Flooded electrical room causes evacuation of Forest View Suites south tower

Second time the building has been evacuated in past six weeks; tenants expected to be displaced for at least 24 hours

The south tower of Forest View Suites on Princeton Drive was evacuated Dec. 11 due to severe flooding in the electrical room where the presence of several high-voltage electrical panels posed a significant risk to tenants.

A reception centre was set up at the Thompson Regional Community Centre (TRCC), where evacuees were hosted overnight and served breakfast Thursday morning.

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Residents of the second to ninth floors of the building were allowed to return to the building Thursday evening. Those living on the first floor were asked to contact the property manager to arrange accommodations.

This is the second time in less than six weeks that the building has been evacuated. A fire Nov. 3 forced tenants out of the building for about two-and-a-half hours.

A fire in the north building of Forest View Suites on Sept. 23 resulted in the evacuation of approximately 180 residents. After RCMP and the Office of the Fire commissioner completed their investigation into the cause of that fire, Thompson Fire & Emergency Services (TFES) deemed the building unsafe until critical repairs are completed and fire code violations addressed. The north tower was then turned back over to property management company Armour Management, which was responsible for securing the building and allowing tenants to retrieve their belongings. The building’s fire alarm system was inoperable at the time and TFES was alerted to the fire by phone calls from residents. Fire extinguishers were missing from their assigned locations and combustible materials were stored in the electrical room in violation of the fire code. Exit routes were not in good condition or clear from obstructions, fire separations in the building were not properly maintained and emergency lighting was broken or absent. Many exit signs were not illuminated and the elevators were out of order.

The company that owns Forest View Suites, better known by its former name of Princeton Towers, was placed into receivership this summer because it is unable to pay back money it borrowed to run the apartments.

Ernst & Young was appointed by the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench as the receiver of the assets of Polar Bear Properties Ltd. and Manitoba numbered company 5409676 Manitoba Ltd, which have owned the apartment buildings at 364 and 424 Princeton Drive since 2009, after a July 31 hearing.

Polar Bear Properties Ltd. owes nearly $25 million to creditors and said that as of July 31 they had about $65,000 in cash, $170,000 in accounts receivable, and $28.5 million in the form of the buildings and property, though the Manitoba Municipal Relations property assessment of the buildings for 2019 values the land at $812,500 and the buildings at $15,689,100.

Polar Bear Properties acquired Princeton Towers in early 2009 from the Sheiner Group, a Montreal-based real estate investment firm, and Silver Management Group Ltd, an Ottawa-based residential and commercial property management company. Those companies had purchased the towers less than two years earlier, on April 2, 2007. 

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