260 wellesley toronto

Hundreds of Toronto residents in the cold after pipe burst

Hundreds of apartment-dwellers in downtown Toronto are either shivering in their apartments today or taking refuge in emergency warming centres and TTC buses after water leaked into their building's electrical room.

The entirety of 260 Wellesley St. E — a 33-floor residential building in St. James Town — has now been without light, water or heat for nearly 24 hours.

Residents of the building were told on Tuesday evening that they could move to the nearby Wellesley Community Centre, where the Red Cross and Toronto's Office of Emergency Management have set up a temporary shelter, but they were also given the option to stay put in their homes.

"The building is still habitable," said Toronto Mayor John Tory at a press conference on site around 10 p.m. Tuesday, though "there will be no light or heat in the building."

Toronto Fire Services has ordered the building's owner to hire security guards to conduct a fire watch until the situation is remedied.

Firefighters are also performing door-to-door wellness checks on residents who choose to remain in their units.

The outage is estimated to have displaced between 700 and 1,000 people, but it was necessary for Toronto Hydro to disconnect the building's power, according to the city, to "avoid a catastrophic event and prolonged power outage due to flooding."

It is not yet known when the power will be restored to the privately-owned and operated building. 

Crews were still trying to figure out next steps as of Wednesday afternoon, but city officials say more information about when and if residents can return will be revealed by the end of day.

Some on Twitter have been noting that the building's property management company, Wellesley Parliament Square Property Management, is the same company whose building caught fire and displaced 650 people in the same neighbourhood over the summer.

In fact, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says that 26 people currently living at 260 Wellesley St. had been re-housed there after being forced from their homes at 650 Parliament St.

"At 8:00 am this morning, I met with the building owners, Mayor, Office of Emergency Management, Fire, Police and senior divisional staff to discuss the situation at 260 Wellesley East," said Wong-Tam on Twitter Wednesday morning. "All hands are on deck and planning is ongoing for all contingencies."

"Accommodations will be determined for tenants, in the event of any evacuation orders," she continued. "Tenants are urged to contact nearby friends and family to see if they can provide short-term accommodations, should the need arise."

Given that Toronto's shelter system is already bursting at the seams, it is hoped that power and water will be restored to 260 Wellesley tonight—or at least before the city gets hit by its next round of dangerous winter weather.

Lead photo by

Phil King

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