A Montreal family says it was forced from its home because city officials did not act fast enough after a wall of their condo building began to lean.
Eric Abbott, along with his wife and baby, were forced to leave their condo on des Érables Avenue near Rachel Street in February after the building was declared uninhabitable.
'It was literally like a waterfall coming down the brick.' - Eric Abbott, condo owner
“Right now I’m staying with my sisters in Vancouver. I’ve actually spent, since February of this year, all of my time with my wife and my infant daughter in the basement of family members.
My daughter has now spent most of her life in the basement of family members — not in our own home,” Abbott said.
Abbott’s condo building was deemed dangerous because it shares a wall with an adjacent building that is leaning and pulling away.
The adjacent building, owned by non-profit organization Centre d'aide à la Famille, has been vacant for two years. Abbott, who bought and moved into the condo in June 2012, said he only first noticed a problem in February.
“There was water infiltration coming from our neighbour’s roof...It was literally like a waterfall coming down the brick in the middle of winter,” Abbott said.
After an inspector and an engineer came to see the damage and the condition of the wall, the building was considered too dangerous to live in.
“Over the years, our building had its foundation stabilized. Our neighbour’s building, Centre d’aide à la famille, was never reinforced. So over the years, their building continues to lean [and] is taking our shared wall with it,” Abbott said.
Family blames city for lack of action
Just one month after the family moved into the condo, Centre d’aide à la Famille next door was evacuated and barricaded.
Abbott said the city knew the building was not safe since 2011 and should have informed condo owners like himself who lived next door.
“The city could have done more to inform us as the neighbours. Considering the age of our buildings — both built around 1900 — considering the gravity of the situation with our neighbour’s building, [we] should have been informed immediately.”
The borough granted Centre d’aide à la Famille a permit to demolish the building.
In the last two weeks, it has been torn down.
Abbott said the organization should foot the bill to repair the leaning wall.
“I understand that they’re a non-profit and they are very close to the edge of bankruptcy and that the money isn’t there. At the same time, the centre is funded by the city of Montreal. The city should be responsible for stepping in and taking responsibility,” Abbott said.
Borough spokesman Michel Tanguay said he couldn't comment on the case because it is before the courts, but said borough officials are following the situation closely.
Tanguay added that the borough’s role is to ensure that the demolition work carried out by the centre respects the terms of the permit.
While legal proceedings are pending, Abbott said he may hire a contractor at his own expense to begin repairing his condo’s leaning wall.
“This is all at our expense and considering all of the legal fees and expenses we’ve already incurred over the last eight months, I’m starting to lose hope for the future. We’ve been put in a situation completely at the mercy of our neighbour."