White Rock apartment tenants struggling without heat in midst of storm

Click to play video: 'White Rock tenants living without heat'
White Rock tenants living without heat
It has been an especially rough patch of extreme cold and snowy weather for people in a White Rock apartment building. As Catherine Urquhart reports, they say while they struggle to stay warm, the landlord is ignoring their cries for help – Jan 18, 2024

Some residents of a White Rock, B.C., apartment building are struggling in the midst of a snowstorm with their radiators not functioning and no one appearing to come in to fix them with haste.

Odette Slezas, 92, has been without central heating for nearly a week. She told Global News she’s been turning on the oven, dressing warmly, and using her own space heater to try and keep warm.

Her daughter, Michelle Harvey, flew in from Edmonton to help her.

“It makes me angry. It makes me sad. I see my mom having to put up with this as a 90-year-old,” Harvey said.

Click to play video: 'Advocates call for more help for those forced to sleep outside in the snow'
Advocates call for more help for those forced to sleep outside in the snow

In another unit, 89-year-old Waltraud David is dealing not only without heat, but with flooding from a burst pipe. She’s currently using electric heaters and sleeping in the living room, since the bedroom is too cold.

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“They didn’t fix it, they just mopped up the water. I came in on Monday and it was freezing cold in here. None of her radiators are working, it was like an ice box,” said the BC United constituency staffer Roxanne Black, who visited David on Thursday.

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“The whole building’s full of issues and it’s pretty sad.”

Click to play video: 'Surrey shelters at full capacity as temperatures plummet'
Surrey shelters at full capacity as temperatures plummet

A large percentage of the suites at Fir Haus Apartments have been without heat since last Friday. Rockwell Management, which runs the building, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford visited the building and met with some tenants on Thursday, and called the situation one of “great concern.”

“We’ve (met) people that are using unreliable sources and I really worry about that, so that’s been something my office has been working on — making sure people have access to heaters, blankets,” he said in an interview.

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“We’re going to continue doing that, but we need the people responsible for this to show up and fix it and fix it now.”

His office deals with similar situations “every day,” not only when there are cold snaps, he added.

Click to play video: 'Heat your home safely'
Heat your home safely

Slezas has lived in the building, paying her rent on time, for more than 40 years.

“Just give me some heat, that’s all I want,” she pleaded.

Her daughter said she doesn’t think the building management cares as long as they “collect money, that’s their main concern.”

This week’s snowstorm saw 25 cm of snow fall in White Rock on Wednesday alone. Freezing rain is in the forecast on Thursday night.

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— with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey

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