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UPDATE: UBCO build evacuates Kelowna apartments

Hadgraft Wilson Place will see residents evacuate over the next couple days

UPDATE 5 p.m.

All Monique Saebels knows at this point is that she’ll be living in a hotel for the next week.

Saebels is one of dozens of residents that is being evacuated from Hadgraft Wilson Place as construction of the new University of B.C. Okanagan downtown Kelowna campus continues to damage neighbouring properties.

The notice came in the form of a building meeting with Mayor Tom Dyas, UBCO, and Pathways Abilities Society. Residents were informed they have until April 2 to move out.

“Our building has been amazing,” Saebels said about Pathways, the organizations overseeing the apartments. “They’re dealing with all of us going through our emotions and I’ve got an older mother…so I have to worry about what’s going to happen to both of us.”

Saebels said Pathways is putting everyone up in a hotel for the week and providing food vouchers, but there are a lot of other expenses that will have to be out of pocket. Long term, she said they haven’t been given any information.

“We asked today. They didn’t have a lot of answers, but they said they’re working with BC Housing to try to find us different locations… We don’t know if it’s going to be permanent or not.”

The Kelowna woman lives on the fifth floor of the building. She said they started noticing cracks in the building back in December and just last week another tenant informed her that her balcony was starting to lean.

Saebels is collecting up necessities and her most important belongings, but has no idea what will happen with things like her furniture being left behind.

“We’re a great little community here. We all are very close and there’s a lot of diverse people here,” Saebels said. “I had just applied for the Strong Neighbourhood Grant for our building to create community. I guess that’s not going to happen now.”

A few cracks are visible from the exterior of the building with a large crack in the concrete in front of the parking garage. The garage itself has uneven, cracked floors and the walls and support pillars are covered in sensors to track any movement.

ORIGINAL 3:10 p.m.

A downtown Kelowna apartment building is being evacuated, as construction of the new University of B.C. Okanagan downtown campus is wreaking havoc on nearby properties.

Evacuation started today for residents living in Hadgraft Wilson Place at 1360 Bertram Street and is expected to continue for another two days.

“Recent assessments have indicated the level of risk is significant enough to begin the evacuation process to ensure the life and safety of occupants,” says Fire Chief Dwight Seymour. “Additionally, due to the shifting in the building, safety features may be compromised in the event of an emergency, creating an additional risk to occupants and first responders.”

Residents will be able to find support through the city, Pathways Abilities Society, and BC Housing.

“We are dedicated to ensuring our tenants receive the support they need during this difficult time,” says Charisse Daley, Executive Director of Pathways Abilities Society. “Pathways will work with each tenant to understand their needs and connect them with resources and accommodations as necessary.”

Hadgraft Wilson Place only opened in June 2023 and is home to more than 80 residents.

Construction of the UBCO downtown campus has been voluntarily stopped. Engineers will continue to monitor and assess the building.

The university build had previously caused concern to a number of neighbouring businesses and had forced evacuations of coLab and the Royal Canadian Legion.

READ MORE: No solutions: UBCO tower causes permanent evacuation of Kelowna businesses

Brittany Webster

About the Author: Brittany Webster

A video journalist with Black Press Media. I recently made the exciting move from my radio anchor position at AM 1150 to this new venture.
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