Horizon View residents in the cold as the new affordable housing complex hit by string of problems

Nine month old Calgary affordable housing complex succumbing to pressures of bitter cold, heat and window openings

Horizon View residents are becoming frustrated as burst pipes and high apartment temperatures are becoming regular occurences in the building. The latest instance of a burst pipe occured Friday Feb. 12, at approximately 3:40 a.m. which triggered a fire alarm. (John Watson)

Residents of the Horizon View affordable housing building awoke to a fire alarm at roughly 3:40 a.m. Friday, triggered by a burst water pipe.

According to residents, it was the third such event of the week, which left many people standing outside in the bitter cold while they waited to know whether it was safe to return to their units.

Resident Sahrah Pock said she was shocked, not only to see water pouring down and flooding the building, but by the frequency of the problems.

“It was horrifying yesterday seeing the water pouring down from the second floor to the first floor,” she said.

Fellow resident Margaret Parenteau explained many of the people residing in the building are in some way disabled and the displacement is challenging for them to deal with.

“There are a lot of people in here with disabilities [who] really have trouble with any kind of thing like that. It’s very traumatic for them.

“You kind of wonder about the people [hired] to build these places. It is affordable housing and it’s like [it’s] slapped together.”

Building is less than a year old

First opened in June 2020, Phase 2 of Horizon View was the largest affordable housing space completed in Calgary in the past 10 years. The building supports a total of 210 units and has a maximum capacity of housing more than 300 people. The first phase opened in November 2018.

Pock said the three incidents of flooding between Feb. 8 and Feb. 12 weren’t isolated incidents.

“There was one suite that flooded last week… and they didn’t have any fans over the weekend for the flooding,” she said.

“I’m afraid the carpet is going to go mouldy. I have asthma, other people have other conditions. I didn’t see anything done for that.”

In addition to burst pipes and flooding, some residents are experiencing abnormally warm temperatures in their apartments. They’re opening windows to cool the units. Pock said her own unit was at 27 Celsius on Thursday morning.

‘Extenuating circumstances’

Arianne Brady, Horizon Housing Director of Stakeholder Relations believes the open windows are contributing to the problems with the pipes.

“I think it’s a combination of the incredibly low temperatures, which we haven’t seen in the lifespan of this building so far, combined with the open windows,” she explained.

“It is a newer building and I think it’s just extenuating circumstances that are causing these challenges right now.”

With respect to residents having been evacuated from the building, Brady added the usual protocol for if a resident’s unit was flooded would be for them to be allowed to stay in the hallways of the building, or temporarily relocated while the unit was addressed.

Parenteau added the frequency of false fire alarms being triggered is causing some people to begin to ignore them.

“When you’re walking out of here you don’t know if you’re walking out because of a burst pipe or there’s actually a fire in the building,” she said.

“It’s getting to the point now where people hear the alarm and they don’t even bother to go outside or into the hallways.”

No overnight location manager

Pock and Parenteau said the lack of an overnight manager is compounding problems. There’s no one on site to explain a situation to residents.

Brady confirmed there is no overnight manager for the building. Horizon Housing is working to establish a security detail for this weekend.

“The safety and security and comfort of our residents is our top priority,” said Brady.

“We’re working with our residents our contractors and our staff to make sure that, first and foremost, their comfort and security is taken care of.”


  1. Affordable housing continued to be a problem in Calgary. This is a perfect example of the failure of both provincial and federal governments have turned their backs on severely handicapped homeless people, including children. This facility is funded by charitable donations in an attempt to address the desperate needs of people who might otherwise be left in the cold.
    Sadly, for a number of reasons, problems with the plumbing and heating have created issues for the residents, forcing them to evacuate in the middle of the night in frigid temperatures. Imagine the trauma this would have created for a homeless child. Who do we blame? Clearly, some steps to deal with this situation are needed. However, I feel that the lack of governmental support at both provincial and federal levels have been ignored, and this, in my mind, is morally unforgivable. Put blame where it belongs.

    • In this case I have to emphasize that it IS Horizon’s fault. I’m also a resident and the way that Horizon’s cuts corners and ignores issues until it’s way too late is atrocious. This is by far not the only issue, until now we’ve been too scared to go to the news because Horizon has directly told us they’ll make us homeless. Horizon knows about all the building issues and does not fix them. We wait months for maintenance because people keep quitting and Horizon isn’t willing to hire more than one person when initially it was a five person job for phase 1 alone! The investors backing them have no idea what’s going on, if the government, etc knew, they’d have to take action. Our building isn’t even fully up to code. We’ve had one devastating flood because 5 corner suites didn’t even have an emergency shut off valve. Horizon hasn’t helped those people. They’ve been forced to call Red Cross for help.

  2. Over 40 units have been affected by flooding. If a pipe bursts on the fifth floor, it can affect all suites below. In the past two winters, this problem did not exist. It’s caused by an additional 45 units that opened up in July, with Horizon not installing a second boiler unit to support the antiquated system that was installed in a two year old building. In some instances, windows are closed yet the heat system is not supporting all the units, hence burst pipes. There are building code violations discovered by CFD in that some units do not have shut off valves for heat systems. Some windows do not close properly due to the building shifting in the first year, which adds to the problem too. The kicker is that Horizon is instructing flooded residents to claim through their personal insurance instead of through Horizon’s, who is at fault. The renter’s policies here have a $500 deductible, near impossible for low income tenants to pay. This is a building that has many structural and social concerns.

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