Security of evacuated Winnipeg apartment block in question after tenant’s motorcycle stolen

Nearly two weeks after a Winnipeg apartment block was evacuated, many residents remain in temporary housing and living with uncertainty as to when they’ll be allowed back inside to get the rest of their belongings.

Judith Stanley spent a decade at Birchwood Terrace before the city ordered all of the roughly 250 tenants to evacuate on May 9, after serious deterioration found in multiple steel columns of the parkade put the entire building’s stability into question.

“Everything was left behind. We got out our two dogs, prescription medications, the clothes on our back and a few toiletries,” Stanley told CBC on Tuesday.

“We literally have nothing. My son’s ashes are in there.”

Stanley was also disappointed after management staff assured her that she could safely leave two of her motorcycles outside of the building for a few days, since it was gated and supervised by 24/7 security, she said.

“They promised the building would be secure and the bike was stolen within a week,” Stanley said.

“The security guard told us that somebody had cut a hole in the fence and had just taken it out,” she said, adding that the second one was damaged.

Stanley is now living in a hotel provided by the city and the Red Cross until June 1. She’s not sure how safe Birchwood Terrace is now.

“If they can take a motorcycle out the back, what’s going to stop them from hopping on the patio and getting into the apartments?” she said.

“Once they get into one apartment, nothing’s secure.”

Birchwood Terrace residents concerned about building’s security

9 hours ago

Duration 2:23

Nearly two weeks after a Winnipeg apartment block was evacuated, many residents remain in temporary housing and uncertainty as to when they’ll be allowed back in the building to get the rest of their belongings.

Ladco Company Ltd. — which owns Birchwood Terrace — declined CBC’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Stanley was told that city employees would enter the building once it’s stable enough to grab the tenant’s possessions, she said, which she feels is a violation of privacy.

“We all have got precious memories in there, and they’re not just all going to fit into a little carrier bag,” she said. “It’s just hard, it’s very hard, because we don’t know when or if we’re going to get our items back.”

She says insurance is not reimbursing any of her possessions “because technically, they’re still there.”

“The only way we’ll get money is if the building collapses, like how sad is that?”

Residents ‘completely on our own’

Des Kappel, a Birchwood Terrace resident of about eight years, says he’s also staying in a hotel and is unsure where to go next.

“It’s just been a whirlwind. I keep thinking about it. It’s been overwhelming,” he told CBC Tuesday.

“Other than the city giving us a hotel room and [the] Red Cross giving us a bit of cash to help with eating and basics, we’re completely on our own.”

He says Ladco reimbursed tenants a prorated amount of May’s rent and their security deposits, but it hasn’t been enough for some to find a new place to live.

“It’s great that we have each other, because we’re in this together.”

He says he’s shocked by the motorcycle theft.

“That’s not particularly great security. It doesn’t give me a lot of faith.”

Kappel says tenants may not be sure that their belongings are truly safe until they get them back.

“We have no clue, it might be one month, it might be six before we get our belongings.”

He’s keeping in touch with local officials while trying to find a lawyer to represent Birchwood Terrace residents as well as a new place to stay.

“It’s those few things that I’m trying to look after … to try and have some sort of normalcy come back to our lives so we can get on and enjoy life.”

The city did not provide a response to CBC’s request for comment on Tuesday.