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‘Brutal for everybody’: Abbotsford apartment building without heat for over a month

Tenants of a 60-unit Abbotsford, B.C., apartment building have been without for more than a month, relying on space heaters to keep themselves warm amid cold weather.

A poster on the door of Old Yale Road’s Park Lane Manor states that Cogir Real Estate, the property management company, is aware of the situation and working towards replacements “as soon as possible.”

That open-ended timeline, however, has not satisfied its residents.

“It was brutal for everybody, a lot of people got sick,” tenant Dennis Yurick said of a recent cold snap that brought sub-zero temperatures, freezing rain and more than two feet of snow to Abbotsford.

“Our heat is included with our rent. Now who is going to reimburse us for our hydro?”

In a written statement, Cogir Real Estate said it distributed heaters to all tenants, with a professional contractor having determined the boiler can’t be repaired.

“Our team is working tirelessly to restore central heating as quickly as possible,” wrote communications director Brigitte Pouliot.

“We fully understand the impact the broken boiler has on our tenants’ comfort … further we continue to follow up with our tenants to ensure there units have sufficient heat from the heating units provided.”

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Pouliot said the broken boiler was not due to “negligent maintenance,” and while it took some time to find an appropriate replacement, a contract has been awarded.

Tom Pennington, who works in building maintenance for the manor and is also a tenant, told Global News he hopes the new boiler will be operational by the end of the week. Once the plumbers begin the work, he added, it takes about a day to get the boiler up and running.

Tenant Robin Wiggins credited Cogir Real Estate for providing the heaters and acknowledged fixes don’t happen “overnight.” The power bill for those heaters, however, has been a concern for him.

“I did the Canadian diagnostic, how much it’s going to cost per hour, per thing,” he said. “It’s about keeping warm and going into survival mode.”

Resident Victor Flagg estimated that the space heaters only provide a third of the heat to a unit that a boiler does.

“It was uncomfortable and I was getting worried,” he said. “I’m resolved to wait it out … I sure hope it doesn’t take much longer than this.”

The building is home to many seniors and residents with complex medical needs.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon called the situation at Park Lane Manor “extremely concerning.”

“I have confirmed that the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Compliance and Enforcement Unit is aware of this situation so they can look into this matter and take any necessary steps to ensure that the tenant’s rights are being protected,” he said in an emailed statement.

“Our government brought in the CEU in 2019 to ensure there is a team of investigators who responds quickly to protect people.”

Abbotsford police have also opened a file with regard to the apartment building and will “take appropriate action to ensure the wellbeing of those affected,” Const. Art Stele told Global News.

Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman visited the building Tuesday after a phone call from Global News.

“It is inexcusable to have seniors suffer and be cold in sub-zero temperatures and we need to ensure they’re kept warm and safe,” he said.

“Should they have been offered accommodations in a hotel, for instance, during this cold snap?”

The Ministry of Housing is encouraging British Columbians facing situations like the one at Park Lane Manor to contact the Residential Tenancy Branch at 1-800-665-8779.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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