Residents of Adanac Apartments in Winnipeg Face Uncertain Future due to Fire-Safety Issues

Residents of the Adanac Apartments in Winnipeg are uncertain about their living situation after being served an order to vacate the building by 2 p.m. on Monday due to multiple fire-safety issues. The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service conducted an inspection and identified numerous fire code violations, including a malfunctioning fire alarm system, missing smoke alarms, inaccessible fire extinguishers, and a blocked fire escape. The building also had power issues, with most suites lacking power and extension cords being used to supply electricity to some rooms.

To rectify the fire code violations, residents and the owners of the building, Karin Harper-Penner and her husband Patrick Penner, are working diligently to make the necessary repairs before the Monday deadline. The building is currently rented out, with 40 of the 48 suites occupied, housing around 60 people. The Adanac Apartments have had a troubled past, including two homicides since April 2022, and a reputation for being associated with drugs and violence. However, some residents consider it their home and have formed a supportive community within the building.

Efforts are being made to assist the residents in finding alternative housing and improving the building. Organizations like St. Boniface Street Links and the province’s employment and income assistance program are providing support and guidance to residents. Marion Willis, the executive director of Street Links, emphasizes the need for more investments in low-barrier housing buildings like Adanac, with wraparound services to address the complex issues faced by individuals experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, and addiction.

Closing the building would mean starting the process of finding housing all over again for the vulnerable residents, causing more crises in their lives. Willis believes that solely focusing on fire codes and bylaws without considering the individuals impacted is a lack of understanding about the needs of vulnerable people. She commends the Penner family for their willingness to house a high-risk group of people when many other property owners and landlords would not take on such responsibility.

Despite the uncertainty, residents like Dallas Cadotte are optimistic and are actively working to improve the building in the hopes of avoiding eviction. They are painting, updating the alarm system, and clearing fire hazards to demonstrate their commitment to rectifying the fire-safety issues. Cadotte encourages others not to be discouraged by the situation and to remain resilient. The residents hope for a positive outcome from the city’s inspection on Monday that would allow them to continue residing in the building they consider their home.