Surveillance video shows brawls, vandalism inside beleaguered Saskatoon condo building
SASKATOON -- Surveillance video captured inside a problem-plagued Saskatoon condominium building and obtained by CTV News paints a startling picture of the challenges residents face there.
Prairie Heights, located at 1416 20th Street West, is a known hotspot for police, with 410 calls to the address recorded last year by Saskatoon Police Service.
The building is in disrepair, with many outstanding issues and garbage visibly littering hallways and stairwells.
One resident who spoke with CTV News in February said he sleeps with a sword within reach because he fears for his safety.
Video obtained exclusively by CTV News shows the violence that some residents say happens routinely inside the building.
In the videos, which can be viewed using the player above, a violent confrontation can be seen occurring in a hallway. In another, an individual appears to be threatening someone else with a machete.
One of the videos shows a brawl in the building's lobby involving close to a dozen people. Other clips show apparent acts of seemingly-casual vandalism involving fire extinguishers.
Residents have attributed the building's problems to the fact most of the 44 units at Prairie Heights are being rented out — few residents own their units.
“It’s horrible,” said Ron Atkinson, one of the many tenants renting a unit.
On March 16, the City of Saskatoon issued an order to remedy contraventions in the condo based on an inspection conducted on March 3.
The order lists dozens of violations including broken doors and windows, a lack of locks on exterior doors and doors to apartment suites, cockroach infestations, garbage, filth, human biohazard and water damage throughout the building.
The order outlines the condo building is not being maintained in a safe and sanitary condition.
The order from the city gives a deadline of April 16, 2021 before the city takes action afforded to it under the Cities Act.
All costs incurred by the city to remedy the building will be tacked on to property taxes according to the city’s order, and failure to comply with the order could result in a $10,000 fine for an individual and $25,000 for a corporation.
According to the Saskatoon Fire Department, once an order to remedy is issued and no appeal has been made and the time for compliance has passed, the fire department may prosecute the responsible parties for a failure of compliance; complete some or all of the work and charge these costs back to the owner of the property; or close part or all of a building where there are health or safety issues.
As of Wednesday, the elevator in the eight-story highrise was out of order, leaving some less-mobile tenants trapped in their apartments.
Atkinson said he’s lucky enough to be able to take his walker down the stairs to leave the building.
Others don’t have the ability to do so, including his neighbour Bernice Kiendal.
“I can't get out of here,” Kiendal tells CTV News.
The 88-year-old woman cannot get around with her walker and she said it’s not possible for her to navigate the filthy stairwells to get outside. She said without the elevator, she’s trapped.
“Now that the elevator is out it’s a problem."
For longtime resident Sergii Bogdanoff, the situation at Prairie Heights continues to freefall with more damage and garbage accumulating and criminal activity continuing every day.
“It is not believable, the situation. Where is government, where is police, where is the health department,” Bogdanoff said.
Recently the condo corporation elected a new condo board of directors, which Bogdanoff was a part of. But he said he resigned from his position and others elected to the board also resigned, leaving no condo board intact presently.
He said with no condo board, no one is in charge and things will not improve.
“I don't know what we can do. I think for these people they need serious help,” he said.