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New private members’ bill a step forward for elevator issues

New provincial rules would set deadlines for fixing elevators; city previously found it had no power to ensure elevators were fixed in a timely manner

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A new private member’s bill could solve many of the issues faced by the City of Oshawa and other municipalities when it comes to the rate at which broken elevators are repaired, saving residents from the trauma of being stuck in their buildings.

Brought forward by Han Dong, the Liberal MPP for Trinity-Spadina, the Reliable Elevators Act includes two main parts. First, the act sets to establish time limits for how long an elevator is allowed to be down for repairs – 14 days for most buildings and seven days for retirement homes and long-term care facilities – and would involve changes to the Consumer Protection Act. Second, it sets out to make changes to the Ontario building code to require elevator traffic studies for new high rise buildings.

“I really hope, through this bill, I can bring some changes or we can see some changes in the industry in terms of its practice and normal, regular logistics of things,” Dong tells The Oshawa Express.

The elevator repair issue gained traction last year when stories, including several in Oshawa and reported on in The Express, began to emerge of residents trapped in their apartment buildings due to lengthy elevator maintenance.

The issue was wrapped in several logistical frameworks, including just who was responsible for repairs, and enforcement. However, many municipalities were unable to find a solution.

At the time, following a request from Councillor John Neal, a report was created looking into the issue. City staff found that while inspections fell to the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), Oshawa had no power to force landlords to make sure the elevators are repaired in a timely manner.

The report found city staff also did not have any jurisdiction and the information was eventually forwarded to the province, encouraging them to “take a leadership role.”

Now, Neal says he’s very pleased to see that steps are being taken.

“I think Oshawa had a lot to do with this,” Neal says. “Kudos to Oshawa.”

Dong says the impetus for his bill came from interactions in his riding, where several residents and seniors homes were dealing with these problems. From there, he began to formulate some ideas for what a possible bill could look like. After further research, he found it wasn’t an isolated problem.

“I did a little bit of reading and research, I read quite a few articles citing problems,” he says.

Since then, he notes he has received strong support from all the stakeholders involved, along with political support from both sides of the aisle at Queen’s Park.

“It’s not my intention to point at a certain group or a certain stakeholder of the industry and say, ‘That’s your responsibility,’” he says, adding he hopes stakeholders continue to come together to move the issue forward.

“There is still lots of room and lots of opportunity for consultation and amendments.”

The bill passed its second reading on April 13 and is currently at the committee stage for review. Dong says he has no reason not to be hopeful moving forward.

“The opposition spoke very supportive of it,” he says.