Thursday, April 27, 2017

The elevators at The Colonnade, a 12-storey building on Edmonton Street in Winnipeg, haven't worked since April 18. Slimmon, who has muscular dystrophy, said watching the video even days later is hard.


Disabled Winnipegger plans human rights complaint after broken elevator leaves him 'trapped' in home

Cam Slimmon hasn't been able to use the elevator in his downtown apartment for more than a week

By Brett Purdy, CBC News Posted: Apr 27, 2017 4:00 AM CT Last Updated: Apr 27, 2017 4:00 AM CT
Disabled Winnipeger filing human rights complaint over access issues wants to set precedent
CBC News Manitoba
00:00 01:01
Disabled Winnipeger filing human rights complaint over access issues wants to set precedent 1:01







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Cellphone video shows Cam Slimmon and his 160-kilogram wheelchair being carried down four flights of stairs by a group of friends and family in his downtown condo building last weekend.
The elevators at The Colonnade, a 12-storey building on Edmonton Street in Winnipeg, haven't worked since April 18. Slimmon, who has muscular dystrophy, said watching the video even days later is hard.
"It's disturbing. I have had my wheelchair lifted before but never to get out of my own home," said Slimmon.
Cam Slimmon hopes filing a human rights complaint over access issues will help set a set precedent for other disabled people. (CBC)
The incident and the nine days Slimmon hasn't been able to access his fourth floor condo unit are the reasons he is planning to file a human rights complaint.
"Having to create a way just to get out of my own home, I don't know that that's right," said Slimmon.
The issue with the elevators arose during boiler repairs last week, according to a spokesperson for Towers Realty Group.
Power to the elevators had to be shut off and when it was restored, there was an electrical issue with the wiring, the company said. It said the elevators should be operational by Thursday, but Slimmon and several seniors and people with mobility issues who live in the building have had to find ways to cope with limited or no ability to use the stairs.
Slimmon is now staying with a friend until the repairs are complete, but he's hoping a complaint to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission will set a precedent for how property managers deal with people with disabilities in the future.
The elevators at The Colonnade, a 12-storey building on Edmonton Street, haven't worked since April 18. (CBC)
"I feel it's a right to come and go from my own home in a safe fashion, and being trapped in your home is simply unsafe," said Slimmon.

Elevators not uplifting

Elevator repair can be an issue for property managers, too.
Avrom Charach, a spokesperson for the Professional Property Managers Association — which represents nearly 100 Manitoba landlords — showed CBC a receipt for more than $1,200 for a short elevator service call to one of his properties.
He had to foot the bill even though his building had a full-service contract with an elevator service company, because the problem happened just before 5:00 p.m., which was considered after regular hours.
Charach said there are only a handful of companies that service elevators, which ties property owners' hands.
Professional Property Managers Association spokesperson Avrom Charach has a receipt for more than $1,200 for a short elevator service call to a one of his properties. (CBC)
"You're stuck dealing with two or three people. There's no kind of open market and a lot of us feel, whether that's right or wrong, that the reason it's so expensive to maintain elevators is because it's oligopoly," said Charach.
He said the situation with Slimmon and others who have faced prolonged difficulties because of building maintenance issues is unfortunate, but that anyone moving into a building should know there can be prolonged issues with elevators.
"Landlords hopefully err on the side of customer service but when it comes to an elevator, if the parts are going to take a week to arrive, I'm not sure what the landlord could possibly do to make the parts come more quickly."
Slimmon said he is frustrated with being forced to find alternative arrangements on his own, and that buildings don't have separate mechanical and electrical systems for each elevator to ensure that one is always operational. He's hopeful his complaint will force property owners to make their buildings more accessible for others.
"If one elevator isn't working the other one should be working, even if it's during repairs," said Slimmon.

Reasonable accommodation

Slimmon said if nothing else, he should be reimbursed for his living expenses.
The City of Winnipeg said that passenger elevators are considered a convenience feature in buildings.
Charach said he wasn't sure if the human rights complaint will set a precedent, but did point to Ontario, where human rights complaints have led to decisions requiring owners to make changes to their buildings to accommodate people with disabilities.
In 2009, a disabled Burlington, Ont., man won a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario case requiring his condo corporation to pay for a wheelchair ramp to his front door and awarded him $12,000 in compensation for the loss of the right to be free from discrimination.
Another decision in 2010 saw an Ontario woman who was in a wheelchair and living in an apartment that was not accessible awarded more than $12,000 in compensation. The decision also required the building's owner to modify entrances and walkways, move the complainant to the building's main floor as soon as a suite became available, and reduce the complainant's rent until she could be moved to the main floor.
Charach said the Winnipeg rental market is filled with properties that were built before 1990, when expectations of accessibility weren't as high as they are for newly built properties.
He said for now, it is reasonable for owners to prove to tenants that they are doing everything they can to fix problems as quickly as possible, and that any changes to the concept of what reasonable accommodation means could drastically hurt property owners.
"If there were a decision … say, for the sake of argument, that you must, if you only have one elevator, ensure that it's never broken for more than two hours — that could bankrupt companies, because we might have to stock hundreds of thousands of dollars of parts in our building just in case we need one."

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    • Shawn Fawkes
    Sorry, but why would someone in that condition live in such a building? During a fire or other emergency, elevators aren't available and could even be dangerous... how would this person even get out of a burning building with no elevator?! 
    Should have filed a "common sense" complaint, instead.
    • 22 minutes ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    It is a real problem for citizens with disabilities to access services when there is for example no elevator in place. Imagine how it is to take a stroller and a POC (portable oxygen concentrator) up three flights of steps as we do every time I take my sister to the dentist because there is no elevator in the building. Why isn't there an elevator? I guess they don't need to have one present. 

    Then imagine how difficult it is to take my mum who is in her eighties anywhere in Edmonton where she has to find the shortest route into a building. Sometimes the accessible entries are far away from parking and so long for her. It's something citizens without disabilities will not understand until you are transporting family members with disabilities or are disabled yourself. 

    Modifications need to be made and planning/legislation implemented by government to ensure that the disabled citizen who already has so many challenges is not further impeded in living an inclusive life. Or really any sort of decent quality life.« less
    • 22 minutes ago
    Sam Weeks
    • Sam Weeks
    @Julie Ali 
     They could install one of those stair chairs at the dentist's if there's no room for an elevator. A couple K to make the place accessible is hardly undue hardship.
    • 7 minutes ago
    Andrew Farmer
    • Andrew Farmer
    @Julie Ali 

    It behooves one to select providers that are accessible for them. Seems silly to pick a provider on the third floor with no elevator access. One has to take some responsibility for ones situation. It is unrealistic to expect that every building has to be accessible for every person under every circumstance. And yes, I have family members who are disabled AND was a volunteer driver for seniors so I am very aware of the issues.
    • 6 minutes ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    @Sam Weeks I never knew this. I don't know why it is not being done.
    • 2 minutes ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    @Andrew Farmer This man has been our dentist for years and my handicapped sister was well when we started with him. 

    But of course you are right we could go to another person but my sister feels happy in this place. 

    Maybe it is worth the lugging of stuff up and down stairs to keep her happy.
    • 1 minute ago
    Pamela Choy
    • Pamela Choy
    If getting replacement parts is the reason for the prolonged out of service then there's not much the landlord can do. Maybe partial refund for that man's monthly rent/monthly common elements fee. Maintenance/repair situations happen all the time, it's not really a human rights issue if it affects everyone in the building.
    • 37 minutes ago
    Melvin Richardson
    • Melvin Richardson
    What a sense of entitlement this guy has! Perhaps he should have considered a ground floor unit?
    • 39 minutes ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    @Melvin Richardson You sure don't have any empathy do you? 
    Maybe he had no choice about the unit or maybe he didn't think about this problem. It's not something one considers to be a problem until this happens.
    • 20 minutes ago
    • EdBetterley
    London Housing has issues with their elevators and they never get fixed right.Low income people don't matter as these elevators are down are down very often in some buildings.Sadly some of the most vulnerable live in these buildings.
    • 1 hour ago
    David Peterson
    • David Peterson

    I doubt it is because the people are low income that they have poor maintenance, but more to the fact that a repair costs the same wether it is low income housing or a penthouse. 

    If the rent being paid is low then so will the maintenance. The landlord only has so much money to go around.
    • 45 minutes ago
    Shawn Pieterson
    • Shawn Pieterson
    Talk to the Syrians who were gassed with Sarin, then get back to me about what a real "human rights" complaint should look like.
    • 1 hour ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    @Shawn Pieterson Folks sure blame the Syrian refugees for everything don't they? Maybe this sort of targeting of a group of folks points to insecurities in those targeting these poor folks?
    • 19 minutes ago
    David Peterson
    • David Peterson
    Discrimination goes both ways. Front and center parking spots, best seating at sporting events, free flights for a companion....... 

    Either we all are treated the same or not. Discrimination is discrimination, even for those not with a disability.
    • 1 hour ago
    SarahRose Werner
    • SarahRose Werner
    @David Peterson - There's a huge difference between treating everyone equally vs treating them the same.
    • 41 minutes ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    @David Peterson This guy has a disability. When a person has a broken leg we understand that there are mobility problems that are temporary. In the case of folks with a permanent disability, they need changes in access to ensure they are able to be first class citizens. 

    Are you saying in your comment that providing changes to properties or even a functional elevator is special treatment and the able bodied citizens are being discriminated against? 

    This seems so odd. The parking close to shopping malls is to help out these folks with more challenges than we can ever understand. The other "perks" you speak about I am not familiar with but how does this represent unequal treatment? Why would able bodied citizens be discriminated against with the use of these practices? I think we're just helping those with a disability rather than punishing those who are able bodied.« less
    • 12 minutes ago
    Simon Kung
    • Simon Kung
    Is a shortage of elevator technicians like the ones outlined here for Toronto, a country wide problem?
    • 3 hours ago
    Simon Kung
    • Simon Kung
    Has anything changed since this 2011 story outlining Manitoba's problems with elevator inspections?
    • 3 hours ago
    Eva Frank
    • Eva Frank
    Since this is a condo building the owners are the unit holders, not Towers. The unit owners are going to be the ones footing the bill when it comes, as well as the costs for new elevators if that's what they think this building needs. Towers is most likely at the direction of the Condo Board and taking the grunt of the publicity. These parts aren't normal stock items either, they do take time to come in. It is unfortunate this happened, but I can tell you that Property Manager is not sitting back being neglectful. 

    As Unit Owners you are responsible for what happens in your building.« less
    • 4 hours ago
    Axel Flanders
    • Axel Flanders
    His complaint seems well justified, grounds for complaint and recourse. 
    But "human rights" ? 
    Such incidents being wrapped up in "human rights", devalue the concept, one of the greatest concepts introduced to mankind in the past century, but now, sets people rolling their eyes when they hear the term, because usually it is misused.
    • 5 hours ago
    David Peterson
    • David Peterson
    @Axel Flanders 

    Very true
    • 1 hour ago
    Julie Ali
    • Julie Ali
    @Axel Flanders Unfortunately, at least in Alberta citizens have no other place to complain to about problems that they encounter in the system. 

    In Alberta, they have a ton of advocates that we pay for that do not have any power to do anything. The health advocates, the seniors advocate, the mental health advocate, the Ombudsman's Office, the Protection for Persons in Care office are all powerless. They are there to provide the information to citizens that they can't do anything. So perhaps this is why this citizen is going to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. 

    Usually the Human Rights Commission doesn't do much either but at least you can file a complaint and be told that there isn't much that can be done.« less
    • 7 minutes ago
    Alex DeLarge
    • Alex DeLarge
    There isn't a single person in the world who wanted the elevators to break down. It's an unfortunate incident, and it's being rectified. 

    Are we going to launch human rights complaints whenever anything inconveniences us? Unless it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that negligence was a leading cause in this fiasco, I hope it gets thrown out. Unfortunately, I have no doubt the kangaroo courts of the Human Rights Commission will once again make a mockery of fairness and due process.
    • 5 hours ago
    Andrew Farmer
    • Andrew Farmer
    I'd just wait myself. Why go to all the trouble to leave. There was no danger in remaining in place. Stores will deliver, pharmacies will deliver.
    • 5 hours ago
    David Peterson
    • David Peterson
    @Andrew Farmer 

    Ture, but in the end it is his right so not he can sue anyone who makes him feel bad.
    • 1 hour ago
    Toba Gal
    • Toba Gal
    Hi Ray Peters, I am not agreeing or disagreeing with your comments, but as a side note, there is legislation called The Accessibility for Manitobans with Disabilities Act that might come into play, which could be where the challenge is coming from. I also live in the affected building at 77 Edmonton Street and am able bodied, but there are a number of condo units that were retrofitted and sold as accessibility units for persons in wheelchairs. On that basis, there might be more of an onus on the property mangers to ensure that the building is completely accessible. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.« less
    • 5 hours ago
    Chris Van Ihinger
    • Chris Van Ihinger
    We are pleased that our CBC is naming the buildings (in this case The Colonnade, a 12-storey building on Edmonton Street) and the culprit owners/operators (in this case Towers Realty Group). 

    We also urge our CBC to name the elevator manufacturer and the maintenance company that normally (or most recently) repaired the broken elevator.
    • 6 hours ago
    Greg Williams
    • Greg Williams
    So Charach wants any open market for elevator repairs! Let's see! I wonder would he fly on a plane after it has been serviced by someone from Joe's garage? I bet not!
    • 7 hours ago
    Ray Peters
    • Ray Peters
    I DO understand the MAJOR inconvenience, and potential threat to his safety, that the broken elevator forces him to live with. 

    But a 'human rights' complaint? Really? 

    In theory, a 'human rights' complaint should force some level of personal responsibility on the 'victim'. 

    If you KNOW that you are entirely incapable of navigating stairs from an upper-level unit, why on earth would you CHOOSE to live in such a unit with only ONE elevator? One would think that a reasonable, responsible person would see the potential drawback of such a situation. 

    Elevators are mechanical devices. They DO breakdown and/or require maintenance resulting in their being off-line. Sometimes, repairs might take days or longer. 

    It is NOT possible to absolutely guarantee uninterrupted service at ALL times. And it would not be fair or just to impose severe penalties on landlords when the inevitable breakdown occurs - unless rents are massively increased causing more caterwauling from the masses. 

    Sorry, but people have to take THE responsibility for their own CHOICES. Even if it means they cannot get into or out of their living quarters for a period due to KNOWN limitations. 

    The world is not - and cannot be made into - a place where everyone, regardless of physical or mental abilities, is absolutely equal. And it would be a fools errand to try.« less
    • 9 hours ago
    Dan Gullingham
    • Dan Gullingham
    @Ray Peters 

    The building actually has 2 elevators and they're both broken.
    • 6 hours ago
    Corey Zachedniak
    • Corey Zachedniak
    @Ray Peters 

    So if there is a fire in the building he should wait a week or more to getout?
    • 6 hours ago
    Frank summers
    • Frank summers
    @Ray Peters Just so you know there are 2 elevators in this building and they are both broken. It is an unusual event and I believe the landlord is doing his best but 10 days and still no fix? I can order a part from amazon and get it is 2-3 days and If I put I rush on it maybe even 1 day, 10 days and no service is poor business practice. The fault is certainly not with the tenants for choosing this building. The elevator repair company is providing substandard service. It may not be possible to guarantee uninterrupted service but it is fairly simple to provide better service than is currently being provided.« less
    • 5 hours ago
    Andrew Farmer
    • Andrew Farmer
    @Corey Zachedniak 

    I don't believe you are supposed to use an elevator when there is a fire in the building.
    • 2 hours ago
    Glen robert
    • Glen robert
    This problem and lack of concern is becoming too commonplace.
    • 13 minutes ago
    david kirby
    • david kirby
    I remember John Crosbie saying the Human Rights legislation guaranteed work for lawyers till the end of time and this is just one small example of what is going on now. I have sympathy for any disabled person, but surely common sense must enter into this. What happens if there is a fire? Standard procedure is the elevators shut down in most apartment buildings, or does this contravene the Human Rights code?
    • 15 minutes ago
    Charles Powroznik
    • Charles Powroznik
    I didn't see any pertinent answers in the property managers' representative's comments, just hypotheticals. "If" parts take a week...: is that the problem? Waiting for parts? The piece states the problem was with wiring. Are they waiting for wires? An electrician? Permits? Specifically, why the 9 day delay? 
     Showing a bill for after-hours service at another location is only to garner sympathy; it does not explain the delay. You we told about the problem last tuesday, and now it's next thursday. If you were the property owner, would you be happy with that level of service? As a consumer does it seem the landlord is engaged in due diligence?« less
    • 10 hours ago
    • BillHogan
    @Charles Powroznik 

    Previous reports suggested the electrical problem had damaged parts that operate the elevators. Those parts had to be ordered, from the USA I believe. 

    Often the parts required are hard to find in stock and must be manufactured.
    • 7 hours ago
    Andrew Farmer
    • Andrew Farmer

    It was on CJOB yesterday that the replacement equipment had to be manufactured out of the country. Then it had to be installed and inspected.

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