Nearly all past tenants and employees of McGuire Lake Congregate Living have found, or have been provided, alternative accommodations.
“All residents are out. BC Housing, Interior Health and (Canadian) Mental Health and all their volunteers did an amazing job moving everyone,” said Dan Shields, former owner and operator of the unlicensed assisted-living facility and lessee of the building in which it was located at 551 Trans-Canada Hwy.
On the morning of Friday, Sept. 13, live-in staff and residents at the facility awoke to find a notice taped to several of the doors explaining the building they called home would be closed as of Oct. 1. Written by the building’s owners, the notice explains the tenant operating McGuire Lake Congregate Living and the Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgary had been served a notice of termination effective July 29.
“This notice is given as a courtesy to any occupants and/or sub-tenants renting from the tenant noted above as it has come to our attention that the tenant has likely not informed all occupants of the need to vacate,” states the notice.
Northern Spirit Martial Arts, which rented space in the building from Shields, was also evicted.
Shields said he didn’t inform his tenants about the eviction notice in July because he was attempting to work out a deal with the building owner to pay back the money he owed in rent.
“I did not notify anyone due to the fact I thought we were negotiating,” said Shields.
The situation caught the attention of provincial agencies who then liaised with the City of Salmon Arm to ensure all residents and employees could find new places to live.
As the building was privately owned, BC Housing did not have a mandate to assist residents. However, after learning about the critical health needs of residents, BC Housing and Interior Health stepped in.
In a statement to the Observer, BC Housing said all residents have secured housing except for one. Two people are staying at a motel until other accommodations can be found.
“The Compliance and Enforcement Unit of the Residential Tenancy Branch is also investigating and is working collaboratively with BC Housing to help the affected residents. Formal written warnings have been sent to the property manager as well as the owner,” the statement reads.
In response to a bedbug infestation, each room and most of the furniture inside the now vacant building was fumigated on Saturday, Sept. 28 – though much of the furniture was left behind during the move. Volunteers are still working to transport smaller items to local thrift shops.
While provision of housing is not a municipal responsibility, Mayor Alan Harrison said the City of Salmon Arm worked alongside BC Housing and the Canadian Mental Health Association to help relocate the residents as quickly as possible.
“Of course, just like everyone, we certainly didn’t know the dire circumstances the people living in the lodge were in or that it would come to such an abrupt end,” said Harrison, noting that outside of zoning and municipal legislation, the question of housing is typically a provincial function.