Horrifying viral videos show what it's like to live in Toronto's notorious ICE Condos
If you live in Toronto, you almost certainly know of the ICE condominium complex — whether because at one point you popped by for an afterparty, visited a friend staying an an Airbnb, or read about any of the various shootings, stabbings and other crimes that have taken place on-site.
Horror stories can be found all over the internet about the two-tower complex in Toronto's South Core neighbourhood, but a recent pair of TikTok dispatches from a former resident really take the cake in showing how hellish it can be to live within the city's most-notorious ghost hotel.
I'm talking hours-long waits for elevators, constant late night fire alarms, stairways filled with rotten garbage, and lots of stray bullets flying around, many of which were never reported.
Originally posted to TikTok in July, the piece below and an even crazier sequel were uploaded to Twitter last week and have since gone viral among gobsmacked (but not really) Torontonians.
Like fam??? pic.twitter.com/00whjghIBo— Shandokay (@ShansAshley) August 27, 2021
Loucks moved to Toronto in 2017 after graduating from Western University. While she originally lived in the Little Italy area, her work with TIFF and as a bartender enticed her to find a place right downtown in July of 2020.
"My roommate and I viewed three or four units in different buildings, but our realtor really sold the ICE Condos and, in the end, we signed our lease there," she told blogTO.
"The landlord met us to give us the keys and then moved back overseas where they spent the next year. We had very minimal communication after that first day."
Loucks was excited at first to be living at 12 York Street, between Bremner and Harbour, just steps from the city's biggest attractions.
"At the time, I had high hopes moving beside the Rogers Center and Scotiabank Arena, being a major Leafs fan and concert lover," she said. "Somehow in three years of living downtown I had neither encountered nor been warned about the ICE buildings."
It didn't take long for her to regret signing the $2,600 a month lease.
A few months into the pandemic, after losing her restaurant job, Loucks said was spending more time at home and starting to notice some major problems with the building.
"There was constantly a stench of garbage, and trash in the halls and stairways because the garbage chutes were never operational," she said, noting that mask mandates were never enforced and "social distancing was non-existent inside the building."
"One elevator had been down since the day we moved in... We were always told it was unknown when it would be fixed but that a service team had been notified," she said.
"Oftentimes, both elevators were out of service for the low rise floors, leaving anyone with mobility issues or groceries, pets and large items stranded."
With more than 1,300 units between the two buildings and elevator space capped, fights started to break out between residents. Loucks says it wasn't uncommon for nine people to squeeze into a lift that had been reserved for three.
"Incidents around the elevator could quickly turn physically aggressive and multiple people were involved in altercations over asking people to enforce social distancing," she said.
"I didn't invite my family to view the unit out of fear for an elevator incident which was likely to happen. The one time my dad did come to the unit to help me move, a full grown man called me ugly for asking him to wait for the next elevator. That was embarrassing. My poor dad had no clue how to react."
Here’s the part 2😭 this season is even more entertaining pic.twitter.com/FIicV9kv30— Shandokay (@ShansAshley) August 28, 2021
Elevator issues have become painfully common in Toronto condo and office buildings over the past decade, but ICE residents have additional, scarier problems to deal with — chiefly transient guests and violent crime.
"There were more Airbnb residents showing up than there were actual building residents," said Loucks, echoing a common complaint among people living in the area.
"The building was constantly catering to Airbnb guests versus the actual residents. My roommate had a drink thrown at her once over asking a young group of Airbnb guests to wait for the next elevator," she said.
"The result was them piling six people into the elevator, pushing her out, and throwing a drink as she walked towards the concierge desk to report the incident. We were told since they were Airbnb guests that nothing could be done, and nobody knew who they were. There were no rules or measures of security for the residents."
Despite multiple complaints to building management from Loucks and other residents, the situation only got worse. They called bylaw officers to report the lack of social distancing and two showed up, but again, nothing changed.
It was after two shootings had taken place during her time in the building, and after management straight up denied one had happened despite a bullet hole in the lobby glass, that Loucks contacted police.
"The March 6, 2021 shooting went unreported in the media and by the building. If residents missed the 11 gunshots at 4 a.m. they would never have known it happened," she said. "Violent incidents were never addressed unless they were covered in the media and needed to be."
After an initial email telling her that such investigations "take time to put together," Loucks says she never heard back from the Toronto Police Service again. When she asked officers stationed in front of the building about the shootings, she said they recommended that she move as soon as possible.
Unable to get out of their lease and feeling unsafe, Loucks and her roomate stayed inside their apartment as much as possible and, on the advice of building security, avoided groups of four to five people in the hallways and lobbies.
"It was a constant stream of chaos," she said of her remaining months in the buillding. "I once saw a man trying to go through vehicles in the parking garage. I came back up to the lobby to report the man to the security team. They were already busy breaking up a fight in the lobby and I didn't want to get in the middle of it."
"I decided to share it because I'm hopeful that people in the GTA will see it and not make the same mistake we did by not researching the building before signing a lease. Or possibly, that potential Airbnb guests see the video and decide not to book there," she told blogTO.
"I feel terrible for the people who invested to buy a unit in that building for it to be overrun with crime and short-term rental guests."
Loucks says that the strong and plentiful reactions to her videos have been "strangely vindicating," noting that she tried to pretend things were okay at the time, but that "the anxiety that place caused was catastrophic for me. I still dream about being trapped in the apartment."
"I have a whole year's worth of terrible memories there, and hope I can help at least one person avoid making similar ones."
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