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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Orchard Park working towards fixing elevator

by Sylene Argent

Since mid-March, Orchard Park apartment in Essex Centre has been without an elevator as the structure had ceased to work.

Cheryl Janisse, the Property Administrator for the apartment complex, said nine members of the cooperative dwelling and three staff members have been helping some of the residents in need to carry groceries, get up and down the stairs, or get laundry done as needed. These “runners,” Janisse said, have been kept busy and helping all they can. Having volunteers close to the facility has been helpful as residents in need of assistance can buzz those willing and able to help.

Orchard Park is a six-flight facility with 45 units. As a cooperative, the residents are members of the facility.

Janisse said it is not known exactly when the new, costly part needed for the elevator will be ready to be installed. She said a large cylinder that helps the elevator go up and down has ceased to work. The cooperative, she added, is waiting on the part as it has to be custom made and is so large, it will need to be delivered in sections. Since it broke, it has taken some time for the cooperative to organize the fix. She hopes the new cylinder is installed as soon as possible.

Orchard Park is an adult only facility. Many of the residents are seniors and are active, Janisse said. When the elevator broke, she said a door-to-door poll was taken to gauge who would need assistance. She said one-third of the residents requested or needed help.

Janisse said Councillor Joe Garon has been involved with the situation.

In information Garon sent to the Essex Free Press regarding the situation, he noted Orchard Park housing co-ops do not have tenants and landlords. Instead, by living in a co-op, residents become a member and share voting rights with all residents, as well as, the responsibility of managing the building. He believes holding back rent until the situation is rectified would do nothing and would really mean holding back from themselves, and suing would mean suing themselves.

“The elevator being down is a huge concern, but the miscommunication going around on social media is adding fuel to the problem. People reporting on and commenting do not have their facts,” Garon wrote.

Both Garon and Janisse noted workers have been onsite working on the elevator. Garon continued that APEX, the property management company, issued a letter to the residents about the elevator on March 13, two days after the break down. The letter informed the residents of the situation. He said in the letter, APEX noted the timeline to fix the elevator would be at least seven to eight weeks. He commented that APEX had to still get quotes from three companies, look into insurance possibilities, look into financing, and get board approval, which took more time than expected.

He said another letter was issued on March 26, letting all the residents know that measures were being taken due to the severity of the repair. They also informed EMS, police, and fire of the situation, so they were aware in case of an emergency.

Garon noted work on the elevator actually began Monday, April 29. The contractor, due to the severity of the project, had to put together a crew to be dedicated to the repair for the time required, while still maintaining its other service contracts around Southwestern Ontario.

The cost to fix the elevator is expected to be in the six-figure range, he noted.

Garon said that even though this is not a municipal issue, he is trying to help the residents through communication with all involved.

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