15% of Calgary's city-owned buildings in poor and critical condition, says city auditor

With the city's facility management group having a portfolio of 501 buildings, that means 75 buildings are in the two lowest-rated conditions.

Coun. Wong concerned, says it will take a 'shocking' amount of money to repair them

Emergency crews were called when the Fairview Arena roof collapsed in February 2018. The building was later demolished. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

A report from Calgary's city auditor found that 15 per cent of city-owned buildings are in poor and critical condition.

With the city's facility management group having a portfolio of 501 buildings, that means 75 buildings are in the two lowest-rated conditions.

The city estimates it would take a rehabilitation program of $100 million annually over three years to make the necessary repairs.

A member of the city's audit committee, Coun. Terry Wong, called that a shocking number.

"I think it's extremely concerning because it's just like your own house. If you don't maintain the roof, if you don't maintain the sump pump or whatever, sooner or later you're going to have to pay a major bill," said the Ward 7 councillor.

The auditor's report said it's critical that the city's facility management business unit has effective processes to be able to make investments to mitigate risks of a building failure.

This would prevent any facility from becoming unsafe for staff or the public and possibly disrupting city services.

Five recommendations made

Auditor Liz Ormsby made five recommendations for improvements, which will be implemented by the end of 2023.

The city has seen problems in the recent past with buildings actually reaching unsafe conditions.

In 2018, the roof of the Fairview arena collapsed. That happened after the building was closed for inspections due to suspected roof issues.

Earlier this year, the Shouldice Aquatic Centre was closed for several weeks due to a structural issue with the building's roof. It reopened after repairs were completed.

Wong said those examples speak to how attentive management of facilities by city officials prevents staff and the public from being allowed into any truly unsafe conditions.

Coun. Terry Wong, an audit committee member, said the poor state of some city-owned buildings was 'extremely concerning.' (Mike Symington/CBC)

"Safety is always first and foremost, whether it's the safety of the public and the patrons in there or just even general safety of our staff. So we want to be sure that all our facilities are safe for occupancy and use," said Wong.

As for improving the conditions of the dozens of buildings that are in poor and critical condition, city administration says it is working on a plan.

The city's chief financial officer, Carla Male, told the committee a funding plan will be included in the upcoming budget.

"We are making recommendations to spend some of the reserve funds for some of the investments as appropriate," said Male.

The city's upcoming four-year budget will be made public on Nov. 8 and be debated by city council later in the month.