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August 17, 2009
Residents of 2 Secord Avenue thank City staff on the one-year anniversary of the evacuation
On July 20, 2008, an explosion and fire at 2 Secord Avenue resulted in the evacuation of about 900 tenants from 293 apartment units and 22 townhouses. Residents were able to return to their homes after a challenging seven-week period. Now, after a year of rebuilding, residents are holding a reunion and appreciation barbeque on August 18th at Secord Community Centre.

The event is being organized by the 2 Secord Tenants' Association, which has invited current and former residents of the building, as well as more than 130 City staff from divisions that provided emergency response and long-term support for residents.

Romelda Morson, Chairperson of the 2 Secord Tenants' Association said, "This barbeque allows us to show what our words can not fully express - how thankful we are for all that each one of them did - and so we are reuniting everyone from 2 Secord, new and old tenants alike, with all staff, so we can share a new experience together and show our gratitude." The tenant association was founded as a result of the shared experience among residents of last year's traumatic event. Even though the repairs to the building site are not yet 100% complete, we could not let this summer pass without this public expression of thanks and the opportunity to reunite everyone who lived through it a year ago. The Association hopes it will be just what everyone needs to begin really healing and moving forward to put the events of July 20, 2008 behind them."

The City co-ordinated an immediate response on July 20, 2008 to provide crucial support for the displaced tenants, many of whom were forced to flee without wallets, identification or personal belongings. An evacuation centre was set up at Secord Public School on the day the fire occurred, where tenants were able to get the information and support they needed, including temporary shelter for themselves and their pets, meals and counselling. Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Police Service, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, Toronto Emergency Medical Services, Toronto Employment and Social Services, Toronto Children's Services, Toronto Transit Commission, Strategic Communications, Toronto Animal Services, and Toronto Public Health along with community partners - such as the Salvation Army, Canadian Red Cross and the Toronto Humane Society--provided a number of services for tenants who needed assistance.

"One year later, it's important to look back on what the residents of 2 Secord have been through and recognize their strength and determination. I'm proud that the City was able to support the residents through that difficult time. Their ability to grow stronger as a community through this experience is commendable," said local Councillor Janet Davis, Ward 31, Beaches East-York.

At the evacuation centre, which was staffed 24/7 for the first 11 days, the City provided support for residents for the entire time they were out of their homes. 185 families who had no where else to go during that time were accommodated in hotels. Other services that the City provided during the seven weeks included:
* 277 one-time emergency assistance cheques were issued in accordance with provincial legislation to help tenants purchase basic necessities, including food, hygiene products, and clothing
* 5,870 adult TTC tokens and 2116 children's tickets were distributed
* Over 10,000 meals were provided
* 18,328 food vouchers were distributed
* Firefighters rescued 130 pets including dogs, cats, turtles, gerbils, birds and a snake. Most were sheltered either in the evacuation centre or with Animal Services.
* Firefighters also retrieved 39 medications for tenants.

The City continued to update tenants by communicating through regular newsletters, phone calls and web updates and as part of the City's emergency response. Torontonians, both individuals and corporations, generously donated over $54,000 in cash and vouchers, which was distributed to tenants and the 2 Secord Tenants' Association in the months following the fire. A list of corporate sponsors can be found at

Once the Ontario Fire Marshal completed the on-site investigation into the cause of the fire in mid-August, the building was turned over to the property owner, who was responsible for making the necessary repairs and ensuring all building and safety requirements were met.

The City of Toronto announced on August 29, 2008 that staff had concluded their final inspection of the property and approved occupancy for the apartment building. Tenants were able to return to their units to start the process of cleaning up and then begin moving back in.

The 2 Secord Reunion and Appreciation barbeque will be held on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m at the Secord Community Centre in the school yard (enter off Barrington Ave.). Media are invited to attend this event.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Patricia Trott, Strategic Communications, 416-392-8937,



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