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

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.”