Eva Lake owners to find temporary lodging 

Two sinking buildings to be suspended as ground is stabilized

Thirty-six owners in the Eva Lake village condos will be temporarily without homes as work gets underway on their sinking apartment complexes.

In early October, the two buildings will be suspended four feet above ground to make room for a latticework of steel underneath, which should stabilize the ground and ultimately stop them moving.

The owners will need a place to stay for four to five days while the buildings are raised.

"Right now we’re contacting some local hotels in town trying to get some good rates and they’re seemingly very willing to help, which is nice," said Barry Burko, owner of Summit Strata Management, the company representing the owners. "Ideally if the owners can find places to go with family and friends, (that’s) great. If not, then the strata corporation is going to have a discussion about who pays."

Though it’s unclear who will pay for the temporary lodging, it’s definitely clear the 36 owners are still stuck with the bill for the extensive repair work, at a cost of $920,000. That includes the extra $72,000 increase due to the rising cost of steel.

Some owners cannot afford to pay their portion of the bill, which in some cases is as high as $50,000.

Foreclosure proceedings have been started on those who cannot pay. Burko would not say how many owners are in that position.

It’s a frustrating situation said Eva Lake condo owner Fred Michael.

"No one’s coming forth to give us a hand," he said, adding that the owners are feeling very alone in their plight.

Put yourselves in our shoes he said. "It’s not our fault. We entered into these purchases in good faith that this land wasn’t going to start moving underneath us."

The Burnaby resident bought his unit four years ago as a place to house one of his employees, who works in the resort. Though he was aware there were problems with the complex, he saw it as an opportunity to buy something in Whistler that was affordable.

The other owners were living in the building and he thought there was a good case to recoup money from the people responsible for engineering and building the apartments through legal action.

"We thought it was worth the risk," he added. "The expectation at the time was that the people responsible would ultimately put up the money."

There are ongoing court proceedings against the engineering company, the builder and the municipality.

The owners could not wait for the outcome of the lawsuit because there was a fear the building would not last another winter. That left them to foot the bill for the repair work entirely on their own.

In addition to the cost of the outdoor repairs, there will likely be more repairs inside the units once they are lowered back to the ground.

"They’re going to raise the building in its current tilt and when they lower it onto the new support, then any work that was done inside the suites to fix the problems over the years – crooked windows, or tilting, or anything like that – will then start to break because the buildings are going to be plum again," said Burko.

Those indoor repairs will be over and above the $920,000.

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