Schembri vs. students: where are they now?

Resolutions might at last be in sight for the many displaced student tenants of Schembri’s One Columbia property. 

Students renting the apartments at One Columbia were forced to find alternative accommodations last September when the luxury building failed to be completed by move-in day.  

Students, with the adamant support of WPIRG, Schembri and their legal team, and the Waterloo Region Community Legal Clinic, have been hosting private pre-hearing meetings since last November. These discussions have been kept confidential from the media and the parties involved are not allowed to disclose any details.  

“We are awaiting the outcome of these discussions and are hopeful the outcome will be positive for students. If a positive resolution isn’t found shortly, the case would continue on to the Landlord and Tenant Board. At such a point, WPIRG would also consult with the students about relaunching our public campaign to recover their deposits from Schembri,” said Alex Diceanu, the outreach and resource centre co-ordinator at WPRIG. 

Several independent parties have also taken Schembri to court over the dispute, and many of these cases have yet to be decided. 

Despite the delays, Schembri is currently advertising suites for the upcoming year and One Columbia is now renting to students. According to Chantal Stott, the project co-ordinator overseeing One Columbia, as of now 75 per cent of suites have been rented out, however, construction on the building is still not complete.

“All of the suites in the building are finished. We currently anticipate that the parking garage will be open soon, the amenities will open shortly, and the exterior landscaping will be complete in or around early spring,” Stott said. 

Other than on the Schembri website, advertisement about the complex has remained fairly limited. A few listings can be found, but starting in September, UW stopped advertising Schembri suites altogether. 

Stott is adamant that Schembri is not at fault for any of the delays. 

“We were not the cause of the unfortunate delay. We have always strived to be one of the leaders in the industry and will continue to offer superior customer service and a high standard of property management services ... We made the best of a bad situation and will continue to correct any legitimate concerns that our tenants may have,” Stott said. 

The official grand opening for the high rise is scheduled for some time in September 2015, a full year after the original move-in date.


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