The company that owns the highrise apartment building in Hay River, N.W.T., has been fined $10,000 for not complying with an order to upgrade its "deteriorating" balconies and other building code violations.

About 150 people live in the 17-storey Mackenzie Place, which is owned by Satdeo Inc. It was built about 40 years ago, and is the tallest structure in the Northwest Territories. 

According to court documents, Hay River's fire marshal inspected the building in February 2016 and found a "number of deficiencies."

The fire marshal, Blair Dewar, subsequently laid out 15 building code violations in an order issued to the company, personally serving it to owner Harry Satdeo.

The order gave various timelines for the company to complete corrective actions.

The violations included:

  • storage items being left at the main floor exit and on the 9th floor, which could obstruct the exits during an evacuation;
  • exit signs that weren't up to code;
  • combustible materials found near the apartment's exterior wall;
  • a fire extinguisher missing on the 9th floor;
  • the installation of a new fire alarm system that was only partially completed "with additional wiring work still needing to be done"; 
  • the garbage chute emptying into the boiler room, which stored combustible material, creating a "dangerous" hazard;
  • no fire separation for the boiler room, meaning if there was a fire, smoke would leak into public corridors.

2 actions not completed

As per an agreed statement of facts, Satdeo Inc. complied with the majority of actions but two were not completed.

Firstly, the balconies were deemed "structurally unsafe" for evacuation in the case of a fire. They were ordered to be up to code by September 2016.

"That work was not completed and has not yet been completed at this time," the statement of facts dated Oct. 16, 2017 read.

Harry Satdeo

Owner Harry Satdeo told CBC in 2014 that the fire department expressed concerns to him about cracking balconies when he bought the building in 2002. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

In 2014, concrete was found to be cracking on the balconies of about 10 units and they were ordered off-limits, and the fire alarm system was broken. At the time, Satdeo admitted that the fire alarm wasn't perfect and said the fire department had expressed concerns to him about the balconies when he bought the building in 2002.

Secondly, the fire marshal found that all records of inspections, maintenance and testing of life safety systems — including the sprinkler system, the fire alarm system, exit signs, fire extinguishers, etc. — were inadequate.

During his February 2016 inspection, the most recent maintenance records Dewar could find were from 2014 and weren't complete. He also found that the log book of records didn't demonstrate that qualified people were conducting the inspections, maintenance and testing.

Dewar ordered Satdeo Inc. to show up-to-date inspection reports by July 31, 2016.

"That work was not completed and has not yet been completed at this time," the statement of facts read.

Satdeo Inc. has one year to pay the $10,000 fine. Harry Satdeo is out of the country, according to the manager of Mackenzie Place, who had no comment on the fine.