Staff impacted by Salmon Arm care home debacle fear they have to live in their cars

Cindy Bugaresti is a housekeeper at McGuire Lake Congregate Living who says that come Tuesday, Oct. 1, she will be living out of her truck. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

After a ‘courtesy notice’ gave residents at a Salmon Arm assisted living facility 17 days to vacate the building, some staff members have said they will be sleeping in their cars by the beginning of October.

The notice, taped to several doors at McGuire Lake Congregate Living, stated the building that workers and 34 residents call home will be closed as of Oct. 1. Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgary, a restaurant in part of the same building, was served a Notice of Termination effective July 29. Residents at the living care facility did not see their notice until Sept. 13, giving them a little over two weeks to find another place to live.

Read more: Salmon Arm martial arts school evicted along with assisted living facility

Read more: Seniors advocate: Incentives in system move seniors to nursing homes

Judy Pilloud is a senior who has been living at the facility for three years and is still trying to secure another place to live. She has her sights set on an apartment at the Silver Springs Retirement Residence in Vernon. While it’s within her price range, she is worried about her health.

“I’m not happy about having to go to Vernon; I have seizures. I had a real big one recently and I broke my wrist,” Pilloud said. “I’m kind of stuck because I don’t have a car and I can’t drive.”

Terry Sigvaldason is a resident who will be able to move back in with his son. Sigvaldason has been at McGuire Lake for just over a year.

“The main thing is we need a place to go,” Sigvaldason said. “This is the best place I ever could have ever found in my life.”

Since news of the evictions broke, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing reported that the Residential Tenancy Branch’s Compliance and Enforcement Unit (CEU) is aware of the situation and is investigating.

Lessee and operator Dan Shields said that on Friday, Sept. 20, Interior Health and BC Housing came to the care facility and met with and interviewed each tenant to assess their needs and wants. No further word has been received.

On Monday, Sept. 23, Interior Health provided a list off Kijiji of 100 listings throughout the Interior to residents. More than 30 of the listings are located in Vernon and about five were in Salmon Arm. Nearly half of the listings were for rents over $1,000 a month.

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Cindy Bugaresti is a housekeeper at the Salmon Arm facility and said that she, along with a few others, have not been able to secure housing.

“Two cooks and myself, another workmate, we’re all homeless and jobless as of the 30th,” Bugaresti said. “As it sits right now my stuff is getting moved to the back of a pickup and I’m staying in the front.”

Diane Price has been a tenant for just over a month and has a shoulder surgery scheduled for Oct. 7. She will be staying with her sister for the time being but she said it is by no means a permanent solution. Although the surgery may be free, Diane is on the hook for $500 worth of medical supplies post-surgery.

Price said that residents need help, not only with finding another place to live but also moving out of their current dwellings. Many of the senior residents, the oldest 97, need assistance with bathing so moving is an arduous task.

Thomas Davies is a cook at the care facility. He, too, said his car will double as his home come Oct. 1. The change in Davies’ living arrangements means he will not be able to see his six-year-old son who lives with his mother.

“When you don’t have the finances you can’t take him out to eat. I don’t have the resources out here to be able to do that stuff,” Davies said. “I won’t be able to visit him which is heart-wrenching.”

Shields said he hasn’t heard back from any agency investigating the matter, which he considers frustrating.

“No news is not good news,” Shields said. “If I had answers that would be helpful.”

Lorenz Eppinger, representing the building’s owners, numbered company 951624 Ontario Ltd., told the Observer that Shields has been in significant arrears on his rent since 2014 and, over the last couple of years, was “repeatedly informed that payment was required or the lease would be terminated.”

Read more: Province investigating eviction at Salmon Arm assisted living facility

Read more: Seniors at Salmon Arm assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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