Monday May 8, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 3 pm May 9, 2023]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Handy Link: City of Langford Ridgeview Place Updates
Summary: Displaced Ridgeview tenants voice frustration to Langford Council, saying the range & methods of supports are not enough, or too onerous to obtain, or coming too late.
See comments from Centurion on May 9, 2023. (in yellow highlight, below)
Mayor, council and staff of the City of Langford expressed their support for the displaced RidgeView Place tenants tonight at a special meeting of council at 5 pm.
That included introductory comments from Mayor Scott Goodmanson as well as Councillors Mark Morley, Lillian Szpak and Mary Wagner. Some responses were given to the public from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darren Kiedyk and Deputy Director of Corporate Services Marie Watmough.
The meeting ran for two hours, right up to the start of the prescheduled Special Council Meeting that was to start at 7 pm.
There is no doubt that city staff are working hard to accommodate all of this unique and sudden workload on top of their usual work and the overload of municipal tax season. Though it did seem odd that the city had not yet reached out to displaced tenants to try and learn what building owner Centurion Property Associates had been communicating to the displaced tenants in letters by email.
One of the constructive outcomes of tonight’s meeting was that staff will email to any displaced tenants who provide their contact info, to communicate about the content of letters that Centurion has been emailing to tenants.
But understandably the tenants of the apartment building at 2770 Claude Road (formerly Danbrook One) who have moved out as requested by building owner Centurion Property Associates (over to apparent building construction deficiencies) are frustrated at their highly stressful predicament.
For two hours this evening various displaced tenants approached the podium in council chambers. Comments to council included descriptions of the stress and duress endured by the displaced tenants as well as financial and health impacts.
There were questions about why the building had been accepting tenants starting in April 2022, based on what authority (given that the building formerly as Danbrook One had been vacated suddenly in the same way, back in December 2019).
Most of the speakers said that the supports organized by and provided by or through the City of Langford were insufficient. Many of the tenants of Ridgeview do not have coverage in their insurance package for what the Insurance Bureau of Canada calls “uninsured peril”.
One displaced tenant, Robert Taylor, said his 70-year-old wife had a stress-related seizure and is in hospital as a result of the sudden loss of their place to live. Several displaced tenants outlined economic and social impacts, not the least of which is losing time from work (which further impacts employers), and sleeping in unfamiliar or uncomfortable and probably mostly temporary accommodations (in one case a woman with a baby now sleeping in a playpen). An international student had to leave her three children with her sister in order to travel to do her research.
“Let’s get this straightened out,” said Taylor, which summarizes what most everyone is hoping will happen.
Supports by province, West Shore Developers, and Community Social Planning Council:
The Province of BC has provided Emergency Services Support (ESS) and a specialized social support agency called the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria has been handling the collection and disbursement of donated funds.
Both the city and the West Shore Developers Association have been asking for donations from the public. Back on May 1 the West Shore Developers Association (WSDA) announced they would match all donations that are received by the City of Langford’s RidgeView Place fund, up to a limit of $75,000.
Back on May 1 the West Shore Developers Association (WSDA) announced they would match all donations that are received by the City of Langford’s RidgeView Place fund, up to a limit of $75,000.
Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria Executive Director Diana Gibson did say this evening that the displaced tenants in situations of most financial need would receive funds through the donated funds first. The remaining tenants would each receive an equal share of the remaining funds, which some displaced tenants accurately pointed out the tardiness of that action related to need. Gibson said that the “amount coming in has been very limited” and that the organization is prioritizing for households most in need.
Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria rep Diana Gibson essentially said tonight that they can only give out what has come in by way of donation.
Some of the displaced tenants have not applied for the fund through the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria out of fear or distrust of having to provide their banking information and other documentation like tax returns. Pulling out documents like that is a project at the best of times, let alone when people have had their home pulled out from under their feet leaving them stressed and distracted.
Displaced tenant Tara Davies said that only name, contact information and proof of having lived at RidgeView Place should be required in order to receive the donated support. Davies pointed out that few of the people in the building are likely ‘low income’, given the level of rent for suites at RidgeView Place. One tenant this evening cited the monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit being about $2,100 and three-bedroom rent being nearly $3,000.
Businesses and individuals are hurting across the board in this economy and probably find donating to a complex emergency like this (where others likely have responsibility to bear the cost) to be a difficult choice.
Other supports have been provided by the Langford Legion, various hotels including the Bear Mountain Westin, ESS BC, neighbours and friends.
According to Mayor Goodmanson this evening, Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) is looking into what other supports might be available.
Centurion mostly silent:
Legal counsel for Centurion said this evening that several news releases have been issued. She made no effort to speak broadly on behalf of the company that owns the 11-storey rental tower.
Centurion has already provided six days of rent (remaining for the end of April) and has refunded damage deposits to tenants who have moved out.
Centurion has allocated $2,500 in “compassionate assistance” to each unit of the 90-unit building following the evacuation. On May 9, Centurion has provided this additional detail:
•Centurion was forced to frustrate all leases as of April 24, 2023 and has therefore refunded the rent paid for the last week of April (April 24th – April 30th), and returned all pet deposits, damage deposits and prepaid rent.
•Additional support Centurion provided to Residents (aggregate amount of $250,000) includes:
Centurion has provided compassionate care assistance of $2,500 to all Leaseholders.
Centurion has provided moving supplies and moving services to assist Residents on-site with moving their belongings.
Centurion has been actively communicating with Residents to offer direct support in finding availability of similar residential properties.
Residents of RidgeView Place who have not yet picked up their financial support cheque may visit the Centurion local office at 784 Hockley Suite #101, open 9:30 am to 5 pm.
More information from Centurion:
Island Social Trends has reached out to the building owner, Centurion, for further comment and received this reply:
What sort of approval (i.e. engineering assurance) did Centurion did receive prior to April 2022 that you considered adequate for tenants to move back into the former Danbrook One?
- Between December 2019 to April 2022, Centurion invested over $5 million on a remediation program and worked with a range of external professional consultants, including architects, professional engineers, and The City of Langford, to complete the agreed upon remediation plan.
- The building remediation design was signed off by the structural engineer of record for the building as well as an independent professional engineer, and the City of Langford issued an Occupancy Permit for the building.
Island Social Trends is still inquiring as to “signed off by the structural engineer of record for the building”, as to whether that is the original engineer who perhaps in some way missed the problematic situation in the first place.
Finding out what went wrong:
Some tenants still remain in the RidgeView Place building. A more thorough analysis of structural deficiencies can apparently only be done once all tenants have vacated the building.
Evidently the original evacuation notice on April 24, 2023 was based on a visual inspection by engineers done the weekend before. One of tonight’s public speakers asked a reasonable question: that if a visual inspection could reveal deficiencies what could be worse that necessitated departure by all tenants.
Displaced tenant Tyler Sansom said people have been displaced but haven’t been given the reason.
Mayor Goodmanson replied that everyone — including the City — is waiting to hear the results of any further engineering inspection results. “The sooner people are out, the sooner we can find out what’s wrong with the building,” said Goodmanson. “They can’t do what they need to do until everyone is out.”
Contacting the City of Langford:
Displaced tenants may email to the city on this email address email@example.com or phone the city at 250-478-7882.
All Resident Communications and Media Releases can be found on the RidgeView Place Resident Resource Centre.
- Insurance scenario for evacuated RidgeView Place tenants (April 30, 2023)
- Three days later: RidgeView Place occupancy permit crisis update (April 27, 2023)
- Former Danbrook One sees second occupancy permit crisis (April 24, 2023)
===== MEDIA SCRUMS:
- Media Scrums
- RidgeView Media Scrum – April 24, 2023 Recording
- RidgeView Media Scrum – April 27, 2023 Recording
- RidgeView Media Scrum – May 1, 2023 Recording
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends is published daily at islandsocialtrends.ca.
Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher.
Mary Brooke has been covering politics, business, education and community trends through a socioeconomic lens since 2008 on south Vancouver Island. That began with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), which morphed into the weekly print Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), followed by the weekly print/PDF newspaper West Shore Voice News (2014-2020); all three of those series are archived in the Sooke Region Museum permanent collections. Island Social Trends emerged as a fully online news portal in mid-2020.
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