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Potential industry crisis is highlighted as plans for more high rises develop.

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The tallest building in the Queen Street development in Toronto (right); design by Page+Steele/IBI Group

Canada’s Elevator Availability Called “Crisis”

The Canadian Press published a report in July after investigating the poor service availability of elevators across Canada. Though some problems are blamed on more elevators (such as Ontario’s 10% increase in installations over the past five years), the source states “insiders” point to aging equipment and structural issues. Last year, in Ontario alone, firefighters responded to 4,461 entrapment calls. That makes an average of more than a dozen a day and double the number from 2001. Among cities, Toronto led the way last year with 2,862 elevator-rescue calls to 911. Next was Montreal with 1,532 calls and Vancouver (in 2014) with 428.

Rob Isabelle of KJA — Vertical Transportation Consultants said, “I don’t think we’re heading toward a crisis, I believe we’re already there. If we look at the reliability of a large number of pieces of equipment, it’s really the worst it’s ever been.” He told the source that “companies have been in a race to the bottom in their efforts to grab market share.” Isabelle compared the service maintenance route of approximately 30 years ago, when a mechanic would service 35-45 elevators for approximately CAD$1,000 (US$761) per elevator per month, with today, when that same contract might be worth only CAD$600 (US$456) with each technician responsible for 100 elevators.

Likening it to a “downward spiral,” Isabelle said, “Service technicians are getting loaded up more and more, having less time to do preventive maintenance. The less preventative maintenance you do, the more problems you’re going to have.” Compounding the problem is older buildings, in which parts and technicians familiar with the aging equipment are either hard to find or nonexistent. Approximately 1,550 of Ontario’s 18,000 residential-building elevators are more than 50 years old, and another 10,000 are 25-50 years old.

As concerns safety, the source stated eight people were “permanently injured,” and another 119 were “slightly hurt” in Ontario elevators last year. Such injuries have been rising by 6% a year for the past eight years.

Development Poised to Transform Toronto Thoroughfare

Toronto officials have approved the first of four buildings proposed along an empty stretch of downtown Queen Street by St. Thomas Developments, Urban Toronto reported. A 29-story building on the north end of the property is poised to take shape first, intended to be joined by 57-, 29- and 33-story structures. Initially, the 57-story building resembled Hertzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard (ELEVATOR WORLD, March 2015) in New York City with a stepped, Jenga-like upper portion, but now has taken on a more uniform, rectangular appearance. The designer is Page+Steel/IBI Group Architects, and the project is set to include significant public space and retail.

Edmonton’s Tallest Residential Building Greenlighted

What will become the tallest residential building in Edmonton, Canada, at 45 stories was given the green light by city officials, despite opposition from residents who oppose Emerald Tower’s height, lack of affordability and design, Skyrise Cities reported. Regency Developments is building the condominium structure on Jasper Avenue, and has agreed to include US$154,332 in community upgrades and a colorful, illuminated “art wall” to hide a parking garage facing Jasper. Regency plans to list 5% of the units at 85% of the list price, making them “affordable.”

Toronto Weston Village Apartment Tower Underway

A 30-story apartment tower, new public space and local hub for the Artscape arts festival are planned for a parking lot north of Toronto’s Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue intersection. The John Street site will be developed through a partnership of the Rockport Group, City of Toronto, Toronto Parking Authority and Artscape. Ground has been broken on the project. Urban Toronto reports the Graziani + Corazza-designed tower will bring 370 rental units and join a loose cluster of mid-to-late 20th-century high rises. Completion is slated for 2018.

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