Residents of St. James Town highrise without water, heat after safety inspection
The exterior of 280 Wellesley Street East is seen.
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 6:42PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:13PM EST
Residents of a St. James Town highrise are without water and some without heat for a second consecutive day after a fault was found during a planned inspection of the building’s electrical system.
The power was turned off at 280 Wellesley Street East on Tuesday so the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) could conduct a safety inspection of the building. The inspection was prompted by recent incidents at 260 Wellesley Street East and 650 Parliament Street, which are both owned by the same company as 280 Wellesley Street East.
“ESA has made (Toronto Fire Services) aware of potential fire risks arising from the electrical systems in this building and other properties owned by Parwell Investments Inc. and Bleeman Holdings Inc. in St. James Town,” the city said in a statement issued Tuesday evening.
“The 280 Wellesley St. E. building will undergo a visual inspection, followed by a physical inspection by ESA. During the physical inspection, power to the building will be completely disconnected. The building will have no electricity, heat, water, or elevator service for a minimum of 12 hours beginning tomorrow at 8 a.m.”
In January, residents of 260 Wellesley Street East were without power for more than three days after a burst water pipe caused flooding in the building’s electrical room. Nearly 1,000 residents of the 30-storey highrise were impacted by the power outage.
The building on Parliament Street was the site of an electrical fire in August 2018. The fire displaced about 1,500 residents, who have not yet been allowed to return to their homes.
Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said that while power has been restored to all floors of the building, the water has been turned off due to “fear of freezing pipes.” Residents living on the first 15 floors also have no heat.
In a statement posted to her website Thursday, Ward 13 city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said that a fault was found during the safety inspection that is impacting one of the electrical risers.
“ESA and the building's contractor are actively seeking to correct the fault, but there is no current timeline as to when heat and hot water will be back on for floors 1 to 15.”
“While temperatures will drop, we encourage residents to not use alternative heating measures such as stoves, candles or unattended space heaters. TFS will be providing information for tenants to educate them about the risks of such alternative measures.”
Elevators and life-safety systems are functioning in the building, Wong-Tam said.
According to Ross, the building owner has said that water and refreshments will be made available in the building lobby. The Wellesley Community Center is also open until 10 p.m. for residents.
Ross also said that the water will not be turned back on until the fault is found.
“The lack of maintenance to the electrical system at 280 Wellesley St. E. became apparent to the ESA yesterday, which explains the prolonged outage residents now face as the contractor attempts to bring full power back online.”
At around 10 p.m., Wong-Tam said Toronto Fire told her that the fault in the electrical system was located and ESA is expected to restore power to the first 15 floors of the building on Friday morning.
“If everything goes well tomorrow, then heat and hot water will be back up and running,” she said.
Danny Roth, a spokesperson for the company that owns the building, told CTV New Toronto that tenants can be confident in the building’s system going forward due to the scrutiny it has faced by the ESA.