Toronto community housing residents forced to leave Swansea Mews over safety fears

Click to play video: 'More tenants of Swansea Mews forced to leave following ceiling collapse'
More tenants of Swansea Mews forced to leave following ceiling collapse
WATCH ABOVE: An assessment of a Toronto public housing complex where a concrete ceiling fell, injuring a tenant last month, suggests others may be in danger too. Toronto Community Housing is seeking to reassure residents that they will have somewhere suitable to stay, but many aren't feeling so sure. Caryn Lieberman reports – Jun 13, 2022

Everyone who called the Swansea Mews housing complex home has been told they must relocate for safety reasons following an inspection by Toronto Community Housing.

Residents have faced fear and uncertainty since a cement ceiling panel fell on a woman, sending her to hospital on May 27.

Several tenants from the Swansea Mews’ H block were relocated in the immediate aftermath of the woman’s injury, before it became clear the issue that caused the falling ceiling tile was more widespread.

Will Johnston, Toronto’s chief building official, issued a notice that banned people from living in the building.

Johnston’s power comes from the Ontario Building Code, which allows him to issue the order in the context that the building poses a threat to health and safety.

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Helena Szendrei, a resident of Swansea Mews, told Global News she felt communication had been minimal and was “living in doubt.”

“Nobody put anything into my mailbox, no information since the accident happened two doors from my unit,“ she said.

The order leaves residents and the city scrambling to find alternative accommodation.

The City of Toronto and its housing association said plans were underway to relocate residents as quickly and efficiently as possible. A date for their return home has not been set.

Speaking on Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said officials moved “very quickly” over the weekend, calling universities, colleges and landlords to secure alternative accommodation in the city.

The 36 households that already agreed to leave Swansea Mews have found a temporary living space in the Humber College dormitories and in hotels, according to the city.

The city said third-party contractors hired to assess the safety of the building found two ceiling tiles similar to the one that fell on May 27.

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“This finding means the risk of another concrete panel falling suddenly and without warning is greater than was originally identified,” the city said.

Tory said he was told the building’s structural issues could stretch “all the way back to the construction of these buildings.” The City of Toronto concurred, saying “initial engineering” reports made the discovery.

“I’m just living in doubt — what’s gonna happen the next minute the ceiling is gonna fall on us?” resident Szendrei said.

— with files from Global News’ Caryn Lieberman

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