Dozens of tenants of a downtown Langford highrise were forced to leave Monday after the rental building was found to be structurally unsafe.
It’s the second time in four years that residents of the 11-storey, 90-unit building — initially called Danbrook 1 and then Ridgeview Place — have had to be evacuated over faulty engineering and design work.
The building’s owner, Centurion Apartment Properties Inc., was helping to move tenants out and into other accommodations, said Mayor Scott Goodmanson, who called a news conference late Monday afternoon to address the issue.
Centurion advised the city it was evacuating the Claude Road building due to “an ongoing, life safety concern with the building.”
“At this time, it is recommended that all residents vacate the building as soon as possible,” Goodmanson said. “Our No.1 priority is for the residents of Ridgeview Place. I recognize that this news is going to be shocking to residents and I want them to know that the city is supporting Centurion to ensure that the residents receive all the services they need.”
The building was first evacuated days before Christmas 2019. It was close to full occupancy — 86 of the 90 units were occupied — when structural and design flaws were discovered.
Those structural concerns were said to be addressed after Centurion acquired the building early in 2020, but on Sunday, Centurion notified the city that a third-party engineering firm had completed an initial visual inspection of the building and concluded the structure was unsafe. It recommended the building be evacuated until a more detailed analysis could be done.
The city immediately revoked the occupancy permit and instructed Centurion to notify residents.
“We are incredibly frustrated and concerned to learn that there are ongoing issues with this building that should have been addressed when the issues first surfaced in 2019,” Goodmanson said. “If the city had the information it has today, the city would have never issued the occupancy permit for April 2022.”
Engineers and Geoscientists British Columbia said in a statement the association informed Langford of an active investigation into the structural engineer for the remediation work undertaken by Centurion.
The association said it provided the city with details on a number of potential design issues that may not have been addressed by remediation and said it had no evidence of a comprehensive review being conducted of either the design or the built structure.
“As a regulatory body, we believe the situation demanded that we disclose this information to the city so steps could be taken to assure the safety of the residents and the surrounding community, if necessary,” the association said in a statement.
The association said it won’t comment further as there is an active investigation and no final determinations have been made.
Centurion Property Associates spokesman Greg Romundt said the company hired independent engineers when it got the interim results of an Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. study, and that second group visited the site and identified serious safety concerns on April 23.
“As a result, we have provided an urgent notice to residents that they must temporarily vacate their units as we work diligently to gather additional information,” Romundt said in a statement provided to the Times Colonist. “We also proactively provided the City of Langford with an update that we had identified these concerns and would be issuing a notice to vacate, prior to the city communicating any additional steps.”
Romundt said Centurion intends to provide a further update to residents by the end of the week.
“We recognize that there is never a convenient time to receive this notice and share our residents’ frustration for the significant inconvenience that this will cause,” he said.
The last time the building was evacuated, the city spent $300,000 to house displaced residents in hotels, but Goodmanson said relocation is the building owner’s responsibility.
Langford has given notice to Centurion that it will be required to do an independent structure design review before any new occupancy permit is considered.
The mayor could not provide details of how serious the structural problems are, or if the building is in immediate danger during a seismic event.
— With files from Andrew Duffy and Roxanne Egan-Elliott
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