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Vancouver Island highrise still empty after second evacuation

There are barriers around the Langford tower and no activity is apparent at RidgeView Place, as the owner sues the seller, builder, engineers and the city

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Ashley MacDonald has as many questions today as she had eight months ago when she was told to urgently vacate her apartment in a Langford highrise due to safety concerns. “No one has said anything to us despite a number of attempts,” she said.

MacDonald was one of many residents of the 11-storey RidgeView Place, formerly called Danbrook One, who had to move out in a rush in late April.

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They were the second batch of residents in four years urged to leave the building immediately because of investigations by the Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. over structural flaws.

Residents were initially told to leave Dec. 20, 2019, after the engineering association opened an investigation when an engineer who was not involved in the project raised concerns about the design.

Two engineers involved in the original work lost their registration with the provincial body and are not allowed to practise engineering in the province.

Centurion Property Associates Inc. acquired the property and said it had made the necessary fixes to the complex, which was built by DB Services of Victoria Ltd. Langford reissued an ­occupancy permit in April 2022 after an independent engineer’s review, but in April, the provincial engineering body informed Centurion and the city it had opened an investigation into the engineer responsible for ­remediation work.

An estimated 130 people living in RidgeView were given less than 24 hours to leave the building when it again saw its occupancy permit pulled over structural concerns. The city and Centurion did not reveal any details about construction concerns.

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MacDonald wants to know what went wrong with the building. She said she has left messages with the city and Centurion, but hasn’t received any response. “Personally I would like to know how much danger I was in and why nothing has been done,” she said.

There was initially talk of needing to reinforce the building, but MacDonald said it looks unchanged.

She moved into an apartment in Royal Bay with her father and young son, spending about $10,000 in the two weeks after leaving RidgeView. That money went to hotels, eating out, movers, and first and last month’s rent at her new place.

She has filed a complaint with the tenancy board to ask Centurion to pay some of that money back.

Centurion gave each resident $2,500 in assistance after asking people to move out, as well as refunding damage and pet deposits and the last week of rent in April.

But MacDonald said she has suffered more than a financial loss.

“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about it. My sense of safety is still not back,” she said.

Every time she sees a notice posted on her door, she flashes back to the notice telling her to move out of RidgeView immediately.

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Today, RidgeView appears to remain in limbo. Barriers were installed around the tower and no activity is apparent. It’s not publicly known if Centurion has made applications to the city for additional work on the building.

Asked about the status of the building this week, a City of Langford official said in an emailed statement: “RidgeView Place remains vacant. The City of Langford has no further updates at this time.”

The official said to contact the property owner, Centurion, for information.

Centurion did not reply to emails seeking updated information.

New assessment figures coming out Jan. 1 may provide some indication of the building’s condition. Assessments for 2024 will reflect the value of properties last summer, after the most recent eviction.

The 2023 total assessed value for RidgeView was $36.448 million, based on its value in July 2022. The building was assessed at $31.767 million, while the land was valued at $4.681 million.

Assessed value of the site was $28.287 million the previous year, when the tower’s value was assessed at $24.359 million. Meanwhile, Centurion Apartment Properties Limited Partnership is suing the seller, builder, engineering firm and engineers involved and the City of Langford. DB Services of Victoria Ltd. filed for bankruptcy in July and said in a statement of its affairs that 150 creditors were owed more than $51 million.

Grant Thornton has been appointed bankruptcy trustee. The administration of the estate is continuing. No updates were available as of this week.

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Read more from the Times Colonist here.

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