swansea mews toronto

Residents of Swansea Mews in Toronto push back after being ordered to vacate their homes

Hundreds of tenants living in Swansea Mews, a Toronto Community Housing complex in the western part of the city, have been ordered to vacate their homes after they were deemed unsafe, but many are pushing back and refusing to leave. 

The City of Toronto's Chief Building Official issued an emergency order for all residents to vacate their Swansea Mews homes late Sunday night after third-party structural engineers examined the property and found that "it poses an immediate danger to health and safety."

The engineers were hired to investigate after a concrete ceiling in one unit collapsed on May 27, leaving the tenant with serious injuries, and their findings show that "the risk of another concrete panel falling suddenly and without warning is greater than was originally identified." 

At the time, TCH offered temporary accommodation to anyone living in Block H — where the incident occurred — who wished to vacate their homes, resulting in 36 households vacating the community and moving to temporary lodgings in Humber College dormitories or hotels.

But the 78 households still living in Swansea Mews have since been ordered to leave as well, albeit without any information on when they'll be permitted to return. 

"At this time, TCHC cannot predict how long it will require in order to address the concerns that give rise to the Order," said TCH in a statement. 

In the meantime, tenants are being offered temporary accomodations, but many are calling them insufficient and refusing to leave without further information. 

Prior to the incident on May 27, TCH says it had already been planning a refurbishment of Swansea Mews. It says if homes need to remain vacant until it commences its planned refurbishment, the plan is to relocate households from temporary accommodation into more long-term units in other public housing.

But tenants have yet to be told this directly, and many are questioning how realistic this is considering public housing is already in short supply.

With the assistance of Parkdale Community Legal Services, tenants who don't want to agree to anything without knowing where they'll be sent and for how long have been organizing and pushing back against the order.

Parkdale Community Legal Services worker Cole Webber, who's been advising some of the tenants, told blogTO residents don't want to be blindly forced out and instead would like to work with TCH to find housing solutions that meet their families' needs.

"Tenants know that TCH has been aware of the conditions in Swansea for years; even before the ceiling collapsed, 30 units in the complex had been left vacant because TCH refused to repair them," Webber said.

"Tenants want TCH to repair Swansea Mews so that that families can continue to live in their community."

Lead photo by

Cole Webber

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