The evacuation of the downtown Calgary apartment has displaced tenants while the building is repaired

Tenants in a downtown Calgary apartment building that was evacuated after flooding and power outages last week are still on the move – and some say the management company will soon stop paying for their hotels.

A series of problems began in the Westview Heights apartment building, which houses 297 units across 41 floors in the 800 block of 8th Avenue SW, when a pipe burst on December 22 and disabled elevators, have tenants told CBC News.

In the days that followed, the building suffered flooding and power and heating failures during a freezing cold snap in Alberta.

Further flooding on Boxing Day resulted in the building being evacuated.

Resident Adam Bremner says the fifth level of the parking lot began to flood on December 22. He says the photo was taken within an hour of lowering the elevators into the building. (Submitted by Adam Bremner)

Fortieth Floor resident Jules Glasel told CBC News on Tuesday that there was only time to save his three cats from the building because the water made him too dangerous.

“I was just beyond fear and cried so much on the way to grab my cat, not knowing what they looked like,” she said.

“It’s so scary not knowing what’s going on, and it’s so much more stressful than thinking, ‘Hey, what’s going to happen? Am I going to have a house where to return to ?'”

Lack of communication

Throughout the ordeal, communication with Mayflower Ventures, the building management company, was scarce, Glasel said.

But she has been informed that her stay at the hotel will only be covered until Tuesday morning.

“I then have to pay, for example, for myself out of my pocket, or go find somewhere to go,” Glasel said.

“There are definitely a lot of people out there who can’t afford the $ 75 a night, for as long as that is. So there are going to be people who are, like, out, with nowhere to go.”

She says after what she’s been through, she plans to move out as soon as she can.

Resident Emily Fraser says she had to use the stairs in Westview Heights on Monday morning. Due to its slippery conditions due to the flooding of the building, it took 20 minutes to descend 10 floors. (Submitted by Emily Fraser)

Another resident, Jamey Bracey, says she and her husband live on the 38th floor with a baby and their dog.

When the building started to flood, she says she went down flooded stairs with her son to stay with her family.

But her husband had to stay in the apartment with their dog without heating or hot water.

“He missed our son’s first Christmas… which is sad”

She says she is afraid to eventually return to the building.

“Going down in the dark with a baby strapped to you isn’t something I want to do again.”

Management response

Ajay Nehru of Mayflower Ventures says their top priority is making sure the building is operational and safe for tenants.

He said he would be on-site to handle repairs and restoration until residents can return, which, at best, won’t happen until Friday.

Nehru says an incident like this has never happened in the building and the company has always been proactive when it comes to upgrades.

However, he says this incident was beyond their control and was a complete nightmare.

“We have four major systems which are currently down and which we are working on independently,” he said.

“The reality is that the building cannot be occupied until these four things are at the level where the safety of our tenants is in question.”

Mayflower Ventures says residents are required to have tenant insurance before they can sign a lease, which is why tenants will pay for their own accommodation. (James Young / CBC)

As part of Mayflower Ventures’ policy, Nehru says all renters are required to purchase insurance before moving in, which is why tenants will now pay for accommodation.

However, Mayflower Ventures has secured some hotels at special rates.

“We even paid for nights in these hotels, which gives us time to market ourselves, to contact their insurance experts, to do all of that,” he said.

“We have done everything we can think of to adapt and try to provide information as we can.”

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