The developer behind a brand-new rental building in West Kelowna, B.C., that saw 150 tenants evacuated indefinitely on Sunday morning due to a mysterious odour says it’s hired a third party to investigate.
The residents of Lakeview Point, a six-storey, 60-unit rental building on Ellison Road, were ordered to leave the building after a tenant reported a strange odour that left a tickle in the throat.
“It’s described as chemical in nature, but very difficult to pinpoint,” said Jason Brolund, West Kelowna’s fire chief.
Kelowna’s hazmat team scoured the structure and investigated unit by unit in an attempt to determine the source of the odour, but to no avail.
The regional emergency support services team (ESS) activated a reception centre at Royal LePage Place arena where evacuees were provided food, water and pet care.
“COVID-19 has brought on an entirely different dynamic for us here in terms of moving this number of people out of their apartment, trying to convince them to stay apart and follow the COVID guidelines, protect the workers here at the reception centre,” Brolund said.
“It’s made this operation very complex.”
Ironclad Developments Inc., the proponent of the project, said the fire department has released the building back to the company.
“No evidence of any issue related to the building itself was identified although it appears that an unidentified individual(s) may have intentionally or unintentionally released an unknown substance into a drain,” says Lauren Clemens, general counsel for Ironclad Developments Inc.
“Ironclad will now complete an additional investigation via an independent third party, which has already been obtained. ”
It’s a major inconvenience for residents who are unable to return to their homes. Evacuees were put up in hotels overnight.
“A bit of a rude awakening,” Michael Sinclair said of being jolted awake at 4 a.m. to the sound of fire alarms. Fire officials pulled the alarm to quickly evacuate the building.
“When it’s your only place to live and you’re kicked out of your place at 4 a.m., that’s a tough position to be in.”
Tammy Vautour was unprepared for a lengthy absence from her home.
“You rush out, you’re not thinking it’s going to be for this long a period of time,” she said.
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“Some are still in jammies or slippers, or you don’t have your wallets, they’re just letting us know it’s going to take a little bit longer.”
The building has been deemed unsafe to occupy under the City of West Kelowna safe premises bylaw and a “Do Not Occupy” order has been posted, the fire department said.
Evacuees will receive 72 hours of ESS support, including accommodations, food vouchers and incidental costs. Ironclads Developments Inc. will be responsible for taking care of displaced tenants after that.
“Ironclad is a family-owned company that is committed to the health and safety of all tenants and staff and will work non-stop alongside its experts to ensure that all issues are identified and resolved and that any displaced Ironclad community members are returned to their homes as quickly as possible,” Clemens said.
“Ironclad sincerely apologizes for the impact this unexpected situation has caused to our tenants.”