Tenants of a newly built rental project have spent the holidays finding places to live after a report by staff at the city of Langford found the structure did not comply with the BC Building Code.
The 11-storey Danbrook One rental complex, opened for occupation earlier this year in the Victoria suburb, was the subject of a report to the city by consulting firm WSP. The city hired the consultant after concerns about the building were raised by a member of Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
In its report, WSP addressed questions about the building’s ability to withstand an earthquake. An executive summary of the WSP report noted a “lower-than-code stipulated factor of safety” and that a failure “can occur with very little warning.”
These safety implications led the city to temporarily revoke the building’s occupancy permit until repairs are complete.
Langford Mayor Stewart Young said in an interview that the structural issues are “mostly a beam and support beams on the first and second floor.” WSP recommended “immediate installation of temporary support.”
The building was constructed by Design Build Services of Langford and is owned by Centurion Property Associates. DB Services has four other projects currently under way, including two that are expected to be completed in 2020.
DB Services declined to comment Friday about the situation at Danbrook One and referred questions to the City of Langford and Centurion instead.
Centurion president Greg Romundt said his company was shocked to learn that the building did not comply with the engineering requirements and health and safety standards under the BC Building Code.
“No one in our organization has ever seen a situation like this where a brand-new building that received all its requisite approvals and sign-offs could have potential deficiencies,” he said.
Mr. Young declined to answer questions about the structural problems, saying the building is “private property” and the city’s concern is providing for the tenants.
Centurion has been installing extra shoring in the building and that work is expected to be completed before the end of the year. But when residents could be back in their homes is unknown. Mr. Romundt said the company is relying on the guidance of engineers to gauge a timeline.
“We are still awaiting data from the original building engineers and builder to inform WSP, the city, our engineers and ourselves about what, if any, work needs to be done. We will require a detailed engineering report with recommendations for us to be able to commence work,” Mr. Romundt said.
The city has been working to provide tenants with support and assistance in finding temporary accommodation in hotels. The city is also covering the costs for hotel rooms to alleviate any financial hardships experienced by the tenants.
Tenants who do not wish to wait until the building undergoes remedial repairs will receive financial assistance with moving expenses.
The city is “paying for their move, and we’re helping a little bit at Christmas just for the difference in the rent that they may have, for up to three months to a maximum of $1,200,” Mr. Young said. To do this, the city has been using their emergency budget of $400,000.
But in the new year, Centurion will have to step up to fix the building issues, the mayor said.
“We’re looking after the residents only … The liability rests with the building owner. We’re not going to use tax dollars to fix a private building. All we can do is help the residents a little bit like we’re doing.”
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