The residents of a supportive housing building are quite literally steaming because the management company refused to turn on the air conditioning in their stifling apartments but activated it on the two floors where administrative offices are housed.
The 112-unit building on Sherbourne St. is for seniors and individuals with HIV/AIDS. Many were trying to “cool off” in the heat outside the building Thursday afternoon because their apartments were even hotter.
“I can’t breathe in my apartment,” said Shelia Mack, 61, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and uses a scooter. “This is cruel,” she said.
“I’m so angry that they are sitting there in their air conditioning offices while we’re so hot. It’s so unfair,” said Dave Mackenzie, 46, who is HIV-positive. The temperature in his unit has exceeded 30 C.
He said property managers have even taken to locking themselves in their offices and ignoring tenants knocking on the doors. Residents have been invited to cool off in one of two rooms on the main floor, but that has been the only relief offered, Mackenzie said.
Contacted late yesterday afternoon, Brian Smith, president of WoodGreen Community Services which manages the building, said he was dismayed by the situation. “They never contacted me unfortunately,” he said of the building’s property managers. “I only heard about the problem 15 or 20 minutes ago.”
He immediately contacted a contractor to turn on the air conditioner. The administrative offices are cooled by a separate, smaller unit that is easier to activate, he explained.
The worrying thing this isn’t the only building in Toronto where tenants have been sweltering because air conditioning systems have not yet been turned on. Elizabeth Blibbery, a manger with Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department, said the city has received many complaints from tenants elsewhere.
Landlords say their hands are tied by two city bylaws, one of which says buildings must be heated to a temperature of at least 21 C until June 1 and another that says air conditioning, where present, must be activated June 2 and temperature kept to a maximum of 26 C.
Blibbery said the city is looking at amending the bylaws. In the meantime she says landlords have the flexibility to adjust heating and cooling systems and keep tenants as comfortable as possible.
The early heat wave appears to be a big part of the problem. The city issued a heat alert Monday, the earliest one ever.