Illegal crawl space suites closed 

Units had limited access, posed fire risk

At least six people are looking for new accommodation after Whistler Fire Rescue Service ordered evacuation of crawl spaces under seven townhomes on Castle Drive last week.

The crawl spaces had been converted into illegal suites with limited access. Some had only four- or five-foot doors and small or no windows.

Whistler Emergency Social Services arranged for emergency accommodation for the people impacted. Only one tenant took advantage of the offer, for one night.

No fines have been issued but under Section 25 of the Fire Service Act anyone attempting to occupy a space that has been posted with an order is subject to a $500 fine and/or arrest.

Whistler Fire Rescue Service posted Do Not Occupy and Evacuation Orders on the crawl spaces at 2101 Castle Drive on Wednesday, July 25. The WFRS could not ascertain if the fire separation between floors met building and fire code. Some of the units did not have smoke alarms.

In addition to a health and safety risk, illegally built suites and converted crawl spaces can negate strata and property insurance, or cause an insurance company to refuse coverage.

Since the orders were posted, WFRS has ordered the locks to be changed by the property management company and the electrical service, which poses the greatest fire risk, to be cut. Tenants will be allowed to remove their belongings upon arrangement with the property management company.

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