Wendie walks the dimly lit halls of Tessaro Villa in Abbotsford pointing with disgust to gaping holes in the drywall, filthy, torn carpeting and empty fire extinguisher boxes.
Wires dangle from emergency lights and alarm equipment stripped of their bulbs and batteries.
As she moves into a lower stairwell a foul smell wafts upwards from the garage.
Wendie thinks the smell comes from the storm or sewer drains when they fill with water.
Another stairwell reeks of urine while another's walls are splashed with blood or laced with graffiti by those who use it as a shooting gallery. An orange syringe wrapper lies on the tattered carpet.
"It's bloody awful," said Wendie, who has lived in the building at 33412 Tessaro Crescent for eight years but said it began to go into decline about six years ago. Everybody in the building has to take the stairs because the elevator hasn't worked for a year.
"And the girl living beside me only has one leg," said Wendie.
Conditions have become so bad at the three-storey, 12-unit condo building that Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service plans to request that city council take action under the Community Charter.
It has asked that all necessary fire safety repairs be done by Dec. 11, and if they are not, that city officials be authorized to go in and do them and charge the costs as tax arrears.
The building has been identified by various city departments as a problem property with extensive police, fire and bylaw concerns, notes an AFRS report expected to go to council on Monday (Nov. 5).
Tessaro Villa, a strata building, has seven owners for the various units within the building but they haven't maintained fire and safety systems.
None live in the building and most have listed Vancouver addresses as their contact information.
Some deficiencies have been outstanding since 2005, and AFRS has visited the building five times in the last year for alarm activations.
Fines for not addressing problems haven't been paid and in some cases neither have property taxes.
A numbered company owning five units hadn't paid taxes for four years, so the properties were listed in a tax sale in September.
AFRS was called out on Oct. 10 because BC Hydro had cut power to the building because of unpaid utility bills. Deputy Fire Chief Mike Helmer noted in the report that the lack of cooperation by the strata property's owners to maintain minimum safety requirements is unacceptable and jeopardizes residents.
"Right now the property owners are not taking responsibility," said Helmer.
"It is an option to close down the building but that's a last resort. The last thing we want to do is evict people."
Many people in the building have low incomes and could have difficulty locating other places to live, he said.
"It doesn't matter what social status you are, everybody has the right to live in a safe environment," said Helmer. "That's the responsibility of the property owners and the city is holding them accountable."
The owners of the units in the building should establish a strata committee or have a property manager come in and manage the building, said Helmer.
"Without that, the building will continue to deteriorate and cause more safety issues and contribute to the burden of emergency responders . . . and the poor conditions residents are living in."
City bylaw officers have attended Tessaro Villa nine times since 2009, with the last visit for overflowing garbage dumpsters.
Wendie, who rents one of the units, has been doing her best to maintain the landscaping around the building.
She rakes up leaves, picks up garbage, and trims back hedges to keep homeless people from living in them, all without getting a dime from the building's owners.
But she recently broke two ribs bracing gardening shears against her rib cage while cutting branches.
"I've just gotten depressed," she said.
"It was a beautiful building when I moved in."