WATCH: Residents of a homeless shelter evacuated last night are bracing for a longer wait to get back home. More than 150 people were forced out of their homes when flooding knocked out power to the transitional housing building on Howe Street. Julia Foy reports.
At least 150 people living in temporary housing in downtown Vancouver were moved out after heavy rain caused flooding and shut down the building’s electrical system.
City Manager Penny Ballem told Global News that emergency services were called to the former Quality Inn on Howe Street Monday and soon determined that people would have to be transferred to three emergency shelters.
Buses were brought in to transfer the residents and the Salvation Army offered food and drinks to those left homeless.
Ballem said the City “did everything possible to try and see if we could make it safe for them to stay there. In consultation with the fire chief it’s very clear that we can’t have people staying there until we’ve got some form of power…so we’ve evacuated the whole building.”
The City worked with BC Hydro to establish power to the building, before clean-up efforts could begin and the damage could be assessed.
On Tuesday, City staff were still trying to figure out what caused the system failure that left the residents stranded.
Inspectors determined that one of the two transformers that support the building’s electrical system was at the root of the problem.
Ballem said they are “looking across North America to try and find a replacement. Until we find a replacement and can put that in place, we only have very limited emergency power.”
Fire Chief John McKearny said the building is “not safe from the fire department’s perspective.”
Residents have been told that they should expect to spend a few more nights in the emergency shelters.
Last year, the City of Vancouver turned the former hotel into interim housing for the homeless. The City’s plan, which angered many local residents, included leasing the building for two years, before it’s demolished for redevelopment.
-With files from Julia Foy and Paula Baker