A spokesman for the owner of the Three Gables Motel says there’s a chance the building may reopen, despite its former occupants being evacuated by an order of the B.C. Fire Commissioner.
“It’s an old building and spending money on this building is not realistic, but now we might have to do it,” said Raj Singh.
“We’re just assessing how to clean it up right. If anything’s going to be done, it’s going to be done on a big scale.”
People living in 10 long-term rental units above the Three Gables liquor store were ordered out last Friday as a result of an evacuation order that was issued due to concerns about fire safety, in particular a lack of fire-rated doors on all the rooms.
Singh said some of the doors had been kicked in by tenants, which is why some entries were boarded over with plywood when fire inspectors arrived.
“Everything was safe up there, except for however these people lived inside their rooms, which we have no right to enter,” he said.
The owner, he explained, was holding off on installing new doors while negotiating the sale of the Three Gables, but the deal fell through. Then, when an alarm was pulled June 13 and damage to the system discovered by the fire department, a decision was made to empty out the building.
“It was a joint effort of us and the fire department,” Singh said.
Relocation of displaced residents was co-ordinated by the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society, which runs a homeless outreach program.
Executive director Linda Sankey said 13 of 17 former Three Gables tenants had new homes in Penticton as of Wednesday.
Those still in need of a place have been staying at Cheers the Church, which reactivated its emergency shelter for the Three Gables group only. Sankey said their outlook has improved.
“The mood initially the first few days was, I think, pretty much shock,” she said. “But with the support and with having a place to be and with help from the outreach worker, the mood has been good.”
The liquor store on the ground floor of the Three Gables is still open for business.
The owner tried in 2012 to transfer the liquor licence to a new location, in part because the building was no longer cost effective and needed to be torn down, according to an application to the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, which later denied the request.