Tenants of West Kootenay apartment building stranded by elevator outage

·2 min read
Tenants of Waneta Manor in Trail, B.C., have been troubled by an elevator outage that has gone unresolved since February.  (Submitted by Jennifer Laidlaw - image credit)
Tenants of Waneta Manor in Trail, B.C., have been troubled by an elevator outage that has gone unresolved since February. (Submitted by Jennifer Laidlaw - image credit)

For seniors like John Blizard, who has diabetes and mobility issues, an elevator is a must-have to access his apartment in a multi-storey building in Trail, B.C.

Unfortunately, the elevator in his building has been down since February. To make things worse, maintenance has been delayed due to COVID-19.

Blizard remembers the horror he experienced when taking the elevator from his second-floor suite to the basement parking lot in the three-storey Waneta Manor at 3525 Laburnum Drive.

"When I got back in the elevator and pressed two, it went right down to the basement and opened the doors, and that was the end of it," he told Sarah Penton, the host of CBC's Radio West.

"I sat there for about 15 minutes until the building manager and a bunch of other people that were ready to go up [came], and then they all had to help me up the stairs," he continued.

The problem isn't an isolated one; elevator outages and delayed maintenance have been reported in other apartment buildings across the country during the pandemic.

Blizard says tenants have recently been notified by Gateway Property Management that the elevator will be fixed in July.

He says he used to go out to swim in a pool three days a week, but now he's had to cut back because it takes a lot of his energy to walk up the stairs.

"I have two flights of stairs to go. Takes me half an hour to get up and 10 minutes to get down to my basement, to my car," he said. "It's much harder going up for me, for my knees and my back."

Blizard says life has been even more miserable for tenants on wheelchairs.

"They're sort of locked in their apartments," he said.

Waneta Manor tenant John Blizard says he has reduced the number of trips he makes outside since the elevator outage began.
Waneta Manor tenant John Blizard says he has reduced the number of trips he makes outside since the elevator outage began.(Submitted by John Blizard)

The property management company's spokesperson, Jennifer Laidlaw, says she's sorry for the elevator maintenance delay caused by the pandemic. She says the company replaced the on-site caretaker last month, hoping to improve communication with tenants.

"We understand this is not a great situation for the residents to live in the building," Laidlaw said to CBC's Christine Coulter. "We are stepping up our communication and making sure that any updates — even if it's a small update — is something that can help residents understand where we're at in the timeline [of elevator maintenance]."

Meanwhile, Blizard stays hopeful.

"I just hope and pray that that elevator gets working again," he said.

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