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Elevator broken at Toronto retirement since Christmas could take 2 more weeks to fix

An elevator has been out of order at a Toronto retirement home since Christmas – and it could take another two weeks to fix – leaving dozens of senior residents with only stairs to leave their homes.

The elevator, now out of commission, serves 32 of the 254 residents living in the four-storey ‘D Tower’ at Chartwell Grenadier Retirement Residence, located on the edge of High Park.

An 89-year-old who lives on the third floor of the tower walks to Bloor West Village daily to prevent her knees from buckling beneath her as a result of her osteoarthritis, her daughter Catherine Antonoff told CTV News Toronto.

A few days after the elevator stopped operating, she tried to walk downstairs with a caregiver. But halfway down her knees seized, her daughter said.

“Now she’s getting really down because she hasn’t done her routine,” Antonoff said.

The last couple nights, her mother began packing a bag to leave. “It was like the beginning of the pandemic, but it was worse,” Antonoff said.

The ‘D Tower’ elevator went out of service on Dec. 25 around 7:30 p.m. due to a broken car cable, a letter sent to residents two days later stated. A strand on one of the ropes broke, which is considered “fairly routine” and requires a hoist rope replacement, according to a Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) spokesperson.

Chartwell is the largest seniors housing operator in Canada, serving over 25,000 residents in four provinces across the country, its Toronto Stock Exchange profile states.

A sign showing an elevator in Chartwell Grenadier Retirement Residence is out of service (left) and Catherine Antonoff’s mother climbing the stairs (right).

On Jan. 5, Chartwell Director of Regional Operations Andrew Walker wrote in an update to residents that it would be another two weeks for a manufacturer to build a custom-made component needed to replace the cable. Only then, the installation process can begin.

“We have been working closely with the elevator manufacturer to expedite the repairs, however, the exact timeline for completion has not yet been confirmed,” Walker wrote.

In the meantime, meals are being delivered while care and activities are coming directly to affected residents.

Not long after the elevator went out of order, Marilyn Stix returned from a day spent with her siblings and extended family.

The 81-year-old found it “very disturbing and disappointing” to find out the elevator was out of service when she got home. Tired and carrying a heavy bag, she waited for a staff member to assist her to the fourth floor.

“Climbing up to my floor is slow and difficult because I have asthma and the climb negatively compromises my breathing,” Stix said.

Marilyn Stix, an 81-year-old resident of Chartwell Grenadier Retirement Residence for almost five years, is seen in an undated photo. She typically does her own grocery shopping and laundry, located below ground on P1. But without the elevator to carry the extra load, she’s had to place that on pause.

“It’s really restricted my ability to live independently,” she said.

Chartwell Senior Director of Communications Mary Perrone Lisi confirmed that there have been “similar issues” with this elevator in the past, which Antonoff said also happened last January for a series of days.

TSSA Spokesperson Alexandra Campbell said the home passed its last inspection in Dec. 2020, and that there were no reported incidents for this elevator in recent years.

“It is possible that the elevator was out of service last year for regular maintenance but I am not able to confirm if that was the case. There were no recorded safety issues last year,” Campbell said.

Walkers and wheel chairs for seniors living in a tower with an elevator out of service at Chartwell Grenadier Retirement Residence.

An agency inspector visited the site on Wednesday to address resident’s safety concerns, and Campbell confirmed the elevator is up to date on its quarterly checks.

However, she acknowledged, “In a retirement home people would say, not having an elevator available is a different kind of safety issue.” 

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