Winnipeg West End apartment building deemed unsafe, leaving dozens displaced

Dozens of residents are being evicted from the Adanac apartment building on Sargent Avenue after an order to vacate was issued by the city, due to numerous safety issues and fire code violations.

The order was issued on Wednesday, Aug. 16, giving residents five days to pack up their belongings and leave by 2 p.m. Monday. However, some residents said they were not aware of the order until Monday and only had two hours to get things organized.

“It was hard, it was hard, I was trying to push around grabbing my most important things to bring outside,” said resident Brandy Genaille.

The city said the building was issued the order because of numerous life safety issues in the building documented during a fire inspection. Fire code violations included no power in most suites, no active fire alarm systems, and a lack of safe egresses, fire separations, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.

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WFPS said the fire prevention branch has made 101 visits to the apartment since 2019.  Of the 101 visits since 2019, 18 were made to complete a post-fire inspection. WFPS responded to five fires in the building in 2022 and another five this year (to date).

The city said there are a number of provincial and community agencies working to support residents. However, advocates said while they understand the safety concerns, there were better ways to handle the situation.

“This is an absolute tragedy this should not be happening,” said Marion Willis, founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links.

“There actually has to be case-management teams in these buildings 24-7 working with these individuals. That’s the job of the provincial government, you can’t just house people and walk away.”

Click to play video: 'Residents of Adanac apartment building locked out after Winnipeg fire investigation'

Residents of Adanac apartment building locked out after Winnipeg fire investigation

Furthermore, the city said in the event that the vacate order is not adhered to, the property owner may be subject to prosecution.

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Despite the pushback, residents have no choice by to walk away and some don’t know where they are going to go.

“I don’t know where we’re going to go,” said Genaille. “Welfare or someone should be helping us out or putting us in a hotel, like this is only two hours notice that we’ve got to leave and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my cat.”

Residents said they have had little to no communication regarding where they can go and with high inflation and money concerns, a lot of them have been left scrambling and anxious.

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“I have no food and no money, but I’ll manage probably somehow,” said resident Janet (last name omitted for personal reasons). “Right now I’m just going to a friend’s place. He’s helping me carry my stuff and we’re going to figure it out from there.

“I thought they would have found a place to put us in, like a hotel or something, even an ugly hotel, I don’t care.”

Meanwhile, some residents are still trying to stay optimistic during the ordeal, such as Dallas Kadotte.

“I’m going to go to a friend’s house for a couple of days and in the meantime look for a home, look for housing. And just carry on doing what I got to do. It’s unfortunate and it’s sad but we have to push forward.” Kadotte said.

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The city said a support centre has been set up for residents in conjunction with Manitoba Housing, the WRHA, and EIA, to ensure a smooth transition to alternate accommodations and to ensure support is provided for those who may no long have a place to call home.

— with files from Global’s Marney Blunt

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