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Downtown apartments evacuated due to nearby UBCO construction

Residents of Hadgraft Wilson Place have begun evacuating their homes after geotechnical and structural engineering reports for the nearby UBCO downtown construction site raised safety concerns.

“Recent assessments have indicated the level of risk is significant enough to begin the evacuation process to ensure the life and safety of occupants,” said Fire Chief Dwight Seymour in a statement.

“Additionally, due to the shifting in the building, safety features may be compromised in the event of an emergency, creating an additional risk to occupants and first responders.”

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia/Steve MacNaullThe evacuation will take place over the next three days with the support of the City of Kelowna, Pathways Abilities Society and BC Housing.

Residents were made aware of the situation and what to expect in the short term after a meeting earlier today.

“We are dedicated to ensuring our tenants receive the support they need during this difficult time,” said Charisse Daley, executive director of Pathways Abilities Society.

“Pathways will work with each tenant to understand their needs and connect them with resources and accommodations as necessary.”

Hadgraft Wilson Place opened in June 2023 and welcomed residents to 68 affordable rental homes.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia/Steve MacNaull

The building was financed by BC Housing and is managed by Pathways Abilities Society.

The evacuation is the latest of closures that have followed in the footsteps of an attempt to build the deepest parkade in Kelowna for the planned 43-storey UBCO campus.

In late 2023, the Okanagan coLab building across the street from the site had to close due to safety concerns – and in January, a large crack could be seen on the exterior of the building.

Soon after, the Kelowna Royal Canadian Legion had to find other sites to hold their activities after safety concerns arose in their meeting place.

In January, the City of Kelowna announced it was working with the university “to determine the best path forward on the project.”

“Although some settlement can be expected around large excavations and building construction projects, the movement seen in this case is more than expected,” said Lance Kayfish, risk manager for the City of Kelowna, in a Jan. 29, 2024 news release.

 “That is why the construction team is taking time to evaluate the east elevation, below the Pathways building, and refocus its construction efforts elsewhere on the site. This is allowing the engineering teams to closely survey and study the site and adapt to alternative ways of completing the work.”

Amid the latest evacuation announcement, UBCO has voluntarily suspended construction activities at the downtown site until further notice while engineers monitor and assess the building and soil movement.

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