Me and my rss scrolling catching up on the past day’s worth of feeds since the 19th, brought me to this
regarding an $80-million lawsuit that Jo-Anne Blair is filing against both the housing company and the property management company of the building on 200 welsley street.
As you may or may not know, some 1500+ people were ripped from their homes back in september when a massive 6 alarm blaze ripped through this downtown highrise.
I personally know one person that’s been effected in this building, but you, my dear readers, may no many, many more.
What brought this to my attention was the article that
That national post article is linked
and quoted below in it’s entirety.
My comments and thoughts will follow the article.
Wellesley fire victim files $80-million lawsuit
Aaron Lynett/National Post
Jo-Anne Blair stands outside of her fire-damaged building at 200 Wellesley Street East in Toronto, Friday evening, November 12, 2010. Blair has filed a class action lawsuit against Toronto Community Housing over the fire.
December 18, 2010 – 10:00 am
Jo-Anne Blair has a hard time sleeping at night. She constantly checks to see that her smoke alarm is working. The wail of a fire truck sends her into a fit of panic and she smells things burning even when nothing is.
It has been nearly three months since a fire ripped through a high-rise building on Wellesley Street and forced some 1,500 people to flee their homes. Most have been able to return, but not Ms. Blair, who lived across the hall from the purported epicentre of the blaze. She was marooned on her balcony for six hours before firefighters gave her a thumbs-up through the sliding door and escorted her out through water that came up past their ankles.
A week later, Toronto Community Housing had relocated her to a townhouse near Main and Danforth, where she’s had to “beg, borrow and steal to get some furniture to sit on.” Grateful for her share of the donations collected from across the city, she longs to return home.“You can sit at your table in the morning and can have your coffee. You go to bed at night and you have your own pillow,” said Ms. Blair, a former bookkeeper who lived at 200 Wellesley since 1984. “When you get up in the morning, do you look at your children’s pictures [or] your personals that belong to you?”
She is spearheading a lawsuit against Toronto Community Housing Corporation, which owns the complex, and Greenwin Property Management, which looked after it, alleging they breached their duty of care. She is suing both parties for $80-million, with the intent that the proceedings are certified as a class-action.
Ashley Hutcheson for National Post
.In a statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Ms. Blair alleges that she, “on several occasions,” alerted Greenwin to the potential fire hazard caused by a neighbour’s “hoarding” of stacks of paper and other material.
Fire officials initially said a lot of combustible material in a unit on the 24th floor appeared to be fuelling the flames, but the cause remains unknown. The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshall is investigating.
“Notwithstanding these warnings, Greenwin failed to make any, or did make inadequate attempts, if any, to remedy the problem,” according to the statement of claim. It alleges the defendants failed to keep the building up to fire, or safety codes (her fire alarm did not go off) and didn’t help occupants obtain adequate shelter, food or medicine in the aftermath of the crisis.
“It’s not about being uncaring, because I don’t think TCHC is uncaring. I think they care, they’re in the social housing business,” said Brian Shell, Ms. Blair’s lawyer. “I think it’s about the inability to effectively reach out to the community at a moment of high stress and tension. It may be an issue of expertise, or it may be just an issue of lack of creativity. Too many things going on. They are focused on how to figure out how to dry off the building, but they’ve forgotten they have hundreds of people spread out across the city.”
A spokesman for Greenwin said it was “prudent” not to comment on a matter that is before the courts. Mitzie Hunter, chief administrator for the housing authority, similarly would not discuss allegations made in the suit.
She said TCH has done everything in its power to help.
“We’ve provided alternative housing, food vouchers, transit passes. Immediately following, there was assistance through the Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, all of the agencies throughout the city. So we certainly want to ensure that tenants have the support they need,” said Ms. Hunter. Toronto public health has been on scene, she said, there is an onsite information desk, a 24-hour hotline and frequent newsletter updates.
In recent weeks, TCH has also offered tenants a voluntary compensation package, while admitting no liability. Tenants who live in a bachelor apartment are eligible to receive $3,300; a two bedroom gets $5,300, plus additional amounts for each occupant for the unit. They have until Jan. 21 to sign up for a cheque. In exchange, tenants give up their right to participate in the class-action suit, which lawyers say is unlikely to be certified before the Jan. 21 deadline.
“We’ve offered to help on a compassionate basis so that tenants can return to their normal lives as soon as possible,” said Ms. Hunter, who noted that former Chief Justice of Ontario Roy McMurtry, Senior Counsel for TCH solicitors Gowlings, has endorsed the plan over what could be an otherwise lengthy legal battle.
Ms. Blair may very well be reliving the day for much longer.
“To this day I will never ever be placed in another apartment. I don’t trust anybody with anything. I’m constantly having nightmares like I’m trapped and I can’t get out.”
I can understand the stress, the heartache, and the sense of loss that accompanies such a tragidy.
What I can’t understand is, why this individual feels that on top of the already high stress levels on both the tennants, and the management/property management companies, does she think she needs to file a lawsuit?
Reading the article above, and having been following this since the morning of the fire in question, I feel that everyone that can do something, has done all they can, and will continue to provide as much aid, and help as needed to bring all the tennants back to their homes.
We may never know what started this fire, or who’s responsible for it, but ladies and gentlemen, common sense should prevale in this troubling time, and instead of suing people, find ways to survive, and allow the company(s) to get back to the job of bringing you back to your home, or relocate you to another home.
TCHC, and it’s partners are doing everything in their power to get everyone back, and lawsuits like this, only slow the process.
I welcome your comments.