Fort Mac condos condemned,
24 March 2011
People who were forced out of a Fort McMurray condominium development
over safety concerns earlier this month have been told the buildings
"It is with profound regret that we advise that it is highly unlikely
that any person will ever enter any of the 7 Penhorwood structures
again, for any reason," states the March 24 letter from Al Penner, the
lawyer for the Penhorwood Condominium Association.
The determination was made after the properties were inspected by a
remediation team, Penner adds.
"They have formed the opinion that they cannot in good conscience
engage workers (however well trained in Occupational Health and Safety
matters) to undertake the short term stabilization plan previously
mandated. Therefore no longer-term remediation can occur either."
About 300 residents were given 10 minutes at midnight on March 11 to
get out of the 168-unit Penhorwood complex because of safety concerns.
Since then, they have only been given brief access to the building to
remove smaller items. They have been forced to leave their
Fencing was placed around the buildings Wednesday night and security
guards have been told not to allow anyone on the site.
The letter came as crushing news to condo resident Aruna Baker.
"We are really in limbo right now," she said. "We are just going day by
day. I have no long term future plans."
Inspectors say they found "significant" fire safety code
contraventions, more deterioriation in the structure, and evidence that
the roofs of the building are starting to fail.
"What is the most alarming is that much of the failure in the concrete
crawl space walls has occurred after residents were evacuated," the
letter from Penner states.
"The stability of the concrete structures will deteriorate dramatically
as the spring thaw commences."
The plight of residents has led Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy
Boutilier to call for the government to step in and provide financial
help. But Municipal Affairs Minister Hector Goudreau said the
matter is beyond the scope of government aid programs.
"The courts will have to decide," he said. "It's in litigation. It's
been through the system or is going through the system and the courts
will have to decide where that additional support may come from."
Goudreau said the province is offering short-term help to the residents
as they find new places to live.