Healthy Homes, Public health, Public safety, Safe Buildings, Toronto

Remove lead pipes

By now you have likely read the news “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be consuming tap water laced with high levels of lead leaching from aging infrastructure and plumbing“.

Removing lead pipes from residential buildings and municipal infrastructure is the only way to eliminate health risks in our communities. While some may point to the cost of lead pipe and lead plumbing removal, no action comes with a higher cost to our lives and health care system. There is also the side benefit that replacing lead lines helps our economy and creates jobs. Take action, sign our petition to remove lead pipes from apartment buildings today.

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Affordable Housing, Healthy Homes, Parkdale - High Park, Public health, Public safety, Safe Buildings, Toronto, Toronto Election, Ward 4

Apartments are Less Safe than Condos

Below, we state the case for raising apartment building standards, i.e. to make apartments as safe as condos.

My wife and I live in a condominium building close to High Park. In the vicinity, there is an apartment building in the Parkdale-High Park neighbourhood where the residents have reported the following: elevators are frequently broken down, its walkways and sidewalks are not cleared from ice promptly, frequently there is an odour in the lobby, the garbage room often is a complete mess, and those are just some of the problems reported. In contrast, our condo has none of these problems. One could argue that our condo is relatively new, but even condos built in the 70’s do not have the issues we have seen in Parkdale-High Park, St. James Town, and in many other parts of Toronto.

So why do apartment buildings in Toronto have these problems and condos do not? The reason is the law. Specifically, the laws governing safety in condominium buildings are much more stringent than the laws governing safety in apartment buildings.

How are these laws different? Our condo board members must take courses as required by the Condominium Act. On the other hand, landlords are not required to take any training in Toronto. Our condo property manager must be licensed also a requirement under the Condo Act. On the other hand, apartment property managers do not need to be licensed in Toronto. Our condo must undergo a Reserve Fund study every three years, which must be completed by qualified professionals as per the Condo Act. Similarly, apartment buildings must have a capital plan under the new Rent Safe program in Toronto. However, there is no explicit requirement the capital plan be completed by qualified professionals.

There is a two-tier system for safety in residential buildings, one for condos which have stringent safety standards requiring training, licensing and professional advice; and another one for apartment buildings with no training and licensing requirements and no qualified professional offering advice. Apartments and condos are our homes. Wherever we live Torontonians have the same right to safe and healthy homes. Consequently, we started the following petition Raise Apartment Building Standards in Toronto, which we hope you will support today.

https://www.change.org/p/john-tory-raise-apartment-building-standards-in-toronto

Apartments

Healthy Homes, Safe Buildings, Toronto

Raise Apartment Building Standards in Toronto

Dear Mayor Tory,

Two years ago, Toronto Council passed a well-intentioned bylaw to protect tenants. While the bylaw was a positive improvement in the legislative framework, the recent fire, flooding and lack of hot water in apartments on Parliament, Pell and Wellesley call into question the efficacy of this bylaw.

This petition calls for improved enforcement of Chapter 354, Apartment Buildings of the Toronto Municipal Code by mandating qualified professional audits and reports which will help make apartment buildings safer for Toronto’s tenants. The purpose of the professional audits and reports is to prevent risks to the public such as fires, flooding, resulting in power outages, and buildings with no hot water or heating, which have left tenants without a home.

The petition also seeks to raise the oversight in apartment buildings by requiring property managers to be licenced similarly to provisions under the Condominium Act.

Yours truly,

José Vera, P. Eng.

Toronto, ON

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Picture by SimonP

Licence: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Affordable Housing, Public health, Smoke-free buildings, Toronto Election

Affordable Housing must be Smoke-Free

Affordable housing was a key issue in the recent 2018 Toronto municipal election. Yet it is important to remember that public health is just as an important issue as affordability, and the science proves that second-hand smoke will travel from one apartment or condo unit to another via cracks, doors, outlets, ventilation, and no existing technology can stop this. In fact, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Position Document on Environmental Tobacco Smoke states the following:

Mixed Occupancy of Smokers and Nonsmokers: If smoking is allowed throughout a space or a collection of spaces served by the same air handler, with no effort to isolate or separate the smokers and nonsmokers, there is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of ETS (environmental tobacco smoke).

The position document concludes, “At present, the only means of eliminating health risks associated with indoor (second-hand smoke) exposure is to ban all smoking activity.” Furthermore, Cannabis is legal in Canada since October 17, 2018 which means that second-hand smoke exposure in residential buildings may become an even more critical issue. Consequently, as Toronto develops affordable housing lets ensure that it is also smoke-free housing.

smoke-free

PS

It is very encouraging to see the following petition Multi-Unit Dwelling Smoking Ban in BC:

https://www.change.org/p/honourable-selina-robinson-multi-dwelling-unit-smoking-ban-in-bc

 

Ontario

A New Path

All too often, especially after feeling disappointed we tend to choose the same path. This path often involves blaming others, seeking scapegoats, and sometimes even mocking those we see as our opponents. The map below of the GTA (from CBC) shows a divided Ontario, where rural communities and urban communities made starkly different choices in our recent provincial election. Right now, it’s easy for us in the cities to blame people in rural Ontario for the election result. Yet, there is another path where we can seek instead to understand rural communities instead of making them the scapegoat. Take a moment, try to look at their situation: The nearest hospital is hours away, there is no local library or school within walking distance, and there is no such thing as public transportation. From their point of view, public services are not designed with them in mind. Times have been hard economically for many people all over the province. So, when someone promises rural communities “more money in their pockets” they might simply see a better opportunity to make ends meet. Seek to understand and don’t seek to blame. Above all always go high, never go low (to quote a very wise person). Just like it was wrong for Don Cherry to paint Rob Ford’s opponents as “left wing pinkos” it is also wrong to paint rural communities with the epithet of bumpkins who adore their rifles. When in fact it’s farmers from these very same rural communities that grow our food. Why not try to forge a new path? If you live in a city try to better understand folks in rural communities and you may be surprised to find that we are all not that different after all.

election

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Public safety

Our communities rise

The day of the Toronto van attack I was at my workplace near Yonge and Sheppard. I had a report to submit and decided not to go outside for my daily lunch walk and ended up staying in the office to complete it. Later that afternoon, the noise of sirens blaring from the streets told me something was seriously wrong. Hours later I would realize just how lucky I was not to have gone outside to the street during lunch time. Tragically, several people in the neighbourhood did not have the same fortune that day and lost their lives or were seriously injured.

This is a neighbourhood where I have worked for the past seven years. The next day, with a heart full of emotion I walked to the makeshift memorial near Yonge and Finch to pay my respects to the victims. The strong support shown by everyone that day and the days to follow was inspiring. Since that fateful day we have seen the community of North York rise. Similarly, I know the Danforth will too rise even after recent tragic events.

Attacks of this nature leave us with several hanging questions: What can be done to prevent them in the future? Are our emergency and police services trained adequately for these types of scenarios? Can the public be rapidly warned of similar attacks or emergencies by text or other technologies to prevent casualties? These questions are borne from one objective which we all share: a safe Toronto for everyone.

Our communities rise. Despite the uncertainty and hopelessness these events may bring, we too need to rise above fear and help find ways to make all our communities safe.

“I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.” ~ Martin Luther King

OneToronto