Is it time to change heat requirement bylaws?

By Ginella Massa

Fall in the GTA has felt more like the dog days of summer so far, and that has had some hi-rise tenants feeling the heat.

City bylaws in Mississauga and Toronto require residential buildings to provide heating as of Sept. 15. Despite the extreme heat alerts over the past week, some landlords refused to turn the air conditioning back on, for fear of facing stiff fines.

One Mississauga city councillor is hoping to change that, with a motion asking to push that city’s heat deadline to October 1st.

“We’re in global warming, and now the issue is horrible heatwaves,” says Councillor Carolyn Parrish. She also wants the province to make cooling an essential service, alongside heating, and to require buildings with air conditioning to abide by a turn on/turn off date.

Toronto councillor Joe Mihevc agrees, but wants to take the issue one step further. He wants to force buildings without air conditioning to add cooling systems. “We might say we’ll give them a 10-year timeline to provide individual units with the appropriate air conditioning,” says Mihevc, who has asked city staff to bring a report back to council on the issue.

Mihevc differs from Parrish when it comes to changing the heat requirement date. “I think what were going toward is instead of being date driven, it should be temperature driven,” he says.

But temperature-driven bylaws may be difficult for landlords, says Luciano Carinci, the owner of Hi-Rise Mechanical Construction. Switching back and forth between heating and cooling can take days and cost thousands of dollars each time.

“It’s not a matter of turning on or off a switch,” he explains. Many Toronto buildings have water-based heating or cooling systems. “They have to cool the water down to an ambient temperature, and then do the changeover and put it through the chiller.”

He suggests an even later heat requirement date of October 15th, as people can bundle up in cold temperatures, while there’s not much residents can do in a hot apartment without air conditioning. But he admits landlords may not be happy with that decision. He says air conditioning uses more electricity compared to heating, which would push up owners’ hydro bills.

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