UPDATE: The heat was working again at Blackwood Village as of Friday (Dec. 9) afternoon, as the part that was air-freighted in arrived as scheduled, noted Porte vice president, asset and property management Daniel Bar-Dayan in an email.
“Our onsite staff have received many ‘thank yous’ from tenants for how we have responded and for providing them with heaters which have made them sufficiently comfortable in the interim,” he said in the email.
But Carey said she and other residents still have several unanswered questions, especially about reimbursement for the Hydro used to power the space heaters and for the more than seven days without any heat.
“There are still a lot of questions,” she said.
“Perhaps Porte needs our help to have a contingency plan in place in case this happens again in the future.”
Original story continues below:
For the second time in just a few years, White Rock’s Blackwood Village apartments are without heat.
Building resident Catherine Carey, 69, said the heat stopped working Dec. 1, when temperatures were hovering around -6 C outside.
While she received an offer of a space heater to help compensate for the loss of heat, Carey noted the 63-unit building has been without heat for a week already during some of the coldest temperatures of the year, and that space heaters don’t offer a real solution.
Not only does the cord present a tripping hazard, space heaters can’t be left on overnight, as they cannot be left unattended.
No heat also means that common areas like stairwells and hallways are extremely cold, Carey said.
In addition, Carey has asked who will pay for the electricity to operate a space heater, but has not received an answer.
“Who pays for the Hydro? They’re not addressing that – I’m not paying for the electricity to use it,” she said, noting that heat is included with her lease.
“You state that you are ‘working to get the heat up and running’, but from what I can see, you are sitting in your warm office while I am not. It is now seven days without heat in the building,” Carey said in one of two emails to Porte Communities general manager of property management April Funk.
She also checked with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB).
“According to the RTB, if I am expected to stay here in my apartment without heat for an undetermined date, I have the right to ask you to put in writing that you will be responsible for alternate heating costs. I have the right to request a monetary refund for all the days that I don’t have safe use of my apartment and all costs associated with that. I have the right to ask for alternate housing with heat here in White Rock during this period of time,” Carey wrote.
As of Thursday, Dec. 8, Carey said her questions remain unanswered, other than a notice posted in the mailroom and one in the elevator to let residents know Porte is working to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.
The reason for the heat outage is because a part from the building’s boiler broker down, Funk said Thursday (Dec. 8).
“The moment that we got notified of this issue we’ve been working with our mechanical group to get this repaired as quickly as possible,” Funk told the Peace Arch News, noting that there’s only one distributor in all of Canada for the part needed.
“We are freighting it out from out east – we’re shipping it via airplane – to get it out here to try to get this repair completed as quickly as possible. They are sending it out hopefully on Friday.”
Unsure of how old the building’s boiler is, Funk said she would have to check with the mechanical company.
She said space heaters have been provided for tenants.
As for reimbursing tenants for the several days and night without heat, Funk said “We’re evaluating that… We want to get the repair completed and then we’re evaluating and discussing that with all tenants.”
“We’re actively working on it,” she said.
During the Christmas season of 2019-2020, Blackwood Village residents were without heat and hot water for eight days.
At that time, Porte management again said a part for the boiler had to be air-freighted in.
“Most people in the building are afraid if they speak up they will be evicted,” Carey said, referring to the previous incident, when a letter that residents felt was threatening to them was posted in the building.
The notice was attributed to an off-site property manager in February of 2020.
“It’s the same ’ol, same ’ol… It’s really frustrating,” Carey said.
Having gotten sick when the building had no heat before, she’s worried she’ll get sick again.
Many people in the building are seniors and won’t necessarily see the notice in the elevator or mailroom if they stay in or use the back door to go outside – an email or a knock on the door in person would be better, she said.