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Ward 7 News: July Newsletter: Safer Buildings

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Ward 7 official website

We all deserve to live and work in safe places. Imagine being suddenly evacuated from your home because your building was declared uninhabitable. That was the case last November, when, with as little as fifteen minutes’ notice, over 100 people were evacuated from the Kensington Manor in Hillhurst. Earlier that day, an inspector identified serious structural issues and determined the apartment was at risk of “possible imminent building collapse." Residents found themselves on the street with only what they could carry and much uncertainty on where to go next. Two months later, on the other side of the city, the Fairview Arena roof collapsed shortly after evacuation. In both cases, we were lucky.

The City of Calgary is committed to working with property owners to ensure that buildings are safe. In 2016, The City created a Building Maintenance Bylaw that requires building owners to inspect and maintain the exteriors of their buildings. The Bylaw resulted from several serious incidents, including a fatality, where exterior materials fell from buildings posing risks to building occupants and passersby.

While the bylaw is already improving building safety, incidents like the Kensington Manor and Fairview Arena highlighted that our existing bylaw does not include a structural review. Calgary has nearly 500 buildings that are over 25 years old and greater than five storeys tall. These and other buildings are reaching the age where structural failures are more likely. We know that proactive structural inspections and education on structural safety can identify and prevent failures early on.

In March, I brought forward a motion to Council to improve the Building Maintenance Bylaw. Since the existing bylaw only addresses building exteriors, structural deficiencies may go unchecked until failures occur. My motion calls for City Administration to work with advocacy organizations and industry representatives to expand the scope of the bylaw to include structural issues. The motion passed unanimously.

Safer buildings and improved property owner responsibility will protect Calgarians, and help avoid the significant financial, emotional, and logistical hardships that can occur when buildings are deemed unsafe. With this work, we can hopefully avoid further situations like the Kensington Manor and Fairview Arena.

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This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.
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