Area residents recently met Councillor Pam McConnell, executive assistant Kelly Sather and city by-law staff, health department staff, representatives from police and fire departments to tackle the ongoing issue of problematic properties in Cabbagetown South. It was our hope that meeting with a large contingent of city staff from various departments that a consolidated effort to address ongoing problems around housing conditions, safety, and in some cases criminal activity could leverage a positive outcome to improve the conditions of poorly maintained/managed properties.
The process has been very slow and there is a lack of real consequences on landlords and property owners that fail to address complaints. The city is apparently working on updating by laws and rooming house regulations but that process is again very slow and we find that the bureaucracy at city hall is reluctant to communicate with city residents.
Two vacant properties that we were working on were recently repaired by the city (who then add the bill to the owners property tax bill). Of course the repairs are very basic and both properties continue to be eyesores and concerns to the adjoining neighbours.
We hope to see stronger regulations around vacant properties and properties poorly managed by absentee landlord when the review and studies on bylaws and rooming house licensing are completed. Will updated this file when we receive further information.
There is a new city department called SPIDER which co-ordinates city inspectors and other staff to help come up with solutions to ongoing problems with vacant or derelict buildings. (see below). Should ou have issues with an operating rooming house in the area we advise that you keep a log of issues (dates and time and incidents) and contact Rooming House Licensing below to determine if the property is licensed. If not contact Councillor Pam McConnell with concerns to launch a city inspection on the property. It is our understanding that properties with more than 4 unrelated resident/tenants bust be licensed.
contact information is:
In 2011, in conjunction with Pam McConnell’s office, a “task force” was created to deal with properties managed by George Diakogeorgiou. This task force is made up of representatives from Municipal Standards, the Health department, fire, etc The purpose is to ensure that the properties remain safe for the residents living in them and for the surrounding community.
Councillor McConnell's office set up another meeting with our Absentee Landlord committee and the Task Force for March 12, 2013 to follow up previously raised issues, to get an update on the plans for the various properties and to discuss specific properties that have become a concern.
Members had advised us of their concerns. We raised each of them and they were each discussed at length. It was also a noted that, since we started this initiative, George Diakogeorgiou has reduced the number of tenants in each of these buildings and, consequently, the disruption to the local community has been reduced.
Having said that, we made it clear that we feel it's important for all of these properties to continue to be monitored closely and that we still have serious concerns we'd like addressed. However, from the perspective of the Task Force and the various departments that were at the meeting, we were advised that Diakogeorgiou properties are currently meeting all city mandated requirements.
This is the challenge we have always faced: what he is required to do by law as opposed to what those of you living directly next to his properties (and the community as a whole) have to deal with on an ongoing basis. The good thing is that we still have an open dialogue with the right people so when action needs to be taken, it happens much more quickly than it used to.
Our next step is to try to meet with George directly, to find out what his plans are for his properties, and to talk about your concerns directly with him.
Here are some specific updates:
This property has been visited 5 times now but unfortunately they have not been able to gain access. The file remains open and it will be visited again. They said there were no visible signs of illegal work being done, but that they will continue to monitor the situation. If you hear or see anything, please advise both us, and Sean McIntyre, from Pam McConnell's office, ASAP so we can try to stop anything illegal that's happening. Bed bugs are an ongoing issue and as the next door neighbours know, very difficult to contain. They will approach George and offer assistance again, but without access and a desire from the tenants to deal with it, there isn't much that can be done other than trying to safeguard your homes from his property.
Although the owners claimed to have taken care of doing the required roof repairs and ensuring the property is fully sealed, neighbours advise otherwise. Inspectors will visit the property again and issue any required work orders. Keeping the bulding sealed and water tight and the grounds in a reasonable condition is all the owner is required to do. We were were surprised to learn that there wasn't a limit to the amount of time a property can be boarded up. As long as it's sealed, we were told there isn't. Health will follow up if there are further concerns about animal excrement, etc. George will be required to ensure that the lawn remains mowed during the summer. That will be something for us to keep an eye on.
In a nutshell, let's please be sure to communicate with each other as the warmer months approach. The more we know about what's happening at ALL of George's properties, the better off we'll be.
We realize this is not all we were hoping for, but we hope that those of you who are most directly affected by George's property/tenants take a bit of comfort in the fact that you're not alone in your fight. We're still all in this together.
What you can do:
If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We recently learned of a city initiative called SPIDER created to hep resolve safety and health risks with in neighbourhoods and communities in the city of Toronto. Area residents have recently met representatives from SPIDER and police in a walk about with a problematic laneway in our area. More details on thtat to follow. For details on this new response team please see below.
The Mission of the SPIDER program is to support participating City Divisions to develop coordinated, inter-divisional responses to complex and unresolved health and safety risks that involve vulnerable Torontonians, their homes or property, and their neighbours.
These risk situations may include, but not limited to, possession of animals, multiple property standards and fire code violations, dilapidated living conditions; accumulation of refuse, environmental and odour issues, bed bugs and other pest infestations.
Such situations are often extremely difficult to resolve and recurrence rates are high. Yet, if left unresolved, these situations can lead to catastrophic consequences for individuals and whole communities.
The probability of requiring targeted enforcement, eviction, and/or other emergency response is high.
Only a participating division at the SPIDER Situation table can nominate a Situation for review by the SPIDER Situation table. The Table is intended to act as an internal mechanism to further support Divisions to develop comprehensive and coordinated response to complex health and safety risk situations and does not supersede normal service standards for any participating Divisions.
Contact information for SPIDER.
Daniel Breault, Community Dev Officer SPIDER (City of Toronto) cell 647 468 4715 or 416 392 6141 / Dbreaul@toronto.caFor information about a recent walkabout and discussion about Windeyer Lane please click here.