Long term evacuation—914 Yonge 

On Wednesday 30 January 2013, residents of the commercial and residential highrise condo at 914 Yonge Street were woken at 5:00 am by a three-alarm fire in their basement.

Toronto Fire instructed residents to stay in their units as 70 firefighters and 18 fire trucks battled a blaze that was started after a broken city water main burst and flooded the condo’s basement. Water came through the basement drain and came into contact with the building’s electrical system, sending swaths of smoke through the highrise’s stairwell. The water damaged the power vault and generator.

Toronto Hydro shut off power to the building while fire crews pumped water out of the building’s basement.

914-920 Yonge is the brown bldg
After the smoke cleared, firefighters evacuated residents, carrying some down the stairs and helping others carry pets, medication and clothing.

It was thought that the residents may not be able to return home for several days.

The city helps
Once it became known that the residents would not be able to return to their units, the City of Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration stepped in to help.

Immediately following the fire, the city put up evacuees in nearby hotels and gave them with two TTC tokens and a $10 food voucher a day. However, this help lasted for a maximum of two weeks.

For those residents with lower incomes, this public assistance is extended by a further month. Everyone else will have to rely on their savings, insurance, their friends and their family.

The city posted a web page for the residents to inform them of where the assistance office was set up and how they can collect their mail. A list of useful phone numbers is also provided.

Another eight weeks
In the middle of February, the residents and the owners of the business units on the lower floors, learnt that they would not be able to return for at least another eight weeks.

Owner complaints
The residential owners were upset at having to pay their common maintenance fees while they are being unable to use their units. (They can enter their units, if they make an appointment, to retrieve their belongings. Escorted by a security guard, they have to climb the stairs in the dark and cold.) They are also upset at the length of time it is taking to get the generator repaired.

Property management responds
Brookfield’s regional property manager, Glen Luckasavitch sent a report to the residents last week explaining that replacement parts for the generator would take four to six weeks to arrive. “It looks like the best scenario at this time for occupancy will be possibly between the eight-week and 10-week mark,” he wrote.

When a reporter for the Toronto Star contacted him, Luckasavitch would not elaborate on why the repairs were taking so long. “We’re going above and beyond what really we’re supposed to be doing, because I know how those persons feel and I don’t like seeing them out,” he said.

He said that it’s the law, not the property manager, that requires residents to pay their condo fees, even when the building has been evacuated. “There are still bills that have to be paid for the building,” he said. “It’s just like in your own home; if you go on vacation, it’s not like you don’t have to pay.”

When his remarks were published in the Toronto Star on Tuesday 19 February 2013, the residents were annoyed by Glen Luckasavitch’s comments.

York Condominium Corporation #163
914 & 920 Yonge Street
Postal Code  M4W 3C8
Fronts: McMurrich Street and Yonge Street
Neighbourhood: Rosedale-Moore Park
Ward 27: Toronto Centre-Rosedale
Type: High-Rise
Designation: Commercial, Office, and Residential Condominium
Floors Above-Ground: 19
Amenities: Security Guard and Visitor Parking

Owners responses
At least three 914 residents posted below the Toronto Star. Here are their comments:

Lived this exact scenario in 2009. An explosion in my condo's electrical room caused a mass evacuation while repairs were completed.

We were out of our home for 3 months from March to June. Launched a class action against the builder. Nearly 4 years later we're still waiting for resolution.

I do have sympathy for these victims, however it does highlight the necessity of holding a good insurance policy. Other than the inconvenience of being out for so long, my insurer paid all of my expenses - including replacement vehicle, suitable accommodation, food spoilage, etc...

I do recommend contacting a law firm to start the class action process—it takes a long time to settle!
Displaced Torontonian
I want to thank The Star for featuring this story, and especially to people who commented on it so far for their empathy.

I am one of the displaced owners/residents and it is disgraceful how we are being treated. I have been paying property taxes for 15 years now (since I bought this condo) and no matter how hard we've been trying to get help from the City (or anyone else) we can't get it.

Many of us are gainfully employed albeit with a limited cash flow or limited insurance coverage (all of us have a cap on this). When we presented to the Emergency Services our case, outlining all expenses that we have to cover in a month (including all fixed expenses on the properly that we cannot use), it was obvious that none of us could cover an additional $2,800 per month which is the cheapest long-term hotel accommodation we could find (same one City uses).

Instead of helping us our Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam called us "uncivil" because we bombarded her and her staff with complaint emails.

Early morning fire eh?! What this article DOES NOT say is that the fire was caused by a City of Toronto water main break. It flooded the lower level (over 5ft of water!) and the water caused a fire in the electrical room.

This is the fault of the city and they are doing pretty much nothing to help.

Definitely the take away from this article though is NEVER hire Brookfield, they are useless. 4 to 6 weeks for parts..ladida...they'll just twiddle their thumbs and wait instead of working on alternatives.

Same as a vacation eh Glenn! Seems like a whole lot of nothing is being done, while residents and businesses suffer.

Insurance or no insurance there are more losses here than it will ever cover. Don't be fooled by the "Yorkville" address, this is not some fancy new building, these are lower end condos, the people who live here are not rich by any stretch of the imagination.

Displaced Torontonian Too
I've been waiting for someone to get to the point. Brookfield is NOT responsible for what happened. I too have issues with Brookfield but this isn't one of them.

The blame lies squarely with the City of Toronto. This whole episode is indicative of a fractured infrastructure fueled by a City with a ferocious appetite for tax revenue.

Condominiums generate lots of revenue for the city....look around at the number being built.

Regrettably, the infrastructure has not kept up with the City's addiction for money. The water main that broke, causing this problem, is just one of the failing systems in Toronto. Think transit, Gardiner Expressway, etc. etc.

This should be a wake up call for GTA residents as this is just a taste of things to come unless the City is put on notice this addictive behaviour cannot continue. And unfortunately for us, we are dealing with a city councillor who is woefully unable say anything other than what's in the script. I am very sorry I voted for her.
Displaced Torontonian
Really - City support for 2 weeks—that is help in your mind???? We will be out for 8-10 weeks and Town Inn isn't a luxury hotel, I can assure you!

So here is my 2 cents. I'm one of the residents in this mess and I'd like to point out a few things.
1) Brookfield has done nothing at all to help the residents in any way. They don't care. At all. I really want to see bad things happen to Glen and his cronies for the way in which they've handled this situation.
2) My personal cost to all this thanks to insurance is a $1000 deductible, plus any costs that insurance will find ways not to re-imburse, plus 3 months of the worst spout of BS I've ever dealt with.

I should also mention I lost my job a few months ago and was rejected by the city for further assistance with regards to this issue.

Brookfields cost in this mess? Their $10,000 deductible. 
My credit cards are maxed out, I don’t know what's going to happen, and I'm very frustrated.

Displaced Torontonian
First of all I sympathize with you immensely. I am your fellow neighbour. You are right in all of the points, but one. This will not cost Brookfield a cent, actually they and their contractors will make money off of it. It is our condo corp insurance that will be responsible for covering the deductible.

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