Tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the community have helped residents of the burned-out Ocean Ridge complex get back on their feet again.
Individuals and local businesses donated a total of $114,462 to help victims of the May 15 arson fire, which gutted the upper floor of their building, rendering it uninhabitable.
Residents from 51 of 60 units – both individuals and families – responded to an offer of financial help, David Young, CEO of White Rock-based Sources Community Resources Society, told Peace Arch News this week.
Sources, which accumulated donations from individuals, corporations and community fundraisers, conducted telephone interviews with victims to determine need.
“Some people needed more help than others. Then there was some people who said: We don’t,” Young said.
Sources verified all people applying for financial assistance were residents of Ocean Ridge, he said. Some required limited support – the lowest amount disbursed was $500 – while others had greater financial need, up to $3,000.
Those hardest hit had limited insurance coverage, had children or other dependents, lost everything in the fire or found themselves with much higher living expenses due to a lack of local rental accommodation at the time of the fire, Young said.
So far, cheques totalling $101,188 have been written for fire victims – a figure that includes payment for removal and disposal of fire-damaged items. Financial fees associated with the fundraising totalled $565.
Young said the remaining $12,709 will be distributed to residents through another round of cheques.
The donations also helped one other fire victim outside of Ocean Ridge. On July 17, a two-storey Thrift Avenue townhouse complex was hit by fire, causing significant damage to three units.
“There was one family that was significantly impacted, and we had been approached,” Young said. “With the permission of one donor, $1,500 was directed to a victim of the Thrift Street fire.”
Donations to the fire fund – which is now closed and no longer accepting donations – poured in from all areas of the community, Young said. Local businesses contributed approximately 40 per cent of the funds, Peninsula churches contributed 24 per cent and an online crowd-funding campaign started by Laura Cornale of Laura’s Coffee Corner was responsible for 19 per cent of the money raised.
Individuals who donated to Sources directly contributed a further seven per cent, the White Rock Blues Society five per cent, the Royal Canadian Legion four per cent and anonymous contributions comprised two per cent of the total.
Not included in the fundraising total are the community’s many donations of household goods, furniture and accommodations.
Volunteers also gave of their time, local merchants supplied coffee and food, the Tzu Chi Foundation purchased gift cards for residents and the Wooden Spoon provided a complete dinner for residents.
Sources has been collecting comments of appreciation from displaced residents.
“These donations have been a tremendous help to get through this experience. The community has been so great to all of us affected,” reads one.
Reads another: “I will continue to be a White Rock citizen for years to come. White Rock did us proud.”
It is expected to be two years before residents and businesses can return to the site.