Highrise owner fined $10,000

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The company that owns the Mackenzie Place highrise apartment building has been fined $10,000 for failing to fully comply with an order from the Office of the Fire Marshal.

Satdeo Inc., the owner of the Mackenzie Place highrise apartment building, has been fined for not fully complying with an order from the Office of the Fire Marshal. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The failure involved not repairing deficient balconies and inadequate records to show ordered safety improvements had been made.

The fine was recommended in a joint submission and agreed statement of facts by the defence and Crown in Territorial Court in Hay River on Oct. 16.

Satdeo Inc. had earlier pleaded guilty to the regulatory offence.

The fine was imposed by Chief Judge Christine Gagnon.

She noted the recommended $10,000 fine took into account the guilty plea and that, of 15 actions ordered by the Fire Marshal, only two were before the court.

“The recommendation I think is reasonable,” said Gagnon. “It takes into consideration the aggravating and the mitigating factors.”

However, the judge noted that, since the building involved is a highrise, there is a different appreciation of the offence.

“It’s one thing to repair balconies that are at ground level and they represent a different risk to safety than balconies on a highrise building,” she said.

Satdeo Inc. was given 12 months to pay the fine.

The charge arose from an inspection of Mackenzie Place in February 2016, which was followed by the order from the Office of the Fire Marshal on April 12, 2016.

Satdeo Inc. was ordered to repair the balconies by Sept. 30, 2016.

“That work was not completed,” said Roger Shepard, the lawyer representing the territorial government.

The company was also ordered to produce records of inspections and testing on such items as fire alarms, the sprinkler system, emergency lighting, exit signs and more by July 2016, but failed to do so.

The charge of failing to comply with an order of the Fire Marshal was laid in December.

“Orders of the Fire Marshal are important. They must be complied with,” said Shepard. “Non-compliance will attract consequences.”

The prosecution lawyer noted the order was in relation to the National Fire Code and the National Building Code.

The Fire Marshal and building owners have a duty to ensure that large residential complexes such as Mackenzie Place are as safe as possible against the threat of fire, he said.

Shepard noted that, while most of the conditions in the Fire Marshal’s order were satisfied, that does not mitigate the failure to repair the balconies.

Defence lawyer Glen Rutland also noted Satdeo Inc. complied with all but two of the 15 conditions in the Fire Marshal’s order.

“So this was not a situation where there was a disregard for the orders of the Fire Marshal,” he said, noting there were substantial efforts undertaken by the company.

Rutland noted that repairing the balconies is a significant financial challenge that requires putting together engineering plans, getting approval of those plans, locating equipment and finding a qualified contractor.

“Satdeo Inc. has obtained engineering plans and those plans were submitted to the Office of the Fire Marshal for review and approval,” he said, although he noted that the required equipment is hard to find.

Rutland said Satdeo Inc. is committed to moving forward and repairing the balconies.

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