Harry Satdeo, the owner of the fire-damaged Mackenzie Place highrise apartment building in Hay River, is still hoping that it will soon reopen.
In a telephone interview on Oct. 25, Satdeo said he is looking for workers to clean up and remove asbestos from the 11th-floor apartment where the fire occurred on March 15.
“We’ve been finding some difficulties with getting workers,” he said, adding that’s the major issue now.
“They have to be trained in asbestos removal,” he said, noting he even sent a half-dozen workers for specialized training. “But these guys, they’re not reliable.”
Satdeo said he is still trying to recruit workers in Hay River and has talked to a few companies.
“We haven’t got any luck so far,” he said.
Satdeo estimated the work on Apartment 1102 would require about a week.
“We expect it to be done within the month of November,” he said. “So all likelihood, we should be open for Dec. 1.”
Other predicted dates of when the highrise might reopen have come and gone since the fire.
Satdeo noted his company, Satdeo Inc., has obtained an assessment on Mackenzie Place from an environmental engineer from Edmonton.
“We have that report now and basically we have to clean up that one suite and do some testing, and we will be good to go,” he said.
Satdeo noted that he has provided the environmental engineer’s assessment to the Department of Health and Social Services.
“They’re waiting for us to clean up that one suite,” he said.
An attempt by The Hub late last week to obtain the department’s reaction to Satdeo’s comments was unsuccessful.
Satdeo also noted the department rejected his suggestion that he be allowed to first reopen apartments from the 14th floor to the 17th floor. (The 16-storey building has a 17th floor because it has no 13th floor.)
“They didn’t let us do it until 1102 is cleaned up,” he said.
There is asbestos in other parts of the building, but it is contained in drywall and not exposed.
Satdeo said a structural engineer will look at the building after Apartment 1102 is cleaned up.
Mackenzie Place has been devoid of tenants since the fire.
There was smoke and water damage to parts of the building, particularly apartments below the 11th floor on the north side of the structure.
An estimated 125 people were displaced by the fire.
Mackenzie Place has 122 apartments. At the time of the fire, 83 were occupied.
Satdeo was asked how confident he is in his prediction that the building could be reopened by Dec. 1.
“I’m not 100 per cent confident,” he said. “It depends on what the government says after we clean up 1102. It’s in the hands of the government after we finish that suite.”
Satdeo expects it will cost about $60,000 to work on Apartment 1102 and reopen the building.
After it is reopened, he also plans to approach the GNWT about either taking over the building or providing a loan for general upgrades and repairs, including to the balconies.
“With the new government in place, we might have a little more help,” he said.
Satdeo said he would probably be looking for about a $500,000 loan from the GNWT.
Mackenzie Place is currently closed to the public because of a public health order issued earlier this year.