Displaced residents of Campbell River apartment fire happy to have new home

WatchDozens of people will be moving into the Heritage River Inn after BC Housing purchased it for $4.08 million

Phillip George and Cassandra Simms along with their two boys will finally be moving into a new home.

Their previous home was destroyed when a major fire destroyed the apartment building they were living in on April 8.

Since then, the family has managed, living in a hotel in the city’s downtown.

“It’s been pretty stressful,” said George.

“Especially trying to find places for our boys,” said Simms. “Just finding a place was hard and then hearing they were able to buy out this place for everyone just for the fire is pretty relieving.”

Their new home and that of dozens of other fire victims will be at the Heritage River Inn near the Campbell River on Highway 19, thanks to a decision by BC Housing to purchase the hotel and property for $4.08 million.

“We’ll probably just use it as temporary housing until we find another home,” said Simms.

Those who were burned out of their old apartments, including George and Simms, have been staying at a downtown hotel, with the City of Campbell River agreeing to cover food and accommodation costs for the tenants.

The vacancy rate in Campbell River is 0.4 per cent and while some people have found a place to live, more than half of the original 91 people displaced had not.

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Residents will gradually start moving in before June 15 and those who move in will be required to pay 30 per cent of their income for rent.

Richard Wu is the former owner of the Heritage River Inn. He said he put it up for sale about six weeks ago and wasn’t expecting to sell it so soon because of COVID-19.

“Seems they want to take over this business as soon as possible which we didn’t understand at the beginning,” said Wu. “But then we found out it’s BC Housing, so it’s sad that they are shutting down the business but I’m glad that they are helping people.”

BC Housing says it may consider redeveloping the site in the future but there are no current plans to do so.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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