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West End 10 storey rental building goes without an elevator again

Blog by Adam Knight | June 1st, 2011

Residents of a 10-storey West End building who went without an elevator for the entire summer last year are once again taking the stairs.

Ervin Jay, 62, who lives in the Hyperion building at 1222 Pendrell St. with his roommate Marc Fiebig, 64, said climbing 10 flights of stairs is no fun for Fiebig, who has had multiple heart attacks and a quadruple bypass.

"Right now, he's going through a really bad bout of edema in his legs, which makes it very difficult for him to walk at the best of times and going up and down stairs is just a 'real joy,' " Jay said.

Fiebig was headed to a medical appointment on May 19 when he discovered that the elevator in the 52-year-old building had conked out again, Jay said.

It remains out of service. "My fear is it's going to be months again. We can't live that way," Jay said. "Last year, those of us who could, spent the entire summer schlepping up and down ... [the] stairs two or three times a day. Those who couldn't were held hostage, could not leave their suite, could get no groceries and could do no laundry. We cannot survive a repeat."

Jay has approached the building's manager, Hugo Wiebe, who is attempting to have the elevator repaired.

"Right now [the elevator repair company] says they don't know what's wrong with it," Jay said."I feel badly for [the manager] because he would love to be able to do the right thing, but he's caught in the middle between the building owner and the tenants."

Wiebe said he believes the elevator died on May 22, when someone got stuck for about a half-hour between the second and third floors. Following that, a new company was brought in to repair the elevator, but they blew a circuit and could not determine what was wrong, so they gave up, Wiebe said.

On Tuesday, Wiebe and the building's owner were planning to meet with the company that manufactured the elevator with a view to getting the elevator working and ultimately completely refurbished without major interruption for the tenants.

Meanwhile, Wiebe said he gave tenants from the fifth floor and up a rent reduction last summer, and would be prepared to do the same this year if the problem drags on. Wiebe said he has offered to take Jay's garbage out and to carry his groceries up the stairs.

"We haven't been sitting around not doing anything; we've been working on this a lot," Wiebe said. "We don't want this to happen -we hate it.

"But the stairwell is clean and there is nothing wrong with getting a little exercise."

Jay and Fiebig pay $1,350 a month for their two-bedroom 10th-floor suite. Jay has lived there for five years, Fiebig for 10. The pair knows the previous tenants of their suite, who say the elevator problems have been ongoing for decades.

"A new elevator has been needed and they've known it for the past 20 years," Jay said. "Last year was just horrid and it's not getting any better."

Last year, Jay went to the city and the Residential Tenancy Branch, but got no satisfaction.

"Every level of government seems to have abrogated any responsibility for renters in this city -it's just absolutely outrageous," Jay said.

"Last year, we were in contact with city building inspectors, but I haven't gone that route this year because there was nothing they could do."

He said he has tried to call the Residential Tenancy Branch, but he can never get through.

A call to the branch was not returned.


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