BURNABY, B.C. -- Tenants of an apartment building on Dow Avenue near Metrotown were startled awake by a crashing sound around midnight on Feb. 10.

Shoko Bekideh, who lives on the second floor, thought someone was attempting to break into the building.

“And I slowly opened my door and looked outside and I realized it’s a collapse. I looked up and saw the ceiling falling down,” she said.

The ceiling collapse happened in the second-floor hallway, sending water gushing throughout the building, and revealing black mould.

It happened just outside Bekideh’s apartment, causing her to wonder how safe she is in her unit, which has a sagging ceiling full of cracks.

Pieces occasionally fall, including bits of black mould.

Bekideh said she complained to Peterson Commercial Property Management, which looks after the building, and was not satisfied with the response.

“I was told not to go to the kitchen. They put a piece of red ribbon on that (doorway),” she said. “But if I’m not using the kitchen, how am I going to be able to have access to the food, and water, and anything else?”

Matchpoint Development, a firm based on the west side of Vancouver, owns the building, as well as three others on either side of it.

With luxury high-rises springing up all around them, tenants of the four low rises on Dow Avenue fear it’s only a matter of time before their buildings are also destined for the wrecking ball.

“When the first tower went up (across the street), the clock was ticking,” said Linda Noel, who has lived in one of the buildings for 22 years.

Last year, Matchpoint submitted a rezoning application to the City of Burnaby, seeking to build a pair of high-rise condo towers and a six-story rental building on the site.

“It’s like a great big anvil swinging over my head,” said Noel. “You know, the pandemic is enough, but with this as well, it’s a very suppressive feeling.”

Tenants worry a lack of appropriate maintenance on the building is intentional, with the developer hoping they’ll move out on their own before the redevelopment advances to a point where they will have to be compensated.

Although the application is in stream with the city, tenants say no information about the timeline has been shared with them.

“I’ve been calling and texting,” said Bekideh. “Not only me but the rest of the tenants as well.”

CTV News Vancouver also reached out to Peterson Commercial Property Management and Matchpoint Development, but has yet to receive a response from either company.

Bekideh feels trapped in an apartment infested with mould where the ceiling could collapse on her.

“Because of the pandemic, it’s very difficult to even go to a friend’s or stay temporarily somewhere,” she said. “Also, finding a place to move in is not easy.”

So, for now, she’ll stay where she is, wondering if her home poses a greater health hazard than the pandemic.