New fines for fire and building safety code violations

The Alberta legislature has passed a bill that imposes fines of up to $500,000 for fire and building code safety violations.

Under the new law, fines for a first offence increase from a maximum of $15,000 to $100,000.

Fines for two or more offences hit a maximum of $500,000.

The Calgary Fire Department slapped the Holy Cross Centre with fire safety charges in 2008 and again this past July. Had the new rules been in place, the owner could have faced maximum fines totaling $4.5 million.

In the past few months the CFD has laid safety code violations against the owners of a rooming house where one tenant died in a fire, and against the owner of the Shamrock Hotel, where a fire caused extensive damage in August.

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The City of Calgary has pushed for tougher penalties since 2009, when a piece of sheet metal flew off a downtown building under construction , killing 3 three-year- old Michelle Krsek.

Kevin Griffiths, the city’s chief building manager, says the new fines will send a message, but they are not severe enough.

“As a city we felt there could have been a little more done, but we are encouraged by what has happend to this point, and we are going to push for greater levels of safety and higher penalties where appropriate because we want to ensure that our city is safe.”

The changes could put a strain on the city’s legal department if more offenders fight their cases in court, but overall the fines are expected to work as a more effective deterrent.

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