Nova Scotia

Tenants evicted from New Waterford apartment building seek answers

About 20 people were displaced from a 12-unit building on King Street in New Waterford, N.S., on Friday after a municipal fire inspector deemed the complex unsafe.

12-unit building deemed unsafe by fire inspector with CBRM

Around 20 people were displaced from a 12-unit building on King Street in New Waterford, N.S., on Friday. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Residents of a New Waterford, N.S., apartment complex are still looking for answers after being evicted last week when a municipal fire inspector deemed the property unsafe.

About 20 people were displaced from a 12-unit building on King Street on Friday. After being put up in a hotel over the weekend, one couple is still waiting to find out whether they'll have a roof over their heads.

Tarra MacIntyre said she and her partner have the clothes on their backs and a few other necessities, but they do not know if or when they'll be able to return to their unit.

"It is literally a mess," she said of the apartment building. "There's the laundry room … [it] has no ceiling."

Tarra MacIntyre is one of about 20 people evicted from the King Street apartment buildings. (Tarra MacIntyre/Facebook)

On Monday evening MacIntyre was calling several agencies to find out where she would spend the night.

"I was going to call the Red Cross to see if they're going to help. I have no idea where I'm going to go."

The province said the decision to close the structure in New Waterford was made under the Nova Scotia Fire Safety act. The provincial Office of the Fire Marshal worked in conjunction with municipal fire inspectors with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. 

This means no one can live in the building until the owner is able to make repairs. CBC News contacted the landlord, Karl Curtis, but has not yet heard back.

A spokesperson for the municipality, Christina Lamey, told CBC News the decision to vacate an entire apartment building is not made lightly, especially given the time of year. But waiting to declare the building as unsafe was not an option.

"In a situation where a building is deemed unsafe in that imminent moment and beyond, perhaps giving notice for any length of time just continues an unsafe situation," Lamey said.

Lamey said she could not get into specific issues with the building on King Street, but examples of what could shut a building down include concerns around fire suppression and alarms, along with issues around electrical and standing water.

Recent flooding

MacIntyre said the building had some flooding in late 2021 that was never addressed. A number of units also have mould, and she said maintenance was never completed.

Kendra Coombes, the MLA for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier, said she was at the building Friday when people were forced out, and the situation highlights a growing problem around housing in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

"Sometimes there's just no words to describe it, because of how housing is right now. We are in a full housing crisis here in CBRM," she said.

Kendra Coombes is the MLA for Cape Breton Centre-Whitney Pier. (Matthew Moore/CBC)

Coombes said the need for housing is high in rural communities outside the Halifax region, and more needs to be done to help the vulnerable population.

Coombes said more also needs to be done to make sure inspections are happening at buildings on a regular basis to ensure people, especially those who are marginalized, aren't forced from their homes because of neglect.

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