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650 Parliament cleared for re-occupancy in March, 19 months after fire

Toronto Fire at 650 Parliament St., where a fire broke out on July 10, 2019. CITYNEWS/George Joseph

The residents of 650 Parliament will finally be able to return to their homes starting in March, 19 months after a fire forced them from the building.

In a release on Friday, Wellesley Parliament Square, the building’s management, said residents will be welcomed back starting on March 2 over an 11-week period.

Tenants will be moved in two floors at a time, starting with the top two floors and progressing downwards. They are being told to contact the response centre within seven days of their floor’s designated return week so they can reserve a move-in window.

Management also announced there will be no rent increases upon their return and their rent will remain the same as it was on Aug. 1, 2018.

A spokesperson said that ownership and management have “devoted the necessary resources towards both the reconstruction of 650 Parliament, and, towards addressing the challenges faced by residents throughout the dislocation.”

More than 1,500 people were displaced when a six-alarm blaze caused by a “catastrophic failure” of the building’s electrical system. At the height of the fire, 26 vehicles, more than 100 firefighters, 17 pumpers and other equipment and personnel were at the scene.

The return date for tenants was pushed back several times, frustrating many residents.

Back in March of 2019, management said more than $20-million of an estimated $25- to $30-million had been spent to fix all the damage to the building. As well, another $10 million has been spent to assist tenants since the fire.

Lawyers for the residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against building management to get compensation for expenses and other losses.

After the fire at 650 Parliament and a basement flood at nearby 260 Wellesley St. E., Mayor John Tory ordered a comprehensive series of inspections would be carried out in apartment buildings in St. James Town and other areas around the city.