City issues update on condo safety concerns

Residents of Rocky Mountain Court impacted by safety concerns in the 29-storey highrise in downtown Calgary will be able to remain in their homes, but no time frame has been established for the main floor businesses who were forced to close Thursday.
The City of Calgary updated residents on the status of their highrise condo Friday after their parkade was deemed unsafe. 0:56

Residents of Rocky Mountain Court impacted by safety concerns in the 29-storey highrise in downtown Calgary will be able to remain in their homes.

Tenants in the adjacent building, Rocky Mountain Plaza, also won't have to leave.

It is unclear at this point when businesses on the main floor of the downtown highrise, Rocky Mountain Court, will be able to reopen. (CBC)

City officials ordered people out of the lower levels of the building Thursday, including a number of businesses on the main floor, after an inspection of the second level of the parkade found its integrity was compromised during renovations.

On Friday, the city's Safety Response Unit received confirmation from an engineer that the elevator lobby and exit corridor have been shored properly and are safe, which allows residents to remain in their condos.

But the city says it has no specific timeline for when seven businesses on the main floor of the building can reopen.

"There's immediate work that's being done, and then there's a longer term plan that's being developed," said Cliff De Jong, Calgary’s acting manager of building regulations.

"So in the immediate term, we just want to be sure that everything is definitely safe, so they did some work yesterday. Part of that was exploratory so that they could determine what the overall plan is going to be."

Businesses bear brunt of impact

The city says businesses won't be able to get back in until the work is done, which will likely take months.

Businesses include a barber shop, several restaurants and a convenience store.

Residents also have to find alternative parking, which is being provided until Friday at 6 p.m. from the Calgary Parking Authority.

The city says arrangements are being made to provide a longer term solution to the parking issue and Rocky Mountain Court’s management company, Maverick Management, is expected to work out the details with residents. Parking requests can be made through 311.

The problems stem from a bad parkade renovation about a year ago, but who caused the problem is still unknown. It could be the engineers who drafted the renovation plans or the construction company that carried them out.

Safety code changes mulled

The city says it launched an investigation after a complaint from a concerned citizen and it expects to complain to the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) — the provincial body that governs engineering.

If the company is fined it can only be charged a maximum of $15,000 under the province’s safety code, which doesn't sit well with either the main floor business owners whose shops will likely have to be demolished, or people who own condos in the building who say the construction problems will cost them more than $4 million.

"It's really part of my future and if I lose this property, I am facing losing a lot more than just this," said Gord Anderson, who owns a condo in the building.

The maximum fines don't sit well with the city either, which De Jong says are "woefully inadequate."

The province hopes to raise the maximum fines for safety code violations this fall to $100,000 for a first offence and $500,000 for subsequent offences. The current charge for a second offence is $30,000.

The city also wants to remind the public that unsafe building conditions can be reported at any time by calling 311.