A Winnipeg man says his Manitoba Housing apartment is making him and his son sick, and provincial officials refuse to move him.

Richard Robidoux said raw sewage leaked into the crawl space below his Marlene Street unit from a broken pipe.

He first noticed it two weeks ago after a strong smell prompted him to open the door to the crawl space but thinks the sewage has been leaking for about a year.

'When I opened it I saw a nightmare — a nightmare of raw sewage and white mould' —Manitoba Housing resident Richard Robidoux

"When I opened it I saw a nightmare — a nightmare of raw sewage and white mould," said Robidoux.

Robidoux said the mould is still growing in the basement, and he’s worried what he is breathing is making him and his son sick.

"It feels like I’m dying," said Robidoux.

"I recently got a lung infection, then heart arrhythmia. Now it’s the headaches."

Robidoux said his 13-year-old son is also sick and has missed about 40 days of school since September.

"I feel like I'm dying. You're in pain. Your head is constantly splitting. It’s no way to live," he said.

So far, Robidoux has used duct tape to seal off the crawl space door and has put up plastic to seal off a portion of his apartment.

He and his son are staying in one side of the apartment where there is a window for ventilation.


'It’s like if you put your nose up to a sewer on a hot day' —Manitoba Housing resident Olivia Desjarlais

He wants Manitoba Housing to shut down the building and move him and his son into another apartment. 

Olivia Desjarlais lives down the hall from Robidoux. She said she has been dealing with similar odours and has seen mould in her apartment.

"It’s like if you put your nose up to a sewer on a hot day," said Desjarlais.

"It used to be covering all of this wall here — looks like it’s coming back."

Desjarlais said she wants to see something done about the problem.

Officials with Manitoba Housing admit there is an ongoing problem with wastewater leaking into the apartment’s crawl space, but officials don’t plan to move Robidoux or Desjarlais.

Manitoba Housing officials said a public health inspector did look at the property building, and based on the inspection there "would be no order to vacate."

Instead, officials said they are planning to flush the area and wait for results from an environmental test.

Those results could take up to a week.

In 2011, the same apartment complex was deemed a health hazard by the province over the presence of mould.

There are currently no plans to vacate any residents from the building.