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RidgeView residents vent anger, saying there's been a lack of support

Former tenants of RidgeView Place forced to leave over safety concerns voiced their frustration during a meeting hosted by the City of Langford on Monday.
About 10 tenants evacuated from RidgeView Place over safety concerns voiced frustration, anger, sadness, even concern for the people still living in the building during a meeting hosted by the City of Langford Monday.DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A former RidgeView Place resident told Langford’s mayor and council their financial assistance program is “a slap in the face” and needs to be reassessed.

“You’re asking for our bank statements. You’re asking for our personal information. The only information we should have to give you is that we lived in that building,” a tearful Tara Davies said Monday at a City of Langford meeting held to update residents forced to move from the building two weeks ago due to safety concerns.

“We should not have to prove or give you anything. That is nothing but spitting on us. It really sucks to have someone tell you, ‘We’re not going to help you because you make too much money.’ None of us living in that building are low- to moderate income. A one-bedroom was almost $2,100.”

Davies was one of about 20 former tenants of the building at the meeting. About 10, some in person and some via Zoom, voiced frustration, anger, sadness, and concern for people still living in the building.

The former Danbrook One building has been evacuated twice in the past four years, first in December 2019 and most recently on April 24, when residents were told to leave due to seismic and structural concerns in the 11-storey building.

The evacuation followed notice by the Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. to Langford and property owner Centurion Properties Apartment Inc. of an investigation into the engineer responsible for remediation work on the building.

Centurion has allocated $2,500 in “compassionate assistance” to each unit of the 90-unit building following the evacuation, as well as refunding damage deposits and rent for the portion of April after tenancies ended.

Centurion said it has hired a third-party structural engineering firm to understand how best to address and remediate concerns with the building.

As the meeting began, Mayor Scott Goodmanson, Fire Chief Chris Aubrey and several councillors expressed their sympathy for what the residents are going through. Residents were told a community-service navigator is being hired with funds from the Ministry of Emergency Management Climate Readiness to help those who have not found long-term housing.

The residents were told staff and council would not be in a position to answer specific legal and engineering questions.

That didn’t deter Tyler Sampson, who derided those who had expressed sympathy, for patting each other on the back “for a job well done” while people are still living in the building. “They are living in that building, in what you are saying is danger, and you haven’t released the reason. … What was I in danger from?”

“That’s not a question we have the answer to,” Goodmanson replied. “The notice we got from EGBC (Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C.) said there is a question to the structural design of the building and that there was no evidence a comprehensive review by the engineer on record had ever been completed.”

The weekend before the evacuation, two structural engineers and a concrete specialist did a visual inspection and informed Centurion that the building should be vacated, Goodmanson added. A comprehensive review of the building can’t be done until everyone is out.

“This is an invasive investigation that will take a long time,” he said. “We don’t have any more information because we just got what they got from the visual inspection. And as frustrating as that is, they can’t go in and do what they need to do there until everyone is out,” he said. “And Centurion is in charge of all of that.”

Sampson said he was “alarmed” by the mayor’s lack of information.

“We want to know what’s been wrong with the building. How much time does it take before we find out why we’re being evacuated again. The reason I’m adamant about this specifically is there are people in that building who do not think it’s a safety issue. They’re not leaving because they think it will blow over. If that building has the potential of falling down on them, that’s not on me. That’s on the people who aren’t providing information to the people who are currently in the building.”

It is not known how many people are still living in the building. Goodmanson said he had zero information about the residents inside the building from Centurion after asking repeatedly.

Former resident Dennis MacDonald said he hadn’t received a single concrete bit of information at the meeting. “I have not seen one bit of humanity from this group. This is our lives you’re playing with. This is our children’s lives you’re playing with. …We have so many costs and so many concerns and so many worries and none of you have come up with anything that could have made a difference,” he charged.

Ashley MacDonald told council they should be ashamed of themselves for not helping nearly 200 of their constituents.

“What we have endured is trauma. We are so far past sympathy and prayers,” she said, thanking neighbours and employers for being helpful.

Robert Taylor said his wife ended up in hospital because of the stress and he is now living in an abandoned house owned by the daughter of one of his friends.

“We didn’t have a place to go. One hotel to the other. Hotel hopping doesn’t cut it after a while,” he said. “C’mon people, let’s get this straightened out,” said ­Taylor.

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