It was a massive and explosive fire, one that could be seen from all over Kelowna.
It was July 8, 2017, when flames from a roofer’s torch ignited a fire at a building under construction on Truswell Road.
The fire spread to the neighboring Water’s Edge condo, destroying 22 units and displacing all 130 residents due to smoke and water damage throughout the building.
Two years later, residents are still out of their homes.
“It’s been incredibly tough,” strata president George Mapson told Global News.
Mapson is one of the residents whose unit was completely devoured by the fire.
“All we saw was blue sky when everything was vaporized in this unit,” he said. “We lost everything.”
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Mapson said many of the residents, the majority of whom are seniors, have had to move multiple times since being forced out due to a challenging rental accommodation market.
“Usually in the summertime, you have to leave your rental place because the tourists pay a lot more rent,” he said. “One owner has moved seven times.”
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Charlene Hodgson is also a Water’s Edge resident.
She’s wheelchair bound and found it impossible to find a rental.
“I was looking for something very specialized and that just doesn’t exist here,” she said.
It forced her to buy a second home and spend thousands of dollars to modify it.
“‘I had to spend approximately $60,000,” she said, “to make it wheelchair accessible.”
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Colter Developments began re-constructing the building in June 2018 after demolition and mold remediation work was completed.
Colter Developments vice-president Kelly Leroux said it’s by far the most challenging rebuild project he’s ever undertaken.
“Every unit is customized so we have to meet with every owner multiple times to make sure we put the unit back to what it was pre-fire,” he said.
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Leroux said the company is aiming to have the building ready for occupancy by the end of the year, assuming it doesn’t run into any unforeseen circumstances or challenges.
“It’s a lot of pressure because we’ve been through this with a number of buildings and we understand the hardships people are under,” he said.
No firm dates have yet been announced in regards to a move-ins.