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Buildings near Langford apartment tower evacuated, new offers of help unveiled

Residents will receive coverage for accommodation or billeting assistance with family or friends, transportation and food, along with more money from building’s owner.
A thrift store run by Saint Vincent de Paul is closed due to concerns about RidgeView Place. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A thrift store and daycare next to an 11-storey Langford apartment building that was evacuated Monday because it was deemed unsafe have also been vacated after signs went up warning people to avoid the immediate vicinity.

Large signs installed by the City of Langford Wednesday on either side of the Claude Road building spell out “Warning” in big letters, saying ­pedestrians and others should avoid ­entering the area “unless they have a pressing reason or urgent ­business.”

The area of concern includes properties on each side of the building — formerly known as Danbrook One and now ­RidgeView Place — as well as part of a parking lot opposite the tower and a portion of sidewalk in front of it.

The parish office for Our Lady of the Rosary Parish and a daycare run by the parish, next door to RidgeView Place, have both been asked to vacate ­temporarily by the landlord, which is Royal Roads University, said Cynthia Santos, parish ­secretary.

Santos, the only staff member in the parish office, said she was asked to leave Wednesday because of safety concerns and expects to be working from home until next week, when she hopes to receive an update.

The closure is hard on the roughly 10 families who have to find alternative child care, she said. “Royal Roads is ­trying to look for a place for us for the meantime, if this will take longer than expected,” Santos said.

Royal Roads did not ­immediately respond to a request for comment.

A thrift store run by Saint Vincent de Paul on the other side of RidgeView Place is also closed due to concerns about RidgeView Place.

The residential tower in Langford’s downtown has twice had its occupancy permit pulled because of investigations by the Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. over structural flaws.

Residents were initially evacuated in December 2019, after the engineering association opened an investigation when an engineer who was not involved in the project raised concerns about the design.

Two engineers involved in the original work lost their registration with the provincial body and are not allowed to practise engineering in the province.

Centurion Property Associates Inc. acquired the property from the builders and said it had made the necessary fixes.

Langford re-issued an ­occupancy permit last April after an independent engineer’s review, but last week the provincial engineering body informed Centurion and the city it had opened an investigation into the engineer responsible for ­remediation work.

Even as safety concerns close neighbouring businesses, residents continued going in and out of the building to remove belongings Thursday, pulling dollies packed with boxes, ­carrying TVs, and filling U-Hauls. Some balconies still have furniture or lights strung up and residents say some tenants intend to stay until they’re forced out.

More assistance available for residents

Centurion announced Thursday it would increase its “compassionate assistance” to displaced residents by $1,500, bringing the total to $2,500, since many residents have had their insurance claims denied because of the building’s history. The company is refunding rent for April 24-30, along with any damage and pet deposits.

The extra compensation won’t go far for Yessica Gutierrez, her husband and three kids, who have already spent about $1,000 on a hotel since leaving their three-bedroom apartment Monday.

“I think it’s not enough,” said Gutierrez, who has yet to receive a cheque from Centurion.

Gutierrez said if she were to break her lease without notice, she would have to pay a full month’s rent of $2,850 and forfeit a damage deposit, about half the rent, and she thinks it’s unfair that Centurion is offering less than that amount to displaced residents.

Some residents moving out Thursday said they would not accept money if they are required to sign anything, as there are discussions of launching a class-action lawsuit.

“It’s just something everyone’s being careful with, because obviously, people are talking about class actions, so we don’t want to forfeit any of our rights,” said Nathan Hale, who was being helped by his father to move out of the building. His father estimated he has already spent about $1,000 to cut a work trip in Terrace short and travel to Langford to support his son.

Hale and his girlfriend plan to move into his sister’s basement in Sooke while they look for a longer-term solution. They’ll be paying about $100 per month for a storage unit as they're moving from a two-bedroom unit to a bedroom in his sister's house, he said.

Mayor Scott Goodmanson held a news conference Thursday to announce new provincial supports for residents that include lodging for five days, as well as funding for a community navigator to help people secure the supports and resources available to them.

Goodmanson said when the city heard Tuesday that insurance was not covering residents, staff worked with the province to secure funding through the provincial Emergency Support Services program. Volunteers set up at city hall Thursday to register residents.

Residents of RidgeView Place must self-register online at or by visiting the ESS Reception Centre in person at 101-877 Goldstream Ave. Residents can call 250-661-3270 or email [email protected] for further information.

Goodmanson welcomed Centurion’s decision to increase its support payment to residents and said the city pressured the company to step up.

“This isn’t the end of the story. People are still out of a permanent home, and anyone that’s tried to rent a place in Victoria knows you can’t get a rental in a week,” he said.

Goodmanson said he has met with members of the Westshore Developers Association and the broader business community to raise funds to provide additional supports to RidgeView residents. Details are to come, he said.

Local businesses that want to help with donations, discounted services or other means are asked to contact the city at 250-478-7882.

“This is the community that we talk about, that when systems break down and people are left, it’s not the responsibility of one single unit or group. It’s the community that rises up and protects people, and this is a fantastic example of it,” Goodmanson said.

Goodmanson said the city does not have any information on the severity of the building’s problems. “I wish I could give people more information on that but that’s just not even there. That level of investigation hasn’t happened,” he said.

Residents can expect to be out for the long term, however, he said. “Those moving aren’t going to be back next month.”

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