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Balconies remain an eye sore, safety concern for Hay River highrise tenants

In October 2017 the building’s owner was fined $10,000 and ordered to fix the longstanding problem of deteriorating balconies. While many building code violations have been addressed, the balconies are still an issue.

One balcony an ‘accident waiting to happen,’ says Mackenzie Place resident

New tenants of Mackenzie Place are told to avoid balconies until they are all fixed. In October 2017 the building's owner was fined and ordered to fix the longstanding problem. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC )

Residents of Mackenzie Place, known to locals in Hay River, N.W.T., as "the highrise," are still being told to stay off their deteriorating balconies.

In October 2017 the building's owner, Harry Satdeo, of Satdeo Inc., was fined $10,000 and ordered to fix the longstanding problem. The cracked and crumbling concrete was one of 15 building code violations dating back to at least 2014. 

Most of those violations have since been addressed, but the balconies — on the tallest residential structure in the Northwest Territories — remain an outstanding eye sore and a safety concern for many tenants.

Ray Charest, 56, moved into the highrise in April 2017. He said he knew what he was getting into having lived in Hay River for almost 30 years.

But he was surprised when the building manager told him not to use his balcony, and that if he was caught doing so, his sliding door leading to the balcony would be screwed shut.

Ray Charest says he was told by the building manager not to use his balcony when he moved in last year. His balcony is cracked but not falling apart. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

Charest pays $1,200 for his one bedroom apartment on the eighth floor. He said his balcony isn't too bad. But two floors down is a balcony he called, "an accident waiting to happen."

"You can see the steel hanging off it, and that's internal components that hold the concrete together," Charest said. "With that piece of rebar hanging out there, if that falls, God knows where it's going to go through or land."

Building manager Blaine Maillet confirmed new tenants are told to avoid the balconies until they are all fixed, as a safety precaution.

He said work crews are in the process of repairing the balconies, but CBC could not find any outside evidence of work crews or upgrades.

Territorial fire marshal Chucker Dewar said he's in regular contact with the owner and the Town of Hay River about the building's condition.

Dewar referred all questions about compliance from the October 2017 court order back to Harry Satdeo. 

"Whoever owns the building is responsible to keep it up to [fire and building] code," Dewar said.

When pressed about the status of the repairs he added, "The [Office of the Fire Marshal] is now turning its attention back to the structure. We are monitoring the situation closely and if there was any fire safety threats to occupants, if any existed, I would use everything at my disposal to resolve the matter."

Satdeo could not be immediately be reached for comment.

'I have never had any concerns,' says tenant

Not all tenants are worried about the state of the balconies.

Kyle Camsell, 27, has been in and out the highrise for 10 years, as a volunteer DJ for CKHR radio station, which operates out of the building. He recently moved into his own two bedroom apartment, which he shares with a friend, a cat and two ferrets.

Camsell knows people are upset about the balconies, but he's not one of them.

"I have never had any concerns. Maybe if it's windy I'm not going out there, and if you're someone who is intoxicated, I highly advise not to go out there," he said.

"I have a plant out there that I go out and water every day."

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