Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tenants of windstorm-damaged Strathcona house in Vancouver still waiting for answers

wind-storm Vancouver

It’s been nearly four months since a retaining wall fell on top of two Strathcona properties during a windstorm, but tenants of 315 E. Pender St. have yet to return to their homes and have just recently been able to access their belongings.

Ken Cooper said he’s frustrated with the length of time it’s taken the city to allow access, and the lack of communication about when he and his housemates could return.

“It was a huge emotional drain on everybody because we were getting no answers whatsoever from the city about why it was unsafe,” Cooper said. “It was just a big roadblock.”

During a windstorm on April 7, a firewall that had been built between 313 E. Pender St. (the heritage Lee Benevolent Society building) and an under-construction apartment building fell over, crashing into the roof of 313 E. Pender St.

Bits of the wall that had broken from that collision then fell onto the roof of the house at 315 E. Pender St. and smashed through a coach house behind it.

The Lee building’s roof was severely damaged, and there was damage to the roof and two upstairs rooms of 315 E. Pender St. The coach house was almost entirely smashed in and will have to be demolished, according to the City of Vancouver. Luckily, only two of the six tenants were home at the time and no one was hurt.

The city couldn’t allow access until the structural engineer hired by the Lee building owners confirmed the structure was structurally sound, and that didn’t happen until July 11, according to city staff.

The City of Vancouver has had ongoing correspondence with “representatives” of the tenants, communications staffer Jag Sandhu wrote in an email to Metro, and the city will expedite the demolition and building permits needed to do repairs.

GMC Projects, the developer of the apartment building who had constructed the firewall that collapsed, paid each tenant $1,500 for living expenses, Cooper said.

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