Update: Former residents of Three Gables glad to see it go

Low-income housing project in downtown Penticton to close Friday due to safety concerns

  • Jun. 19, 2014 4:00 p.m.

By Joe Fries and Mark Brett

Western News Staff

Seventeen residents of the Three Gables Hotel have until Friday afternoon to find new homes, after safety concerns prompted the B.C. Fire Commissioner to issue a 48-hour evacuation order for the downtown Penticton building.

“We have tried to work with the owner and he has just not complied with any of our deficiency requests and this was our final step,” Penticton fire chief Wayne Williams told reporters Wednesday.

He explained that monthly inspections of the Martin Street low-income hotel consistently turned up multiple fire hazards, such as broken alarms and insufficient — or missing — fire doors on the dozen units inside.

“That was the biggest concern, I think, were those doors and the fast spread of a fire should a fire occur in there,” Williams said.

“Even when we were over there today, some of the units are protected by a piece of plywood, instead of a door, that’s just nailed on, which people can just pull off and live in the unit.”

The chief said residents will receive a package with information about social services that are available to them, including  bus tickets and beds at a homeless shelter in Kelowna.

“Our first priority is the security of the residents, and this was done to protect their safety,” Williams added.

He said “extensive work” would be required to bring the building up to code by Friday afternoon.  So it’s unlikely the order will be lifted.

Raj Singh, a representative of property owner Harbans Randhawa, said they are considering a plan to renovate and upgrade the building, and will provide further comment after the evacuation.

The hotel was long an important part of the downtown Penticton business community until a large portion of it was destroyed by fire in 2000.

It fell into disrepair afterwards and the second floor of what remains of the structure was converted into long-term, low-income housing.

A liquor store at street level is not affected by the evacuation order.

After hearing about the evacuation order, Dave Charette, 79, quickly went to see his 40-year-old son who was still living in one of the upstairs units with his wife.

“This used to be a really nice place but then it just sort of all went to hell. I was here for about 10 years and I really liked living here,” said Charette as he sat on the steep metal stairs leading up to the units.

“I don’t know what happened, it just seemed like a lot really bad people moved in and there were fights and drugs, crack, and all that stuff and nobody seemed to do anything about it.”

Charette moved out about a year ago, in part because of the on-going problems and also his physical disabilities which made it increasingly difficult to get up and down the stairs.

His son and daughter-in-law have since managed to find other lodgings.

Another man, who did not want to be identified, also went to the Three Gables that day where his sister was gathering her things together in preparation to leave.

“It’s just terrible there and dangerous,” he said. “There are fights all the time and mould everywhere. She’s found someplace else to go. That’s a really good thing for her.”

Cpl. Martin Trudeau, a spokesman for the Penticton RCMP, said the Three Gables is a frequent stop for officers.

“The residents and the clientele living in that building typically have very limited financial funds to rely upon. Some suffer from health issues, some may have mental health (concerns), some are probably fighting addictions as well, so this type of clientele will bring different kinds of problems: disturbances and those type of things,” he said.

“It’s a place we did go often, but on Wednesday the residents we dealt with were 100 per cent co-operative with us.”

In advance of delivering the order, Williams said a number of agencies, including the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society and the Kelowna Gospel Mission were contacted about emergency shelter for those unable to find alternate accommodations in the limited time frame.


Just Posted

Rob and Anthony are the city’s new parking ambassadors who are sharing information with businesses and the public about the new pay parking. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Penticton hires team to inform people on city’s new pay parking system

The pair will spend at least a month helping businesses and residents navigate new pay parking system

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
UPDATE: Fire above Naramata is an illegal open burn

Smoke is still billowing from the blaze Friday morning

Keremeos’ heritage Grist Mill and Gardens. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Keremeos Grist Mill looking forward to restrictions easing with exclusive concert planned

Juno Award-winning folk artist Valdy is set to take the stage

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Family homeless after fire rips through Chilliwack house

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

BC Ferries’ newest Island Class vessel is experiencing an issue with one of its thrusters off the Algerian coast. Photo courtesy patbaywebcam.com.
BC Ferries newest vessel having mechanical issues in Mediterranean

Island 4 will be repaired in Spain before crossing Atlantic

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

Fanny Chapman doesn’t just serve up Mexican flavours at the Kal Lake Food concession at Kal Beach, she also teaches Spanish. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernonites asked to share funniest Spanish translation stories

Mexicans living in town holding a contest to offer free Spanish classes

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

A search for David Borden in Oyama, ended after he was found Friday, June 18. (Contributed)
UPDATE: Missing Okanagan man found

Family thanks Facebook community for finding Lake Country man

Canadian blues sensation Colin James will close down Saturday night, Aug. 14 of the 2021 digital Salmon Arm Roots Blues Festival. (Black Press Media file photo)
Salmon Arm’s Roots & Blues Festival returns online after 2020 success

Nine acts, including Colin James, Caleigh Cardinal, to perform on festival website Aug. 13 and 14.

A truck rolled several times off Highway 6 in Coldstream Thursday night, sending two to hospital. (RCMP photo)
Rollover near Vernon sends 2 to hospital

Highway 6 closed temporarily while emergency crews extricated occupants

Most Read