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North Edmonton condo evacuation will last months, residents told in emotional meeting

No one will be living in the Castledowns Pointe condos anytime soon, even though the bills still need to be paid, in what is being described as a "financial tragedy" in north Edmonton.

That was the grim news shared by an engineer, a lawyer and the condo board at a meeting of owners and renters Wednesday night, a few days after everyone was ordered out due to structural issues and a risk of collapse.

"Pretty much what I expected," said a disappointed Shane Brockie as he left the emotional three-hour gathering at a nearby church.

Brockie's mother has lived in the building located on 126 Street and 152 Avenue for eight years. He has power of attorney but wasn't entirely sure what her next move will be.

"We just got to make sure we can get her set up so she's not living on the goddamn street," he said.

Following a fire on March 12 that damaged 44 units, an engineering firm discovered problems with the building's foundation, walls, studs and columns.

The condo management company and the City of Edmonton both ordered residents to leave. To this point, people have only been allowed to take a suitcase.

Officials with Simco Management said a plan will be made so residents can remove larger items in a "controlled" and "planned" way.

"We don't know, are they going to tear down the building? Are they going to fix the building?" Brockie said.

"We don't know who's going to pay for any of the repairs. Is the insurance going to kick in? Still way too early right now."

The board has hired a lawyer to explore legal action.

The building was erected more than 20 years ago.

CTV News Edmonton has confirmed that Carrington Properties is listed on an original purchase agreement, but the condo board is still working to determine what other companies were involved in construction and may be responsible for the deficiencies.


Castledowns Pointe has been a tragic journey for Leigh Oquinn, who bought a condo and lived there for less than a year before the fire forced her out.

She's been living elsewhere for months, but was still unsure Wednesday what will happen with her unit and her insurance, now that she's also been hit with an evacuation order.

"It's day one, so what are you going to do? Nobody knows the answers to anything yet," she said on her way out of the meeting.

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I'll end up renting and probably paying rent and a mortgage."

Oquinn said it was "shocking" to hear of the structural issues but is hoping "they get it fixed so at least it's a better building when it's done."

It was also revealed during the meeting that cockroaches have infested some units and exterminators were booked to be in the building this weekend.

Meanwhile, residents have been urged to contact their insurance companies to see what they're covered for and to sign up for an app where updates will be posted at least weekly.

Owners were told their mortgages and condo fees will likely continue during the evacuation and there is a chance a levy or loans will be needed to make repairs.

"There's a lot of emotions in the mix. But I think everyone also needs to remember that this is also a blessing in disguise and it could have been a lot worse…We're just glad no one got hurt," said Diana Chehade, whose grandma has lived there for 15 years.

Chehade said it's unclear where her grandmother will go, but will probably move in with family, at least in the short term.

"I think that people do need to be held accountable and I think that the standards need to be raised when it comes to engineering and inspections that are being passed," she said.


The City of Edmonton became aware of the building's issues on Sept. 1, a spokesperson said, describing them as "concerns with load transfers" which "refer to the way a building carries its load through to the ground."

The original building permit for 83 units was issued in August 1999.

"The City of Edmonton is unable to provide details about the builder or engineering firm on record for this project due to privacy legislation," Mary-Ann Thurber wrote in a statement.

A final inspection of Castledowns Pointe was done in November 2000 and "no concerns were noted during the inspection," her statement said.

"The city does not specifically or necessarily inspect the structural components of large buildings which employ professional involvement," Thurber stated, adding engineers and architects are responsible for filing paperwork confirming the work complies with regulations.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for Alberta's ministry of Municipal Affairs said officials are in touch with the City of Edmonton "to assist as needed," adding their experts will be helping with a building assessment.

"Albertans deserve to know their homes are safe and built to high standards and that is why the Alberta government created the new home warranty program and implemented builder licensing," Scott Johnston wrote.

"These rules have helped increase consumer protection, improve building quality and enhance accountability of residential builders and home warranty providers."

But the New Home Buyer Protection Act didn't come into force until 2014, so it does not apply to Castledowns Pointe, Johnston stated.

That act drastically increased fines for safety code violations from $15,000 for a first offence to $100,000. Second offences can now be up to $500,000.

Castledowns Pointe residents were told it would likely be "weeks" before they are able to move out large items like furniture. Another meeting will be held in a few months to update owners, officials said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Craig Ellingson, Brandon Lynch, Nicole Weisberg and Miriam Valdes-Carletti Top Stories

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