The City of Fort Saskatchewan is investigating how a four-floor condo building that passed inspections in 2003 has now been completely evacuated for structural concerns.
According to Brad Ward, the city’s director of protective services, the issues first came to the city’s attention earlier this month after residents of Riverview Estates began complaining of “spongy” floors. A structural engineer hired by the building’s condo association determined floor joists were compromised by either being built improperly or damaged.
A building code officer then worked with the engineer to determine more joists were compromised than originally thought and the evacuation order was given for the 44 units.
“The floor joists themselves are designed to carry the weight of the building above it,” Ward said at an information session with the public. “With some of those critical pieces compromised, there was a risk that those might have failed, it’s unknown what the full extent of that failure might have been, it might have been just a localized failure or something more serious. Given the number of joists, it was thought to be a safety consideration.”
Crews have worked to shore up the foundation so further investigating can be done and a more detailed report of the damage can be prepared.
“Initially we believed that repairs could be made while the residents were in the building but under further investigation it was determined that the structure was unsafe and we contacted our emergency operations team, which we stood up and at that point in time and said it was time to evacuate the building,” said Mayor Gale Katchur during an information session with the public.
Condo residents have told media that engineers have showed the condo association evidence that the building was not constructed according to its blueprints, with floor joists in the wrong place, or not there at all.
“The project was finished in 2003, none of us were here in 2003, we are investigating that,” said Leo Urrutia, a marketing officer for the city, when asked by the Journal of Commerce how an improperly built project could pass inspections.
The project was approved by the city in 2002 and built by Nova Construction in 2003. It was designed by GMH Architects and engineering was done by Jacobsen Hage Engineering. The project includes another nearby building, but it has not had any issues.