Skip to content

Neighbour concerned Tantalus Mall building a hazard

The Squamish building was consumed by fire months ago. It still hasn’t been demolished; the landowner says the delay is due to insurance processes and that the building should be demolished within weeks.

Months after flames consumed the Tantalus Mall building, a neighbouring resident says the severely compromised structure has become a safety hazard and a nuisance.

The building was home to the Wigan Pier, Grounded Grocer and several rent-controlled residential units.

Connie Lurbiecki, who lives right next to the building, said on June 27 that the structure could soon hurt someone.

While the facility is fenced off, Lurbiecki said she sees teens sneak into the structure at night to hang out. She’s worried that it could come down while they’re in the building.

“The people that live in this [nearby] complex have been chasing kids out of the building,” she said.

Lurbiecki said she’s worried that since it’s an older building, it may have materials which could contribute to air contamination.

“There’s no roof up there,” she said, “So everything’s just rotting away. Everything. Walls falling down on the other side. Like they tore off half the back room. And there are shingles that are flying around off of there… I’m thinking like, what if somebody gets knocked in the head with one of those things like, dangerous bits and pieces?... I’m just very, very frustrated.”

On top of that, she said she frequently smells rotten food and garbage coming from the building, an odour that was readily apparent when The Squamish Chief visited the site.

Lurbiecki suspects that it’s food the tenants had stocked before the fire tore through the building. With the warmer weather, it’s starting to rot, releasing a foul smell.

“Putrid, horrible stench of rotted four-month-old fish,” she said.

“Now we have to keep our windows closed if the wind is blowing the wrong way. And the wind changes here all the time.”

Lurbiecki called upon authorities to tear the building down as quickly as possible.

“The decision to demolish or rebuild a fire-damaged building is a matter between the property owner and its insurance provider and any questions regarding the future of the building should be directed to the property owner,” said municipal spokesperson Rachel Boguski.

“Any environmental or health concerns related to the building materials or contents should be reported to Vancouver Coastal Health.”

She added that property owners are required to take the necessary precautions to secure the building.

“The fire-damaged building at Tantalus Mall where Wigan Pier was located is secured by fencing and Squamish Fire Rescue/the District has not received any reports or complaints of people accessing the building site without authorization,” she continued. “Residents who witness the site being accessed should notify RCMP.”

When The Squamish Chief was at the scene, there was fencing surrounding the entire area, but Lurbiecki showed one portion of the barrier where she said youths had been sneaking through.

Avtar Gidda, the owner of the property, said that the insurer is taking action.

“The insurance company, they have hired the demo people, and they applied for the demolition permit from the city. In a week or two, they will be ready to demolish it.”

Gidda said it’s taken some time because each tenant had its own insurance to sort out.

The future of the site will be determined once an agreement has been settled with the insurer.