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City of Calgary takes over fate of Kensington Manor

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary considering demolishing Kensington building'
City of Calgary considering demolishing Kensington building
Global News Morning Calgary's Doug Vaessen talks about why the city is considering demolishing the Kensington Manor building – Feb 1, 2019

More than a year after hundreds of Kensington Manor residents were forced to flee their apartments at a moment’s notice, the condemned building still sits basically untouched.

READ MORE: ‘Possible imminent building collapse’ forces evacuation of 8-storey Kensington complex

Now, the fate of Kensington Manor is in the hands of the City of Calgary — but that doesn’t mean it’s coming down any time soon.

An emergency evacuation took place in November of 2017 over concerns the apartment building wasn’t structurally sound and wasn’t safe for anyone to live in.

The city gave the owner multiple deadline extensions to figure out whether to fix the building or tear it down, and was lenient yet again when the owner chose the latter option.

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After yet another extension, city staff set a final deadline of Jan. 30 for at least some of that demolition work started — and that deadline also came and went with no work done.

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“Now that the owner has let the deadlines pass, that does put us into a different position,” said Cliff De Jong, the acting co-ordinator of the City of Calgary’s safety response unit. “We’re now able to take actions and get the information we need to formulate our own plan.”

There’s no timeline on if, or more likely when, the building will be torn down. The city is now doing independent assessments of its own to see what will happen next.

Safety Concerns

The biggest concern, according to the city, is public safety.

“There have been people breaking into the building on a number of occasions since November [of 2017], since the building was evacuated,” De Jong said.

Councillor Druh Farrell told Global News that people living in the area have been complaining to her, and to the city, numerous times about that very issue.

The city’s said main priority is to make sure no one can get inside the structurally unsound building, which has no heat, electricity or water.

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It’s adding more fencing and had a crew on site Wednesday to look into other ways to increase security.

“The longer it stays vacant, the higher the concern,” De Jong said.

The next step is to have another structural assessment done by an engineer, which is expected to happen in the next few weeks.

From there, a detailed report will be made about what’s the best course of action going forward.

The city has said it will cost a significant amount to remediate the building due to the major structural issues. It is also filled with asbestos.

Who will pay for it all? 

While the city is now taking over the work, it won’t be footing the bill.

“Anything that the city will be expending will be recovered through the owner’s property tax,” De Jong said.

At this point, there’s no public estimate of how much it would cost to safely tear it down.

Global News reached out to the owner on numerous occasions for comment, including on this latest development, but has yet to hear back.

 

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