KELOWNA - More than one hundred residents may be in the market for a new home after the Water’s Edge complex burned down earlier this month.
Only six units in the condominium complex were destroyed by a fire at an adjacent building but the entire 65-unit building may have to be flattened and rebuilt due to smoke and water damage, says the president of the strata council. At least 24 units will need to be taken down to the parkade level.
“Right now insurance and engineering teams are looking at the possibility of demolishing the entire building” says George Mapson, the Strata President for Water’s Edge. “It’s going to take around two plus years to get residents back in, after the demolition and reconstruction.”
That means, for the next couple of years, roughly 130 residents will have to find a place to live in a less than optimal housing market. Additionally, most of the residents are seniors, according to Mapson, whose own unit was completely gutted in the fire.
“Most residences have temporary living allowances as part of their personal insurance policy,” said Mapson. “We’re working with a new organization in town called happipad, so they’re helping residents find accommodation.”
At the moment, residents are either staying with family, friends or in a hotel, according to Mapson.
Water’s Edge resident Airlie Pinkerton was out of town when her unit was ruined in the blaze. Although many of her belongings were destroyed, such as old photo albums and her wedding dress, she considers herself fortunate to have another housing option.
“We lost a lot - our whole life was there,” she says. “But I would say we are one of the luckiest because we have other options, it’s such a challenge in Kelowna to find housing, especially in the summer.”
Pinkerton spends her summers on Vancouver Island, and has rented an apartment downtown Kelowna starting in September.
“Eventually you need to have a base, to have some construct to your life,” she says. “Everyone needs a place to call home.”
According to Mapson, a full report should be released on Friday of the next steps to come. For now, he says he is working to stay as transparent as possible and keep everyone up to date and in good spirits.
“The residents are resilient. We may be seniors but we’re tough buggers,” he says. “We were a family before, but now we’re a really tight family.”
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