People evacuated from flooded apartment fear being dumped on the streets and in the cold

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“I don’t know what’s going on – somehow we have to find (the hotel money)”

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Clinging to an oxygen tank, the tired Birdie Schwieger said she didn’t know where she was going to call home, a week after a heart-wrenching evacuation from the flooded Westview Heights apartment building.

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The 66-year-old is one of hundreds of residents in the downtown apartment building whose owner-funded hotel payments ran out on Wednesday.

“I don’t know what’s going on – somehow we have to find (the hotel money),” said Schwieger, equipped with a walker, who sought refuge from the cold. -20 ° C Wednesday at a downtown Tim Hortons restaurant.

When the pipes burst and the electricity was cut in the building at 825 8th Ave. SW Due to the cold, Schwieger was hauled up several flights of stairs to safety.

“I came down the stairs in a chair in total darkness – it was scary,” she said.

Her neighbors are also frightening as to where they’ll find shelter from the freezing cold once they can no longer afford the hotel rooms previously paid for by Westview Heights owner Mayflower Ventures.

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“I don’t have a family to help me – I start school in January and I don’t have a home,” said Laura Montague, 18.

“I’m going to try to get people together to stay at an Airbnb or something.”

A good year isn’t a probability, said the teenager, who moved to Westview three months ago on a one-year lease.

“I don’t have the money to do anything fun,” said Montague, who was in tears after collecting personal effects from his 30th-floor suite.

She and other residents said their landlord should continue to pay for their accommodation, using their insurance if necessary.

“But they don’t care about us, all they care about is money,” Schwieger said.

Residents said their landlord told them they would be back home on Friday, but it’s now clear that won’t happen.

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Jaimin Raval stands outside Westview Apartments in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, December 29, 2021. He and a friend arrived from India three months ago, but are now out of their apartment due to flooding.  They cannot access their apartment to collect items, but they have insurance.
Jaimin Raval stands outside Westview Apartments in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, December 29, 2021. He and a friend arrived from India three months ago, but are now out of their apartment due to flooding. They cannot access their apartment to collect items, but they have insurance. Photo by Jim Wells / Postmedia

Ajay Nehru said given the damage caused to the 297-suite building by the post-flood freeze, he cannot set a date for this return.

“Our effort must be to try to get the building going,” said Nehru of Mayflower Ventures.

“The crews have worked virtually non-stop since the event occurred. “

He said the intense cold and the Christmas holidays that reduced the availability of repair staff conspired against both the building owner and the tenants.

“If this had happened during the summer, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Nehru said, adding that the electricity, heat, sprinklers and elevators all need to be made functional.

“We started to heat the building (Tuesday). “

And he defended his company’s treatment of residents, who were accommodated in several nearby hotels for three to six nights at Mayflower’s expense.

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“We were clear with them that this was a short-term arrangement that they could use to make arrangements with their insurance companies – it’s something that cannot go on indefinitely,” said Nehru.

“This is where we need the community to scale up. “

Resident Crystal Keyowski has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover insurance deductibles for residents making claims for lost property, food and other accommodation.

“It has been a struggle the whole process – most of the people in this building are low income, people with disabilities, students, terrified teenagers,” said Keyowski, who estimates around 400 people have been displaced. .

“They don’t know what to do, they don’t have any money.”

She said that although she is staying at the nearby Sandman Inn at the moment, her future is uncertain and noted that some residents have even discussed the possibility of going to a homeless shelter.

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“I’m in limbo – (the owners) aren’t doing anything for us,” Keywoski said.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, at least I have a credit card.”

Residents also say they can’t stand Mayflower’s demand to pay rent ranging from $ 900 to $ 1,300 for January, especially since there is no date they can return.

An email sent to residents by Mayflower on Tuesday says their evacuation time will be deducted from that rent payment, which will be processed on January 10.

Montague said it was still “ridiculous” and given the damage to the building, she has doubts about her return.

“It will never be safe there… I want to terminate my lease and I will fight to terminate it at no cost,” she said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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