‘The place is leaning’: Courtenay residents warned their apartments could slide into river below

A warning sign outside the Anderton Arms apartment building is shown. Dec. 15, 2023.

Maggie Wolf was on edge looking out her apartment’s window Friday. She was worried about the sliding retaining wall that separates her building from the rushing Courtenay River below.

“It makes me anxious. Especially this time of year. What a wonderful thing to hear at Christmas time,” Wolf told CHEK News from her Anderton Road apartment.

The senior opened a letter from the City of Courtenay Friday, warning her and her neighbours that the retaining wall behind their 10-unit riverfront apartment building is moving and has put the ‘Anderton Arms’ building at risk. Wolf said she can see the damage from her window, where the retaining wall has separated from the ground, and created a gaping space.

“The place is leaning and I’m disabled and I can’t just move out in two minutes, and where the hell am I going? Everybody knows there’s no rent in this town,” said Wolf.

Anderton Arms resident Leanne Lawson told CHEK News that she is still in shock from opening Thursday’s mail.

“We advise you that the retaining wall is now at risk of partial or full failure… In the event of a flood or seismic event, failure may occur suddenly without warning,” Lawson said, reading the warning letter out loud to CHEK News.

“It says that my building is going to fall into the river. Just no word of warning, just to let you know you might be homeless,” said Lawson, a Courtenay house cleaner and content producer.

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The edge of the apartment building is shown.

Courtenay mom Ashley Hedstrom was scrambling Friday to find out how quickly she’ll need to move her family out of the building.

“It’s worrisome, it’s very worrisome. I’m the only resident there with children and so it does pose a heightened sense of urgency,” said Hedstrom.

According to the City of Courtenay, experts are closely monitoring the wall, and have notified emergency services of the critical situation on the 400-block of Anderton Road.

“The city did not take this lightly and I want to highlight that the city would not have taken these steps unless it was absolutely necessary to do so,” said Chris Davidson, director of engineering services for the City of Courtenay.

However, officials say no evacuation order has been issued yet, and want residents to know they are urgently trying to come up with a plan for housing in case of continued slide.

“We don’t believe there is an imminent risk but as per the notification we do believe there is an elevated risk of failure,” said Davidson.

In the meantime, worried residents of the riverfront apartment building struggle with what to do next, as the local rental supply is critically low and since the rainy season could raise the threat any day.

SEE PREVIOUS: Retaining wall in Courtenay at risk of breaking, city warns

(City of Courtenay)

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