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Long delay in repairs for fire-gutted Langley condos frustrate owners

It will be the end of the year before Madison Place is ready for residents
More than two and a half years after the Madison Place condo fire in Langley City, repairs have still not been completed. (Shane MacKichan/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Owners of condo units in a Langley City building that was gutted by fire are upset that reconstruction efforts have already dragged on for more than two years, and may not wrap up until late in 2023.

It’s frustrating for former residents and unit owners of Madison Place, a single-building condo in the 19700 block of 56th Avenue that caught fire and was seriously damaged in mid-July of 2020.

Despite the length of time since the fire, owners and tenants have not been able to return to their homes. At a meeting in December, the restoration firm, Canstar, told Madison Place residents that it might be as late as November before work is finished.

READ MORE: Langley fires prompt warning about balcony and deck fires

That would be more than three years from the date of the fire, and owners say it’s not what they were initially promised.

“They told us from the time they started the rebuild, it would take about 12 months, about a year,” said Patricia Schwab, who owns a rental unit in the building.

Aftermath of the 2020 fire at Madison Place, a condo building on 56th Avenue at 197th Street. (Langley Advance Times)
Aftermath of the 2020 fire at Madison Place, a condo building on 56th Avenue at 197th Street. (Langley Advance Times)

Schwab noted that as of mid-January, scaffolding around the building was still up. There was no sign yet of air conditioning units being installed, or of railings on balconies.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Emie Amado, who was an owner and resident in the building, in a top floor unit, before the fire.

Amado and her family got out just ahead of the fire, helping a neighbour in her 80s down the four flights of stairs.

She and her family made it out with their wallets and the clothes on their backs, and that was all, leaving even their car keys behind.

Her family has been living in a basement suite since then. She said she lost almost everything she had built up in her life since she arrived in Canada more than 25 years ago, and now, Amado said, she is in limbo.

“Everything is on hold,” she said. “They keep on delaying, they have so many excuses.”

READ MORE: Engineer to examine fire damaged Langley City condo

In response to a written query from Madison Place’s strata council and property management company, Canstar president Ji Yoon replied with a letter that included a six page itemized list of various reasons for delays.

Issues cited included delays in receiving new windows, bathtubs, and electrical equipment due to global shipping and manufacturing delays, issues waiting for BC Hydro to connect power, changes to the building code since Madison Place was originally built, and the compounding effect of each delay pushing back the next needed piece of work.

“Preliminary projections for completion and occupancy are the Fall of 2023 (October – December 2023),” Yoon’s letter says. “It is important to note that this is subject to change should there be any unforeseen issues that may arise through the course of work.”

After the Langley Advance Times reached out, Yoon said repairs have been complicated by the large size of the complex, COVID-19 restrictions and supply chain issues.

“For example the replacement windows took almost 10 months to arrive, which prevented any construction work, and [the delay was] further compounded by delays in city approved permits” Yoon told the Advance Times.

“We understand the frustration and inconvenience this has caused, and we apologize for the delay,” Yoon added.

“We assure you that we are doing everything in our power to complete the repairs as soon as possible.”

Schwab and her husband Mark McDougall have had to keep paying the mortgage on the unit, as well as strata fees and insurance.

There are now issues with getting extensions on some forms of insurance because the building isn’t finished after two years.

Schwab and McDougall note that it took much less time to build the condos in the first place.

“It’s like a kick in the nuts,” McDougall said of the situation.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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