Tenants in a new, westside Saskatoon apartment building have been bundled up and sitting around space heaters for a week.
On the morning of Feb. 4, a pipe burst on the fifth floor at 130 Shillington Cres., causing flooding in multiple units.
Subsequently, several units lost access to water, heat, and in some cases, both.
As well as layering up when they leave their homes, tenants in the building tell Global News they have to bundle up once they’re inside as well, with some units sitting at 10 degrees Celsius.
“We signed a two-year lease thinking this is going to be the place that we rent until we buy our first house and have kids and all that. We’re five months into it and it’s been the worst experience that we could’ve ever asked for,” Billy Wright said.
This comes as Saskatoon and most of the Prairies sits in extremely cold temperatures because of the polar vortex moving through the region.
Some tenants have been offered hotel rooms or other accommodations, while others have received space heaters to raise the temperature in their homes.
Wright and his neighbour, Terry Dupuis are still in the building, noting the landlord and property manager have had little to no communication with them about when the problem will be fixed.
“They gave us those heaters and before we found out we shouldn’t be using them, we had them on. But those don’t even warm up the feet of a secretary under their desk,” Dupuis said.
He was one of the first tenants to move into the building when it opened in December 2019 and noted problems continuously pop up.
Heritage Valley Capital Property Group out of Edmonton is one of the property owners.
In a phone call to Global News, one of its managing partners said they’re doing everything they can to make sure residents are cared for.
“Our property management company is trying to do the best under the circumstances. We’re in constant communication with them. If there has been lapses, we’re working on them. Everybody is on site,” Manjit Gauba said.
Saskatoon Fire Department said an inspector found the building’s sprinkler system wasn’t functioning, the fire alarm was in trouble and some units required portable heaters to warm the space.
“(The property manager and owner) have subsequently notified us (Thursday) afternoon that the sprinkler and fire alarm systems are back up and running, and they have provided us with their plan to remedy outstanding heat and water issues in the building,” read a statement from Assistant Chief Yvonne Raymer.
Wright and Dupuis say they pay $1,650 every month in rent and were expecting more than what has been done so far.
“The only place you can be with COVID-19 right now is at your own house. But if you don’t even want to go to your own house because it’s warmer to sit in your car somewhere than it is to go inside, then what’s the point of renting from that place?” Wright questioned.
Gauba noted the engineers on site have yet to determine what caused the water and heat to shut off, but that teams will be working on the building until the issue is resolved.