DND workers won't return to fire-damaged Gatineau building

Department of National Defence employees won't return to a building severely damaged by fire seven months ago, with some saying the building will have to be demolished.

Louis St. Laurent building to be demolished, some workers tell CBC

Nearly 8,000 shoring posts are providing support to the floors of the fire-damaged DND building in Gatineau. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Department of National Defence employees won't return to a building damaged by fire earlier this year and some employees tell CBC News they've been told the Gatineau building will be demolished.

Contractors were carrying out $5-million sprinkler and fire-proofing upgrades when a blaze on the sixth floor of the Louis St. Laurent Building broke out in April, causing part of the roof and upper floor to collapse.

Seven months after that blaze the wall and roof portion are still open to the elements.

John MacLennan, president of the Union of National Defence Employees, said workers from the Louis St. Laurent would be relocated to other DND buildings in the National Capital Region. (Stu Mills/CBC)

"It doesn't make any sense," said John MacLennan, president of the Union of National Defence Employees. "You'd think the owner would cover it up to prevent any further damage."

A seam about one-metre in width is still visible where fire shattered the sixth floor windows and caused the roof to sag.

Public Works says 700 hundred emergency steel posts were put in to to prevent the roof and upper floors from falling any further and 7,000 more steel supports are keeping the ground floor from collapsing into the parking garage below 

Public works says they only began clearing debris from the roof and the shattered sixth floor last week and the job will take until the middle of January to complete.

Demolition rumours swirling 

Just six years ago, the government put up a 500,000 square foot tower next door to 555 Boul. de la Carrière to house defence staffers in a single, local hub.

After the fire, many DND employees were squeezed into that neighbouring building. 

Subcontractors inspected the roof of the Louis St. Laurent Building on Tuesday, seven months after the fire. (Stu Mills/CBC)

On Tuesday, employees told CBC News they understand their former office will be demolished.

The Union of National Defence Employees said DND indicated that none will return to the damaged building, with some of them expected to be relocated to the new headquarters in the former Nortel campus.

The department says it hasn't determined whether the building will be demolished.

​About 1,800 employees worked in the building before the April 21, 2016 fire.