Two weeks with no elevator in 12-storey condo building
CBC News Manitoba
With files from Jillian Coubrough
30 April 2017

Two weeks without an elevator was the last straw for one frustrated resident of a downtown Winnipeg condo complex.

On April 18, both elevators at 12-storey Colonnade at 77 Edmonton Street were put out of service during boiler repairs, and they haven't been restored since. The issue has left some seniors living in the building stranded, and gave rise to a human rights complaint filed by one resident who uses a wheelchair to get around.

Richard Duncan has had it. He's moving out after having lived in the building since December 2013, and says he knows other residents who are doing the same.

"I'm doing my final clean today and I'll be thankful to hand in the keys and start a new life in a new building," he said.

Moving without the use of an elevator has been inconvenient, Duncan said, but he's also concerned for his elderly neighbours and residents with disabilities.

"I've seen other interviews that have been going on with people differently abled as well as elderly, and it's frustrating for them," he said. "They're kind of trapped in their own homes, and I find it disgusting."

Duncan said he's received multiple notices from the property management company, Towers Realty Group, since service went down, each one saying the problem would be solved just a few days down the line. But the date kept getting pushed back.

The latest building notice says the elevator will be fixed by Monday, but by then, Duncan will already be gone.

A spokesperson for Towers Realty told CBC Monday morning parts for the elevator had arrived, but there were issues connecting them with software to the elevators. The spokesperson couldn't say when the problem would be fixed.

Richard Duncan is moving out of the Colonnade after living there since December 2013 due to the elevator problem. (CBC)

'Unforgivable,' firefighters union president says

Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, said the downed elevators make emergency situations more dangerous and difficult.

"It's unforgivable that that building is going on over two weeks without an elevator," he said. "There's people that are literally trapped in that building, vulnerable individuals."

Forrest said city firefighters are aware of the problem and have created plans in case of an emergency.

The department has fined the building owners to put the pressure on to get the elevators fixed, he added.

But in his 29-year career, Forrest said he's never seen this situation before.

"And I really wonder, if that building was in Linden Woods or Tuxedo or River Park South, would that building still have their elevators not working after two weeks?"

Joanna Wiebe owns a condo on the 12th floor of the Colonnade and said she's starting to think about selling because of the issue with the elevator. (CBC)

Joanna Wiebe, who owns a condo on the 12th floor, said she's thinking about selling due to the inconvenience.

Wiebe and Duncan both said the elevator isn't the first issue they've had in the building. Wiebe said the buzzer system went down for two months, and earlier this year, Duncan said he and many other residents went more than two months without heat.

"When I was talking to the super, he said 'Yeah, you know, the elevator's not so bad. Everyone's getting used to doing stairs.' It's really not the case," Wiebe said. "People are angry. They're just trying to get through the day."

Wiebe, a nurse who's often on call overnight, said the prospect of running up and down 12 flights of stairs multiple times in the middle of the night isn't appealing.

"I'm saying this with a smile but it's so frustrating. Like, I have to suppress how angry I am," she said.

"Probably there's a notice under my door every two days, and each time it explains how it's probably going to be checked into in the next few days, this is the day they're working on it, sorry for the inconvenience."

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