650 Parliament tenants to begin return March 2

The apartment building at 650 Parliament Street is seen here in this file photo.

It's been a long wait for tenants of 650 Parliament St. the 23-storey highrise that was gutted because of a massive electrical fire in August 2018. 

But now the first tenants will re-enter starting March 2nd, according to building management spokesperson Danny Roth. 

"I don't think any of us are going to relax or even smile until our very last resident is able to return, but on that day we'll all be breathing a sign of relief," he said. 

The re-entry will begin with the top two floors the week of March 2nd, followed by the next two floors the week after and so on, until the last residents are expected by mid-May. 

Roth said the rent for the 1,500 tenants will be the same as it was when they had to leave and they won't have to start paying the first day back. 

"Regardless of where your return date falls within the month, rent will not be charged until the 1st of the following month," he said. 

The fire in the building's basement caused significant damage, with Roth saying the total cost to get it completely refurbished is around $70 million. 

About $15 million was spent in financial assistance to tenants and it will have been 20 months from the time the fire happened to when the last tenant is expected back in. 

"Certainly there was a lot of pressure from tenants, particularly from local politicians and even from the media to try and give residents a sense of when they would be back," he said. "We were always reluctant to do that." 

"There's no doubt that in the early days, nobody ever anticipated a 16, 17-month process," he said. 

The tenants are being told to contact the management's response centre within seven days of their floor's designated return week, so that they can get a move-in time.