1 day after River Place water restored, vandalism hits as city looks for solutions to house tenants

·2 min read
Water is back off at River Place, whose occupants include former residents of the tent city ravine. The city issued an 'unsafe building' notice last week which prompted the work, but officials and the building's owner are at a loss for what to do next.  (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)
Water is back off at River Place, whose occupants include former residents of the tent city ravine. The city issued an 'unsafe building' notice last week which prompted the work, but officials and the building's owner are at a loss for what to do next. (Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit)

Almost 24 hours after water was restored to the apartment building housing former residents of a Windsor tent city, pipes have been vandalized and turned off yet again, leaving city officials to try and come up with a plan.

Last week, the City of Windsor issued an "unsafe building" notice to the front door of River Place, which houses about 25 people from the ravine encampment and others. The notice demanded that functional fire alarms and running water be restored in the building.

"Both of those systems were restored. However, on Saturday night, the water was damaged again and shut off to the building," said John Revell, the City of Windsor's chief building official.

Revell said the city and partners have been working with the building's landlord to address the ongoing issues.

"We're not confident they're going to be able to resolve the situation at the building so we're actually meeting later [Tuesday] with our community partners to look at potential next steps. But we haven't made any decisions," said Revell.

"But certainly a deplorable situation and condition there at the building and we want the best outcome possible for both tenants and the community."

Sanjay Maru/CBC
Sanjay Maru/CBC

On Monday, Revell said housing and children's services officials went door-to-door at River Place, speaking with speaking with residents about possible relocation options and giving information on what services are available to support people in terms of relocating or "whatever they need that the city has to offer."

"Our staff stuck around for a little while in case anyone wanted to speak with them," said Revell, adding that his colleagues had "a few takers."

"It was a mixed reaction. Some of the tenants said they would like to leave ... Some of the people were not interested in leaving. They prefer to stay there. They don't want social services to assist them."

After the water was turned off over the weekend following repairs, the building owner told CBC News he's unsure what options he has left since vandalism keeps happening over and over again.

Ongoing issues

Last week, building owner Yelong Li told CBC News that vandalism has been an issue since his group took ownership at the start of this year. That was shortly after volunteers paired with tent city residents to move them into River Place, which had been under previous ownership.

The vandalism worsened following a sudden influx of visitors entering the building over the past year, Li said, giving him no choice but to ask everyone to leave.

Sanjay Maru/CBC
Sanjay Maru/CBC

An advocate for some tenants in the building — who formerly occupied tents near Crawford Avenue — said she is working with other volunteers to find new accommodations.

Two weeks ago, residents were issued N13 notices, giving them 120 days before they can be legally evicted for demolition purposes.

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