Thirty-four residents, displaced by a fatal five-alarm fire earlier this month in North York and housed in an emergency shelter at York University, are being moved again.
Seventeen families, including 11 children, have been staying in a gym in a building at York’s campus near Jane St. and Steeles Ave. W., where they’ve been provided with food, shelter and personal services, since the Nov. 15 fire nearby at 235 Gosford Blvd.
But city officials confirmed that, because the gym will be required as a space for student exams, the space won’t be available as a shelter for the 34 residents beyond end of day Friday. That is also the end of the 14-day period during which the city provides support for displaced residents.
Late Thursday, city spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed the residents are being moved to hotels. The landlord will pay the costs for December, but tenants will be asked to pay their regular rent, and that money will go towards the hotel fees, Ross said in an interview.
It’s unclear when tenants will be able to return to the building for good.
The landlord, Ronkay Management Inc. did not immediately reply Thursday to a request for comment.
Toronto lawyer Caryma Sa’d, who has not been formally retained by any of the tenants, but has been assisting them with legal information and giving advice on possible options, said Toronto Mayor John Tory met with tenants affected a few days ago and had “provided assurances” that the city and Red Cross would work to find a solution to the looming deadline to move out of York’s gym.
The fire displaced about 354 residents. About 100 people were forced to sleep at the Driftwood Community Centre for two nights. A group of tenants were then moved from there to the gym inside the Tait McKenzie Centre at York.
Others are staying with relatives and friends, and some have already been staying in hotels.
The shelter at York has been operated by the Canadian Red Cross.
One person died in the fire and six others were injured.
According to a media report, the victim was identified by a family member as Nam Tu Huy Vu, 57. The report quoted a relative who said the male victim initially left the unit he was in, but returned, possibly to retrieve an item, and died in the fire.
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