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Tenants at 1616 Ouellette celebrate Christmas without running water


For nearly one week, some tenants at 1616 Ouellette Avenue, such as 60-year-old Stephen Warren, have been picking up snow from outside the building, filling it in pots and waiting for it to melt — just to flush their toilets.

"We're back to the exact same conditions for why they evacuated [us] in the first place. There's no water. There's no heat," he said.

According to Warren, along with three other tenants who did not want to speak with CTV News Windsor on the record, water has not been working at the building since Christmas Eve and heat has been intermittent.

On Nov. 22, the City of Windsor evacuated the entirety of 1616 Ouellette due to longstanding issues with the building. Tenants were permitted to return on Dec. 16 following repair work to the heating, electrical and fire alarm systems.

Warren said, since then, the building has been left in a mess.

He added cleanup crews have been emptying out vacant apartments and throwing the contents from upper-level windows to the outside, leaving piles of garbage near the apartment's side doors.

"Everything is still anarchy...piles of debris everywhere. Trip hazards," said Warren.

According to the CEO of Marda Management, which has been contracted to oversee 1616 Ouellette until the end of the year, the water outage is a result of pipes bursting during the recent winter storm.

Pictures taken inside 1616 Ouellette Avenue in Windsor, Ont. showcase the deteriorating conditions of the apartment building which has been without heat for months. (Sijia Liu/CTV News Windsor)

But due to more than 400 windows needing to be replaced, keeping the apartment building insulated and warm throughout the winter is a challenge.

"In an ideal environment, we would just turn the water off, fix the broken component, turn the water back on and that's it," said Marla Coffin. "In this particular case, we were able initially to shut the water off to a couple of the units that were impacted. However, we started to see that we were having more burst pipes."

Due to water pipes in the building bursting on Christmas Eve — which caused the water to stop working for some residents — Marda Management said it made the decision to shut the water to the entire building on Christmas Day.

"We did supply and have continued to supply cases of water to the tenants. We have been in contact [with them], primarily by text message," added Coffin.

But tenants said not enough water is being given for the amount of people who are still in the building, adding communication from Marda Management staff has been poor.

Residents living inside 1616 Ouellette Avenue have gone without heat through the first half of Autumn, hoping it can get working before winter pictured in Windsor, Ont. on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Travis Fortnum/CTV News Windsor)

"They just use the term, 'We're looking into it.' When someone tried to break into my unit two days ago, the security guy promised me three times that they're going to put plywood up," said Warren, before pointing to his first-floor apartment window which has not been boarded up.

According to Coffin, Marda Management hopes to have the water restored to 1616 Ouellette by Thursday.

Following the end of its current agreement with the property owner, Coffin added she is in talks to have Marda Management continue managing 1616 Ouellette into the New Year.

In a statement, City of Windsor spokesperson Jason Moore said it has not received any direct complaints from tenants at 1616 Ouellette about the recent water and heat outage — adding any issues which do arise need to be taken care of by Marda Management. Top Stories

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