Since its opening, Ponderosa has been a mess. We, the initial batch of residents, were skeptical if the residence was even going to open on time as the 2013 school year approached. While it did open, it did not open without issue. Floods on the lower floors forced residents to relocate from their brand new homes, appliances were missing or did not work and our furniture-less lounges couldn’t even be called lounges -- some of them are still vacant, as a matter of fact.
Elevators broke down, faulty doors posed security issues and left some residents locked out of their rooms for hours on end. Wiring was installed completely backwards and not up to code -- hence why an electrical fire this past summer did not surprise me one bit. Needless to say, it’s been a very eventful year and a half as Ponderosa president, seeing the in’s and out’s of what a new residence has to offer and the lack of communication that housing has demonstrated.
Throughout my tenure onboard the Ponderosa Commons Residence Association, I pleaded with my contacts in SHHS to help me out and inform residents of repair ETAs, but non-essential services like elevators were not their primary concern. Apparently, a simple broadcast email to say that the elevator part had been ordered was too much trouble. I was discouraged from advocating for my residents, and felt left in the dark when people in the AMS knew more about my residence area than SHHS employees had ever told me.
When basketball nets were mounted on the columns of our courtyard, and residents on the lower floors felt vibrations throughout their rooms as basketballs hit the backboard, people were rightfully aggravated and distressed. I tried to get Housing to immediately remove the nets -- nets that I had never heard about being installed. The problem was dealt with at such a slow pace with no communication to my council or me. All of a sudden, we had heard that SHHS weren’t the ones who had installed the nets. One day it was Campus + Community Planning who had, the next day it was Properties Trust and the next it was back to SHHS.
My point is, throughout the month-long process of removing the nets, communication was lacklustre -- or perhaps non-existent -- between PCRA and Housing (and apparently within Housing, too). I sincerely thank Andrew Parr for coming forward and acknowledging that communication can be lacking between SHHS and its residents, and I hope that it continues to improve in the future.
And when it comes to the future, I fear what’s to come with phase two of Ponderosa set to open in September. I fear that if lessons are not learned from phase one, future and current residents will face the same problems we have since opening day back in 2013. I don’t think anyone wants a rehash of the “Pond Problems” that have been detailed in this article and articles before it.
Housing: If you can’t avoid these problems, at least be ready for them. Please do not alienate us from submitting a maintenance request that will go unanswered -- which may explain Pond’s “fewer work requests per capita … compared to other similar student residence complexes.” Let us know what is happening. Communicate with your residents who are shelling out the monthly payment of a Tesla Model S for an apartment complex that remains an incomplete product. The Residential Tenancy Act may not protect us, but perhaps you should at least give us the semblance that it does.
Jake Mullan is Ponderosa Commons Residence Association President, and a fourth-year psychology student.