Residents of 650 Parliament finally allowed back home this morning, 18 months after a fire forced them out

Residents of 650 Parliament finally allowed back home this morning, 18 months after a fire forced them out

After 18 months of living away from their units, residents of 650 Parliament St. will start returning home Monday morning.

Wellesley Parliament Square management has cleared all the safety inspections for the building to be reoccupied. Management announced earlier in the year a schedule to be followed by returning residents, starting this week with those whose units are on the penthouse and 22nd floor.

According to the schedule, reoccupancy will continue until mid May.

An estimated 1,500 residents of the St. James Town highrise building were forced out of their homes when the building caught fire on Aug. 21, 2018. The six-alarm fire, which did not cause any serious injuries, was later determined to have been caused by a failure in the building’s electrical system.

At the beginning of displacement, both management and the city struggled to find temporary housing for residents. Many stayed for weeks in local community centres, while others were housed in hotels. Eventually people found accommodation at various residential buildings, some run by the same property management.

Restoration work has mainly focused on rebuilding the electrical system as well as plumbing, according to management. Many units did not sustain a lot of damage so they only got repainted, while some apartments have had their old kitchens and bathrooms replaced.

Earlier this year, management estimated the total cost of repair to be anywhere between $60 million and $70 million.

During the displacement period, management kept an open policy for any residents who wanted to break their leases and move on. Only residents of about 100 units took up the offer, according to management.

Those returning will continue to pay rent according to the market rates at the time of the fire.

A $40-million class action lawsuit on behalf of all residents is still underway against the building’s landlord and management, who are accused of negligence.

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