Winnipeg seniors enduring sweltering heat in housing complex demand action

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Winnipeg seniors enduring sweltering heat in housing complex demand action
Winnipeg seniors say they are suffering in sweltering heat conditions inside their housing complex in St. James. Katherine Dornian reports on residents questioning why the landlords aren't listening to them. – Jun 6, 2023

Winnipeg seniors say they are suffering in sweltering heat conditions inside their housing complex on 22 Strauss Drive in the St. James area of the city.

On Tuesday afternoon, temperatures were above 30 C and residents say the building’s air conditioning system is blowing warm air.

“Sometimes it’s hotter in here than it is outside, and we all know how hot it is outside,” said resident Cathy Kostrom.

Kostrom tells Global News that the system hasn’t worked properly in over three weeks, leading to uncomfortably hot common areas and hallways.

And according to resident Ross Angus, for those who don’t have an air conditioner in their suite, it can be unbearable. “It’s pretty hard to sleep at night,” he says.

The building is owned by Manitoba Housing and Angus says residents who want air conditioning have to get it professionally installed in their rooms, which is a major expense.

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“People in here are subsidized, they’re all on fixed incomes, they can’t afford to have professionals come out to install, on top of buying an air conditioner,” he added.

Meanwhile, residents who have footed the bill for the unit are saying it makes very little difference, especially during this heat wave.

“Because the building is so hot, there’s really no relief. The heat still comes into your apartment,” said resident April Mulla.

Click to play video: 'Heat-related illnesses and how to avoid them'
Heat-related illnesses and how to avoid them

Mulla says she is angry and frustrated as these issues have been going on since last year and sometimes the heat can make her feel rather unwell.

She says she fears for her neighbours as seniors are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Mulla says she has made complaints but according to the Residential Tenancies Branch, landlords are only required to keep their properties warm enough in the winter and there are no obligations for cooling in the summer.

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Global News did reach out to the Residential Tenancies Branch for comment and offered a statement regarding the tenant’s rights in such situations. A representative from RTB says tenants can take some action if the building has an AC unit that is not working properly.

“Tenants in buildings where the landlord provides central cooling or individual air conditioning units can contact the RTB should the cooling system or air conditioning unit not be in working order,” they said.

RTB advises residents to fill out a Tenant’s Request for Repairs form if they are experiencing issues with the AC provided in their building.

However, Mulla says she feels like people don’t listen to the residents and don’t care about the conditions they are living in. “People are actually passing out and getting ill,”

She says she would like to see management follow up on the promise they made last year to get either new air conditioning, to be very conscientious about what’s going on in the building, and to care.

“I don’t know if it’s their inability to relate to the population that’s in this building or they just don’t care,” she says. “I just wish they would be more adaptable and listen to what we have to say.”

with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian 


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