More than 24 units of tenants, including families, children, elders and refugees, are part of a spike seen in Prince Rupert renovictions since December and they are worried there is just nowhere to move to.
In Prince Rupert, tenants in the 12-unit property at 601 and 613 Sixth Ave. West have received written correspondence from a new property owner who took over the building in December that eviction for renovations and repairs was imminent. Soon after, on Dec. 22, a burst pipe in an upper vacant unit flooded out the top floor. In the unit below, the tenant needed multiple totes emptied continuously to keep up with the water running for three days over the Christmas period. During the ordeal, the caretaker of the building was hospitalized and died a few days later. With the landlord absent and living down south, one tenant and his friend turned off the water. After a couple of days and no assistance, they fixed the pipe at their own expense but not before another tenant was also taken to hospital from the stress of the ordeal, multiple tenants told The Northern View Jan. 4.
John Wilson, the tenant who fixed the pipe said no one could be reached over the holiday period and no one came to clean up, plumbers wouldn’t come out and the City of Prince Rupert said they could not assist because it was private property. The odour of stale dampness was ripe when The Northern View attended the building to speak to tenants on Jan. 3.
Ronald Shaw is a 70-year-old senior citizen in the building and has lived there just less than 10 years. He said while choking back tears he was worried because there was nowhere to move to. His partner, who is 68 years old, has been hospitalized and needs a ground-floor unit for her electric wheelchair. He said over Christmas, due to the flooding situation, once the water was turned off, they couldn’t cook or bathe. He said he collected rainwater to wash with.
“What a stressful time, you know, this is terrible. Really sad. We didn’t even decorate in our place this year. We didn’t even have a turkey,” he said with his voice catching in his throat. “It’s the worst Christmas I ever had.
“Luckily, John knew what he was doing and managed to get the water back on,” he said, referring to the tenant who came to the rescue. “I’m still grateful because I pray. I pray every day for everybody.”
The tenants The Northern View spoke to all said the landlord has made them a financial offer to vacate their units. However, there is nowhere to go, so none have accepted the offer, they said.
Money can’t buy a tenant a new rental unit in Prince Rupert.
Greg Cornish has lived at Harbour View Apartments for close to ten years. The complex is made of several buildings on Evergreen Drive. The tenants in the 11 units in his building all received visits and correspondence from the landlord on Jan. 6, giving notice that an application for repairs, maintenance and vacant possession was being made to the Residential Tenancy Branch. The tenants have been offered $2,000 to move if they vacate by May, Cornish said.
However, there really is no choice to accept or reject the offer as there is nowhere to go, Cornish said. He currently pays $633 per month for his two-bedroom apartment, with an increase set for Feb 1. to $644. Cornish said one Elder tenant in her eighties has lived in the building for just less than 20 years - and most of the tenants are long-term.
“Even if the landlord did have to put us up during renovations, where are we going to go?” he said. “I know the landlord is not going to re-rent at the same rent after renovations. The city says he has to, but that doesn’t make sense. How does a landlord make a profit?”
“I don’t want to end up on the street. I have no family or connections. My new roof may be living under a bridge,” he said.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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