Evacuation of downtown Calgary apartment has tenants displaced while building is repaired

Tenants of an apartment building in downtown Calgary that was evacuated after flooding and power outages last week are still displaced — and some say the management company will soon stop paying for their hotels.

Owners of the apartment say residents may be able to start moving back on Friday

Calgary apartment building evacuated after flooding and power outages

6 months ago
Duration 0:26
Tenants of Westview Heights, an apartment building in downtown Calgary, say they are still displaced after it was evacuated due to flooding and power outages last week.

Tenants of an apartment building in downtown Calgary that was evacuated after flooding and power outages last week are still displaced — and some say the management company will soon stop paying for their hotels.

A string of problems began in the Westview Heights apartment building, which houses 297 units across 41 floors in the 800 block of 8th Avenue S.W., when a pipe burst on Dec. 22 and disabled the elevators, tenants told CBC News. 

In the days that followed, the building suffered flooding and outages that included electricity and heat during a bone-chilling Alberta cold snap.

More flooding on Boxing Day prompted the building's evacuation.

Resident Adam Bremner says the fifth level of the parkade started flooding on Dec. 22. He says the photo was taken within an hour of the elevators going down in the building. (Submitted by Adam Bremner)

Fortieth-floor resident Jules Glasel told CBC News on Tuesday there was only time to rescue her three cats from the building because the water made it too dangerous.

"I was just beyond scared and crying so much on the way to grab my cat, not knowing how they were like," she said.

"Just so scary not knowing what's going on, and it's just so beyond stressful feeling like, 'Hey, what's going to happen? Am I going to have a home to go back to?'"

Lack of communication

Throughout the ordeal, communication with Mayflower Ventures, the building's management company, has been sparse, said Glasel.

But she has been notified her hotel stay will only be covered until Tuesday morning.

"I then have to pay either, like, for myself out-of-pocket, or go find somewhere to go," Glasel said.

"There are definitely a lot of people who cannot afford to be paying the $75 a night, for however long it is. So there's going to be people who are just, like, out, with nowhere to go."

She says after what she experienced, she plans to move out as soon as she can.

Resident Emily Fraser says she had to use the staircase at Westview Heights Monday morning. Due to its slippery conditions from the building's flooding, it took her 20 minutes to walk down 10 floors. (Submitted by Emily Fraser)

Another resident, Jamey Bracey says she and her husband live on the 38th floor with an infant son and their dog. 

When the building started flooding, she says she travelled down flights of flooding stairs with her son to go stay with family.

But her husband had to stay in the apartment with their dog without both heat and hot water.

"He missed our son's first Christmas … which is sad " 

She says she's scared to eventually go back into the building.

"Hiking down in the dark with a baby strapped to you is not something I ever want to do again." 

Management response

Ajay Nehru with Mayflower Ventures says their top priority is making sure the building is operational and safe for tenants.

He said he will be on-site managing repairs and restoration until residents can move back in — which best-case scenario, won't happen until Friday.

Nehru says an incident like this has never happened at the building and the company has always been proactive about upgrades.

However, he says this incident was far out of their control and has been a complete nightmare.

"We have four major systems that are down right now are being worked on independently," he said.

"Realistically, the building can't be occupied until all four of those things are at the level that the safety of our tenants is not in question."

Mayflower Ventures says residents are required to have tenants insurance before they can sign a lease, which is why tenants will be paying for their own accommodations. (James Young/CBC)

As part of Mayflower Ventures policy, Nehru says all tenants were required to get insurance before moving in, which is why tenants will now pay for accommodations.

However, Mayflower Ventures did secure some hotels at special rates.

"We even paid for nights in these hotels, giving us time to get the word out, to contact their insurance adjusters, to do all of that," he said.

 "We've done everything we can possibly think of to accommodate and to try and provide information as we can."

With files from Hannah Kost and Elissa Carpenter.


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