Displaced tower residents to get more money for expenses: mayor

Renters who have left the Danbrook One building in Langford due to safety concerns are receiving an additional $150 for expenses, said Mayor Stew Young.

About 60 per cent of the 86 units that had been occupied in the 2766 Claude Rd. building have seen tenants move out after the city warned them Dec. 20 of structural safety issues in the new building. The building has a total of 90 units.

Langford staff and volunteers have pitched in to assist renters, using a $400,000 fund to pay for hotels and essentials. As well, a fundraising page for tenants has topped $32,000, with several developers chipping in.

“The community was really good,” Young said.

Residents of vacated units received $250 vouchers a few days ago. Young said that another $150 per unit was to be distributed Tuesday.

Langford is concentrating on helping residents up to Jan. 3, two weeks from when tenants were notified of issues, he said. Insurance coverage for renters would typically cover that period of time, he said.

If it gets to the point where Langford is running short of money, then Young hopes the province will step in.

Langford is hoping to recoup monies it has given to help renters and will be speaking to its insurance company, he said.

A special command response centre at 780 Goldstream Ave. set up to help tenants by finding hotel rooms and helping with moving was open Tuesday. It will not be staffed on Christmas Day but Langford remains ready to help citizens, who can contact the fire hall, Young said.

The building’s occupancy permit was revoked. It is not known how long it will take for repairs to be completed.

The 11-storey reinforced concrete building was constructed by Langford’s Design Build Services and is owned by Centurion Property Associates of Toronto. Company officials could not be reached on Tuesday.

As soon as two independent engineers from different firms sign off on remedial work, the city will approve a new occupancy permit, Young said.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists notified Langford earlier this year about a complaint relating to the structural integrity of the building, the city said in a document posted on its website. Langford hired engineering firm WSP to examine structural documents for the building.

An overview of WSP findings, also posted on Langford’s website, said its “report highlights elements of the gravity system design that indicate a lower than code stipulated factor of safety and where the likely failure mechanism can occur with very little warning.” This report recommends immediate installation of temporary supports at level two.

Gravity load refers to the weight, including materials, people and their belongings, and elements such as snow, in a building's structure. A gravity system is the vertical loading support structure for a building, said Dr. Lina Zhou, an assistant professor in the department of civil engineering at UVic.

 spokeswoman for the Engineering and Geosciences organization, which is governed by B.C. legislation, said it was unable disclose more information about the building. “We are required by law to keep confidential any ongoing investigations and therefore I'm unable to share anything,” Megan Archibald said in an email. “When it comes to our investigation and discipline processes, our role as a regulator is to determine if a professional engineer or geoscientist has failed to meet the professional standards or ethical obligations of the professions. Our investigation will focus on whether those standards of practice were breached.”