Leaky Port Moody City Hall

Leaky Port Moody City Hall

The citizens of Port Moody have just been served a special assessment, and they’ll need to pay “$3.8M to fix leaky city hall,” as reported in the Tri-City News of April 24, 2015.

In rounded figures, if the approximately 13,000 residential households are contributing around two-thirds to the tax base, then that’s about $200.00 per household.

Reading this report was a leaky-condo syndrome déjà vu moment from when all newspapers and media were regularly reporting the plundering of families, victims of a loose building industry, and reminded me of what became clear during the Barrett Commission hearings over fifteen years ago.

The many engineering assessments being conducted were turning up dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of building code violations, exposing the widespread scale of shoddy practices and builders. At the Barrett hearings, one engineer reported the discovery of well over 400 building code violations from one infamous New Westminster condominium, and the vast majority of these violations had nothing whatsoever to do with the causes of leaky condo syndrome.

One of the many myths of leaky-condo syndrome is that it was limited to condos. Unfortunately, the same Faceseal (or EIFS) system was also applied to building envelopes of single-detached family homes, commercial properties, and other institutional uses, such as hospitals, schools and civic amenities. The same methods, materials, and manpower produced the same leaky results wherever they were used!

In his report to the Homeowner Protection Office of 2007, consultant Dale McClanaghan, warned that future manifestation (of leaky-condo syndrome) in condos would likely remain high over the next 10 years. This is true, and I estimate it will probably go beyond that original timeline estimate, and especially for properties that aren’t condos, as I’ll explain.

Buildings at high risk will be those built from the mid-eighties through 2000, and especially commercial and institutional.

In my opinion the introduction in 2011 of depreciation reporting for BC strata corporations may be the best homeowner protection legislation we have seen in a long time, and moving forward should help restore some confidence for condo living. If you aren’t familiar with depreciation reporting check out this link from CHOA.

Of course depreciation reporting wasn’t legislated for buildings other than those governed by the Strata Property Act, which means taxpayers remain on the hook for all future leaky libraries, recreation centres, etc. It would probably be wise for municipalities to take an inventory and get their own depreciation report.

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