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VIDEO: Devastated evacuees questioning UBCO over accountability

Today was moving day for residents of Hadgraft Wilson Place.

84 people were given until 6 pm today (Tuesday) to gather their belongings after their homes were deemed unsafe.

As he and his girlfriend motored their wheelchairs toward a hotel, resident Paul Thomas said the most upsetting thing is the lack of accountability from the people responsible for the massive excavation next to their home.

"Because UBCO denies damaging our new home," said Thomas. "It was just built and now we're forced to leave."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

Fellow resident Monique Saebels, was there to help out Tuesday.

"They're having the hardest time," said Saebels. "I mean trying to find a proper place for them."

She is equally upset about the lack of accountability from UBCO.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

"What they put out on the news last night is 'we're looking into it'. Well, we're more than 'looking into it' because we're out."

A statement from UBC stops short of acknowledging its responsibility for damage to neighbouring projects, but it does confirm its involvement.

"In light of the City of Kelowna's order to evacuate the Hadgraft Wilson Place," said spokesperson Nathan Skolski. "UBC Properties Trust is voluntarily suspending construction activity on its downtown Kelowna project until further notice."

Residents were told Friday that they had until 6 pm Tuesday to leave.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

Carson Wong was loading up his belongings as the deadline approached.

"Gotta be out now, unfortunately," he said.

"It's a little devastating, I'm not going to lie, but you've got to do what you've got to do."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> Carson Wong, moving out

But Stan Biggs, who was on hand to help his son with the evacuation.

He said there's no point in wasting energy looking for blame.

"You should have been here Sunday when they announced it. There was a hundred people there, totally devastated," said Biggs.

"But from that devastating circumstance is emerging the spirit of the people."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

The rent-subsidized apartment building is just steps from the construction site of what is supposed to become a 43-storey downtown campus and residence of UBCO.

And it's next to the Royal Canadian Legion, which is a huge loss for members like Wendy Brereton.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"They can't hold any dances," she said.

"This was my social hub."

Four buildings around the massive excavation project have now been abandoned.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who> CoLab

The evacuation order came with the Chief of the Kelowna Fire Department saying engineering reports identify risks "...significant enough to begin the evacuation process to ensure the life and safety of occupants."

The City of Kelowna has also flagged the problems around the UBCO project as beyond the norm.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> Exterior racks visible at base of building

"Although some settlement can be expected around large excavations and building construction projects, the movement seen in this case is more than expected,” said Risk Manager Lance Kayfish.

Substantial cracks are noticeable on the interior and exterior of the Hadgraft Wilson building.

There are no estimates on how long residents will be out, or whether the damage is repairable.



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