Vancouver shops forced to close due to ‘unstable’ building façade
Posted February 12, 2024 3:14 pm.
Last Updated February 12, 2024 8:45 pm.
It’s been nearly a year since concerns first arose, but now, a building housing several businesses along Broadway in Vancouver have been forced to close again.
The City of Vancouver states that the current state of the building façade at 245 East Broadway “poses risk to the safety of residents and pedestrians passing by.”
It adds the building, sidewalk and curb lane near the building will remain closed for now.
Some business owners are expressing concerns that tunnel boring as part of the Broadway Subway line last March created problems with the façade of the aging building on the corner of Broadway and Kingsway Avenue.
However, the city states the building repairs are unrelated to the Broadway Subway Project and the issues were identified before the subway tunneling began, and have been monitored throughout construction.
Most recently, businesses say they were ordered by the city to shut down last week. In “unsafe to occupy” orders issued to the owners on Feb. 8, the city cites “the current unstable condition of the building façade,” adding inspections have found work is required to ensure safety of the public.
Businesses that received the notice are being ordered to “immediately cease occupying this building until such a time as the project team take the actions detailed.”
Skylar Stock, owner of Mintage Mall, which operates out of the top of floor of the building, says work on the heritage building has been ongoing since some issues were found last year.
He tells CityNews it seemed everything was going according to plan before the notices came in the mail last week.
“A few weeks ago, the old scaffolding was taken down and they put up new scaffolding and started the masonry work. And then that was that. We got a notice and we can’t come back,” Stock explained.
The closure, which remained in place Monday, isn’t just having an effect on the business owners.
“We’ve got people with families, we’ve got people with kids. I have a lot of people who work up there and Mintage Mall has vendors. There’s a collective of us who are up there,” Stock said.
“It’s the livelihoods of many and it matters to a lot of people.”
Marlon Soriano, co-owner of Knowledge Barbers, says his business has nine barbers who now need to find other places to work out of. While the business has other locations, this closure is already having an impact.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” he told CityNews.
He says the shop was forced to shut down “immediately” on Thursday, when notices were presented. No estimated time of reopening was given.
“We just didn’t know what to do,” Soriano added, saying little information was provided to the businesses affected.
“We’ve been closed for COVID. We opened in 2019, and in 2020 we had to close for about a month and a half. It’s similar but I think this is worse — we have no idea what we’re going to do.”
In a statement, the City of Vancouver says it does not have “an anticipated date for businesses to reopen in this building.”
Soriano admits, if the closures are too long, he and his partner may have to pack up and move elsewhere — something they don’t want to do.
“We love this neighbourhood, it would be very unfortunate if we had to shut down because our business is very Mount Pleasant. Our community’s here and we’ve invested a lot in our community. We hope to continue doing that,” he explained.
Stock says he’s spoken with the landlord who wasn’t able to provide much more information than the letter the businesses received.
He admits he feels a bit left in the dark in this whole situation.
“I get it, some of the answers around stuff like this can’t be given out instantaneously and it does take time. But even if somebody was to call me and say, ‘Hey, this takes time,’ it would have been nice. We work all weekend … and the closure … all of us are in there, many businesses … none of us know,” said Stock.
In a statement, the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association says there will be a meeting this week to give businesses an opportunity to “go over any issues.”
“Our concern is for public safety, and as I understand it, the building was closed out of an abundance of caution while some further inspections can be made,” the BIA said in an email.
“As the business association, we are concerned for the businesses, their staff and customers.”
The association adds it will be there to support businesses.
According to the city, engineers contracted by the building owner first alerted the city to the building’s condition last week, and now, it’s the building owner’s responsibility to take next steps.