Nearly seven months after a fire engulfed a Langford condo and displaced dozens of residents, the damage has yet to be repaired.
“There’s still no real progress on site,” said one of the building’s residents Edward Gonzales. “The first update we got from strata company, was that it was to be finished by March or April. It’s already May now, they haven’t started yet.”
The fire happened last October at a condominium building on Goldstream Avenue and while firefighters were able to contain the flames to one apartment and the roof, the water damage was so severe that it forced all of the residents inside to find new homes until repairs could be made.
But the clock is ticking and many of the residents are running out of insurance money.
“Now we’re just paying everything out of pocket, there’s no insurance coverage at this point,” said Jonathan Ramirez, who had only lived in the condo with his girlfriend for three months at the time of the fire.
Gonzales is a member of the Royal Canadian Navy and was given some extra grants, but he still needed to borrow money from family members to keep afloat.
“We can’t afford to pay a mortgage, rent, two insurances and two strata fees. It’s not sustainable for my family,” said Gonzales, who has had to move two times with his wife and son since being displaced.
On top of a mortgage and now rent, the displaced residents are still paying full strata fees, even though there’s no one inside.
“I don’t quite understand what we’re paying for,” said Gail Hudspeth. “We obviously have property taxes that are due, but normally there’s upkeep and updates to the building. Well, they’re not doing any of those things.”
As of now, none of them have been given a clear timeline by their strata company of when they’ll be able to move back in.
Kyle McGregor, managing broker and president of Firm Management Corporation, told CHEK News on Monday that he feels for the residents but doesn’t have a clear date as to when they could return to their units.
“A project of this size, trying to get it completed is very challenging as well,” McGregor explained. “Especially with the current construction work in Victoria, there are plans that are needed, there are structural engineers, there are drawings, there are permits that are needed … there is so much work that has to be involved and all of it is occurring.”
McGregor said the strata council and the property manager that is assigned to the building are working “tirelessly and incredibly” hard, noting that there have been more than $1 million in repairs completed so far and that strata fees are paying for ongoing maintenance and upgrades.
“If we could move this along faster, I assure you, we would because we are getting these same phone calls and these same inquiries and these same stories,” he said.
McGregor explained there has been a lot of “misinformation” that has been spreading out, which he believes is making the is the situation worse. He also said since January they have notified people “19 separate times” about the situation and are possibly working towards holding another meeting to resolve some of the “communication challenges” with the project.
“I have empathy for everyone in this situation,” said McGregor.
However, residents say they’ve had an incredibly difficult time trying to get any answers themselves.
“We were given one date, and another date, and another date, and another date,” said Ramirez. “Don’t tell us it’s gonna be April or May, and then October, then December, then April of next year if you don’t know.”
Gonzales says sometimes responses from the strata company are more than two months apart.
“When they told me they were anticipating an April or May completion day, I banked on that for my rental lease. I only rented a place for six months, and now I can’t extend it,” said the Navy member.
Now, the frustration of the lack of communication is boiling over.
“Everything is just taking so long and it’s very discouraging all of us,” said Hudspeth. “You know, this is our home and it is really really upsetting to be displaced”
Another resident of the building, Joanne Parss, is a senior who says her part-time job won’t be able to pay her rent when her insurance runs out.
“We’re just all frustrated, financially, mentally. Just get us home,” exclaimed Parss.
With no timeline in sight, the residents will just have to wait, hoping they can return home soon.
If you are a resident of the building and would like to get in contact with other residents, you can send an email to [email protected].
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