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No teeth in elevator enforcement

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Following reports of Oshawa residents marooned in their apartment buildings due to elevators under repair, the city is looking to the province for help.

At the request of Councillor John Neal, a report was created to look into the city’s options to deal with apartments putting their elevators out of commission for lengthy periods of time.

Earlier this year, The Oshawa Express reported on a pair of such stories in two apartment buildings where elderly residents were trapped in their apartments because of physical limitations and the inability to get up and down the stairs.

According to the city’s report, the issue lies in enforcement.

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) is the entity responsible for inspecting elevators and ensuring they are up to snuff and functioning. However, they have no authority to force landlords to complete their maintenance on broken elevators within a certain amount of time.

For that reason, according to the TSSA’s frequently asked questions page of their website, they refer residents to their local bylaw officials.

But according to Jerry Conlin, the city’s director of municipal law enforcement and licensing services, they are stuck when it comes to dealing with these problems as well.

He says that while some opportunities may exist under the Building Code Act for improvements, the city currently has no authority to force landlords into finishing their working by a deadline.

“I think we need to look at it a little more to see what our powers are,” he says.

The problem also lies in the fact that Oshawa currently doesn’t have staff capable of doing elevator inspections.

The city’s report, which is being forwarded to the province and other stakeholders, looks for the province to “take a leadership role” in developing a solution.

Neal says he hopes they see the light.

“I hope they’re going to be listening to the city of Oshawa in that regard and what the residents have to say,” he says.