Tenant forced out of Wellburn’s building angry at ‘lack of human decency’ from development companies

One tenant still lives in the building despite being told to leave by Pacific Cove Developments. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Meg Dunning stands inside the suite she was forced out of last year due to a problem with the sewer in the building. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
An email Meg Dunning received from the landlord of the apartments above the Wellburn’s Market. Dunning was upset that after being forced out of her home, the landlord stated he “surprised by how much” had been done for the tenants and that he thought Pacific Cove had “gone above and beyond for their tenants.” (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Items left in doorways by tenants who were forced out within days of being notified there was a problem with the sewer. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
The doors have been taken off their hinges, windows have been boarded up and a chill hangs in the air now. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
The problem with the sewer forced the closure of the 105-year-old Wellburn’s Market. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Meg Dunning lived in a suite above Wellburn’s Market for three years prior to November’s sewage flood that forced the 105-year-old grocery store to close and all the residents out of the building.

Now, the hallways in the apartment building are littered with unopened mail abandoned by former tenants. The doors have been taken off their hinges, there’s a chill that hangs in the air — which Dunning guesses is due to the hydro being cut off — and the windows have been boarded up.

Dunning says she feels like she and the other tenants weren’t treated like “human beings” after being given the run-around from Pacific Cove Developments and District Development Corporation, the two companies in charge of the building.

District Development Corporation has plans of turning the building into a mixed-use residential and commercial complex, which Dunning thinks help motivated their decision not to fix the sewage issue.

It started the week of Nov. 25, 2019. Dunning noticed there wasn’t any hot water in the building on Monday. The tenants were told the landlords were aware of the problem, to conserve water and that they were working on getting it fixed.

After a week of cold showers and uncertainty, the tenants were told they had to leave the building immediately the following Friday.

RELATED: Century-old grocery business set to close for new development

“The sewer basically disintegrated,” says Dunning. “It’s 100 years old and they never replaced it ever … the sewer didn’t burst — it turned to dust.”

Dunning explains how the neighbors she has lived next to for years and never spoke to, became friends quickly, organizing themselves into meetings and sharing information about who had heard what.

“I think I tried to count it up one time and there was like 200 emails between all of us in a three-week span,” she says.

RELATED: Tenants above Wellburns uncertain after ‘nightmare’ sewage flood ousts them indefinitely

After moving four times in December – into hotels and AirBnBs, paid for by Pacific Cove Developments — Dunning wishes she could have enjoyed the holidays but due to the stress could not.

At first, tenants were told the locks were going to be changed and they would be given two-hour intervals to return and pack their things. Dunning took the next day off work to sit in the building, protecting her belongings, and to tell the landlord it was illegal to change the locks.

A notice, still tacked in the hallway, stating that due to tenant push back Pacific Cove would not restrict their access. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

“We had to work so hard to know what our rights were … someone else could have been really taken advantage of.”

RELATED: Wellburn’s forced to close due to sewage flooding basement

Angered by the lack of planning and communication, tenants pushed back and a notice that still hangs in the hallway states “in response to tenant feedback, we will not be restricting tenant access to the building for the retrieval of personal items.”

“Most nights we just ended up sitting here protecting our stuff, because we didn’t want someone to come smash a window and take our stuff,” says Dunning, adding they couldn’t stay for very long because there was no working plumbing in the building.

Tenants still have not been given a clear answer as to what happened with the sewer, nor have they seen an engineering report.

According to Dunning, most of the residents left in December, but one tenant is still living in the building. Although she can’t disclose the amount they received in their final package, she’s “happy-ish” with the amount but wishes the two companies had treated the tenants better.

“For me, it was the lack of human decency that came out of this,” she says, adding that she would have appreciated a simple I’m sorry or even a face-to-face meeting.

“In my head, knowing how much they were going to profit off us leaving — it’s really a slap on the wrists for them and it’s not going to teach them a lesson in any way.”

Black Press Media has reached out to Pacific Cove Developments and District Group but did not receive a response.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
WorkSafe BC investigating man’s death during Oak Bay tree removal

Man was working for contracted tree removal company when incident occurred

A notice on the door of the Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. says it closes permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks location to close permanently after 16 years

Residents association seeks reason for closure set for Oct. 25

Environmental advocate, Dorothy Chambers holds up the body of Ollie, a well-known Great Horned owl found dead in Cuthbert Holmes Park on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy Dorothy Chambers)
Poison suspected after well-known owl found dead in Saanich park

Body of Ollie the Great Horned owl discovered in Cuthbert Holmes Park

Vic High (Black Press Media file photo)
Vic High stadium plans drop promised 8-lane track to ‘barely wider than city sidewalk’

Friends of Vic High seek public inquiry into plans for Memorial Stadium Revitalization Project

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive on Oct. 20 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich the night before. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear spotted several times in Saanich likely to be euthanized

Conservation officers still searching for bear reported near Elk Lake Drive

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read