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City, region call for quicker action on downed elevators

Ward 1 councillor John Neal worried about residents being stuck in their homes during summer heat

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express.

Durham Region has put their weight behind a resolution from the City of Oshawa regarding downed elevators in apartment buildings.

The regionally backed resolution from Oshawa city council was made in March, and asks that the provincial government enforces aspects of Bill 8 to improve the pace at which downed elevators in apartment buildings are repaired or replaced.

The resolution also demands the province to make amendments to the Technical Standards and Safety Act of 2000.

The amendments would authorize the Technical Standards and Safety Authority to enforce timelines to complete repairs and replacements for elevators, and would also require owners to provide an alternate means of mechanical access above the ground floor when repairs are being undertaken.

The city also asked the provincial government to make an amendment to the Ontario Building Code.

This amendment would require new single elevator buildings to provide an alternate mechanical means of access above the ground floor, or the province could consider requiring multi-level buildings to have two elevators as appropriate.

City staff were also asked to continue investigating the possibility of creating an Oshawa specific by-law to address these concerns.

The copy of the report and resolution from city council were sent to multiple organizations, including Durham regional council, which recently offered its support.

Ward 1 regional councillor John Neal has been trying to get this off the ground for some time, as The Oshawa Express first reported on this issue in 2015.

For Neal, it all began when he went to an apartment building over a hot weekend to     discover the elevator was not only out of order, but had been for a few days.

He notes with the elevator being down, some residents were not able to leave their apartments.

“It was a hot weekend, the humidity was high, the whole works, and they were held captive up in their apartments,” he says.

Neal admits he was particularly concerned for senior citizens, as many have mobility issues and were stranded in their apartments due to the elevator being down.

He says after The Express reported on the situation, he received more phone calls from residents around Oshawa who were in similar situations.

Neal notes the province was supposed to do something in 2018 under the then-Liberal   government, but nothing came of it.

“I’m still waiting for the province to enact their legislation on it,” he says.

With the region’s endorsement, Neal hopes the provincial government will begin to move forward with legislation regarding downed elevators.

Neal notes while he met some resistance when the resolution was presented to the region’s works committee, it met none when presented to regional council.

The province has yet to respond to the resolution from both councils.