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North Cowichan’s Magdalena tenants can stay while work done to fix building deficiencies

Agreement reached between WestUrban Developments and Magdalena tenants
New developments and an agreement between the remaining tenants of the North Cowichan Magdalena apartment building will enable them to remain living there while remediation work is now set to be done in phases. (Citizen file)

Remaining tenants at the Magdalena apartment building, told late last year they would have to vacate their homes due to structural deficiencies, will now be allowed to stay as renovations occur.

Tenants were informed in December 2022 that they would have to vacate their homes located in the North Cowichan building at 4114 Crosland Place and owned by WestUrban Developments Ltd., but WestUrban said in a press release Thursday, April 20 that they will be able to do the work to bring the building up to code in phases. This means the tenants that remain can stay during the process.

“While we had previously sought an order for vacant possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch to conduct the works in a vacant building, increased vacancy rates have enabled us to conduct the works in phases without ending existing tenancies,” says WestUrban.

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The Residential Tenancy Branch has accepted WestUrban’s withdrawal of its application. WestUrban said that, in partnership with their consultant and engineering teams and the municipal and provincial authorities the pursuit of this solution stems from the request to satisfy the needs of existing tenants who were concerned about limited housing in the region.

Vacancy rates in the Cowichan Valley are near zero.

“I think it’s great news for the remaining tenants that will be allowed to stay in the building and that the notice to vacate has been withdrawn with the Residential Tenancy Branch,” said North Cowichan mayor Rob Douglas. “Ideally if they would have moved ahead a little sooner, it would have allowed more people to stay in their units without being forced to face the bleak rental market that is currently at less than a one per cent vacancy rate.

Douglas shared that a review of the structure was undertaken by a third party professional engineer not associated with the original building design. The engineer deemed the suites are safe to occupy while renovations occur. A building permit has been issued and Douglas is hopeful that WestUrban will undertake the necessary building permits as quickly as possible and that the disruption to the tenants that remain in 18 suites of the 64 unit building will be minimalized as much as possible.

Agreements were reached directly with their tenants which have enabled WestUrban to move forward with remediation work, the press release said.

“We are pleased to be able to complete this work whilst retaining our tenants and we extend our thanks to our tenants for their patience and collaboration as we resolved this significant and unforeseen circumstance,” said WestUrban.

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About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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