stuff for the winter is gone," she said.
"My stuff is gone. They said they were cleaning, well it wasn't clean."
Iira said she was initially living with a friend, but when the move-in date was extended, she was forced to find alternative accommodation.
"Just a couple weeks ago I got an apartment, but it's frustrating because my son, he has disabilities, so it's difficult for him... and me too," she said.
Residents have until Sunday to return to the building and collect necessary items.