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

Building owners terminate lease for McGuire Lake Congregate Living, Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgery

Residents of a Salmon Arm assisted living facility woke up Friday morning to the alarming news they soon won’t have a place to call home.

Staff along with the 34 residents of McGuire Lake Congregate Living discovered a “courtesy notice” taped to several of the doors explaining that the building they call home will be closed as of Oct. 1.

“Please note that this building will be closed as of Oct. 1. Utilities will be disconnected and the building will be sealed,” read the notice, posted by the owners of the building at 551 Trans-Canada Highway.

“The tenant operating as McGuire Lake Congregate Living and Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgary has been served a Notice of Termination effective July 29, 2019. The date for vacant possession has been extended until September 30 in exchange for an orderly exit.

This notice is given as a courtesy to any occupants and/or sub-tenants renting from the tenant noted above as it has come to our attention that the tenant has likely not informed all occupants of the need to vacate.”

At 10 a.m., Friday McGuire Lake Congregate Living owner and operator Dan Shields met with staff and residents to explain the situation.

He confirmed he had received the first notice on July 29, stating the lease was being terminated immediately and asked him to contact the building owners’ lawyers.

Shields said the lawyer was looking for, “a proposal for some monies that I owed them from the past, and what we were going to with this building in the future as far as beginning to renovate.”

But, then he had heard nothing more from the lawyer or the building owners until Sept. 4. Instead, he received another letter demanding that the building be emptied by Sept. 30.

“All of which is absolutely ludicrous, all of which cannot be done,” Shields told residents. “It’s not legal, it can’t be done. He cannot do anything he wrote on here, he cannot cut off the gas, he cannot cut off the power, he cannot cut off the water.”

Lorenz Eppinger, representing the numbered company 951624 Ontario Ltd., which owns the building, explained Shields is “in serious default with us,” and was given notice in July. He reiterated how the date for possession had been extended two months to allow residents time to relocate.

“During that time, we’re paying for water, we’re paying for all of this,” said Eppinger, explaining the building’s owners are not licensed to operate an assisted living facility.

“We are very concerned because we wanted everyone to not have to scramble at the end, because legally I can’t do anything when Dan Shields is gone at the end of the month… So this is an extremely upsetting situation for us and for everyone involved.”

Eppinger noted there are concerns with the building, stating it isn’t known if it can be saved. He says the termination of the lease was not brought on by a supposed sale, as has been speculated.

“By allowing Mr. Shields to stay on despite significant and increasing arrears in rent, the owners had given him plenty of opportunity to either sell his business or wind it down in an orderly fashion,” states Eppinger in a follow-up email to the Observer. “Over the last couple of years, Mr. Shields was repeatedly informed that payment was required or the lease would be terminated.”

Shields told residents he had been in contact with the province’s Residential Tenancy Branch and the building’s owners cannot just cut off utilities.

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“If he sold the building he has to tell us he sold the building, in which case he has to give us four months notice. Or any major renovations to the building, it’s four months notice. Otherwise, he could technically serve us with two months notice,” said Shields.

Residents were upset by the news and at least one of them was angered with Shields.

Donna Benn, a resident of the facility for about six years, said she moved into the facility with her husband because its proximity to the hospital allowed her to be close to him when he became ill. Benn said she enjoys living at the facility and was stunned to learn of the notice on the door.

“My biggest reaction to this is pure shock. That couldn’t be,” said Benn.

During the meeting, Shields also said his restaurant, the Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgery, will remain closed.

Shields later explained to the Observer the assisted living home never had been a moneymaker, though it was meant to be his retirement project.

“I’ve put nine and a half years into this place and I’ve never received a dime of profit from it,” said Shields, who also resides at the facility.

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While his days at McGuire Lake Congregate Living may be coming to an end, Shields said he would do what he can so his fellow residents don’t find themselves out on the street as of Oct. 1.

“You don’t do it this way. You certainly don’t have a group of seniors waking up to a notice telling them you’ve got 17 days and then they’ve got no hydro, no gas and water. Who does that?” said Shields.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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