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Evacuated residents of limited income apartment moved to Okanagan College

Residents will be moved temporarily into a new residence building at Okanagan College campus

After weeks of uncertainty, moving hotels and losing a neighbour, the residents of Hadgraft Wilson Place will have some stability returned to their lives for the time being.

At a resident meeting on Easter Sunday, of the people who call the limited income building home were informed that they were required to evacuate.

Hadgraft Wilson Place is home to several individuals with diverse physical and mental abilities.

The residents were told that they would have until 6 p.m. on April 2 to evacuate Hadgraft Wilson Place. The evacuation was sparked after structural damage stemming from the UBC Okanagan downtown construction project became evident.

The damage started to appear after the ground began shifting as a result of the pit being dug for the UBCO building’s parking garage.

Large cracks in the Hadgraft building are now visible on both the inside and outside of the apartment.

After the evacuation, residents were moved into hotels and have since been facing uncertainty regarding their lodging.

READ MORE: ‘Hotel living isn’t fun’: Evacuated Kelowna residents want answers from city, UBCO

Now, the more than 80 residents will be temporarily moved from the hotels into a new residence building at Okanagan College campus.

The Pathways Abilities Society is currently in the process of finalizing a lease with Okanagan College, which will keep the Hadgraft residents sheltered until mid-August.

“Our residents have become a tight-knit community in the past year and this opportunity allows them to maintain the support of their friends and neighbours,” said Charisse Daley, executive director of Pathways Ability Society. “Providing some stability about their next few months and having the amenities of homes will hopefully makethings easier while they wait for the remediation of our building and next steps.”

The news of the temporary housing follows the death of Hadgraft Wilson Place resident Jim Hadgraft. The well-loved man was a resident of Hadgraft Wilson Place and the limited-income apartment building was named after his family. Hadgraft, who lived with Down syndrome, is said to have died in hospital while awaiting surgery on a broken leg.

Those who have been living in several hotels around the city since the evacuation will now move into the upper three floors of the new student housing building at OC’s Kelowna campus on KLO Road. There is a mix of individual rooms and common spaces, as well as some suites which will be matched to the residents based on their unique needs.

Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas said city staff have been working alongside Pathways, BC Housing and local developers to find options and alternatives for the residents.

“They have experienced so much during this trying time. We want to ensure this process continues to be handled with sensitivity, safety, and compassion.”

Based on the most recent geotechnical report it is expected to be several months before Hadgraft Wilson Place is ready for residents to return to the building. Pathways and its partner are continuing to work to find longer-term solutions for the residents starting in mid-August after the lease with Okanagan College ends.

Hadgraft Wilson Place building was opened in June 2023 and welcomed residents to 68 new affordable rental homes. The building construction was financed by BC Housing and is owned and managed by the Pathways Abilities Society.

READ MORE: Construction resumes on UBCO’s downtown Kelowna campus, despite evacuations