Making elevators reliable for high-rise living, Reliable Elevators Act

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Trinity-Spadina Liberal MPP Han Dong introduced a private members bill in the Ontario legislature March 22 aimed at getting broken down high-rise elevators fixed within a two-week period at most.

If passed by all three parties the bill, called the Reliable Elevators Act, would be an amendment to the Consumer Protection Act and the Building Code Act.

Han Dong spoke about the hardships that broken elevators cause.

Young families with baby carriages are stuck if they want to go out for a stroll. Will small children want to walk down 10 or 20 storeys or more while mom or dad struggles to lug the carriage down that endless staircase?

What about workers arriving at their condo or apartment building from a day at the office only to face hundreds of steps to get home.

The elderly and those with mobility problems become trapped in their units when elevators aren’t working. In some cases, said Han Dong, seniors have had to give up medical appointments because elevators were out of service.

“Elevators are essential for transporting in the daily lives of my constituents and a growing number of Ontarians,” Han Dong told a media conference at Queens Park. “Having reliable elevators is essential for health and safety.”

He acknowledged resident groups from Liberty Village, CityPlace and Southcore for the insight they provided to him about the elevator industry and for supporting his bill.

“Currently there are no regulations or bylaws that give a maximum timeframe for elevators to be brought back into service,” said Han Dong. “I’ve been talking to many residents and condo associations, and I’ve been told that elevator reliability is a serious challenge. Getting home shouldn’t be difficult.”

Han Dong’s bill calls for a maximum of 14 days “for most buildings” that an elevator can be out of service for repairs. The maximum for long-term care and retirement homes would be seven days.

The timeframe would be enforced under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Branch. Building owners or management would be required to report to the branch if contractors fail to comply with Han Dong’s amendments.

He said the Consumer Protection Act has a “wide range of punitive measures” to induce contractors to get repairs made to the maximum time limit.

He added exemptions to the time limit could be accommodated if there are reasonable conditions that require more time for repairs to be completed.

Han Dong is also calling for an “elevator traffic analysis” for any future building that’s taller than seven stories to make sure that a sufficient number of elevators are available for the residents. “This must be updated to reflect the growing vertical community across the province,” said Hong.

That analysis would be a requirement for a builder to get a building permit from the local municipality.

Currently, buildings higher than seven storeys are required under the building code to have only one elevator. “This must be updated to reflect the growing vertical community we are witnessing across the province,” said Han Dong. “Elevator repairs could be held up because of the time it takes to order parts, some of which come from other parts of the world.”

He said he’s also been told that a lack of elevator repairmen contributes to holdups, although he said he’d been told differently by the International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 50 (IUEC).

On a positive note, Han Dong said elevator safety in Ontario is excellent thanks to a regulatory framework through technical standards and safety authority. It’s time it takes to repair elevators that are the problem. He said that time could take up to four to six weeks and even months.

Han Dong noted in a press release that IUEC Local 50 Business Manager Sean McCormick, has given union support to the bill “to make elevator contractors more accountable to the public.”

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