$29-million condo project facing $40-million repair bill
Vancouver Sun
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 buildings standing.

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 being done.

Following an inspection, the city was concerned that the building “might be damaged to the point where something might fall,” Jackson said.

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 on 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 $160,000

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 staying put.

“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
The Province
Keith Fraser
02 October 2016 (updated)

Gladys Rivas (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 MANEN

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 special levy.

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 evidence.

“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.

“democratic deadlock”

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 needed

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
—editor  CondoMadness

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