Families forced out of housing complex over collapsed ceiling face another temporary move

·3 min read
Natalie Gordon, right, said the relocation of displaced Swansea Mews residents to Regent Park was
Natalie Gordon, right, said the relocation of displaced Swansea Mews residents to Regent Park was

A group of families forced out of their homes in June after a ceiling collapse are now facing yet another temporary move — into a building slated for demolition next year.

Many displaced residents have been in a Mississauga hotel for months now,  where they've been growing increasingly frustrated with communication they say is more confusing than clarifying.

"It's getting upsetting, very depressing," said Glenna Burrell, who is slated to move to Regent Park at the end of the month "whether I like it or not."

"There's a lot of thoughts that's going through your head of, 'why am I in this situation?'" Burrell told CBC Toronto.

On May 27, a ceiling collapsed and injured a woman in Swansea Mews, a community housing complex just west of High Park on Windermere Avenue near the Queensway.

Tenants were temporarily moved out in early June after the City of Toronto's chief building official ordered all units evacuated for safety reasons.

When Burrell first moved with her son and daughter into the hotel, she thought Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) would match her to a new building pretty quickly.

But that wasn't the case. Now, Burrell said she's worried about her son's safety should they wind up in Regent Park.

TCHC's hotel contract ends at the end of September, and while more than 60 displaced families have been able to find permanent accommodation, nearly 50 families have not.

Burrell isn't the only worried resident who is facing yet another temporary relocation.

Natalie Gordon, who's been staying in a small hotel room with a kitchenette with her three children, said the Regent Park relocation news was "a shocker."

"Swansea don't do Regent Park," she said. "They have beef, bottom line."

Another displaced resident, Suzette Richards, said she's especially worried about the safety of her son, who has special needs.

"It's not fair we're just being moved from one place to the next and we don't know what our end result is going to be," she said.

"I also feel like if we even end up at Regent, if we didn't have a safety issue, they're going to forget about us once we're there," Richards said.

CBC
CBC

The former Swansea Mews residents say they're also going to be made to pay rent at the Regent Park building — TCHC says this is not the case, but rather "a significant misunderstanding" — which is scheduled for demolition in the spring.

"We're now being shoved somewhere else," said Naomi Galit, "We're not being heard."

Galit has been staying in the hotel with her four kids, the youngest of whom is 10. She criticized the TCHC approach, describing it as "their way or the highway."

A spokesperson for TCHC told CBC Toronto it's holding one-on-one meetings with the women over the coming week to discuss their moves.

The city-owned corporation has said it'll be years before Swansea Mews will be habitable again, but that former residents will be given first choice when it is. In addition, it says those families are given priority for more permanent housing as it becomes available.