Monday, July 13, 2009

Northumberland "Court"

Tuesday, July 14th represents the last meeting of council of Maple Ridge for the summer of 2009. The next meeting is not scheduled until September 08. Though there has been progress at Northumberland Court it would be nice to have a clear picture of what the city plans on doing in the event the remedial actions that were imposed in April are not fulfilled.

Even though there is still two weeks to get all of the remedial repairs done it is unlikely given the main player involved that this will actually happen. The last statement could be proven wrong but given the history of delays and stalling by the majority owner of Northumberland Court, as well as the saga started by the same owner who created the problem that lead to the court imposed clean up of Morse Creek , very few people are counting on the remedial repairs being completed by July 31st.

Though it may seem far away in four months we will enter the winter season and if it is anything like last season the question remains will any of the rented suites actually have a functioning furnace? What will happen with suites 6 & 7 where the city report states “New access cut into floor at bottom of stairs with temp bracing only for cut joist. Bottom of floor joist notched in same area causing floor joist to be over spanned and potential failure” What happens in regards to dealing with the mold that has been found in all suites and the recent issue of disturbed asbestos. Given that there are numerous references in the city reports to altered and damaged walls in the other suites and those suites contain the same disturbed building materials that are known to hold asbestos.

There has now been some measurable progress on some of the issues around Northumberland Court the goal from but beginning of this movement has always been to ensure long term positive change, and at this point if the city backs down from the remedial actions this goal will never be achieved. This is not to say that the city is backing down, but as has been learned during the last several years of dealing with this issue now is not the time to back off the pressure on the city or the provincial government.

There are still outstanding questions as to what is the written rules around the suspension of the business license of Jack Athwal, why the situation of the damaged buildings at Northumberland Court have been dealt with in a different manner than other damaged buildings, and what parts of the Strata Act of BC prevent the city from taking any meaningful action at Northumberland Court for so many years.

There is a separate issue going on around who will be in charge of Northumberland Court after July 29th 09, but that will be decided by the courts and not Maple Ridge city council. When more information is known about who will be in charge of Northumberland Court this will be distributed to all who are interested.

At this point in this saga it is important to focus on what is going to happen with the remaining remedial actions that are due in the next few weeks. As always everyone is encouraged to attend council meetings and also encouraged to ask whatever questions they feel are appropriate. With that said a few members have already mentioned they will be in attendance at tomorrow nights council meeting and will attempt to get the following questions on the table and answered:

What has the city done to ensure that the Maple Ridge business license suspension is being honoured by the province, in particular the Ministry of Economic and Income Assistance?

Has the city forwarded its reports on the condition of the Northumberland Court suites to the Ministry?

Can the city discuss the plan, if any, to assist tenants of Northumberland Court during the remedial repairs?

In the event that the remedial actions are not undertaken by the majority owner on his remaining ten suites will the city hire an independent contractor or undertake the repairs through city staff?

Has the city prepared an estimate of what the repairs will cost, and where in the annual budget the money will be allocated from?

Two final notes.

The question period is not until the end of the agenda so unless you want to sit through the entire council meeting a safe time to show up is around 7:45.

The other note is that MRCCC is planning a meeting in September to allow for an overview of where things are at, what was accomplished and not accomplished, what still needs to happen, and how this type of situation can, ideally, be prevented from happening in the future.

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