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City officials clamp down on Scarborough rooming houses

Coun. Jim Karygiannis calling for penalties as large as $200,000 for anyone breaking the rules
 Jim Karygiannis

Coun. Jim Karygiannis is calling for strict regulations on rooming houses. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

City officials say they have taken action against five Scarborough rooming houses, which they claim are responsible for a string of fire code and property violations.

The city said it has laid charges against the leaseholders and their corporations for allegedly failing to maintain fire systems, and for a lack of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and exits from basements.

The homes also faced property standards violations for holes in walls, insect infestations, broken windows and insufficient or unstable hand rails, the city said in a release

It says one of the properties, operated by Winston Manning, had previously been issued an “immediate threat to life notice” for residents living in a basement dwelling. But during an inspection Thursday, the city says residents were found living in the basement once again.

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Coun. Jim Karygiannis says he is calling on the city to impose penalties as large as $200,000 on people who break the rules. (CBC News)

A total of three residents were relocated for their safety and and are not being held responsible for the violations, the city says.

Nowhere to go

Speaking to CBC Toronto Saturday, Manning said he apologizes for the violations but hopes to have a conversation with the city and the fire department about a possible solution.

“I’m sorry that it has caused so much uproar,” Manning said, adding, “I’m going to comply with whatever they want.”

Manning further defended his homes in interviews with CBC Toronto last year, saying that if they were shut down, his residents wouldn’t have anywhere to go.

“Shelters don’t want them, hospitals pushing them out, nursing homes don’t want them,” Manning said in September 2016. “Some of the people don’t fit the criteria for those places so they will be left on their own.”

Meanwhile, Coun. Jim Karygiannis says he is calling on the city to impose penalties as large as $200,000 on people who break the rules.

“My biggest concern there’s going to be an accident that will happen and someone’s going to get hurt,” Karygiannis said. “People living in these homes needs to be sheltered and protected… A lot are new immigrants and we need to make sure they understand their rights and obligations are and what they can demand from the landlord.”

The city said Thursday’s enforcement action was coordinated between Toronto Fire, police and the city’s municipal licensing  and standards division. Toronto paramedics were also present to assess residents.

The displaced residents have been assisted by the Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and the Office of Emergency Management, the city says.

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