The mayor of Langford says he’s getting fed up with the company that owns RidgeView Place, the rental tower abruptly evacuated late last month over structural safety issues.
Scott Goodmanson said Tuesday that Centurion Properties still isn’t divulging why the building is unsafe, and hasn’t even indicated how many people had been living in the 11-storey, 90-unit structure — or if anyone is still living there despite being ordered to leave over fears the building could collapse.
The mayor and council took a grilling from residents during an open forum at city hall on Monday night.
About 30 residents who found themselves on the street with just four days left in April, scrambling to find other places to live, were asking what exactly is wrong with the building, and why they were allowed to live there when proper remediation wasn’t done.
It’s the second time in four years that residents of RidgeView Place — formerly Danbrook One — have had to evacuate. The first time, just prior to Christmas in 2019, caused a similar furor.
“It was gut-wrenching and it still is today … they are mad and have every reason to be,” Goodmanson said of Monday’s meeting with residents.
The mayor said there has been next to no information from Centurion Properties executives in Toronto, and only limited communications with the company’s local office, usually over moving issues.
“I’m quite upset with Centurion at this point,” said Goodmanson. “They haven’t told us how many people were living there or if any are left there now.”
He said the city’s chief administrative officer has requested an open line of communication with Centurion, but isn’t getting it. “We need regular information that’s just not there,” said the mayor.
Goodmanson said the city has had to reach out to residents just to get emails and other contact information to keep them apprised and provide assistance.
>See RIDGEVIEW, A2
He believes there are still people living in the building who refuse to leave, saying on his drive home Monday night, he saw lights on in five units, including on some balconies.
Goodmanson said he’s been told that when the building was being emptied in 2019, Centurion had to cut the power to get the remaining residents out.
Speaker Tyler Sampson told Monday’s meeting that some residents who remain in the building think the issue will blow over, because they haven’t been told what’s wrong with it
The Times Colonist reached out to Centurion and emailed questions, but has not heard back from the company.
In a statement released Monday, Centurion said from its own survey and through conversations with residents, 84% have found permanent accommodation, 13% have found temporary accommodation and the situation for 3% is unknown.
But there were no numbers with the percentages, and whether the 3% are still residing at RidgeView or simply hadn’t responded.
“Does that represent 100 people, 150, 200?” asked Goodmanson. “They just won’t tell us, which is crazy. We’ve said ‘give us the numbers.’ ”
Goodmanson said Centurion’s offer of $2,500 to displaced residents wasn’t nearly enough and the company was relying on renters’ insurance claims, which residents say have been denied due to the building’s history.
The mayor said the company “didn’t pay a dime [to residents] the last time” the building was evacuated and should give more and be more upfront with displaced residents and the city. Langford provided some assistance to residents in 2019, dipping into reserve funds.
A fundraising effort by Langford developers that’s been matched by the city has so far raised more than $54,000 to help tenants.
A community-service navigator is being hired with funds from the Ministry of Emergency Management to help those who have not found long-term housing.
Centurion’s Monday statement said the company has third-party structural engineers on-site conducting reviews and assessments.
A notice from Centurion was sent to residents over the weekend indicating structural engineers have approved a phased and controlled move-out to allow residents back inside to retrieve their belongings, but with caution.
The notice said engineers have advised that the number of people on each floor be limited to 10 people, and that a maximum of 30 be allowed in the building at any given time.
Late Tuesday, Langford issued its own statement, saying some legal and engineering questions could not be answered due to ongoing investigations into the structure.
The big question remains how did this happen again?
The city said a second investigation by the Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. uncovered structural design issues that may not have been addressed by the original remediation, and concluded that it “has received no evidence that a comprehensive review of the structural design of the building, or of the as-built structure of the building, was ever conducted for the remediation.”
The city said it is the obligation of the building owner and structural engineer of record to ensure that authenticated engineering designs meet the standards of Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. and the B.C. Building Code. Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. said it does not comment on ongoing investigations.
An independent review in 2019 by Stantec indicated the building’s core walls may have been “deficient under seismic load and that the structural detailing for some of the major seismic resisting elements may not be in compliance with the British Columbia Building Code.”