$100,000 fine for TCHC after Scarborough seniors' home fire 'nothing,' victim's daughter says

July 17, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

After his parents were caught in a deadly fire at their seniors' home last year, Melford Roberts spent hours frantically looking for them inside Scarborough hospitals. It wasn't until the next morning that his sister was told by police that both their mother and father had died after being trapped in a hallway inside the burning building.

"The way their lives were lost, it wasn't easy. I thought they would be in a hospital because of minor smoke inhalation or something," Mr. Roberts said. "There were many times when we were rough, poor and never had anything but they always did their best and I couldn't have asked for better parents."

Charles and Hyacinth Roberts were two of the four people who died in a fire at a building belonging to Toronto Community Housing Corporation on Feb. 5, 2016. The corporation pleaded guilty on Thursday at a hearing to one of three charges relating to the incident on 1315 Neilson Rd. and accepted the maximum fine of $100,000.

"It's all a well-planned strategy, for something so major they had to admit they were at fault, it was their building and in a way they've figured out the easy way out," Mr. Roberts said. "I still feel very shocked, I still hear my sister calling and telling me the news, it's fresh in my memory."

The fire started in three combustible chairs located on the top floor of the five-storey building, filling the corridors with thick and toxic black smoke and trapping residents inside.

TCHC admitted on Thursday that it failed to implement an approved fire-safety plan at the home but its lawyer, Graeme Hamilton, said the agency was not at fault for causing the fire.

"Neither the specific charge nor the agreed statements of facts alleged that the deficiencies in the implementation of the fire-safety plan caused or contributed to the fire or a loss of life, injuries or damage to the building sustained as part of that fire," he told reporters after the hearing.

In the aftermath of the fire, three charges were laid against the corporation for violating the fire code. The three charges included: failing to ensure combustible material was not accumulated in areas where people exit, failing to train staff in fire safety and failing to implement a fire safety plan.

Read more: $100,000 fine for TCHC after Scarborough seniors' home fire 'nothing,' victim's daughter says