Improvements at Highland Manor slow, stuck in red tape

Occupants wondering when things will get better

The new owners of Highland Manor are making some progress toward improving safety and living conditions as promised.

But improvements are sometimes undone within hours, leaving tenants wondering if things will indeed get better.

Greg Vance, who bought the building with business partner Mario Morrison in February, said their first priority was to get up to fire code. Port Hardy council had ordered the former owner to fix several fire hazards, but many were left incomplete.

Tenants haven’t had working laundry machines for months, since a New Year’s fire put the laundry room out of commission. On March 30, Vance got access to hold back funds from the sale of the building to complete certain repairs the former owner was supposed to do.

It’s welcome news for tenants who have been stocking up on extra clothes because they can’t afford a taxi to the town’s only laundromat, but Vance still couldn’t give a time frame since they don’t know how much damage needs to be repaired in the burnt-out laundry.

Non-functioning fire panels and heat sensors have been replaced, along with faulty wiring. Auto-closing door mechanisms were installed on fire exits — twice.

“The people who traffic drugs in the building want that door to be open so their clients can enter easily and walk up the stairs and go to their suite without having to bug them. So we have twice replaced the closers, and in both cases, within hours the closers have been removed and the door is propped open again.”

“You can’t believe it, but you are almost powerless to stop someone. It’s so clear there is egregious trafficking going on in the building, yet the police and authorities can’t seem to address it.

“It’s very frustrating to me as a property owner that people can be so obviously trafficking drugs out of my building without any consequence. Especially when you consider the direct effect it’s having on the community,” Vance said.

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Exterior of Highland Manor shows at least one broken window, covered with a blanket. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
The exterior of Highland Manor shows at least one broken window, covered with a blanket. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)