Safety violations force residents from Leduc, Alta., condo

The City of Leduc is evacuating a condo complex one year after residents moved in because the building is no longer safe.

City of Leduc issues evacuation order; province pledges new laws

The City of Leduc is evacuating the Bellavera Green Condo Complex one year after residents moved in because the building is no longer safe. (Andrea Huncar/CBC News )

The City of Leduc is evacuating a high-end condo complex one year after residents moved in because the building is no longer safe.

The Leduc Fire Department issued a fire safety code order Wednesday to residents of the Bellavera Green Condo Complex to leave by Mar. 31st due to critical life-safety concerns.

"The safety of these residents is our number one priority," said fire chief Ernie Polsom. "This order was issued after numerous, serious Alberta Fire and Building Code violations were revealed, yet were left unaddressed by the building owners."

The 80-unit luxury complex at 6201 Grant MacEwan Boulevard houses about 150 people.

Residents began moving into Phase 1 of the project in February 2011. Construction of Phase 2 has since been abandoned.  

Fire alarm system faulty

Condo owners Chris Melanson and his fiancee pack up belongings. The couple has no place to go. (CBC/Andrea Huncar)

Safety-code deficiencies include a faulty fire alarm system, unsafe fire access route, an open and unsecured construction site, and a condemned stairwell which threatens fire protection and building services such as a high-pressure gas main.

Condo owners told CBC News the developer has abandoned the building.

"We have no developer," said owner and condo-board member Jane Walker. 

The owners said they are as unhappy with the municipal officials as they are with the developer.

"The city wants us to come up with millions of dollars to fix the problems as individual owners and we don't have millions of dollars," she said.

"Our biggest complaint is the city and the fire department allowed people to move in over a year ago with all of these problems and they should have stopped it at that point."

Changes made to building after inspection

Polson said the problems did not exist when residents moved in.

He said the city has taken "extraordinary measures" to address the deficiencies which have extended occupancy of this building.

However, these measures are no longer sustainable, he said.

"The temporary measures the city has in place will allow residents a transition period to evacuate the building by Mar. 31, 2012," said Polsom.

Those measures have cost the city more than $250,000, he said.

Polson said he doesn't know at this point whether the evacuation will be permanent.

Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths promised the government will introduce tougher new building legislation this fall.

"We're moving forward with increasing of the fines and limitations on building development violations," he said Thursday. "We're working on increased training for safety code inspectors."

Currently the maximum fine for a first time code violation is $15,000 but new legislation would increase that to $100,000.