$29-million condo project facing
$40-million repair bill
16 September 2006
Owners in a leaky condominium project that cost $29 million to build in
1994 may now have to pony up a total of $40 million to keep the
The City of Vancouver ordered Gardenia Villa, at the corner of Nanaimo
and East Broadway, to get an engineer’s report after an inspection
showed various parts of the complex were at risk of failing
structurally. The city also ordered immediate shoring to one of the
buildings in the complex because of imminent danger.
some of the owners complained to the city
Normally, it’s the strata council that decides to get an engineering
report done and the city doesn’t get involved until there is an
application for a building permit to do the work, Vancouver’s chief
building official, Dave Jackson, said in an interview. But in this
case, some of the owners complained to the city that maintenance wasn’t
Following an inspection, the city was concerned that the building
“might be damaged to the point where something might fall,” Jackson
In its order, the city also referred to “water ... leaking out of
structures in several locations and ... algae growing extensively on
the building’s exterior stucco.”
The project, designed by architect James Cheng and developed by Hong
Kong-based Maple Resources Investment Co. Ltd., is a colourful
eleven building complex with three gated courtyard gardens and a pool
five acres of land. Two of the buildings are concrete, but the other
nine are wood-frame low-rises.
According to the report by RDH Building Engineering Ltd., 63 per cent
of the owners of the wood-frame units that responded to a survey said
they had problems with condensation, and 41 per cent had problems with
mould, fungi or mildew. Forty per cent said their apartments had leaked
within the last year.
Owners of the concrete units fared a bit better, with only 26 per cent
reporting condensation and 16 per cent mould or fungi. Yet 32 per cent
said their apartments leaked.
average cost per unit would work out to
The owners met Tuesday and will meet again today to discuss what steps
to take next. If they decide to go ahead with all the work recommended
by RDH, the average cost per unit would work out to $160,000. When they
were sold in the early 1990s, the two- and three-bedroom units went for
between $149,900 and $345,900.
That’s money many of the elderly Chinese owners can’t afford, said
Doris Choi, whose mother is one of the owners.
“If you are going to put in $160,000 you might as well move somewhere
else and get a new [apartment],” Choi said. “Why would people pay that
much money on an old house?”
But for now her mother, whose unit Choi says is problem-free, will be
“Because nobody’s going to buy the apartment and we can’t afford the
extra money to get another one,” she said.
“It’s not fair for the homeowners,” Choi added. “How are they going to
afford more money like that?”
Gladys Rivas, whose husband and two teenaged sons live in a clean and
well-kept two-bedroom unit with a study in the complex, is bracing
herself for what may happen next.
The Spanish-speaking family came to Canada from their native El
Salvador about a dozen years ago. Rivas, a cook in a Vancouver
restaurant, and her husband, a construction worker, bought the unit in
2004 for about $185,000.
A Vancouver Sun reporter invited into their home saw no telltale signs
of water damage, and so far the family is unaware of any problems in
their unit. That’s why Rivas doesn’t understand how she could be facing
a repair bill that may turn out to be almost as much as the purchase
price of her home.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “I cannot afford that much money. ... It’s like
buying another apartment.”
Forty-year-old Howard Ng said he bought his two-bedroom apartment for
about $115,000, so he doesn’t understand why the average person in the
complex may be facing a bill of $160,000.
“I’m very disappointed,” Ng said in his native Cantonese. “My heart
feels very uneasy.”
Options the owners will be considering ... include doing nothing
Options the owners will be considering today, according to a notice of
the meeting, include doing nothing, proceeding with the repairs, suing
the parties who designed and built Gardenia Villa, and dissolving the
strata corporation and selling the land.
But legal action against the developer may prove difficult as Maple
Resource Investments was dissolved in 2003 for not filing annual
reports. And Jackson said doing nothing was also not an option.
“Ultimately, we expect them to do the repairs and if they don’t, we
would eventually order them to,” Jackson said.
Once the strata does the repairs, the city will require letters from
structural engineers to ensure it has taken care of the safety issues
related to the structure, Jackson said. The city will also need letters
from envelope specialists that repairs meet minimum standards of the
Vancouver building code.
Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’
Association would not talk specifically about the Gardenia Villa
project. However, he did say other projects with large assessments have
been able to spread the repairs over a number of years, “which eases
the financial burden on the owners.”
Also, some owners may be eligible for interest-free loans from the
Homeowner Protection Office, to help pay their share of an assessment.
In 2013, Garenia Villa was back
in the news.
In 2016, once again, Garenia Villa made headlines thought Canada.
Judge orders Vancouver strata to impose $16 million levy
to repair leaky condo problems
02 October 2016 (updated)
(and her son Kevin) are owners in the east-side Gardenia Villa complex
at Broadway and Nanaimo where condo owners are being told they will
have to pay to fix their leaky building. PHOTO BY MARK VAN
A judge has ordered a Vancouver strata to impose on the owners a $16.8
million special levy to repair long-standing leaky condo problems.
first noticed water issues in 1994
Owners first noticed water issues at Gardenia Villa, a 250-unit complex
located at Broadway and Nanaimo, shortly after it was built in 1994.
Drywall and carpets were soaked, walls and ceilings stained and
condensation collected on window interiors. In some cases there was
mould growth and failed window and door seals.
work orders in 2005
In 2005, the City of Vancouver ordered the strata corporation to take
steps to remediate its failed building envelope after finding
significant decay of structural members, water leaking out and algae
growing extensively on the exterior stucco.
seeking an order for an administrator
The strata did not implement an engineer’s report recommending a
comprehensive remediation program, prompting a group of owners to go to
court seeking an order for an administrator with powers to impose a
The judge in that first court case dismissed the petition after
concluding that the complex’s salvage value — its expected sale price
if bought by a developer for demolition and redevelopment — might be
less than the then-estimated price of $40 million for repairs. He left
open the possibility a similar application might succeed on new
“Notably, almost ten years have elapsed since that petition and
Gardenia Villa continues to face serious water ingress problems,” said
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Maria Morellato in her ruling ordering the
$16 million levy.
$10 million levy in 2008
Court heard that in March, 2008, following the dismissal of the
petition, the strata approved a $10 million levy. Some repair work was
done but the funds ran out in 2012 and a resolution for another levy to
finish the work was defeated.
2013 engineering report not acted on
A 2013 engineer’s report that recommended further work was not acted
upon and in 2014 a third report was prepared setting out various
options for a levy, but the owners defeated each of five special
resolutions, failing to get the needed 75 per cent support for approval.
Frustrated by the delays, a group of owners filed another petition in
B.C. Supreme Court against the strata corporation.
a dispute between factions
The strata admitted there was a dispute between factions that led to an
inability to manage and govern the necessary repairs to common property
and conceded that an administrator should be appointed to oversee the
repairs, but they opposed the levy.
The petitioners argued that the “democratic deadlock” could not be
resolved only by the appointment of an administrator due to the
continuing conflict among competing groups of owners.
The judge agreed that it wasn’t enough to just appoint an administrator
and that a court-ordered levy was necessary.
“Further delay and further votes will not remedy the deadlock and may
serve to exacerbate an already untenable situation,” she said.
“In the context of this case, without the issuance of a special levy
order, even the appointment of a very able administrator is, in my
view, unlikely to remedy the deadlock. The administrator will most
probably be dealing with the same owners, the same factions and the
same dynamic of conflict among them.”
a special levy of more than $16.8 million was
The judge determined that a special levy of more than $16.8 million was
needed to do the repairs. She also appointed Tony Gioventu, the
executive director of the Condominium Homeowners Association, as an
administrator to ensure that the strata discharges its obligations.
That works out to an average of
$67,200 per unit. The Vancouver Leaky Condo disaster is still an
ongoing issue. Yet, the
owners knew about this problem for the last ten years