Winnipeg seniors complex “uninhabitable” due to burst pipe, flooding

Donna and Ken Buskell are among residents of a seniors housing co-op in Winnipeg reeling after a water pipe burst in the complex and forced them out with no return date in sight.

It happened Tuesday afternoon. Residents were told a pipe in the building’s sprinkler system burst after freezing overnight.

“There was insulation and ice cold water, about a foot, all over everywhere in the house,” Donna Buskell told CTV News Thursday.

Many of the building’s 36 suites were flooded, and the ceiling in Buskell’s bedroom – where Ken was napping at the time – collapsed.

“As he got up, the ceiling started to fall in,” she said. “It hit him in the head and another piece fell and hit him in the shoulder.”

The Buskells packed a few bags, mainly clothes and medication, before leaving their home of the past three years.

“As I opened the door to the apartment to get out of there, all my stuff was floating out in the hallway,” said Buskell.

The building has been declared uninhabitable for the immediate future due to extensive damage.

Buskell said they do have tenant insurance, but are unable to afford the upfront costs for temporary housing and other expenses.

“We don’t have a lot of money to go out and eat every time we turn around,” she said.

Following the burst pipe, community organizations, namely the Brooklands Active Living Centre, Sparling United Church, and the Keewatin Inkster Neighbourhood Resource Council, stepped up to help residents by finding hotel rooms and dropping off food.

The housing co-op’s board of directors tells CTV News it is close to securing housing for displaced residents.

“We grieve with the residents and the loss of their housing at Westlands, and we’re here to help through community organizations to address the needs of every resident, starting with the most vulnerable,” a board of directors spokesperson told CTV News.

The Buskells are staying in a Headingley hotel room — at least, for one more night.

“We’re homeless. We don’t know where we’re going to go tomorrow,” Buskell said.

She’s heard they may get back into the building in December, but doesn’t believe any of their possessions will be salvageable.

“I feel so helpless. All of our stuff, all of our memories.”

The province — a stakeholder in the housing complex — says Manitoba Housing is working with the property development company and dealing with insurance claims as quickly as it can.

Manitoba Housing will also cover moving and transfer costs for the tenants.

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