Eva Lake condo owner may lose home 

Negotiations continue to recover millions in repair costs

The once sinking Eva Lake Village apartment buildings may be about to claim another victim, Derek Bergen.

The local businessman had to appear in court last month after he was unable to pay up-front all of the tens of thousands of dollars needed from each condo owner to finance repairs to the buildings.

"I wasn’t in a position where I could… come up with money," said Bergen, who has lived in Whistler since 1982.

"When this came due I made payment arrangements… I said I was in a seasonal business so I will give (them) a lump sum now and I will stagger more payments throughout the year and I will give (them) another lump sum for April 30."

That’s what Bergen claims he did but he still has a significant debt outstanding, and the strata must pay the mounting bills for repairs done before this winter just so the condos won’t be condemned.

Now the lawyers for the strata have the right to sell Bergen’s home if he doesn’t come up with the money in 180 days.

"I have done the best I could to honour my commitment in the repayments and now I am trying to cover the rest," he said.

"I don’t want to lose (my home)."

While Bergen is devastated at the thought of losing his home he is just as concerned about what the Eva Lake Village situation might mean for future owners of employee housing.

"I just don’t want this to happen to someone else," he said. "Let’s not let this happen to anyone else. Let us learn from this as we move forward and set the policies in place.

"If this happened in this case here then it could happen anywhere else.

"I think with the employee housing being such a contentious issue here in Whistler there has to be a system that safeguards against something like this happening. Things go wrong all the time in building… but the fact that no one has come to the table in over 10 years, that is incredible."

The owners of the sinking Eva Lake Village condos have launched a lawsuit against a number of defendants including the builder, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, two engineering companies and a structural engineer. A court date has been set for later this year.

In the meantime repairs must go ahead, otherwise the buildings may be considered unsafe.

It is expected that repairs to the apartment buildings will cost about $2 million.

Mediation with some of the defendants is going on said Barry Burko, owner of Summit Strata Management, the company representing the owners.

"The lawsuit is still going on but we are hopeful that parties will come back to the table and perhaps increase the amount of money being offered to the owners," said Burko.

One defendant, who Burko could not name, has made an offer, which the owners may accept at a special general meeting this week.

"…But it is a relatively small amount compared to the overall general job," said Burko.

The strata is very concerned about Bergen’s situation but owners are between a rock and a hard place.

"The strata corporation… take(s) no joy in doing it, that is for absolute sure, for certain," said Burko, adding that there is no record of Bergen’s repayment plan.

"But (it has) bills to pay.

"There is no question in anyone’s mind that this is completely unfair and that is regardless of whether (owners) are employees or anyone else. It seems worse because they are employees and they are valued in this valley and they don’t have the (deep) pockets that many of the other home owners here have."


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