North Cowichan is now requiring third-party structural reviews for all multi-story buildings being constructed in the municipality as a general practice.
Mayor Rob Douglas told council at its meeting on Dec. 7 that North Cowichan wants the reviews as a check to ensure the engineers and geo-scientists working on local construction projects meet the province’s requirements for third-party reviews before the municipality issues any building permits.
The move comes after residents at the Magdalena apartment building on Crosland Place were advised in August by the building’s owners, WestUrban Properties, that they will likely have to be evicted in the new year to allow for necessary remediation work due to substandard construction of the building.
Douglas said the municipality is continuing to hold weekly calls with WestUrban Properties and the Cowichan Housing Association on the issue of the Magdalena complex and its tenants.
“At this point, 43 of the building’s 64 units will be vacant by the end of December,” he said.
“Based on recent communications with WestUrban Properties, it appears a way to deal with the structural fix of the Magdalena complex is imminent.”
As part of his mayor’s report, Douglas also said North Cowichan is continuing to host discussions between the province, Paper Excellence, Unifor, the Public and Private Workers of Canada and partners and stakeholders regarding supporting workers at Paper Excellence’s mill in Crofton that are impacted by the company’s decision to cease its paper operations indefinitely.
Paper Excellence announced the curtailment of its paper operations at the Catalyst Crofton mill in October, stating the shut-down of paper operations will begin in December.
The company said paper markets in China served by the mill have significantly weakened, and there has also been substantial cost escalations for chemicals, energy and wood fibre used at Crofton that have impacted the financial viability of the paper operation.
The curtailment affects 150 employees, 80 from Unifor and 70 from the PPWC.
Douglas said he, acting mayor Debra Toporowski, and CAO Ted Swabey have been participating in the discussions and are there to offer any support North Cowichan can.
“Coming on the heels of the announcement by Paper Excellence, we’ve just learned that Western Forest Products will also be pursuing a work curtailment as well, which will impact some of the mills in this community,” Douglas said.
“I’m anticipating that WFP’s curtailment will be short term though and the mills will be back up to full operations in January. But it’s definitely concerning for us as a municipality as these are two of our most important employers and provide many good paying jobs in our local community.”