Westcourt Place tenants in limbo 9 months later
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Displaced tenants of Westcourt Place in downtown Windsor are still in limbo nearly nine months after a vehicle fire left the building uninhabitable.
On Wednesday, Sharon Strosberg, a partner with Strosberg Sasso Sutts LLP which is leading the class-action lawsuit against the numbered company which owns Westcourt Place spoke on AM800’s The Dan MacDonald Show and pointed to January before the suit was likely to be in court again.
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed court proceedings to a crawl and it’s led to unabated uncertainty for tenants seeking answers.
“There’s a lot of stress, a lot of frustration and anger,” said Jesse Taylor-Vigneux, in an interview with CTV News on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old moved into the building just two weeks before the fire on Nov. 12, 2019. He’s been bunking with a friend ever since the building was evacuated.
The aftermath has seen a series of orders issued by the City of Windsor to remediate the property to allow for tenants to move back into the building. The building ownership has complied with the orders enough to avoid any prosecution; however, an appeal of an outstanding property standards order is set to be heard in an online hearing on Sept. 4 which could set the stage for an amended order or enforcement action.
Uncertainty has led to anxiety for Annette Rennie, another ousted Westcourt Place tenant.
“Stressed to the max, not knowing what’s going to happen, when I’m going to go home,” said Rennie.
Since being displaced, Rennie has moved around to four different homes — at one point living in an uncomfortable situation with strangers in the midst of a pandemic.
Rennie recalls the fire as if it happened yesterday and not when the first flakes of snow made their annual appearance.
“It wasn’t a dark smoke, it was a white smoke so, I thought, ‘Oh, geez no, I can’t,’ said Rennie. “I was starting to cough and choke.”
The Westcourt Place building remains covered in yellow fencing and construction pylons as repairs continue but, tenants feel they’ve been left in the dark by building ownership.
Rennie points to just three notices in nine months from ownership while Taylor-Vigneux says a Facebook page created to keep tenants informed was last updated in December.
“Give us more information,” said Taylor-Vigneux. “We haven’t had an update on the page since December and that was about our mail. We need more. Even if it’s a small update, we need something.”
While Rennie has found a safe home, for the time being, she looks at the numbered company on the letterhead of her notices and can’t help but feel forgotten in the aftermath of the blaze.
“I feel as though we’ve just been left. Like, I don’t know how to say it — we’re nothing,” said Rennie. “We’re just a number.”
Tenants are still able to book appointments to return to their apartments to collect belongings but, the pandemic has limited availability even further than ongoing construction.
Taylor-Vigneux says tenants were offered rent refunds following the fire and while leases have been maintained, rent has not been collected while the building has been vacated.
CTV News reached out to management at Westcourt Place for comment but, has not received a reply as of publishing.
None of the allegations contained in the class action have been proven in court.