On Friday, November 15, the apartment building located at 235 Gosford Boulevard, near Jane and Steeles, experienced a 5-alarm fire that displaced close to 354 hundred residents and resulted in the death of one resident. The fire reportedly started on the eighth floor, but the Ontario Fire Marshall is not viewing the fire as suspicious at this time.
Driftwood Community Recreation Centre opened their doors for the first two nights to provide shelter for residents who could not find another place to stay, and York University followed suit by opening their doors for the same purpose. The university released their Tait McKenzie Centre for 14 days to accommodate all of the residents that needed a space to eat, rest and use their facilities. The centre was open 24/7 and ID was not required to register due to the circumstances. Shelter provisions are part of the City’s Emergency Management plan to help house displaced residents and these services are provided for a 14-day period. By the end of the two weeks, 34 residents were left at the centre and were then transferred to hotel accommodations provided by the property manager, RKM.
The City indicated that the reception centre provided cots, showers, secure storage, animal care and personal services such as hygiene kits and mental health supports. The Red Cross was authorized to manage the temporary shelter and distribution of amenities. Vouchers were provided for those who lost or could not access their belongings. Most units were made accessible temporarily for the purpose of scheduling appointments with the landlords, which allowed many residents to drop in and gradually grab supplies from their homes, including clothes and toiletries.
Tenants who made alternate living arrangements were still encouraged to register with the Red Cross on site at York University over the 14-day period to ensure that they had an opportunity to access the same resources that those staying at the shelter were utilizing. Local schools accepted clothing donations for the students impacted by the fire, however, the Red Cross encouraged online donations for security reasons.
Local City Councillor Anthony Perruzza and MPP Tom Rakocevic, along with representatives from their offices were present and continue to advocate for residents. Mayor John Tory was also on-site showing support for the community and has since released statements about the ongoing progress of the situation.
Emergency Response units are still investigating the cause of the fire. While it has not been confirmed when residents can move back, contractors are working to restore the building as quickly as possible. Depending on the state of the unit, it could take months until some are habitable again. The Downsview Advocate will continue to publish updates as they become available in order to keep the neighbourhood up-to-date
If readers have further questions, please call The Red Cross – Toronto Office Emergency Services at: (416) 480-0195 or local City Councillor Anthony Perruzza’s Office at (416) 338-5335.