Balconies off-limits at N.W.T.’s tallest apartment building
'Right now we have a loudspeaker and we go from floor to floor and we announce there is a fire'
Cracked balconies and a broken fire alarm system have prompted the fire marshal to order renovations to the Hay River Highrise, and that has some people wondering whether residents will still have a home in the near future.
It was built about 40 years ago, and is the tallest structure in the Northwest Territories, after Yellowknife's Robertson headframe.
“It's a vital residency for our community,” says Robert Bouchard, the MLA for Hay River North. “It's an icon in the community for sure, and the fact that it is in this situation is definitely concerning."
In February, the building’s fire alarm was damaged by water. It has yet to be fixed.
“There are two on every floor,” he says. “They work in series, so if there's a fire on this floor, it would activate all the floors."
The system has been tested and the building is on 24-hour fire watch, but Satdeo admits it isn't ideal.
“Right now we have a loudspeaker and we go from floor to floor and we announce there is a fire. We weren't happy but what can we do? It is to make sure people are safe and that's the only way we could alert them, but I guess we have to bang on each door from now on if there is something."
Satdeo says the fire department expressed concerns to him about some balconies when he first bought the building in 2002. Concrete is cracking on the balconies of about 10 units.
Satdeo says repairs could be done by next summer, and that he's in the process of selecting a contractor to fix the fire alarm.
Plans underway for possible closure
The fire marshal's office refused to answer any questions about the situation, but local officials are watching closely.
Bouchard says community leaders — including MLAs and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs — recently met to talk about what could happen if the building were closed.
According to Bouchard, the deadlines for repairs are towards the end of this month.
He says if the owner doesn't meet them, that could leave residents of the building in a bad predicament.