Many residents in the units above Wellburns Market are unsure if they will be able to return home after sewage flooded the building’s basement. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Many residents in the units above Wellburns Market are unsure if they will be able to return home after sewage flooded the building’s basement. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Tenants above Wellburns uncertain after ‘nightmare’ sewage flood ousts them indefinitely

Tenants evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

Residents of the historic corner building at Cook Street and Pandora Avenue remain in housing purgatory after the basement of the building – home also to Wellburns Market and the Cook Street Barbershop – flooded with sewage.

Nine-year resident Marita Manson says the hot water stopped working Nov. 24 and the taps went dry the day after. Tenants were given gym passes so they could shower, and on Nov. 29 received notices in the mail that the ‘problem’ could not be fixed and the building was to be closed indefinitely. Residents were given the option of staying at a nearby Sandman Hotel.

READ ALSO: Wellburn’s forced to close due to sewage flooding basement

“We would have two days to remove what we needed before they were going to change the locks,” Manson says. She says the building managers, Pacific Cove Property Management Ltd., didn’t do that – but tenants haven’t been allowed to stay in their units since. Some are already looking for new places to live while others, including Manson are waiting to see if they can return.

“It’s a nightmare. It’s an absolute nightmare,” she says. “Everything has been horrible, and there’s a level of uncertainty. We’ve heard vague statements like the building is ‘unlikely’ to be habitable again.”

Wellburns Market closed Nov. 29 when sewage was discovered in the basement. Sewage trucks worked to pump out the fluid, but the sewage refilled the space in the days following – at some points as high as two feet. At least 20 employees of the grocery store were sent home with no indication of whether or not they would be returning. The Cook Street Barbershop has reopened to customers, and will continue to operate at that location until its lease ends, according to the shop owner.

It’s unclear at this time what caused the sewage leakage.

The century-old buildin – which currently has seven rented residential units – is slated for demolition in 2020 to make room for a mixed-use residential and commercial complex with 103 rental apartments above and retail and commercial space on the ground floor.

Tenants were aware they would be looking for new places to live, but Manson says many now feel the sewage issue isn’t being fixed as a result.

“Now to be pressured to have to [relocate] immediately because they don’t want to fix or can’t fix this problem…We’ve been really trying to do what we can to make a case for them to fix the problem so we can keep living there.”

READ ALSO: Century-old grocery business set to close for new development

Part of that pressure comes from tenants’ impending fear of the expensive market they’ll now be navigating. Manson knows she won’t find anything as spacious or as character-filled as her current suite – at least not for the same price.

“We’re not going to go out and find a new place and rush a permanent move when we haven’t looked at all,” she says. “We were not prepared to do it this early.”

Pacific Cove Property Management did not return requests for comment by the time of publication.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rendering of Victoria Wonderland, a drive-thru immersive holiday experience that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Transcend Victoria)
Victoria Wonderland drive-thru show cancelled due to COVID-19

Organizers hope to host a similar event, if restrictions allow, in the new year

Swiftsure International Yacht Race 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Popular Swiftsure yacht race cancelled for second consecutive year

International sailing race hopes to run its 77th event in 2022

Saanich golfer and top B.C. junior and juvenile player Willy Bishop was named to the 2021 Canadian National Junior Golf Squad on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy Jenny Bishop)
Saanich student to tee-off with national golf team

Willy Bishop, 16, named to Canadian National Junior Golf Squad in 2021

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 outbreak at Saanich Peninsula Hospital. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Four new COVID-19 cases added to Saanich Peninsula Hospital outbreak

Inital round of patient testing is complete, staff testing continues

Oak Bay High students Mimi Hill and Aine O’Donnell run along the Jack Wallace Memorial Track. The old track is due to be resurfaced. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Oak Bay track resurfacing delayed

Oak Bay commits $50,000 towards renewed Jack Wallace track

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

(AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)
POLL: Has COVID-19 changed your plans for the holidays?

The lights are going up, the stacks of presents under the tree… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 1

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Watch Messiah at home with the Sooke Philharmonic

Concert available to stream Dec. 12

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read