Residents of unsafe highrise scramble for new housing before Christmas
VANCOUVER -- Residents of a new highrise apartment building on Vancouver Island's West Shore are praising the City of Langford for its response after their building was deemed structurally unsafe this week.
"The City of Langford has been amazing," said Toni Hill, one of the residents being relocated out of the recently completed Danbrook One apartment building.
Hill and her three pets had just moved into their unit on Dec. 1. On Sunday, they'll be moving out, relocating to a new apartment up the road that the city helped secure.
"I was unpacked within the first day that I moved in, so it was a bit of a pain, especially at this time of year," Hill said.
Some 86 of the building's 90 units were occupied, and the city has been working with building owner Centurion Property Associates, as well as the owners of other local buildings, to find new permanent homes for those who desire them.
On Friday, the city revoked Danbrook One's occupancy permit until short-term fixes to the building's support structure can be put in place.
Mayor Stewart Young said Saturday that an engineering report commissioned by the city illustrated a worst-case scenario for the building.
"We gave a warning notice, basically, three days ago," Young said of the city's efforts to inform residents of the problem. "We were hoping for good news yesterday. We didn't get it."
Young said the work that needs to be done is "technical," but will likely include the installation of temporary support beams on the building's lower levels.
The repairs are the domain of the building's owner, the mayor said. The city's priority is ensuring that everyone living in the building has alternative accommodations.
"We're just, you know, making sure that the residents are looked after first, that's our priority," Young said. "We'll worry about the building later."
He said residents of the building have been understanding and cooperative, so far.
Hill added that the ordeal has brought the building's residents together.
"We've kind of gotten to know each other a little bit and we're kind of all in support of each other," she said. "That's about all we can do. I'm running into a lot of them in my new building."
Young said the city is not forcing anyone to move out, yet, but it remains willing to do so if necessary.
"We've notified them that they should move out," the mayor said. "We strongly suggest they do. We can't force them out at this time. If the building owner wants us to remove the tenants completely, we will comply with the building owner and use our staff to do that, but right now, we're trying to be as compassionate as we can."
With just days until her first Christmas in yet another new apartment, Hill admits she's not feeling much holiday spirit, but said her situation is much better than it could have been, thanks to the city's help.
"I'm trying to be positive," she said. "Hopefully 2020 is a good start."