Elevator in Manitoba Housing building won't be fixed for over a month

A notice posted in a Manitoba Housing building says it will be four to five weeks before the building's only elevator will be fixed — essentially leaving anyone with mobility issues trapped on their floor of the six-storey apartment block.

Residents trapped on their floors have been told they can move to other facilities

Janet Stanko, who has lived at 340 Princess for a decade, says she's been offered another spot at a different facility while the elevator is repaired. She says she has declined the offer, because she's concerned her quality of life might suffer. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

A notice posted in a Manitoba Housing building says it will be four to five weeks before the building's only elevator will be fixed — essentially leaving anyone with mobility issues trapped on their floor of the six-storey apartment block.

And while Manitoba Housing says it has offered a temporary relocation to residents with mobility issues, one woman living in the building with the broken elevator says she's not interested in leaving her home.

The building at 340 Princess St. in Winnipeg has been without a working elevator since Dec. 31, meaning any resident who can't take the stairs has been unable to leave their floor.

In an email to CBC News on Thursday, a spokesperson for Manitoba Housing said a piece needs to be custom built to repair the elevator.

Manitoba Housing said the hydraulic jack unit assembly — which is the main component for lifting the elevator car — is being manufactured in the United States, as a company there can build and ship it most quickly.

A new notice posted following a CBC News story says the elevator will be out of service for another four to five weeks. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

The spokesperson also confirmed the elevator was upgraded and modernized in 2011, but the hydraulic jack was not updated at the time.

Multiple tenants CBC spoke with said they had been asking for information about the elevator from Manitoba Housing for over a week, but their questions were ignored.

After CBC News published a story about the elevator on Wednesday, a new written notice was posted in the building.

Housing offering other accommodation

Manitoba Housing said it has offered residents with mobility issues who frequently need to leave the building the option to temporarily move to other facilities.

"One tenant with urgent needs was moved earlier this week and it is anticipated a few others may need to be relocated," the spokesperson wrote Thursday.

Resident Janet Stanko — who can't leave her floor because she's in a wheelchair — said she was given the option to temporarily move to a different building while the repairs are underway.

However, she's decided to stay in the apartment and wait for the repair.

"They're not going to take us to places where there is a waiting list. They're going to take us to places where there is a room. Where is a room? Probably the facilities in the city where people really don't care to go."

Janet Stanko says moving to a different facility would mean giving up her computer, phone, and television. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Manitoba Housing said to protect the privacy of residents, it can't provide a list of which facilities tenants will be relocated to.

Right now, Stanko said she has independence: she lives alone in an apartment and has help on call if she needs it.

She's concerned she could lose that if she moves.

"I can't take my TV with me. How am I going to take my computer with me? I don't own a cellphone," she said.

"That really would make me a little bit depressed, and I think a little bit deranged, if that went on for four or five weeks."

She's concerned other Manitoba Housing facilities wouldn't allow her the independence she has right now, and might require her to receive assistance at set times.

"Does anybody who is an adult want to be tucked into bed at 7:30 or 8 o'clock?"

Stanko said the support staff who work in the building are also struggling to get up and down the stairs to help clients.

Resident 'intimidated' by Manitoba Housing

After speaking to CBC News, Stanko said a representative from Manitoba Housing arrived, knocking loudly.

"She was doing her best to intimidate and rattle me," Stanko said. "She told me I was disrespecting her."

Stanko said she believes the employee visited her because she spoke to CBC and the visit was upsetting, ending with the representative slamming the door behind her.

"She implied I didn't have my thoughts straight," she said.

"We have increased the number of tenant service co-ordinators visiting the building since the elevator went out of service, to check in with tenants to determine what supports they have and if their needs have changed," Manitoba Housing said in a statement emailed to CBC on Friday.

"We expect our staff to be courteous and respectful to our tenants at all times, so if a tenant is unhappy with the conversation they had with one of our staff, we'd encourage them to call our Housing Communications Centre 24/7," the statement said.

Residents in a Manitoba Housing building on Princess Street say they're trapped without a working elevator — and their requests for information are being ignored. 2:06

About the Author

Marina von Stackelberg

Journalist

Marina von Stackelberg is a CBC journalist based in Winnipeg. She previously worked for CBC in Halifax and Sudbury. Connect with her @CBCMarina or marina.von.stackelberg@cbc.ca

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