Bottom row: Residents Rudy Storteboom (left) and Liberty Tax owner Merv Paraboo. Top row: Donna Moore (left) and Donna Francis. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Bottom row: Residents Rudy Storteboom (left) and Liberty Tax owner Merv Paraboo. Top row: Donna Moore (left) and Donna Francis. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Paddington residents welcomed back into homes after 2016 fire

More than 100 people were displaced by a devastating fire at the Langley City complex

It was an event originally created to foster a sense of community among neighbours, but this year, Paddington Station’s fourth annual block party has taken on even more meaning.

The Sept. 8 party, scheduled to take place in the courtyard of the apartment building at 5650 201A St., will also serve as an official welcome back celebration for the owners and tenants who were displaced by a devastating fire on Dec. 11, 2016.

More than 100 people lost their homes that day, after discarded smoking material turned into an inferno that destroyed the fourth floor of one of the two apartment buildings.

Months of restoration work ensued, and residents finally received the OK to begin moving back in at the end of July.

READ MORE: Paddington bear damaged in Langley City fire is repaired

“It really is like the rainbow and the pot of gold at the end,” said Donna Moore, a strata council member.

“At the time, it felt so terrible when all of that happened, and now we’re coming back bigger, better. We’ve got a gym, we’ve got a guest suite. People are coming back and they are so excited. It’s even better than it was.”

Strata members estimate that about 20 to 30 per cent of those who lived through the fire are moving back in. The others were either renters who found new accommodations, or owners who decided to sell. Some people did not have insurance and had no choice but to recuperate their losses.

“I think it was hard mentally. It’s hard on people (to come) back,” Moore said.

“It was a terrible time for some people. So now two years have gone by, but it’s not necessarily (a place) they want to revisit.”

Moore, and fellow organizer and strata council member Donna Francis, are excited to see new and familiar faces at the complex’s big celebration.

Save-On-Foods is donating food items, while Langley City business Liberty Tax is sponsoring a movie night on a giant screen in the courtyard. Donations will also be collected for the Langley Food Bank.

This generosity is a continuation of the $250,000 in donations that poured in from the community following the fire.

READ MORE: Langley helps: $250,000 raised for Paddington Station fire victims

“We really want to thank all of those who contributed by sponsoring, organizing, paying and contributing to events and activities that showed their support,” said Rudy Storteboom, a Langley City councillor who also lives in complex.

“It was especially thought-provoking to have it happen at Christmas, it really brought people to a place where they wanted to help.

“It has been a team and there are a lot of people who are unsung heroes in pulling this all together. It was a terrible trauma but now we have a happy ending.”

The first block party was held in 2015 at a time when the complex was plagued by problems ranging from mail theft to people sleeping and defecating in doorways.

READ MORE: Block party aims to build community

A small group of people turned out, followed by a larger group of people the year after.

But last year, the block party turned into a massive thank you concert for the whole community, with performances by country artists Karen Lee Batten and Emily Taylor Adams.

There are still some challenges with “outside pressures coming in,” and as a result, new courtyard gates were installed earlier this month. But Francis says the atmosphere is like “night and day.”

“What we are finding now is that people are a little bit more protective over our community. It’s like an ‘our,’ it’s not an ‘I.’ It’s really cool.

“Overall I find that we are becoming a family. And we’re all in this together and people are more neighbourly and looking out for each other.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cathy Grace, principal of Parkside Centennial, and Susan Cairns, executive director of the Langley School District Foundation, show off a treat donated to the staff with the school mascot. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)
PHOTOS: Leadership program members deliver cake and snacks to Parkside Elementary

$1,250 was raised by the four group members who wanted to help feed hungry students

Peterson, owner of Velocity Cycling in Walnut Grove, said it’s still hard to get enough bikes and parts, more than a year into the pandemic-inspired cycling boom. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley bike shops still swamped by would-be riders

It can be months to order a simple new bicycle due to COVID-19

Legion branch 265 president Doug Hadley shows off the green space where food service can continue via outdoor dining. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)
Aldergrove legion branch #265 preparing to open patio dining on back lawn

Branch president Doug Hadley said COVID-19 restriction have hurt clientele

Pilots from the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley were unable to take part in the actual Vimy Ridge centennial tribute in France in 2017, and similarly they were grounded today – the 103rd anniversary of the battle. This time due to weather conditions. (Canadian Museum of Flight/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Vimy Ridge flyby tribute just not in the cards?

This time, for a different reason, Canadian Museum of Flight pilots couldn’t take to the air – again

LETTER: People must change their actions to slow global warming, Langley student writes

Grade 7 students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary were tasked with writing about climate change.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read