The front entrance to the Washington Inn in Courtenay.

Tenant of ill-reputed Courtenay apartment complex says things aren’t that bad

Washington Inn has an ally

  • Sep. 15, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

Bobbi Smoker is confident her home will improve.

She’s even seen it firsthand, most recently when she moved from the back building of the Washington Inn apartments in Courtenay to the front building.

“I now have a freezer with my fridge, and I have an oven – in my back place, I just had a hotplate.”

Smoker has lived at the Ryan Road apartment building for seven years, initially moving into the south building, but more recently into the front building.

“Everything works, and it’s wonderful.”

Smoker takes issue with tenants who are questioning the improvements – if any at all within suites – since BC Housing purchased the building a year ago.

Last week, tenant Faith Liddie told The Record not only does she deal with noise and drug issues on a nearly weekly basis in and around her unit, but she has not had functioning heaters within her suite since January.

Her neighbour, says Liddie, had never had heat since she moved in.

Smoker notes she felt “pretty offended” by her fellow tenants’ comments, and adds the Washington Inn is no different than any other apartment building.

“Every apartment (building) has those problems; I don’t care if you’re paying $1,000 a month or $585 a month.”

A year ago, the Crown corporation announced it had purchased the apartment complex to preserve affordable housing within the City of Courtenay.

The Washington Inn is the largest building in the area, with 120 residential apartments – 111 bachelor suites and nine one-bedroom suites.

While Smoker admits she uses medical marijuana, she says it doesn’t bother anyone. However, a spokeswoman for BC Housing told The Record the agency has received multiple complaints of drug use at the building, and they are working with the Comox Valley RCMP to respond to reports of illegal drug activity.

As for other disruptions like fighting, she explains it’s only certain people who bring those issues into the building.

Small improvements – such as a functional intercom system – have now helped combat many problems, she adds.

Last week, BC Housing confirmed it hired security to monitor the area during the evening, while the building transitions to a new manager.

Smoker says now that the agency purchased the building, “there will be an improvement.”

Monday, she received a visit by the building manager and the property portfolio manager as part of a unit inspection.

They were in her suite for about 10 minutes, and made note of some scrapes on the wall from her powered wheelchair. She was told they were going to place some siding on the walls – similar to what she currently has in her shower – to prevent further damage.

She says they are going to go through every unit in the building, which will take two days.

A spokeswoman for BC Housing confirmed the unit inspections are standard annual inspections, although Smoker says this is the first time in seven years she’s ever had her unit inspected.

“In this instance, (the inspections are) also an opportunity for the new site representative (building manager) to meet with all tenants. The property portfolio manager is currently visiting the property and may also attend some of the inspections,” added the spokesperson in an email.

She said the inspections are based on BC Housing’s standard inspection checklist, and include things such as ensuring appliances are in working order, checking smoke detectors and more.

The tenant is present and able to raise any concerns about their unit at that time.

“Next steps following the inspections vary depending on the results and are managed on a case-by-case basis.”

Smoker is convinced things will change following the visit.

“A lot of things need to be fixed, and they are willing and able to fix them.”

 

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