Westcourt Residents Still Searching for Answers

AM800-NEWS-WESTCOURT-FIRE-NOVEMBER-2019

Displaced residents from the Westcourt apartment building in downtown Windsor are coming together to try and figure out what's next.

A fire broke out in the basement of the building at 99 Chatham St. E. on November 12, causing the evacuation of the building. Residents were temporarily put up in the WFCU Centre, then hotel rooms, but as of December 5, they're now on their own.

A group of those residents have already met three times, with around 90 people showing up to the University of Windsor's School of Creative Arts in downtown Windsor Saturday morning.

Resident and group spokesperson James White says a letter was sent out from the building owner saying they would not be paying for rooms anymore.

He says the letter didn't offer any more information.

"When are we going home? Can you survive the next two weeks? Can you survive the next two-months? When is the city going to tell us what's going on? When is the Westcourt management going to give us a date? Will the commercial residents move back in before the residential tenants," he asked. "There are a lot of questions we have and there's, unfortunately, not very many answers."

White says the questions are piling up.

"We don't know who's going to move back first. We don't know if the electrical is going to be able to handle everyone cooking and cleaning and turning on their heat in the winter," he says. "We don't know how fast the building inspector, who works for the city, is going to be able to do his tasks. So you ask what questions? People were asking questions today that we couldn't answer."

White says the group has steadily grown over the past month.

"The first meeting of anything, people show up and we don't know if anything is going to happen but we don't have everyone," he says. "We have a person's contact right now that is homeless. I don't know exactly where he's staying. He was very embarrassed about it and I think that's the thing that's hard for people to understand."

According to city officials, the power is temporarily back on and elevators are running, but the contractor and insurance company are waiting for a report from an industrial hygienist, which isn't expected until December 13.

White says the group will continue to meet weekly and has started a GoFundMe page to help the most vulnerable residents displaced by the fire.

A class action suit has already been launched by Strosberg, Sasso, Sutts LLP.