Turn on the Heat

October 2017: There is a row of shrubs growing along the back fence, Forsythia, named after Scottish botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804). It is one of the first plants to blossom in early spring, once a year and only for a few weeks. The yellow flowers remind me of my mother who loved all of nature’s beauty and had a gift for artistic arrangements. When I went outside today to walk Keeba I noticed that one of the bushes was flowering again, obviously confused by climate change. It certainly has been hot this fall in Ontario, but all good things come to an end and it is cool today and was cold this morning at 3 C when I woke up, so it would be nice if the landlord turned on the heat in this building.

Three weeks ago, on October 4th, Toronto City Council approved a motion to consult on amending the bylaw governing heating in apartments. According to the news reports, currently landlords are required to maintain the heat at no lower than 21 C and must do so by September 15th,, but this year with the unseasonable weather hovering higher than that for days, when the central conditioners were turned off tenants across the city found themselves roasting in their apartments and condominiums which prompted complaints and concerns.

Here’s the thing, I live in a TCHC building. My landlord is the City of Toronto and like most of subsidized housing tenants we don’t have the luxury of central air conditioning in the summer months. When it is hot and humid outside it is even hotter and more uncomfortable inside. There are a number of senior residents with respiratory problems and disabled people who cannot get out and about and they do suffer. We have an air conditioned recreation room that serves as a cooling center in the summer and I’m told that people on disability can get funded for a personal unit if their doctor writes a letter stating that the patient’s health requires one; it is then the tenant’s responsibility to carry home and install which normally entails paying someone younger and stronger to assist. My doctor is not much on letter writing and I am on welfare (OW), so haven’t the funds to spend myself, but manage without. I may be missing something here, as I don’t follow city politics closely, not an activist either, and perhaps there is an ongoing discussion regarding our dilemma? If not, then I suggest TCHC consider cooling down and warming up their own properties first before worrying about enacting guidelines for private landlords. At least put us on the agenda. Turn up the heat please!

As for the Forsythias out back, the shrubs will be gone next year (maybe they sense it too and hence the one with the bi-annual bloom). The City of Toronto is taking back some of its land, digging them out and the lilacs along with our community garden (to be replaced with smaller plots). They are doing so for a good cause, to extend one of the municipality’s natural scenic pathways and we are to have a private entrance which is great for us hikers and bikers. On the other hand, when the arborists take down the tall trees and bulldozers dig out the yard the noise is bound to give my dog the tremors and the project will decrease outdoor space for residents and their pets by at least one third.

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