Residents Heated Up as Cornwall Housing Nixes Window Air Conditioners MAY 21, 2015

Jamie & FitzyCORNWALL Ontario –   As many regular CFN viewers know, we don’t just cover the news, but we become active in a story and have been known to advocate for our community.

I was alarmed and disturbed to hear from several residents of Cornwall Housing units who have been threatened with termination of their leases over the new Air Conditioning policy.

Any window units placed above the ground floor are now in violation.

Peggy Fulton from Cornwall Housing spoke with CFN citing two incidents of units falling from windows, but all residents are forced to purchase renters insurance which usually includes at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage.

The tenants also pay their own electricity.   The are being offered zero interest financing for six months to cover the purchase of portable units, but these run for nearly four times the cost of your standard window unit.  Families have as many as three or four units.   One resident shared that they bought two of the portable units, but when both were on their breakers would flip off.

Could Cornwall Housing’s board forget the financial demographics of their clients?  Many already own their window units.  Should they really be forced to purchase new ones?


Here is the insurance document from Cornwall Housing.

ch insCFN phoned other area housing agencies and in Ottawa for example tenants have to go through a process of asking permission to place an air conditioner in a window, but that is a process and essentially in Ottawa they simply give instructions on the process and include brackets.

CH ac 1

Here is an interesting piece about units falling in NYC.  It should be noted that NY’s population is a lot larger than Cornwall’s and has many more tall buildings per capita.

For Cornwall to have two units fall in one year is an issue, but this policy is clearly not the answer as we’ve seen days of over 30 degrees C in Cornwall this May alone.   It becomes a health issue, especially for Seniors.

I emailed Ms Fulton with the following:

Hi Peggy,

I am going to officially ask Cornwall Housing to temporarily halt your Air Conditioning Policy for 90 Days starting June 1, 2015.
At that point I’d like Cornwall Housing to take feedback from its residents and the community at large regarding your policy which many find punitive and a health concern, especially for seniors.
If you don’t want properly installed air conditioning units then it is up to Cornwall Housing to provide reasonable alternatives.  We’re talking about seniors and some of the weakest people in our society.  The stress alone that many are feeling now is not acceptable.
In our chat this morning you mentioned financing, but frankly those on fixed incomes don’t have a spare $500, $1,000, or more if they need multiple units, even with zero financing.
I would also like to make a presentation to your board next week on behalf  of some of the residents and community on why this absurd policy which doesn’t exist in Kingston or Ottawa nearby needs to be revised before someone gets sick or dies.
Thank you,
Jamie Gilcig  


The board of Cornwall Housing meets next Thursday.  In the meanwhile you can contact the three city councilors that sit on its board, Elaine MacDonald, Carilyne Hebert, and Brock Frost.    Ms Hebert and Ms MacDonald have not responded to email query.  (Mr. Frost has asked Cornwall Police to keep me from contacting him with valid questions about issues such as this.  Rather than fight with our officers of the law I am just going to share this so poor Brock can’t say he wasn’t asked. )

Some common sense solutions would be for AC units to be inspected to ensure proper installation.

If Cornwall Housing feels $1M liability isn’t enough in Ontario then perhaps a group rider or group insurance policy that tenants that wish to have AC units could pay a fee for spread out over the renters?

Hopefully the board will embrace the need to focus on overall safety.  Far more people die of dehydration and effects of heat each and every year than by falling air conditioners.

What do you think dear CFN viewers?  Is this freaking nuts or what?  You can post your comments below and please sign our petition.

We will be updating this story as more information becomes available.


Our Petition module is having an issue and not displaying signatures. We are resolving to solve this problem.  Please sign as they are being recorded in the database.  We apologize for any confusion.

(Please note the petition updates every few hours so your signature will not appear instantly)

 [emailpetition id=”15″]




  1. Jamie I had a good laugh when you said that NYC’s population is larger than Cornwall LOL LOL. ROLF! There are many small cities with populations much bigger than Cornwall and Ottawa is 1 million people and NYC is at least 10 million if not more. Holy Cow you need help Jamie. Cornwall is very backwoods like the Appalachians. LOL LOL. ROLF! Many renters do not have insurance and that is stupid but those low renters cannot afford the insurance. We pay insurance here in Ottawa and we paid while in Cornwall as well. We had one of those window A/C’s and one of the stupid supers in Cornwall destroyed our AC and we said never again would we get another. I have a lot of allergies to AC and prefer fans. Here in Canada it is not that needed not like countries whose heat goes into the 50’sC in temperature. I much prefer fans than anything.

  2. You never know when an air conditioner will fall out of a window and end your life while you’re walking down a sidewalk.

  3. I have been finding Cornwall Housing to be very constricting with Low Housing renters and at times extremely rude. The fact is renters have rights and many times Cornwall Housing managers seem to forget that fact. The idea of not only having to buy insurance to cover each apartment liabilities but then to be forced into extra costs that many of the renters can’t afford if unfair and against the law. The fact is if your not destroying the apartment or failing to pay your rent should your landlords be able to just kick you out surely it wouldn’t be fair. The government put these low cost housing in place because some families could not afford the normal cost of housing and now might be forced to endure extreme heat waves in order to continue having affordable housing. I mean it makes one wonder why Cornwall Housing Managers feel normal tenant landlord regulations don’t apply to them? I would say if Cornwall Housing wishes to eliminate Window Air Units why they haven’t looked into refitting units with central air to ensure comfort during extreme heat waves that could result in health issues caused by forcing tenants that can’t afford the extra costs and not counting the lost investment in the tenants current air conditioning units. The fact is using threats of rescinding housing when tenants are not causing damage and paying their rent isn’t fair treatment and the landlord tenant board should step in to in form Cornwall Housing that this unfair treatment of tenants should be stopped.

  4. That is very inconsiderate of CAHC. If the renters have insurance I don’t see an issue. Renter’s insurance is fairly inexpensive, $20 to $40/month depending on several factors.

    Those “portable” AC units are anything but portable. And I find they do not do a very good job at all. We’ve had them on two occasions.

    AC is not needed in Canada? That’s news to me.

    Fans are okay, but all they do is push the air. If the air is warm or hot then you get warm or hot air pushed at you.

  5. it’s only nuts till the air conditioner falls on someone head,then everyone would agree with the policy. So before this happens,it should be a no brainer.

  6. This is getting ridiculous. First off, people live in housing for a reason. We can’t afford these portable units. Also, housing says there and no water reservoirs to empty with them and that they can be moved from room to room which is not the case. These portable units even come with a special hose to empty the water reservoirs and in the manual it explains how with a bowl or bucket. But if there are people who don’t know how or who are listening to housing saying there is no reservoirs and a water leak problem occurs than housing is gonna be furious and then they will want to charge people for damages and if the units break do to not being emptied at all or properly they will not want to replace and expect tenants to buy another. Wlso, many people like myself already have 2/3 smaller air conditioners that we have always used and put in ourselves without problems. Now they don’t even want us using the brackets that come with the air conditioners and expect us to buy theirs (housings) ) for $27.00. This is getting out of control as since this season has started we have received almost a letter weekly with new rules and regulations to be followed and if we don’t then there is threat of fees or eviction. Many tenants will not speak for fear of beIng evicted. It’s getting out of control considering they have many things that need to be fixed or dealt with first. I would really like to talk to to Jamie Gilcig who wrote this. Hopefully, people sign the petition and start standing up for themselves.

  7. I can see what the woman at Cornwall Housing Authority is talking about and when we owned our house we also had liability insurance but we don’t have that kind of thing in our present tenant insurance. The owner of our building has a huge sign outside of the parking garage saying that he is not responsible for damages and losses. If an AC happens to fall on someone then the town is liable. I fully agree with the woman at Cornwall Housing.

  8. Some of the newer “portable” AC units do not have water reservoirs.

  9. No AC’s are not essential at all here in Canada and if you want to know what real heat and humidity is go to the southern US during the summer, to Sydney Australia and such places including my husband’s Lebanon and you will know what real heat and humidity is all about. My daughter went to visit my husband’s nephew in Los Angeles back in 1994 and they didn’t have AC and she lived through the heat very well back then. All you need to do is to take a shower and you feel refreshed. We cannot BBQ on balconies here in Ottawa including condos – only electric BBQ is permitted. The fire department has mighty strict regulations. I stick up with the woman at Cornwall Housing Authority.

  10. *Jules* If your rights, any one of them.. were to be hindered tomorrow, you would be fighting it.. or at the very least ‘questioning’ it!
    In this case, it is our Rights as Tenants being pissed on. WE PAY OUR RENT. WE FOLLOW THE RULES. and we should have the right to CHOOSE if we want to have air conditioned homes OR not! This stigma that comes from living in so called ‘Social Housing’ is ridiculous! So because you are Cornwall’s down & out, needy, single moms & dads, the working poor, the disabled or elderly and you’ve been so fortunate to hap upon such a handout as Cornwall’s Housing, ‘Common Rights’ or in this case ‘Renter’s Rights’ should no longer apply?? Shame on you all, for thinking as such!
    And for your information – I pay Renter’s Insurance, just as I always have. My insurance covers liabilities INSIDE MY HOME & OUTSIDE should anyone be on the receiving end of my flying air conditioner. With that said, A PROPERLY INSTALLED AIR CONDITIONER SHOULD POSE NO HARM… if there was any FAT chance THEY WOULDN’T BE PERMITTED ON THE MARKET FOR SALE period.

  11. Author

    Kimberly it is a disturbing story; almost as disturbing as a local facebook group that killed a link to this story because a few of the admins behave like they are functionally mentally handicapped. If it had been the exact same story word for word, but from another outlet the comments would have been different.

    These people are who hold this city back. Their utter ignorance combined with a pettiness hold people back from standing up for what needs to be stood up for in Cornwall. It’s very very sad.

  12. Very well put Kimberley.

    And to those who think AC isn’t needed in Canada I say “pfffffffffffft.”

  13. Kimberley I have rented many places in Cornwall “FOR MARKET VALUE” and whether you pay the full rent or the one geared to income or low income housing you are never free. When we owned our home in Cornwall in the north end we weren’t free either there was always problems with neighbors. When we rented in a few low rise buildings in Cornwall our problem was mainly with “management” who had their entire family working there and we were so mighty quiet like we are here in Ottawa but the racism was something else and I wish that I contacted the owner back then who lived in Montréal to tell him what was going on in Cornwall. Where I am living now is the very best place that we have ever rented and much better than when we owned and I swear to you and all it is the best and we were here now for 11 years and going on 12 years. No place is perfect nor complete and always something. Yes when you live in low income housing you meet up with a great deal more problems and we have plenty of those low incomes near where we live and throughout Ottawa and Cornwall is still ok compared to what you would experience here in Ottawa. Here in Ottawa gangs form in those units and nothing but drugs and shootings if you follow the news on what is going on and my area of town is one of the worst because of the Arabs, Somalis and such people who live together in what I call ghettos. Believe me you are all ok so far and it is to keep it as quiet as possible. No place is complete anywhere you live. We are paying a lot of money to rent here and our rent goes up every year. The cost of electricity is going up and is going through the roof and Cornwall Housing is watching its pennies and in this case very big dollar figures that keep on rising. Many businesses can not afford to keep going and many people can no longer afford their homes. Just be thankful that you have a roof over your head.

  14. It seems the winter would have been a better time to solve this problem instead of now when the hot weather is upon us. Dehydration is a big problem for vulnerable people. Surely the air conditioners can be put in the windows safely and inspected, so there won’t be any problems. I live on a high floor of an apartment building, windows facing the west. It gets the afternoon and evening sun and it is HOT. Fans do nothing, so I need an AC, as do others even higher up.

  15. ‘Just be thankful you have a roof over your head’
    Don’t stand up for what’s ‘right’, shut up & just follow the herd.

  16. I happen to be one of those people who have a high tolerance for heat, and indeed enjoy the hot weather. But I know a lot of people who suffer badly when the temperatures go up. It’s not just a comfort issue. It’s also a health issue.
    Are their any stats available re the numbers of Cornwall residents injured or killed annually by falling air conditioners?

  17. Author

    zero to date Furtz

  18. Our apartment faces south and we get full sunlight and the heat and are on the top floor of a highrise building. If we were below we would feel the heat even more and we like the heat except for my daughter who has hypothyroid. Thyroid runs in my husband’s family and two people in Sydney Australia (husband’s family) afflicted with the disease and their heat in Australia runs into the 50°C and higher and they don’t use AC. We use fans here when it is hot (Canada is not that hot) if you go to the southern US or to Australia or the Middle East and Asian countries, S. America then yes you will feel real heat. You have to drink plenty of water (not soft drink or sugared drinks but water) and dress cool like and shower and you will feel ok. There has to be very good reasons for banning AC’s in the Cornwall Housing Units and they have their rules. I have to follow the rules here in my apartment building and we pay full rent and other tenants have to do the same or the owner will put people out and he has done that on many occasions. I have owned two houses before and I know the expenses that people have to face and it is no picnic at all. The landlord is not depriving people of something that is important but something might have happened that we all don’t know about or it can be their insurance company who is telling them what to do. Here in my building we have cameras all over the place even outside and the insurance company made the owner put them up even in the parking garage. If the owner did not abide by this then he could not get insured. Elevators are always under inspection and it is the law so as to have them operate in safety.

  19. As the tenants pay their own electricity and have renter’s insurance I don’t see what CAHC as a problem. If the AC units are properly installed what is the issue? They (CAHC) could do as Ottawa has done; have the tenants ask for permission, then have the window units inspected (which would take perhaps 2 minutes) to be sure they’re properly installed and anchored. To me this is CAHC just trying to push people around because they are in social housing. If this isn’t an issue in Ottawa and NY why is it an issue here?

  20. Author

    Hugger we’re being very careful as most of the residents I’ve interviewed are fearful of punitive action and their lease terminations.

  21. Jamie I understand fully well what tenants are going through and it isn’t the tenants fault at all whatsoever. If you know about insurance which I know you sure do the insurance companies jack up peoples insurance at every whim. When you own a house the insurance company wants to know what your house is heated with, if you have central air, a heat pump and all kinds of things that I would be going on like the bunny on the Everyready battery. Cornwall Housing most likely is being strangled by the insurance company and they have to go along with that policy or else. When we had an AC in Cornwall one of the supers put it in for us and said that all was well. One day that same dumb super just happened to be walking below where our AC was and he said his huge mistake. The machine was put on brackets but he did it all wrong. Here in my building there are some people who use those portable AC’s and they pay extra money to the owner to operate such a thing. I don’t know if this is going to happen here in Ottawa like what is happening in Cornwall. I understand everyone’s frustration over this and other things and yes people I too would be protesting as well but you have to find out more on this subject from the head of Cornwall Housing. Jamie make an appointment to see that person in charge and find out the full scoop about what is going on and let us all know what you found out.

  22. Author

    Jules a wise person once said to study something before commenting. I’m not sure you’re aware of that quote. Did you actually read the story?

    The only parties at blame are Cornwall Housing and its board. Not the insurance company. An insurance company will insure you just about for anything if you pay the fee.

  23. Landlords seeking revenge on tenants who talk? Say it isn’t so.

  24. Jamie I have something here for you and for the people who read your paper. I want to show you what is going on here in Ottawa in my area of the city. I live not far from these apartments and townhouses but on the other side further east. I was inside both the high rise apartments and a few of the townhouses and they used to be owned by Minto. When the older folks of Minto died the children inherited them and let these places go to waste. These apartments have sunken living rooms and doors separating the rooms (that is what it was like when I visited friends). Now the townhouses and apartments are litered with mold, cockroaches, bedbugs and you name it. People have been protesting for some time now and even well before the date of this video. Nothing has been done and most tenants are minorities, others on disabilities, and welfare. It is the 6th corporation that has purchased these units since we came back to Ottawa in 2004. The problem is everywhere. I want your readers to see this. THIS IS NOT OTTAWA HOUSING BUT TENANTS ARE LOW INCOME RENTING FROM A PRIVATE CORPORATION.

    Ottawa Acorn Heron Gate Healthy Homes Action March 11, 2015

    Our supers used to live in one of the high rise apartments (not the one that you can see in the picture here) and he said that it was unbelievably dirty and needed plenty of work. I visited back then 30 years ago and they were very nice places to live. My daughter’s “brownie leader” lived in one of the townhouses and so did a few of her classmates here in Ottawa. Today I am petrified going through that area.

  25. The video doesn’t exist.

    And if it’s Heron Gate those units have had problems for years. The problem with cockroaches is they have to fumigate ALL the units, not just the ones the bugs are visible in. If you don’t do all the units in a townhouse row you don’t get all the bugs and they reappear. The same goes for apartment buildings.

  26. Hugger you are absolutely right on. For years Heron Gate has had problems with bugs and mold and yes the only way that you can eradicate the problem is to spray all units. The bugs will go from one unit to another if this is not dealt with. In past years when we lived in Ottawa those townhouses and apartments were inhabited by some of our executives in the federal government, our friend Penny and her husband lived there after they sold their house and then bought another. Today the place is not good at all. I went downtown with my daughter this afternoon and we went by the Ottawa Housing in our area and the one in Cornwall is a great deal cleaner. AC is not a big problem folks there is a great deal worse out there believe me when I tell you that. Heron Gate is terribly troubled with gang problems as well as Ottawa Housing if you have been following the news. Right where those townhouses are in the pictures were gun battles and cops have a precinct in that subdivision. The west end gangs along with places that you would never believe are low income because they are mixed with others like what Hugger said one day and he was absolutely right.

  27. Jamie I signed the petition. Jamie Hugger said that the video doesn’t exist and I don’t know if I copied it right or not. I go by the title when I want to find something in google. The problem in Cornwall is minor compared to what things can be. We went through Heron Gate today as well as through Ottawa Housing and things are a great deal worse here than in Cornwall. Hugger is from Ottawa and knows what is going on. Folks Heron Gate is a huge complex and you can bring it up by typing in the title and there were other videos that I have seen before a few years ago and even the gang problem with the cops.

  28. There are many areas in Ottawa that are have more than their share of gang and other activity. A few are: Caldwell Ave., Dumaurier Ave., , parts of Britannia, parts of Hintonburg, etc.

Leave a Reply