Residents at the Syncrude Towers are speaking out about their below par living conditions.
The property has been hit with a cockroach infestation which is leaving some tenants with no choice other than to look for other living accommodations.
Anna Noble was one of those residents, and she describes to Mix News why her experience at the Towers left a bad taste in her mouth.
“I was dealing with the infestation of cockroaches. My place was treated a couple of times and it kept coming back worse. They were in the hallways, crawling through the kitchen and in the bathroom and for me, it was just a terrible living situation.”
Noble notes during her time there, the imagery of cockroaches followed her everywhere through her personal and professional life.
She says this affected her ability to sleep, eat properly and even live comfortably.
“I would be sitting on my living room couch and I looked at the front door of my apartment because my cat was over there, looking at something and they were just crawling through the door from the hallway, through the cracks of the door. It was literally like a horror movie.”
Noble isn’t alone in that sentiment.
Another former tenant, who asked to remain anonymous – shared a similar experience after just a four-month lease that was actually cut short a month early.
The person says they lived in the Towers from September to early December of 2018.
“We started to notice a couple of cockroaches in our kitchen, just here and there so, we let management know and they started doing an inspection to see what buildings and apartments might be infested. So, they came into spray, and they did a preventative spray to get underneath the sinks, in the kitchen and bathroom.”
After a couple of weeks, the source says they’d traveled Edmonton for a weekend – only to return home to find the problem had only progressed.
This was just two months into a four-month lease.
“Once my mental health was absolutely awful, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I basically went down and told them ‘look, I need to get out of this lease a month early’ and the answer, of course, was no. So, I offered us to forfeit our security deposit to get out of our lease a month early. Which management said they were alright with. We thought this was too good to be true. I mean, yes, we are losing $1600 dollars but at least we get to get the hell out of this place.”
The person explains the situation only worsened from there – as about a week after they received an email stating they owed $150 dollars to clean the apartment.”
“Which was hilarious because I certainly did not leave dead cockroach bodies there, I cleaned under that sink and now this is their own issue they are trying to blame me for. I was told by my landlord that when they took my security deposit off my credit card, in July of 2018, before we even moved here, they accidentally took $1300, instead of $1600 and now instead of telling me that then, they now wanted me to pay the $300 dollars to make up for the security deposit – at which point they threatened to take me to collections.”
On-Site Solutions Inc., the company responsible for the Towers’ maintenance and upkeep, said in an email to Mix News that minor pest problems are a fairly common occurrence in facilities like River Park Glen.
“Multifamily buildings throughout Fort McMurray can and do experience pest issues on a regular basis. In this case, you have a very large multi-family building with a single-digit rate of units which, at any given time, are being inspected or treated for pests of some variety. We are confident that River Park Glen has the most responsive pest control policy in the city.”
Chez Max, a Jamaican-themed restaurant at the Towers, also had to close its doors late last year because of a notice of closure handed to them by Alberta Health Services.
In a statement, they note there was a persistent issue that could not be corrected by the restaurant alone due to the nature of the construction of the entire building.
“While the condo Corp was advised of concerns and health issues on numerous occasions steps were never adequately taken to rectify the matter which has unfortunately resulted in the closure of the restaurant in that space for the protection of the consumers,” the statement reads.
Alberta Health Services notes they have inspected Chex Max. They add they’ve seen an increase across the province in cockroach infestations but can’t fully explain why.
OSS adds about 6 per cent of their tenants are currently in the pest control protocol.
They also noted in regard to Chez Max a number of concerns were cited, from uncleaned grease traps, food storage as well as other areas of the restaurant not properly cleaned.
“The level of sanitation and cleanliness required by restaurants are higher than most businesses. A restaurant owner may think that their operation is clean, but preventative maintenance and proper deep cleaning is a necessity and the responsibility of the business’ operator alone.”
Noble, on the other hand, argues this issue extends beyond the restaurant and lies with a lack of proper maintenance on the Towers.
“This infestation is not only in the Tower but the other Tower and all the lower mews, so, it’s unfortunate that Chez Max gets brought into this and they’re in that situation because of where they are located but the issue is widespread on that whole property.”
The anonymous tenant, who moved out of the towers just a few weeks before Chez Max’s closure, feels this is a matter of OSS taking responsibility for mistreating or ignoring the needs of its residents.
“I feel awful for Chez Max,” the source said. “I just want people to know what’s going on there. I think management needs to take responsibility and treat their tenants like human beings – that is huge.”