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Province to provide 5 days of emergency housing for Ridgeview Place residents

Building owner Centurion Property ups “compassionate assistance” to $2,500 after city pressure

By Michael John Lo
April 27, 2023
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Province to provide 5 days of emergency housing for Ridgeview Place residents

Building owner Centurion Property ups “compassionate assistance” to $2,500 after city pressure

By Michael John Lo
Apr 27, 2023
Photo: Zoë Ducklow / The Westshore
Photo: Zoë Ducklow / The Westshore
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Province to provide 5 days of emergency housing for Ridgeview Place residents

Building owner Centurion Property ups “compassionate assistance” to $2,500 after city pressure

By Michael John Lo
April 27, 2023
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Province to provide 5 days of emergency housing for Ridgeview Place residents
Photo: Zoë Ducklow / The Westshore

The BC government is stepping in to provide five days of emergency accommodations to support tenants of RidgeView Place, who were told to evacuate their building on Monday due to structural concerns of the troubled highrise located at 2770 Claude Rd. 

Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson announced the news at a press conference Thursday, where he also noted that building owners Centurion Property Associates Inc., a Toronto-based asset firm, has increased its one-time “compassionate assistance” payment to residents from $1,000 to $2,500 after “heavy influence” from Langford.

“I want to thank Minister [Bowinn] Ma and Minister [Ravi] Kahlon for working so closely with us to help those impacted with this ongoing issue,” Goodmanson said. 

Provincial support for RidgeView Place residents is being administered through the Emergency Support Services (ESS) program. ESS is designed to provide aid in the first 72 hours of a crisis before other supports kick in. A provincial worker has been assigned to be a community navigator for those affected. Goodmanson indicated that there will be enough space to account for every unit rented at RidgeView Place.

The ESS centre at 877 Goldstream Ave. will be open for the next three days to provide one-on-one assistance for those at RidgeView place looking for short-term accommodations in Westshore area hotels.

“We hear so often that provincial governments are slow and it takes forever to get things done,” Goodmanson said. 

But it hasn’t been the case here, he said.

When CTV News first reported Tuesday that not all tenants were being covered by home insurance, provincial agreements were in place to support them by Wednesday afternoon, Goodmanson said. 

“[Ma and Kahlon] were debating bills and rushed from the floor up to meet us—and apologized for being late—because they couldn’t run up fast enough,” he added.

There’s also been an outpouring of community support from local businesses and associations, with Goodmanson thanking Ron Couture and Jim Hatshorne of the Western Developers Association in particular for their assistance. 

“This is the community that we talked about, when systems break down,” Goodmanson said. “It’s the community that rises up and protects people, and this is a fantastic example of it.” 

With only five days of emergency accommodations extended from the province, the city is looking at further avenues of fundraising for those affected, whether that is from Centurion, Westshore developers, or the business community, 

“We want to stretch those days outward,” Goodmanson said.

Analysis of evacuation data from the Tyee found that people evacuated from their homes in BC are displaced for 22 days on average.

Communications between Langford and Centurion have been amicable, despite Centurion being “absent” from discussions about Ridgeview Place for a day and a half this week, Goodmanson said.

In an unsigned statement sent to Capital Daily, the company said that the city of Langford should take additional measures and share responsibility in supporting residents. Goodmanson has not said whether Langford would spend emergency funding, as it did in 2019, to house tenants affected by the revoked occupancy permit. 

No additional information about the safety issues at RidgeView Place was provided at the conference. Goodmanson noted the ongoing investigation from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of BC (EGBC) about the issues at RidgeView Place that were first communicated to Langford and Centurion on April 17, as previously reported in the Westshore.  

Centurion said that it was “surprised” to learn of structural issues after the remediation work that was done. EGBC saw no evidence that the remediation was carried out with a comprehensive review of the structural design of the building.

The company had signed an agreement to purchase Ridgeview Place, then known as Danbrook One, in March 2019, just a few months before the building’s occupancy permit was revoked and had its residents evacuated for the first time in Dec. 2019. Following a $1 million remediation process, Centurion was granted an occupancy permit by Langford council last April, until that permit was revoked on Monday.

“There is ongoing litigation that we are confident will address many of the issues we inherited as a company,” the statement from Centurion read. “We also know that in frustrating situations like this, there is a natural desire to point fingers at those whose actions caused these issues.”

Goodmanson sees the situation differently.

“Taxpayers bailed them out in 2019. Every taxpayer dollar that’s being used from the province, or any other level of taxpayer’s money is bailing them out,” he said. 

Centurion is refunding rent for the days of April 24-30.

In the statement, Centurion said it is providing additional support for displaced tenants, which include the availability of moving trucks and increased staff presence at the property and extended in-person and call-centre availability. Since Monday, the company has also hired 24-hour security for the premises.

In a Q&A posted on their website last year, the company reassured would-be tenants that “upgrades have been designed to ensure the property will be able to withstand seismic activity in accordance with current best practices and standards in seismology and structural engineering.”

Centurion did not respond to follow up questions sent by email, or respond to requests for an interview.

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