Port Alberni City Council is taking enforcement action on a pair of landlords that the city says haven’t been keeping their apartment up to safety standards.
A number of marginalized people living in trailers on the site will be impacted and the community is concerned.
The Wintergreen Apartments in Port Alberni have seen better days.
The landlords say it’s low barrier housing but despite that Port Alberni City Council has ordered him to fix a number of problems.
“This is a safety issue. For us it appears that it’s about the money and about getting maximum capacity and for us it’s all about the safety,” said Gaylene Thorogood, Port Alberni’s Manager of Community Safety.
In a lengthy report to council, city staff have outlined safety and building code violations it says need to be dealt with.
“We’re working to address those and the safety concerns aren’t that bad for some reason they’re getting a lot of misinformation from their bylaws department,” said Randy Brown, one of the building’s owners who says the identified problems aren’t that bad.
The most controversial of 18 orders is to remove all the RV’s on-site in which the landlord says 14 people live.
Brown says if he’s forced to follow through those living in them will end up on the street.
“These people are mentally ill and addicts and it’s time to stop just giving them tents and toques and a warm blanket. It’s time to start giving them shelter and warmth,” said Brown.
Port Alberni resident Rhonda Maczulat’s brother Todd Ganderton lived in the apartment for years until he died of a drug overdose in 2018.
“It’s important to have certain standards but at the same time I think we really have to work together to make sure these people have someplace to be,” said Maczulat, who called on people to have more compassion for those struggling with addiction.
The city says it plans on working with BC Housing to try and ensure no one gets displaced.
“If it takes a little bit of time in getting one or two people out at a time and finding that housing or what they need we’ll do that but we don’t want to see them on the streets at the same time so we need to find a balance,” said Thorogood.
Brown doubts that will be possible as he charges $375 rent which he says is impossible to find in the current housing crisis.