UBCO tower construction forces evacuation of housing complex in Kelowna, B.C.

Click to play video: 'City monitoring damage caused by UBCO build'
City monitoring damage caused by UBCO build
It has already impacted several buildings, the construction of UBC-Okanagan's downtown Kelowna campus. Some buildings have been forced to shut down operations due to cracks and movement in the foundation. And now a close eye is being kept on a new residential building that houses people with disabilities. Taya Fast reports. – Jan 30, 2024

Residents of a subsidized housing complex in downtown Kelowna are being evacuated over safety concerns caused by the construction of the new 43-storey UBC Okanagan tower across the street.

Hadgraft Wilson Place, a 68-unit affordable housing complex located at 1360 Bertram St., has already begun a three-day planned evacuation, after a review by third-party geotechnical and structural engineers indicated that the construction at the UBC Okanagan site has raised safety concerns for the building and those living inside.

“Recent assessments have indicated the level of risk is significant enough to begin the evacuation process to ensure the life and safety of occupants,” fire chief Dwight Seymour said.

“Additionally, due to the shifting in the building, safety features may be compromised in the event of an emergency, creating an additional risk to occupants and first responders.”

Click to play video: 'More structural damage blamed on UBCO construction'
More structural damage blamed on UBCO construction

A meeting was held on Sunday, notifying residents of what to expect over the next several days. Residents will have the help and support of the City of Kelowna, Pathways Abilities Society and BC Housing during the entire process.

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“We are dedicated to ensuring our tenants receive the support they need during this difficult time,” said Charisse Daley, executive director of Pathways Abilities Society.

“Pathways will work with each tenant to understand their needs and connect them with resources and accommodations as necessary.”

UBCO has voluntarily halted construction work at site until further notice, and engineers will continue to keep a close eye on the structure and soil movement.

Problems caused by tower construction have been well documented since last fall, when cracks in the foundations of buildings around the university development were first discovered. Since then nearby businesses and buildings have had to temporarily close out of an abundance of caution.

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