Ming Sun Benevolent Society calls flooding of its building "suspicious"

THE CITY OF Vancouver has boarded up a 122-year-old building in Japantown after it was flooded last night.

The Ming Sun building at 439 Powell Street has been at the centre of an ongoing controversy between the city and the owner and its occupant, the Instant Coffee Art Collective.

The city issued a news release saying Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services had responded to a call that water was coming out of the building.

"City building inspectors determined that sprinkler pipes likely burst due to the cold weather; pipe joints were found to be coming apart in multiple locations," the city stated. "As the building has now moved further into a state of disrepair, and there continues to be evidence that the property owner has not adequately secured the building as ordered, the City ordered it to be boarded up to prevent further access."

The Ming Sun Benevolent Society, which owns the building, has described the flooding as "suspicious".

Society spokesperson David Wong said in a news release this morning that the water supply had been turned off.

"In fact when we escorted the media and concerned individuals through our building over the past weeks to view the smashed sinks, broken hot water tanks, and overturned toilets...these fixtures had no water coming out of the supply pipes because all water had been shut off," Wong said. "Our sprinklers had also been drained this past fall."

The society has asked the police to investigate vandalism.

On December 6, the Strathcona Residents' Association chair, Pete Fry, wrote to the city asking that the city hold off on a planned demolition of the structure.
(See: Open Letter Calling for Stay of Demolition... http://strathcona-residents.org/newsletter/open-letter-calling-stay-demo...

Fry alleged in his letter that the "demolition order is largely based on the removal of a non-structural brick veneer, which was damaged in the City's hasty demolition of the neighbouring building owned by a man with an admitted desire to 'develop the block' ".

In the first of three statements on the building issued since December 6, the city denied that the earlier demolition had any impact on the structural integrity of the Ming Sun building.

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter @csmithstraight.

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