Finding housing the biggest concern now for Vernon residents displaced by fire

Ed Imhoff stands outside the scorched Arbor Lee apartment complex July 11, 217.


VERNON - With the shock and panic of last night’s devastating apartment fire still fresh, displaced residents are now worrying about finding a place to live in Vernon’s razor thin rental market.

Arbour Lee apartment resident Ed Imhoff was grateful to have a friend to stay with last night, but has no idea what he’ll do in the long term. It will likely be months before residents can return to the heavily damaged 12-unit building.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Imhoff says. “There is no rentals.”

According to residents, roughly 30 to 40 people are displaced due to the fire.

“The neighbours beside us have a young baby and just finished renovating,” Imhoff says.

The building is blocked off and being guarded by security, however Imhoff was able to get inside this morning, with an escort, to retrieve medication and other items.

While his unit, located on the bottom floor, didn’t sustain any fire damage, it is heavily water damaged.

“A lot of the stuff on the ground is soaking wet,” he says. “It’s unliveable.”

Eight of the 12 units in the complex were badly damaged.
Eight of the 12 units in the complex were badly damaged.

The extent of the building damage is not fully known, but resident Tyler Lafferty says his insurance provider indicated it could be as long as a year-and-a-half to two years if it has to be rebuilt.

“They’re forecasting with all the destruction in B.C. with wildfires we’re going to have a hard time with construction workers. There will be a lot of work and not enough workers,” Lafferty says of his conversation with the insurance company.

He counts himself among the luckiest of the residents because his employer is putting him, and the friends and family who were staying with him the past several months, up free of charge. Lafferty is the executive chef at the Bulldog Grand Cafe and says the hotel is letting them stay as long as they need.

“The Bulldog has been gracious to let us stay here,” Lafferty says. “They (friends and family) were able to go up to the Bulldog that night and have a shower, just relax, eat dinner.”

He says part of the reason his house guests were staying with him in the first place is the difficulty in finding rentals in Vernon.

Residents don't know how long it will be until they can return.
Residents don't know how long it will be until they can return.

“We’re in a mad hunt to find something,” he says. “Unless you’re a professional, it’s tough to find something affordable. There is no inventory in the rental market right now. We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

He feels deeply for his neighbours and the uncertainty they too are facing.

“Lucky for us we have the Bulldog. The other tenants don’t have that luxury,” he says.

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