Edmonton Condo Residents Face Uncertain Future After Building Evacuation Order

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In a grim turn of events, the residents of Castledowns Pointe condominiums situated in north Edmonton are facing an uncertain future. A dire proclamation of a looming “financial tragedy” echoed across a recent meeting attended by the condo board, an engineer, a lawyer, owners and renters. This news comes shortly after an evacuation order was spurred by structural threats and potential building collapse.

Shane Brockie, who handles his mother’s affairs via power of attorney, can’t predict their next steps. His mother has resided in the condo, nestled on 126 Street and 152 Avenue, for the last eight years. Amidst the uncertainties, Brockie’s main concern is about ensuring his mother has a suitable alternative accommodation.

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A fire that occurred on March 12 dealt a heavy blow, not only due to the physical damage inflicted on 44 units, but also thanks to the subsequent revelation of structural inadequacies. Post-fire evaluations by an engineering firm revealed grave defects in the building’s foundation, walls, studs and columns, leading to a joint evacuation decree by the condo management company and the City of Edmonton.

Concerning the broader aftermath of the evacuation, Simco Management, the firm tasked with condominium oversight, plans to coordinate the removal of larger belongings in a systematic and controlled manner. But even with these tentative plans, significant queries pertaining to future repairs, potential demolition, and insurance coverage remain unanswered for the anxious residents like Brockie. In response, the condo board has engaged legal counsel to ascertain potential litigation routes.

Our records reveal that Carrington Properties appears on an original purchase agreement, but is rather a single puzzle piece in a broader investigative effort by the condo board. The board is seeking to identify any other parties involved in the building’s construction over two decades ago, who may be accountable for the identified deficiencies.

For occupants like Leigh Oquinn, the calamitous Castledowns Pointe experience started with her purchase of a condo just short of a year ago. A fire forced her to vacate her new home and with the recent evacuation order, she faces double financial strain—having to pay for an alternate rental as well as the mortgage on her deserted unit.

Distressing details revealed in recent meetings, including a cockroach infestation, further compound the troubles of Castledowns Pointe. Amid the chaos, residents have been advised to investigate their insurance coverages and to stay tuned into updates shared via an app.

Despite the protracted complexity of the situation, Diana Chehade, a resident of 15 years, regards it as a hidden blessing. Given the structural flaws, a bleak alternative could have been a catastrophic building collapse. The condo board’s focus, she insists, should be on ensuring higher standards for future engineering and inspection work.

The City of Edmonton, aware of the issues since Sept. 1, has thus far offered little insight due to privacy legislation. It issued the original permit for the Castledowns Pointe, comprising 83 units, in August 1999. Despite a final inspection in November 2000 revealing no issues, the city admitted to not conducting specific scrutiny of structural elements of large buildings.

Alberta’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs has pledged to assist the city and provide support for a building assessment. However, the 2014 New Home Buyer Protection Act, which increased fines for safety code violations, does not apply to Castledowns Pointe, specified Scott Johnston, spokesperson for the ministry.

The residents are now awaiting another meeting for updates, and in the meantime, will likely need to wait weeks before they can remove large pieces of furniture from their units.