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‘Structurally unsound’: Fort Saskatchewan condo owners may be out of homes for another 6 months

The owners of the Riverview Estates condo will soon make a decision on repair options. The building was declared structurally unsound by engineers in August 2019.
The owners of the Riverview Estates condo will soon make a decision on repair options. The building was declared structurally unsound by engineers in August 2019. Sarah Komadina / Global News

Nearly six months after residents were forced to evacuate a condo building in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., it’s likely they won’t be able to return for at least another half year.

“It’s been a very long and difficult time for us,” said George Cook, president of the Riverview Estates Condo Board.

The 44-suite Riverview Estates complex was evacuated in August 2019 after being deemed structurally unsound by engineers from the City of Fort Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: Fort Saskatchewan condo deemed ‘structurally unsafe,’ building evacuated

“Those in the evacuated buildings are still paying their mortgages, their taxes, condo fees, as well as renting other places to live,” Cook said.

In September, residents were allowed back in — one at a time — to get their belongings.

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Click to play video 'Condo building in Fort Saskatchewan evacuated' Condo building in Fort Saskatchewan evacuated
Condo building in Fort Saskatchewan evacuated

Now, the owners will be faced with a series of options on how to move forward with repairs. The condo corporation has hired a consultant who has been working to determine how much the changes required will cost.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of engineering work and materials testing, and other efforts to try different solutions for this problem,” said Hugh Willis, the lawyer for the Riverview Estates Condominium Corporation.

“The intention right now is to present the owners with a scenario to repair.”

READ MORE: Fort Saskatchewan condo evacuees start to move out their belongings as building sits in limbo

At this point, Willis said it’s unclear how much of the cost — which is expected to be in the millions — will be covered by insurance.

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“There [are] limited ways a condo corporation can raise money, and it has to come from the owners,” Willis said.

“Virtually every condo corporation in Alberta, the money is coming from the owners.”

The cost will be spread between owners of the evacuated building and the adjacent building, which is also part of the same condo corporation.

READ MORE: New rules mean Alberta condo owners could be on the hook for $50,000 in deductible costs

Willis said that the board is continuing to work with its insurance adjuster through the process.

“It is a catastrophe, it is a crisis. It is not that different from like a fire, where no one expected it,” said Willis.

The different options will be presented to the condo owners within the next six to seven weeks, said Willis, with a decision expected by March.

After the rebuild decision is made by the owners, Willis said that construction would likely take another five to seven months.

The owners of the Riverview Estates condo will soon make a decision on repair options. The building was declared structurally unsound by engineers in August 2019.
The owners of the Riverview Estates condo will soon make a decision on repair options. The building was declared structurally unsound by engineers in August 2019. Sarah Komadina / Global News
Riverview Estates condo remained boarded up on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020.
Riverview Estates condo remained boarded up on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. Sarah Komadina/ Global News

Cook said that many residents remain in shock over what happened.

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“It’s going to take a lot more hard work, time and money, but working together, we are hopeful it can be fixed and safe to call home again,” Cook said.