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New Westminster orders evacuation of apartment building with long history of neglect

City staff supervise the evacuation or an unsafe apartment building in New Westminster on Friday. Global News

Nearly a dozen people living in a multi-unit New Westminster apartment with a long history of neglect have been forced from their homes.

On Friday, the city’s fire chief issued an emergency evacuation order due to “severe life safety issues” at the property, city manager of integrated services Kim Deighton said.

“It’s reached a point now where it’s extremely hazardous to remain on site, and the fire hazards are just completely unacceptable,” she explained.

“The faulty alarm panel, no fire separations, poor exiting … and no maintenance of electrical and gas, it’s the perfect storm.”

Click to play video: 'Balmoral Hotel  Evictions'
Balmoral Hotel Evictions

Deighton said there were five tenants and six unregistered occupants living in the building at 325 Agnes St.

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Problems at the apartment are not new, and the building has been in and out of compliance over the last two decades, according to the city.

Concerns escalated in July 2022, when problems became serious enough for the city to revoke the landlord’s business licence and issue tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

Deighton said officials had hoped that would be enough to prompt the owner to bring the building up to minimum standards.

All our attempts at getting the landlord to cooperate have been unsuccessful,” she said.

“It’s unfortunate, it’s never something that’s done lightly. We did everything we could to avoid this and here we are.”

Service providers, including from the non-profit sector and government, have been reaching out to the people living there over the last several weeks, she said, as it became apparent the building would likely need to be vacated.

She said those organizations are helping residents find alternative housing and with storage.

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