Owners ordered to demolish condemned Fort McMurray condos
By Bill Mah
12 September 2014
Photo Topher Seguin,
The owners of Fort McMurray’s Penhorwood condominiums have been ordered
by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to demolish the unsafe
buildings with the threat of hefty fines or jail.
An order issued to the owners states the seven buildings pose a danger
to people and property and the condo corporation or owners must
demolish the buildings by Sept. 30.
After that, the municipality will bring the buildings down itself, the
The document lists fines of up to $100,000 and $1,000 per day and/or
imprisonment not exceeding six months for the owners.
“They are in a panic,” said Christine Burton, president of the
Penhorwood Condo Association, on Friday.
“We really had hoped that they would do this a different way and not
add insult to injury to these poor people whose lives are falling
It’s the latest setback for Penhorwood owners after more than 300
residents were evacuated from the condos in the middle of the night in
2011 after an engineer’s report questioned the safety of the buildings.
continue to pay mortgages, condo fees
They have not been allowed back, but continue to pay mortgages, condo
fees, the costs of their current homes and legal fees for a $60-million
lawsuit they have launched against more than 28 defendants, including
the municipality, developer and construction companies.
It’s the second demolition order issued in two years. Last year, the
municipality told condo owners to tear the buildings down by Sept. 20,
The owners responded then that they couldn’t afford to demolish the
buildings and negotiated to include the cost of demolition by the
municipality as part of a lawsuit settlement arrangement, Burton said.
“But that kind of fell apart so nothing happened for almost a year, and
they do this,” she said of the second demolition order.
She said it appears the municipality wants to serve each owner, to
attach a caveat on each person’s title to recoup the cost of demolition
if the land is sold.
“If that’s what they’re doing, it means selling the land is going to be
much more difficult, much more complicated and much more expensive.”
on the hook for about $100,000
Each owner would be on the hook for about $100,000, she said.
Burton said she wished the municipality would continue discussions with
the owners’ lawyers on a possible settlement or engage in mediation “to
talk about how we can do this without panicking our poor owners.”
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo issued a short statement
Friday saying the issue is public safety.
“Based on the current condition of the buildings, we determined that
they need to come down as soon as possible,” said Safety Codes Manager
Damon McGillivray in the written statement. “The order was issued to
ensure public safety.”