Toronto couple claims short-term rental that hosted party has pivoted to being underground gym
TORONTO -- A Toronto couple is again sounding the alarm about a short-term rental property next door only weeks after police visited to shut down a party — this time making a complaint to the city claiming it’s now operating as an underground gym.
A review of online listings shows that it may not be the only one, with plenty of ads for personal trainers in the GTA offering in-person training in indoor facilities that won’t “let gym closures hold you back from your fitness goals”, while others offer rented spaces for private gyms in basements and garages.
“One of the worst things that could happen is someone getting COVID or passing it to someone they live with, or spreading it in the community,” said Susan Ordine, who filed the complaint with the City of Toronto this week.
A bylaw officer could be seen checking out the property Wednesday afternoon, with the city confirming that it’s investigating what’s going on at the property on Richmond Street West. Officials said they had only received a small number of similar complaints.
“Physical activity indoors, particularly without the use of masks, presents a risk,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, at a press conference Wednesday.
“I would encourage people to take advantage of the nice weather and absolutely get some physical activity for their own mental and physical health but to do so in an outdoors environment where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is significantly reduced,” she said.
Susan and her husband Andrei Ordine’s security cameras recorded dozens of people entering a party in the other half of their semi in April. Police shut down the party. They’ve alleged to the city that the property is an unlicensed short-term rental, an allegation which the city is investigating.
This week they said in their complaint that they believe the suite accessible from the alley is hosting multiple people working out indoors. They recorded a video which appears to sound like a boxing match, and with some online sleuthing found a booking website for a private gym pointing to the same address.
They also say they found photos of people working out in a room that looked a lot like the suite when it was advertised as a short-term rental. The pair put this evidence in their complaint.
The property manager didn’t return calls to CTV News Toronto, but updated one website referenced in the online booking to say ‘closed.’ The landlord has told CTV News Toronto she is frustrated too, but a lease agreement prevents her from doing anything until the end of May.
There are dozens of listings online for personal trainers in the GTA. Many offer services outside, or online, but some advertise “access to a private gym” at home. Some described a gym in their basements for clients to visit, and others advertised house calls.
It’s a phenomenon similar to the reaction to salon closures, where underground hair stylists invited customers to their homes.
Higher-profile incidents with brick-and-mortar gyms have drawn more concern from authorities outside of Toronto.
Nick Corneil of the Ontario Coalition Fitness Industry Council of Canada said the industry is pushing to reopen safely and he doesn’t support any breaking of regulations.
“Obviously we don’t condone anyone going rogue,” he said. “We’ve been really clear that we want people to follow the rules.”