Paddington the bear is looking a lot more like his old self and so is his namesake building.
The hand-made bear belonging to Geoffrey Holland was damaged in the December 2016 fire that destroyed the top floor of the Paddington Station building on 201A Street near 56 Avenue in Langley City.
The fire left more than 100 people homeless and resulted in an estimated $14 million in damage.
Holland, who was renting his suite at the Paddington, relocated to North Vancouver.
Paddington bear was one of Holland’s most prized possessions, a present that his mother sewed for him when he was seven.
When Holland was allowed back inside the fire-damaged building to recover possessions, he managed to dig his bear out from a pile of debris in a storage closet, finding it messy but unburnt.
His mother immediately offered to make repairs.
In a photo posted online, Holland posed with a cleaned-up Paddington.
“I got him back on Christmas Day, which was exactly 40 years from when I first got (him),” Holland said.
“So that was nice.”
In the series of children’s books created by Michael Bond, Paddington bear takes his name from Paddington Station, London, where the kindhearted character is discovered wearing a rain hat and duffel coat.
When Holland was nine, his family went to England and he took his bear to Paddington Station.
So when he moved into the Langley Paddington Station complex in Langley, “it all seemed like the perfect thing.”
Paddington Residents Headed Home
Repairs to the fire-damaged building were a bit more extensive, requiring the replacement of the entire top floor.
The work is now complete and the building has been cleared for occupation by the City of Langley.
Langley City councillor Rudy Storteboom, who has a unit in a neighbouring building of the same complex, said people began moving back into the Paddington last week.
Storteboom said he was “thrilled” that the repairs have been completed and people are returning.
“Its been a long haul,” Storteboom said.
Storteboom said the completed repairs have turned the nine-year-old structure on 201a into “pretty much a brand-new building.”
More than 10 of the rebuilt units are up for sale, with asking prices in the $300,000 to $500,000 range.
The move-in date for the suites was said to be mid-August.
One online ad for a rebuilt corner unit said the 851 square foot two-bed two-bath open plan suite included access to a gym, guest suite, kids craft room, meeting room and party room.
The rebuilt complex also comes with balcony sprinklers.
The Paddington fire led to a change in provincial regulations after a report by Langley City fire chief Rory Thompson said the lack of balcony sprinklers contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.
“If this building (Paddington) had sprinklers on the balconies and in the attic, this fire likely would not have spread into the attic space,” the report said.
While the building had sprinklers, there were none on the balconies or in the attic because provincial building code regulations did not require them in four-storey wood-frame buildings.
The Paddington Station fire, investigators determined, was the result of the disposal of smoking materials on a fourth floor balcony.
Firefighters had the balcony fire knocked down from the exterior within five minutes of arrival, but by then, the fire had already spread into the attic space.
Langley City Council responded by calling on the province to change the regulations and require sprinklers.
Shortly after that, the provincial government announced fire sprinklers will be required on the balconies of all new four-storey wood-frame residential buildings effective July 20.