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‘Nobody should be living at this property’ – Winnipeg Free Press

Residents of a dilapidated row of townhouses in the Lord Roberts neighbourhood are awaiting their fate as the owner of the property appeals the city’s orders to vacate the premises and clean the place up.

The property encompasses row houses in the 300 block of Arnold Avenue. It features a grey and cracked brick exterior, several shattered windows, deteriorated steps and damaged doors and locks.

In February, the city ordered the building be vacated, after inspectors identified serious safety issues, including a large section of the structure’s eastern wall which was “observed to be bowing outward” and has since begun to crumble, a city report says.


MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS
                                The City of Winnipeg is ordering tenants living inside a townhouse building in the 300 block of Arnold Avenue in the Fort Rouge area to vacate the premise, warning it may be in danger of imminent collapse.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS

The City of Winnipeg is ordering tenants living inside a townhouse building in the 300 block of Arnold Avenue in the Fort Rouge area to vacate the premise, warning it may be in danger of imminent collapse.

According to the report, inspectors also found overfull garbage bins, exposed electrical wires, interior renovations completed without permits, stairways that were rotten or slanted, potential water leaks and evidence that raw sewage may have leaked from one second-storey suite into the kitchen of a unit below.

“Based on our findings during the above-noted site inspection… (the property) poses a risk of harm to people, animals and neighbouring properties, and therefore is in an unsafe condition,” reads the February enforcement order.

The order gave a vacancy deadline of Feb. 23, which was later appealed by the property owner.

As of Tuesday, there were still people living inside.

“The first day we moved here it was so bad,” said one tenant, an immigrant from Ghana who asked not to be named.

On the day the woman and her husband moved in, she said their new suite was littered with soiled women’s clothing, garbage and used drug needles. She wanted to file a complaint with the provincial Residential Tenancies Branch, but was intimidated by the process.


YOUTUBE
                                Alen Planincic during appeal hearing before the property and development committee on May 15, 2023.

YOUTUBE

Alen Planincic during appeal hearing before the property and development committee on May 15, 2023.

At least one other person, a senior, lives in a suite in the same row house. On Monday, they were both told they had one day to move out, the woman said.

The province has issued health hazard orders for a total of six units at 348, 350 and 352 Arnold Ave. in recent months. No public health orders have been issued for 346 Arnold Ave., where the senior and the woman from Ghana live, a provincial spokesperson said.

“This building, and its owner, have been by far the worst influence in our area,” said Justin Pauls, who lives beside the two-storey row house on Arnold.

The property owner, Alen Planincic, purchased the houses in 2016, tax records show.

He is preparing for an April 22 hearing with the city’s planning and property committee, in which he will be asked to defend his appeal application.


MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS
                                Some of the front doors to the suites have no deadbolts and are being held shut by small brackets.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS

Some of the front doors to the suites have no deadbolts and are being held shut by small brackets.

Planincic previously appealed a city order to improve safety conditions on the property more than a year ago. The committee denied that appeal.

The Free Press was unable to reach Planincic on Tuesday but a realtor who recently listed the property spoke on his behalf. Rahim Mirza denied allegations the building was unsafe or unsanitary.

“If anything, its more of a cosmetic in nature issue, rather than actually structural defects,” he said by phone. “I can tell you, as of right now, there is working water in all the units, there is no sewage.”

Planincic previously told the planning committee that Mirza was the property manager and would “deal with issues as they arise.”

Mirza denied this characterization, saying he has operated mostly as a consultant and has “nothing to do” with the daily management of the property.


MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS
                                A window into the basement of one of the empty suites sits open showing some minor flooding from recent rain.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS

A window into the basement of one of the empty suites sits open showing some minor flooding from recent rain.

Coun. Sherri Rollins, chair of the property and development committee, described the building as “very, very concerning” and said the city and multiple levels of government have been working to shut it down.

“Nobody should be living at this property,” she said.