Tenants in rural Manitoba apartment told to move out in one week

More than a dozen people in a rural Manitoba community have been told they need to move out of their apartment building in one week before the power is turned off.

In St. Jean Baptiste, the apartment building at 144 Caron Street has a historical designation. The building was constructed between 1897 and 1898 as the Convent of the Sisters of The Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.

Ed Heidebrecht now owns the building, which was converted into affordable apartments before he bought it a year ago. He has been adding nine more apartment suites to the nine it already has.

“It’s lots of work to do to have safe and beautiful (suites), and people come enjoy this,” Heidebrecht said.

Tenant Adonis Dubois said he was concerned about the work being done and called the Rural Municipality of Montcalm, where St. Jean Baptiste is located.

“It came out that he was doing all of this work, electrical, he ran hydro, he did plumbing without building permits,” Dubois said.

Those apartments aren’t all up to code, and the RM wants changes.

“Their concern is it’s not safe,” Heidebrecht said adding the changes he needs to make will take a month to do. He needs electricity to do it, but soon he won’t have any.

“Manitoba Hydro also inspected and issued orders to repair recently and as those were not completed Manitoba Hydro has decided to disconnect power on May 5, 2023, at 1:00 pm.,” a letter to residents from the RM of Montcalm, shared with CTV by the RM, said. “The disconnection of power to the building was not a decision of Council or RM Staff but are in support of the decision to ensure the safety of residents.”

The municipality said a stop work order was given to Heidebrecht after inspections were made, asking him to make repairs.

“All of these orders and notices were not adhered to,” the letter said.

The building’s owner said because of permit issues, the RM has given notice to the building – meaning all 20 residents have to pack up and leave by Friday.

“The RM of Montcalm Council understands that the closure or possibility of closure was not relayed to residents by the owner prior to Friday, April 28, 2023, and we understand the hardship that this causes,” the RM said.

Phil moved into the building in the fall.

“To find that out yesterday at two in the afternoon that the RM says we’re out of here in seven days, I think was poorly planned,” Phil said, adding he doesn’t know where he’s going next.

“My daughter and son-in-law and grand kids live in Altona so I’m hoping to stay in the area but I don’t know where that’ll be.”

With the clock ticking, tenant Brooke Fehr is worried about her mom finding a place to live.

“I’m not happy that this is happening,” Fehr said. “Seven days isn’t enough time.”

The RM says it is now taking advice from its legal team as well as other organizations.

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