A notorious Nanaimo apartment complex is being transformed with an extreme makeover.
Between all the drugs, fights and police calls, King Arthur’s Court was slapped with a nuisance property designation but now new owners are overhauling it and not putting a single tenant on the street while they do it.
Four-year-old Nevaeh Poole points to a hole in her wall where the mice she’s afraid of come from each night.
“And I see the mouse I’m scared of the mouse,” the Nanaimo girl said.
Holes throughout her south Nanaimo apartment are covered with duct tape as her mom tries to keep them out.
“Mice were coming in and out non-stop so I had to put tape there,” says Wanda Poole, pointing to another wall.
And that’s only one of the conditions that has this single mom’s skin crawling, while paying $880 a month to live in the notorious King Arthur’s Court.
Her living room is missing a ceiling. She fears she’ll fall through their bathroom floor because it drops below their feet when they walk on it,
“It is so soft I’m amazed it hasn’t fallen through my ceiling yet,” says Poole.
And she has no hot water. Yet she stays because its all they can afford.
“We’ve been looking for at least five or six months now and there’s not a place in Nanaimo that is affordable to us,” says the 28-year-old Nanaimo woman.
Now finally, after months of frustration she has hope her pleas for help are being answered.
“I’m excited it’s so relieving,” says Poole smiling.
The infamous Nanaimo apartments, where two children were pricked by discarded needles last year, have been purchased by the non-profit Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre and its pouring $4.6 million from BC housing into restoring the dignity this block once had.
“Seeing the place look like it did when I was a little girl,” says tenant Amber Wyszynsky. “I grew up here and these places I remember when they were pristine. They were actually sought after places when I was a girl.”
The housing stock will be protected as low income housing as well. While renovations are underway tenants won’t be evicted.
“It’s what they deserve, right. Everybody deserves that,” says Chris Beaton, executive Director of the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre. “Everybody deserves a safe, clean place to live in. Affordable. And if we can help contribute to that then we’re doing a decent job. ”
Amber Wyszynsky admits she didn’t believe until she’d seen it.
“I thought for sure they’d go bankrupt trying to fix these places up. Some of them are really in bad shape,” says Wyszynsky
But eight days in, the work keeps on. Proving to long-term tenants, they just might mean to keep the promises they’ve made.
“When I first moved in here it was fighting and arguments and God only knows what else going on in the courtyard and now it’s nice to hear the kids playing again,” says Wyszynsky.
So that Nevaeh Poole can grow up proud of the place she calls home and her mom can feel good about the life they’re starting out on after so much struggle.