Vanda’s Famous (Sort Of)

In the Oct. 20 issue of prairie dog Paul Dechene did a story on a decision by Westland Properties to demolish two existing rental properties that currently house 60 households in buildings at 15-block 14th Ave and 1775 Hamilton. Here’s a link to the article.

In today’s Leader-Post there’s a story on the same topic. Vanda Schmockel (who’s a semi-regular contributor to our magazine/blog) and her partner live in one of the buildings that’s on the chopping block. They’ve received an eviction notice and must vacate their home at Crescent Apartments near the General Hospital by the end of February (that’s it on the left in the above photo c. 1912).

With Regina’s rental vacancy rate sitting at a miniscule 0.7 per cent, this is pretty much the last thing  our city needs. And while the Crescents isn’t an actual designated heritage property, it has been recognized as possessing heritage value, and is on what’s known as the Heritage Holding Bylaw List. In an interview this summer, Heritage Regina’s Bill Brennan characterized the Holding Bylaw as offering a building a brief stay of execution. Heritage groups are free to make representations to city administration, but unless the property owner is on board, their wish to demolish is inevitably honoured.

In a related post on Facebook, Vanda described how she and Mark had received five rent increases in three years, and that she didn’t agree with the owner’s characterization of the Crescents as being akin to a “death trap”.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

9 thoughts on “Vanda’s Famous (Sort Of)”

  1. God, what a gorgeous picture. The Crescents is a bit shabbier looking now from the outside, but its interior is just lovely. Most of the apartments still have their original woodwork and many original fixtures (some stunning lighting fixtures and really beautiful mantle pieces for example).

    It makes steam come out of my ears when I think of the Crescents being destroyed. It’s bad enough when a heritage property is knocked down but in a rental market like this, it’s unconscionable.

    One thing I wanted to clarify in this post; the owner didn’t call either building a “death trap” per se. I suggested (on my private facebook page) that he was suggesting that when he was quoted as saying that there was an insurance issue and that the buildings were dangerous. He’s on record saying “we cannot get any insurance as long as that’s hanging over our heads and we certainly don’t want anybody hurt”. Which just sounds fishy to me. Is that to say that I’m currently living in an uninsured building? If I use that fire escape (which I often do) to exit the building, am I taking my life in my hands? Incidentally, as far as I know, none of the tenants have been advised not to use that fire escape, so what is he talking about?

    We’re also contesting the idea that the building only has a life expectancy of five more years. To be clear, that was apparently the opinion of the “private engineer” who came to assess the cost of making repairs and I have no idea where he’s getting that number from. Five years seems like a pretty small margin of time to me so, again, are we all in imminent danger? And, if this building is such a mess, where did the landlord get off raising our rent again on October 1st? -Two weeks before our written notice. Something stinks.

  2. Wow, this makes me sad. I lived in both Westland buildings and I remember how in love I was with those places.

    This was ten years ago and it was amazing to be able to afford a two bedroom apartment with a pantry, dining room and working fireplace on my arts wage. I remember feeling so lucky to live there. I can’t believe they want to knock them down. WTF Regina?!

  3. Geez, PD, your outrage is almost quaint.

    Not that I disagree in any way with your characterization of the situation — I’m just a bit bemused that you’re this outraged by it.

    Perhaps it’s the “boiling a frog” effect of living in Winnipeg as long as I have. Ask Whitworth, he’ll tell you — now THIS is a town where the civic motto goes something like this:

    “Government of, by and for the property developers.”

    Or at least it should, if there were any truth in advertising laws that actually had teeth…

    I don’t know how one would possibly change that though. Local media can usually be relied on to do the usual he said-she said coverage and, as is typical, not see the forest for the trees.

    Perhaps that’s the single greatest failing in journalism of our time — an utter unwillingness to question the prevailing wisdom and increasingly unworkable framework of our society.

    Or is it inability, not unwillingness? Journalists, after all, respond to incentives like the rest of us. And if the best incentives are to be found in PR, not journalism, I guess it’s a bit pollyannaish of me to be surprised that people follow them. Sure are a lot of dumb reporters out there though… present company excepted, naturally…

  4. Growing up in Winnipeg is what taught me that property developers shouldn’t run cities. As anyone who’s lived their knows, Winnipeg, despite a few oases of sanity in a few areas, is an urban planning nightmare. It’s not technically too late for Regina yet but we’ve been generally heading in the wrong direction since I’ve lived here. Too bad.

  5. @Barb… agreed. I’d get all self-righteous about it except, um… I’ve been known to do that myself when in a rush. But still… hang your head, Stephen. Hang it. ;-D

  6. Very heartening to see the discussion around grammar, while some of us are being kicked out of our homes.

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