In his final remarks to the Saskatchewan Building and Accessibility Standards Appeal Board, counsel for the developers of Capital Pointe didn’t mince words on why the appeal board shouldn’t fill the hole.
“They abandoned the site. Not my client,” Neil Abbott of Gowling WLG, counsel for WestGate Properties Ltd, said.
“In our view, this was a rush to judgement by the city. They presented a solution without a problem.”
The final day of the appeal was highlighted by a dismantling of the city’s building inspector, Jeremy Chalupiak, who issued the order to fill the hole on April 3, 2018.
Chalupiak issued the order to comply just one day after taking over the Capital Pointe file from the previous building inspector. On top of that, it was revealed that Chalupiak didn’t write the order to comply, instead it was written by his supervisor, who is not a licensed building officer.
When asked how the city was able to ascertain the site was unsafe, Chalupiak was unable to provide a firm response, adding that “the previous building inspector may have been in contact with [Isherwood], I wasn’t.”
Hydrogeologist and civil engineer Ibrahim El-Baroudy was called by the board as a neutral witness. He sided with WestGate in his assessment that the Capital Pointe site is stable, at least until December 2019, but he wouldn’t say it’s safe.
“Safe gives notion to the public that it’s under control and nothing will happen. That may be misleading. There is a chance of failure,” he told the appeal board.
El-Baroudy went one step further, arguing that the questions raised by the City of Regina were legitimate concerns. Some of those concerns were that the ground water table was not accounted for in the modelling, the numbers used to determine the factor of safety may be incorrect, and that the site could fail should it sustain a catastrophic event, such as a water main break.
El-Baroudy wouldn’t say whether or not he suggested to fill the hole, as requested by the city, or defer to further monitoring; a recommendation made by the expert witness for WestGate.
The decision now rests in the hands of the appeal board. According to Saskatchewan Building and Accessibility Standards website, “when an appeal is heard the board will provide a decision in writing within 30 days.”
Regardless of the board’s decision, the property will still remain under the control of WestGate Properties Ltd., but they won’t be able to do much with it.
WestGate hasn’t had a building permit for nearly a year, and if they wanted to continue construction their engineer recommends, they conduct a detailed design review of the temporary shoring, and conduct some remedial work.
It’s a question Christine Clifford, counsel for the City of Regina, asked the appeal board.