A business owner who rents her property from the City of Kelowna said she’s lost thousands of dollars as a result of a broken HVAC system, she claims the city is playing coy to replace.
In the Chapman Parkade, Danielle Cross, a level three sommelier and senior wine educator opened up a sustainable wine bar called Buvez.
In the short few years since its opening, Cross has used her international knowledge and hospitality experience to design the bar.
In April, one of three HVAC units began making noises, before eventually breaking down. Cross said the breakdown made working during sporadic May and June hot-flashes nearly impossible.
“What the City told me is completely absurd,” she said.
Cross said it took more than a month for the City to get back to her about servicing the utility, before telling her the part needed was no longer manufactured. There was a wall which was erected by a past tenant that made the unit unaccessible to service, and the City did not have enough money to replace the cooling unit in her kitchen until April 2020.
Instead, they offered a temporary unit which would have crowded the cooking area, according to Cross, which was not a viable option.
“Their complete mismanagement of resources is mind-boggling,” she Cross.
But according to Mike Olson, managing property manager for the City of Kelowna, it was less of an issue of mismanaging resources and more of an unanticipated malfunctioning of the HVAC system, as it was intended to last one year longer.
“We planned to replace all of them,” he said, noting that the building is old and mandatory updates were planned accordingly a few years in advance. “It’s unfortunate that it’s taken so long for her and I feel for her.”
Cross claims that she lost thousands of dollars of revenue in the May and June; months that were supposed to be her most profitable. On beautiful days, when people felt like stopping in for a bite to eat and a glass of wine, she was forced to close due to her heat exhaustion and subsequent migraines.
O-Lake Cafe & Bistro, a tenant from the same plaza said their HVAC unit is still working and they have not experienced the same problems as Cross.
“It’s just normal tenant-landlord stuff,” said Olson.
But for Cross, she felt that she was being strangled by the people that were meant to support her.
“Kelowna is supposed to be supporting small businesses and look at what they’re doing to me,” she said.
Now, the City of Kelowna’s real estate and property services division has notified Cross that they would send someone to seek a viable, sustainable solution for the problem.
This could include taking a cooling system from an unoccupied commercial renting unit and replacing it with the broken system in Buvez.