Port Hotel residents in Port Alberni being told to vacate due to asbestos

Port Hotel residents in Port Alberni being told to vacate due to asbestos

More than 25 people who call the Port Hotel in Port Alberni home spent Wednesday moving out and looking for a new place to live.

The fire department’s order came after airborne asbestos was detected in the building, and the city posted a notice to vacate late Tuesday.

“It’s any type of drywall that has been disturbed,” said the city’s CAO Mike Fox. “The city quite a while ago put a Remedial Action Order on this building because of the situation with the owner, the owner has gone silent on us.”

The owner, Peter Wang of Vancouver, had allowed a number of deficiencies to build up, including fire alarms and sprinkler systems that didn’t work, so the city paid a contractor to act as a fire watch to keep residents safe.

The Remedial Action Order resulted in asbestos testing, which came back positive on Tuesday.

WorkSafe BC said it was too dangerous for the workers, so the Port Alberni Fire Department issued the Fire Order, which led to Wednesday’s evictions.

“So it was really dependent on that fire watch going through there regularly to make sure the residents were safe, and when that person had to be excluded, that forced our hand into issuing the fire order,” said Port Alberni Fire Chief Mike Owens.

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The Port Hotel, or Port Pub Apartments as many called it, was home to the most affordable units in the city.

Many of the residents were living on the fringe, in a community with limited vacancies.

“We’ve got some really good compassionate service providers in town that are really working to make sure these people have a place to stay tonight,” added Fox. “The deadline will be later today, but we are trying to be as flexible as possible.”

‘Suprised’ it took so long, says former tenant

Henry and Cheryl Adair used to live in the building, and Henry had just recently gotten his sick father out.

“I’m surprised that it took this long, honestly,” Henry told CHEK News. “My dad lived here for 18 years, and in the last six years, he’s got really sick because of what’s gone on inside.”

By 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, a U-Haul truck was still parked outside the building as numerous people came and went.

“We’re kind of at that deadline right now, but we can see that the residents are making headway and doing their best to get out, so we’re being flexible with them as long as they make efforts to get out expeditiously,” said Owens.

The province is taking the lead in helping people find new accommodations with the help of numerous local organizations.

The SPCA was also on hand to care for pets if they were needed.

The Port Pub was also forced to leave the premises on Wednesday.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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