Residents of flood-prone PoCo condo building wonder why it was built in the first place
PORT COQUITLAM -- Some condo residents in Port Coquitlam have been living with no power and no heat for the past couple of days since a torrential rain storm resulted in the building's underground parkade filling up with water.
At the height of the storm, the water almost reached the top of the entrance gate.
"We had to shut the power down because our electrical room being down there, it became a very frightening situation," said resident Arron Fillery. "We can only live by candle for so long. We need to shower, we need to eat."
The condo is located at Kingsway Avenue and Bedford Street and was constructed on top of a floodplain.
Fillery said this latest incident highlights why the eight-year-old condo shouldn't have been given the green light to develop in the first place.
"Based on the geographical area: the creek being underneath us, the high water table, the mountains and the runoff – all these things create the perfect storm," he said.
Forrest Smith, the director of engineering and public works for the City of Port Coquitlam, said during the building permit process, experts believed the building's pumping system would be adequate to address potential groundwater infiltration.
Now, he said, more water is getting into the building than was initially anticipated.
"We are very empathetic to the challenges that the residents of the building face," Smith said in an email to CTV News Vancouver. "Unfortunately, this building has had ongoing challenges, primarily related to groundwater infiltration exceeding the design expectations. This was compounded on Friday with the heavy and intense storm event."
Smith said the city met with the strata in late 2019 and recommended the residents hire professionals to review the current system.
Fillery said the building has three pumps, one of which is new, and they are operating almost all the time.
"There is no pump that's designed to run 24/7, seven days a week, 365 days a year," he said.
He said he and others living in the building would like to see the city upgrade its infrastructure so it can receive all the water the condo pumps out.
Smith said capacity improvements are coming, but not for a few more years, and the upgrades likely won't solve all the issues.
The city has approved funding to design upgrades to the Maple Creek pump station and construction is tentatively scheduled for 2023.
"These improvements would not impact the natural groundwater table, and thus would not fully alleviate the issues this building experiences, although would help in larger storm events," Smith said.
Crews are now on site, pumping 40,000 gallons of water out of the parkade every hour. While that may sound like a lot, restoration work could take days before the flooded parking lot returns to normal and power can be turned back on.