The owners and managers of MacDonald Lofts in downtown Edmonton are facing 377 charges under the Public Health Act, Alberta Health Services confirmed.
In August, an AHS inspection found six suites in the low-rent building at 101 Street and 105 Avenue across from Rogers Place had extensive cockroach and bedbug infestations. The suites, which are rented to people considered hard-to-house, were deemed unfit for human habitation.
AHS ordered pest control, minor maintenance and repairs. Deficiencies included slow-draining sinks, loose electrical outlets and non-working smoke alarms in several units.
In October, AHS issued closure notices for seven suites in the building, citing wet, damaged floors and mould growth. The order declared the residence “closed for tenant accommodation purposes” and ordered the premises vacated immediately.
The owner was ordered to remove material that was water damaged, conduct air quality analyses, and replace all floor coverings and walls.
“Until such time as work referred to above is completed to the satisfaction of an executive officer of Alberta Health Services, the above noted premises shall remain closed for tenant accommodation purposes.”
Then, in mid-January, 377 charges were laid for failing to comply with the health orders issued.
“It is Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) duty to protect the health of Albertans, and this includes requiring that housing provided to Albertans is safe, and does not pose a risk to their health and wellness,” AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson said in an email to Global News.
“Alberta Health Services always attempts to work collaboratively with building owners and landlords to proactively address issues before escalating to closure or other enforcement measures or, in this case, legal action.
AHS said, before moving forward with legal charges, staff conducted more than 100 inspections in the building, “issued four compliance letters and met several times with the property managers to discuss ongoing issues with maintenance and pest control.”
“The property management’s lack of responsive actions created a direct and avoidable risk to the health of the tenants in the building,” the statement said.
“The charges relate to alleged violations of the Housing Regulation and the Public Health Act that occurred between Aug. 22, 2016 and Dec. 30, 2016 involving 84 suites.”
Rents in the MacDonald Lofts were capped five years ago but were set to go up by hundreds of dollars on Nov. 1, 2016, when the cap expired.
But, after the AHS orders, the rent increase was rescinded.
A Katz Group company, ICE District Joint Venture, has entered into an agreement to buy the 87-unit apartment, which is a designated historic site and cannot be torn down.
The company has not yet said what it will do with the property.