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Residents forced out of structurally unsafe Langford apartment building looking for answers

Structural and safety concerns could put Langford building tenants at risk
The city of Langford has temporarily revoked occupancy of a building over a report citing structural issues and as Richard Zussman reports, frustration is growing among displaced residents.

Langford residents are still being kept in the dark over why there have been concerns about the structural stability of their apartment building, which forced them out of their homes a week ago.

The City of Langford is helping residents of Danbrook One, the tallest residential tower in the Victoria suburb, find short-term accommodations until the structural concerns can be addressed.

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On Dec. 20, the city received an independent engineering report from WSP Canada, a globally recognized engineering firm, regarding the safety of the residential tower at 2766 Claude Road.

Based on available information, the report stated certain aspects of the building’s structural design and its as-built structure do not meet engineering requirements and are not sufficient to mitigate risks to the safety of the tenants.

The city immediately notified the building owner, Centurion Property Associates, and the residents.

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So far, more than 60 per cent of tenants of the building’s 85 units have moved out.

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“It was a time of celebration. No one expected such a bad thing,” resident Sid Martl said.

“Imagine 80 tenants all moving out at the same time, in the same area. It’s going to be a challenge.”

City staff have helped some residents find a home, but many are being told they must move to other hotels and will be on their own from Jan. 3 onward.

Centurion says they are working with both their engineers and city engineers to determine next steps. Centurion says they have already completed the temporary shoring as recommended the city.

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But that work hasn’t been communicated to the residents.

“I don’t think Centurion, that owns this place, has helped us one bit,” resident Bob Breuker said. “No one has given us information. Nothing.”

The company expects residents will be able to move back in after the work is done, but understands some may not want to return.

“If we are unable to restore the occupancy permit and welcome residents home soon, we would plan to release residents from their leases and return prepaid rents and deposits,” the company said in an emailed response to questions from Global News.

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The company says it did extensive due diligence work in the period prior to purchasing the property this summer. Centurion says the team, or anyone they have spoken to, has never seen this kind of situation before.

“It is highly unusual. This property had a building permit, which means it must have been designed to specifications in the building code, and received the engineering sign-off to that effect, it was built by a reputable builder,” the company said, adding city engineers had also inspected and signed off on an occupancy permit.

“I know we did everything that would be usual of a buyer considering a purchase of a property such as this.”

But some residents aren’t sure they would be willing to go back, even after the next round of inspections.

“There is no amount of work that they can do to this building to save it or to make it feel safe to myself or my family,” resident Tad Martin said.