Ensuring the Safety of TCHC Tenants

2 July 2020

Mr. J, a tenant in a high-rise Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) building, called us on a Wednesday in July. He saw that a notice had been posted in the lobby of his building that morning, stating that the building’s electricity would be turned off for the next two days to allow for major hydro vault work.

It was a very hot time of year, and Mr. J told us the tenants had trouble staying cool even with the power on. The building was not providing a cooling station. He also feared the elevators would not operate and that people with disabilities would be stuck in sweltering apartments. He was concerned that vulnerable tenants in the building would not have enough notice to make plans to order WheelTrans or stay with family and friends.

We were concerned. We first contacted Toronto Hydro and found that this was not their project, but a planned service interruption scheduled at the landlord’s request. When we contacted senior executives at TCHC, they explained that because of a staffing change, they had not posted information with the minimum 48 hours’ notice required. They told us that usually, they try to provide at least one week’s notice. TCHC also confirmed that a power generator would allow one elevator to continue functioning.

TCHC management and the contractors found a way to do as much work as possible while the hydro was still on, and only had to turn it off for a few hours the next day. We followed up throughout the day during the hydro interruption to make sure tenants were safe.

Afterwards, we asked what TCHC would do to ensure this did not happen again. TCHC agreed to change the protocol so that all planned service interruptions would require the General Manager’s prior approval.

All names are changed to protect the privacy of complainants.