One year later, Westcourt Place tenants still displaced
WINDSOR, ONT. -- As a result of a fire that ripped through a downtown building, Jesse Taylor-Vigneux still isn’t sure when or if he’ll ever return home.
“At this point it’s a question if I want to,” he said. “If it’s going to take another year I’ll probably just leave most of my stuff there.”
Taylor-Vigneux is one of 200 residents who were displaced following a parking garage fire at Westcourt Place on Nov. 12, 2019.
“This past year has been stressful, it’s been frustrating, it’s been uncertain,” says Taylor Vigneux.
For almost a year, the 27-year-old was staying with his then girlfriend.
He finally found his own place two weeks ago.
“It was hard to find a decent place for a relatively decent price,” says Taylor-Vigneux.
As a result of the fire, Gary Mendler has moved completely outside of Windsor-Essex County, to Blenheim, Ont.
“I remember the smoke, that’s for sure," Mendler said. "I was on the 19th floor right at the very edge of the building right above the parking garage.”
After being displaced, Mendler spent the first couple months ‘couch surfing’.
“Windsor was crazy when it came to rent,” he said. “They had bachelors going for $1,200 which was something I couldn’t afford.”
A class action lawsuit has since been launched against the numbered company which owns the building, on behalf of the tenants.
“Our clients here are the victims. Through no fault of their own they’ve been displaced from their homes in a rental market that is incredibly tight,” says Sharon Strosberg, of Strosberg, Sasso, Sutts.
It alleges the company failed to keep Westcourt Place in a proper state of repair, and seeks general damages of $25,000,000 as well as an additional $10,000,000 in special, aggravated and punitive damages.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The City of Windsor has given the owners until December to provide a repair report and get permits to fix Westcourt.
In a statement to CTV News, Westcourt Place spokesperson Danny Roth says:
“Our experts anticipate concluding this phase of the project in the near future, and then being able to begin the lengthy and difficult process of restoring the building. We can anticipate a reconstruction process that will take, at least, an additional 12-24 months to complete.
“As per a court order from last March, we are prohibited from communicating directly with residents. All communications regarding the status of the building, and tenant-related matters, are provided as per the court process to plaintiffs’ legal counsel.”