3 years after the fire, Westcourt Place tenants await resolution of case

Westcourt Place remains vacant three years after 2019 fire. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)
Westcourt Place remains vacant three years after 2019 fire. (Dale Molnar/CBC - image credit)

Three years have passed since fire displaced hundreds of tenants from the Westcourt Place in downtown Windsor but the apartment building has yet to reopen and a class action lawsuit filed in the case has yet to be resolved.

"It's frustrating. We hear they wanted a settlement by the end of December or the New Year's but it doesn't look like it's going to happen," said Diane Khoury, who is one of the administrators of an online residents group and one of the tenants in the class action.

Lawyer Harvey Strosberg said mediation in September failed to achieve a settlement in the case.

The $35-million suit seeks damages for 135 tenants, including the city of Windsor, who were displaced by a fire on Nov. 12, 2019. In total, 200 tenants were displaced.

Strosberg said the next step is to get a judge to order the owners of the building access to a busway electrical panel where the blaze started in sub-basement.

Strosberg said that will allow them to cut it open to obtain evidence for the case.

He said they will only take that route if a settlement isn't reached by mid-December, and he can't say whether he is confident that will happen.

"I'm never confident until I have a signed agreement," said Strosberg. "Insurance companies march to the beat of their own drummer," he said.

CBC is attempting to reach a lawyer for the building owners for comment.

Khoury said residents have either moved their belongings out of the apartments or allowed Westcourt Place to put belongings in storage but she and others have not terminated their leases, which would mean they can move back in without a rent increase.

An employee at the company in Montreal that owns the building contacted by CBC offered little information.

"The contractor is still inside. That's the only thing I can tell you. He's still working on what has to be fixed up and hopefully should be finished soon," said Joann Mauro, who would only say she works for the numbered company that owns the building, 837690 Ontario Ltd.

No court dates have been set.