Archive for October, 2015

Bad rentals! Greenwin, Sterling Karamar, Capreit, Starlight

Posted on October 26th, 2015 12 Comments

Over a year and a half ago I brought up some of the issues that we were experiencing with our apartment. In case you don’t remember, the 2 elevators had slowly been deteriorating and eventually stopped working altogether. No matter how many times we approached management about the issues, no matter how many times the TSSA issued “stop operations” orders, nothing but sloppy band-aid solutions were applied. It was only until the tenants got utterly fed up and collectively took the company to court that something got done. But the elevators were just one of the problems, the rest of which persist.

The management of the Startlight Investments property at the time was Greenwin Inc. which was subsequently switched to Sterling Karamar. At least that was the placation; the fact that almost none of the contact information had changed suggested that, indeed, little had changed. In fact, comparing the customer portals of Greenwin and Sterling Karamar shows a remarkable similarity.

This might be easy to dismiss until one looks at the corporate leadership of Sterling Karamar and Property Vista, the mutual customer portal shared with Greenwin. Property Vista’s CEO is Leonard Drimmer, formerly CEO of property management firm Transglobe, a company founded by Daniel Drimmer (no relation, I’m sure), CEO of Starlight. Okay, so Sterling Karamar and Property Vista are connected but where does Greenwin come into it? Well, our building manager has been kind enough to put the pieces together on his LinkedIn profile:

vorajee

How about that? Looks like Mr. Vorajee worked for Greenwin (the company “managing” 200 Wellesley during their massive fire), right before suddenly switching over to Sterling Karamar – right around the same time as Starlight made the switch from Greenwin to Sterling Karamar at our place. Mere coincidence, I’m sure.

I’m sure it’s equally coincidental that Capreit, where Asad was a “leasing specialist”, was acquired by Starlight. Yeah, sure. I’m equally dubious of Timbercreek’s proximity to Starlight but maybe I’m wrong there. Regardless, when the tenants described Starlight’s lack of action as a “shell game” during our court action, they were right. When Asad explained that he had no knowledge of our property’s problems before he took over, I was right to be skeptical. Besides, how does one become a property manager without knowing anything about the problems with the property that they’re managing?

Just to give you a taste of the services that these people expect us to put up with, we’re now into the 10th day without hot water; we’d probably still be waiting for them to just have a look if I didn’t let loose on them over the phone two Saturdays ago. Of course, Asad claimed that no one had complained and he had no idea! Sure.

Then there’s the problems with the stairwells — see how many you can spot:

nice :|

Although the graffiti’s a nice touch, the real problems are the banisters, slippery-paint stairs on all but 2 floors, and a complete lack of emergency lighting. When the elevators went out this was our only way up 18 flights of stairs. With a wheelchair it sucked. During the rain and snow it sucked more. When the power went out it sucked even more.

The superintended shrugs and walks away whenever these issues are brought up, and despite the continuous torrent of complaints he receives (according to him), he seems quite satisfied to keep his mouth shut and continue in his role. Perhaps it has something to do with the newly acquired BMW he’s been proudly buffing in the parking lot; quite a prize for a lowly super!

Then when we bring up these problems to management, their lackadaisical “fixes” (when they actually bother), leave a lot to be desired:

just don't fall!

Every level of the company claims ignorance of any of these issues. Instead of addressing them they insist that we use their portal to report them, after which they’re promptly ignored. For example, I currently have 16 open maintenance issues which have been sitting idle without any follow up for a week now (they kindly ask for up to 2 business days to set up an inspection). Some of the open issues include a busted bathtub faucet:

no water for you!

…water-damaged ceilings:

the least of our concerns

…no doubt as a result of the newly renovated roof which appears to be about as watertight as the newly renovated windows:

as long as it doesn't rain or snow...

…or the walls on which, contrary to the superintendent’s advice, sticking a piece of tape doesn’t fix the drafts:

not a great solution

Equally ineffective was their “solution” to a lack of hot water in our kitchen sink. For this they broke through the wall into the adjoining unit and connected our hot water to theirs. When the building actually has hot water the water pressure understandably sucks, but on the bright side our cats can squeeze through the hole and make unexpected visits to our neighbour, as can odours and drafts:

howdy, neighbour!

Based on this I think it’s doubtful that the rotting caulking, peeling paint, or crumbling balcony would be a high priority for them:

whatever

I haven’t even touched on the grossness in the basement laundry room, complete lack of security, and other problems throughout the building, but I’m sure you can imagine them at this point.

However, it would be unfair for me to claim that management aren’t at least aware of our presence in this building. Yeah, problems don’t get fixed, but they’re quick to let us know how concerned they are:

but it's worth it!

Third increasing in three years. Heart-warming.

But wait, there’s more:

well, if it's for THEM...

Funny, I recall choosing this place specifically because they didn’t require insurance, but the year-long lease that they refer to has long since expired anyways. Still, their honesty about how this is to help lower their insurance costs is refreshing and understandable; they don’t want us suing them for the inevitable destruction of our property as a result of their shoddy service and workmanship.

I’d be willing to be fair and say that we receive other communication from them but, aside from the occasional pamphlet asking us to log into Sterling Karamar’s portal, or flyer asking us to sucker someone else into renting in one of their buildings (for a $300 reward), the only news we currently have is in the landing to let us know that the hot water might be back on by the end of this week. Maybe. Oh, and the roof above the parking area may be “renovated”. Maybe. Next year.

We’re not exactly what you’d call loud or obnoxious neighbours (we’ve had one “party” since we’ve moved in, and that involved a few quiet drinks with a friend), and as you can tell we hold back on our complaints. All of the damages I’ve shown here were either present since we moved in about three years ago, or have developed as a result of daily wear and tear. I like to think that I’m reasonable both in terms of how long I expect things to last as well as how long it should take to fix them (or at least follow up). However, I’ve now had just about enough.

If you’re looking to rent in Toronto and you see properties either owned or managed by any of the companies I’ve rolled off, I would highly recommend that you avoid them.

“High-end rentals” indeed!

not terribly accurate

Filed under: B Sides, Patrick Bay, Pictures

Alarmed

Posted on October 25th, 2015 1 Comment

I had trouble finding a title for this post but I was left with a lingering feeling. Perhaps that was the idea.

Alartmed!

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

It doesn’t get any lower than this

Posted on October 25th, 2015 Be the first to comment

In fairness, they don’t offer proofreading services…

Lowest place in the city

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

Cardcapades

Posted on October 23rd, 2015 Be the first to comment

Random and arbitrary carding by police forces across Ontario will be illegal by the end of fall.

Yasir Naqvi, minister of community safety and correctional services, made the announcement during a debate Thursday where MPPs from across the province spoke out against carding. At the time they were considering a private member’s motion from an NDP MPP to ban random and arbitrary carding, also known as street checks.

Naqvi was asked what will happen if police forces do not comply with the ban or the other regulations his government will bring in.

“They will have no option but to comply with the regulation.”

So cops will now be required to make up bullshit reasons to justify their continued use of the practice and if they don’t they will “have no option”.

Problem solved!

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay

Are flu vaccines effective? Prognosis: negative.

Posted on October 22nd, 2015 Be the first to comment

It’s that time of year again when government rolls out the “get your flu shot!” propaganda under the usual auspices of “keeping everyone safe”.

Well, you know…government.

Now I know that there are questions about the safety of flu vaccines, some of which (especially those indicated for very young children) contain thimerosal as a preservative, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

flu1 flu2

There are anecdotal indications in the news, and of course I have my own personal experiences with not contracting seasonal bugs while those around me (who proudly got the jab) got repeatedly sick, but these are hardly objective. So for this post I wanted to do a more thorough analysis using the statistics being provided by the very people making the claim that the flu shot keeps you safer: https://www.ontario.ca/page/flu-facts

On the same page that touts the flu shot as “the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from the flu”, the “Flu Facts” page links to Google’s flu tracker to provide yearly data on the infectious disease: http://www.google.org/flutrends/about/

The flu vaccine wasn’t widely promoted by the government until 2008 but has been promoted for kids since 2004. These dates, along with historical population numbers, provide a good basis to work with.

Here are the results of that work:

Date Total Recorded Canadian Influenza Infections Population of Canada Infection rate per population Average per period
2004-12-26 77828 32048000 0.2428%  
2005-12-25 98859 32359000 0.3055%  
2006-12-31 97598 32723000 0.2983%  
2007-12-30 85821 33115000 0.2592%  
2008-12-28 84826 33506000 0.2532% 0.2718%
2009-12-27 141118 33630000 0.4196%  
2010-12-26 67855 34010000 0.1995%  
2011-12-25 73778 34340000 0.2148%  
2012-12-30 101581 34750000 0.2923%  
2013-12-29 104231 35160000 0.2964% 0.2845%
2014-12-28 121388 35540400 0.3415% 0.2940%

I split up the values into two ranges (pre-2008 and post-2008) for which complete data sets were available. For example, although flu data is available for 2003, it’s only for a portion of that year so I excluded it. Similarly, since 2015 isn’t finished yet, I left it out. The above numbers are condensed from a larger data set which you can download as an Excel spreadsheet (.xls / .xlsx), or an Open Office / Libre Office spreadsheet (.ods), and you can always recreate the calculations from the sources I linked to above.

Of course it would be a wild leap to say that you are more likely to contract the flu because of the introduction of the flu vaccine (though this may actually be true), I think that this result demonstrates that the inverse claim is also dubious. In fact, it looks like the trend for influenza infections is actually climbing rather than receding.

What’s unfortunate is that many people, often the same ones that uphold objective science and reject theology, are willing to entirely and instantly reject any such claims when they’re contrary to those pushed forward by the “authorities”. Sounds like dogmatic religion to me, but what do I know, I must just be a bitter anti-vaxxer.

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures, Why I'm Right

And the winner is…

Posted on October 21st, 2015 1 Comment

I know that it’s basically impossible to prove at this point, but I was 100% correct about the results of this week’s election:

Government won!

Real Change No!

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

So many feels

Posted on October 20th, 2015 Be the first to comment

TCL’s search stats suggest that I may have hit a nerve…

searches

Filed under: Dispatches, Patrick Bay, Pictures

How did I vote?

Posted on October 19th, 2015 Be the first to comment

I didn’t.

Instead of spending an hour to stuff a flimsy paper ballot into a flimsy paper box that’s manned by a well-meaning geriatric every four years and then using the remaining time exercising my “right” to wallow and complain when things inevitably go wrong, I choose to spend 99.998% of my time (yeah…do the math) making an actual difference. Trying to, anyways.

To put it bluntly, if you voted for any politician then it’s you who have no “right to complain” (as statists are fond of blathering), when the government that you implicitly “granted” the ability to fuck you over, fucks you over. I mean, you actually went out of your way to do that!

voting-the-slaves-suggestion-box

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures, Why I'm Right

Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesy Cakes

Posted on October 14th, 2015 1 Comment

Uncle Tetsu's, Bay and Dundas

Today I got a chance to try the headliner at the perennially busy (except this morning), Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake.

Uncle Tetsu's Cheesecake

The cakes are a not unpleasant crossbreed between an angel food cake or maybe a soufflé, and a mildly flavoured cheesecake. With the exception of the company name, there wasn’t a lick of English anywhere on the packaging so I couldn’t tell what actually went into it. Allergies? That’s your problem.

The $10 cake should be enough for at least two people, and the $2.50 cupcake-like madeleines are a good alternative if you’re not willing to make the investment. I found both treats tasty and I’d probably get seconds if the hankerin’ hit, but despite the gushing adoration some people are heaping on it, you won’t catch me waiting in a line up for what comes across as essentially a sponge cake with a cream-cheesy taste.

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures

Not so mobile

Posted on October 14th, 2015 Be the first to comment

Public phones, Beverley and Dundas

Filed under: Patrick Bay, Pictures