City officials unveiled new guidelines today they say will help keep Calgarians safe when strong winds blow through the downtown core.

Bill Partridge, the president of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), says although the program is voluntary it will go a long way in keeping both workers and the public safe from debris blowing off buildings.


A city transit official photographs broken window glass and parts of an office tower blown off by high winds in Calgary in November 2011. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

"You're not going to prevent everything ... but if you have people trained to do the right things in the right way, in the right order, you're going to mitigate the risks," said Patridge.

His group helped the city draft the new best practices policy called the Building Envelope Guide.

The guide takes a proactive approach to educate the industry, and includes recommended practices from across North America and specific building envelope items such as sidewalk safety, signage, safety plans and the inspection process.

"This guide is just one example of what building relationships and working together can do to proactively increase safety for the citizens of Calgary," says Marco Civitarese, chief building inspector with the City of Calgary, in a release.

"The ultimate goal is to enhance public safety by providing guidelines and recommendations regarding the building envelope to industry."

The new guidelines are for existing structures that are more than five storeys high.

Dangerous debris has been a problem in Calgary's downtown core in the past, including in 2011 when a severe windstorm swept through southern Alberta prompting officials to shut the city’s core to traffic as glass and debris rained down on the streets.

In 2009, three-year-old Michelle Krsek died instantly when she was struck by a long piece of metal that stormy winds blew from the top of the 18-storey Hôtel Le Germain that was being built at 112 Ninth Ave. S.W.