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City revokes occupancy permit of troubled Langford highrise for second time over continued structural concerns

“Life safety” concerns remain after remediation of the RidgeView Place (formerly Danbrook One), said engineers

For the second time in four years, residents of RidgeView Place (2770 Claude Rd.) will have to find a new place to stay.

The occupancy rights for one of Langford’s highrises has been revoked over unresolved structural safety concerns, just a year after the permit had been granted for a second time.

The building is flagged for potential safety concerns by BC’s engineering association and an engineering firm that inspected the building, formerly known as Danbrook One, this past weekend.

Langford mayor Scott Goodmanson announced the permit revocation at a press conference this Monday.

“I recognize that this news is going to be shocking to the residents,” Goodmanson said at the conference. “I want them to know that the city is supporting Centurion to ensure that the residents receive all the services they need.”

Langford does not have an exact number of residents affected, Goodmanson said. He did not say whether the city was committed to spend emergency funding to house affected tenants, as it did four years ago when an occupancy permit was revoked for the same building in late 2019.

“It should be noted that this is the building owner’s responsibility,” he said. “We are working with them to ensure that no one is left out in the cold.”

RidgeView Place is owned by the Toronto-based asset firm Centurion Property Associates Inc. which was granted an occupancy permit by Langford council last April after the building underwent lengthy structural remediation.

Centurion is issuing a notice to vacate after the identification of “serious safety concerns” on April 23, said Centurion president Greg Romundt in a statement in response to questions from Capital Daily. A further update will be provided to residents by the end of this week, he said.


Safety concerns reached the city this past week

Romundt said that Centurion puts the safety and security of residents as their first priority. In a Q&A posted on their website last year, the company reassured would-be tenants that “upgrades have been designed to ensure the property will be able to withstand seismic activity in accordance with current best practices and standards in seismology and structural engineering.”

But on April 17, the city received a letter from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of BC (EGBC) cautioning that a number of unresolved structural design faults may not have been fixed in the $1-million remediation of RidgeView Place.

The building undergoing retrofits in 2021. Photo: Zoë Ducklow

The building was further concluded to be unsafe over the weekend by an initial visual inspection by a third-party engineering firm hired by Centurion. RidgeView Place residents have been recommended to vacate the building immediately by the city.

The designs for RidgeView Place—then Danbrook One—were signed off by now-disaccredited engineer Brian McClure. Those designs were found to have load-bearing walls incapable of reliably handling the seismic force of an earthquake, among other problems, as previously reported by Capital Daily.

Langford and Centurion did not elaborate about the current safety concerns of the 11-storey rental-only building.

“In recent years we have remediated the property in response to recommendations previously put forward by the EGBC in 2019 and only learned a few short days ago that an investigation was taking place,” a statement from Centurion read.

“This is still an ongoing investigation for [EGBC],” Goodmanson said, noting that the situation is still evolving and that the city is receiving new information by the hour.


City lacked resources to fully vet the remediation, mayor says

There would have been no occupancy permit for RidgeView Place had the city been aware that the building structure was unsafe, or had known that the letters of assurance provided signing off on the remediation were not an assurance of compliance with provincial building codes, said the city in its Monday announcement.

“When they submit authenticated plans or schedules, based on the professional reliance model, we have to believe that those plans are up to date and meet the latest building code requirements,” Goodmanson said. “That is how it works across BC. 99% of municipalities don’t have the resources on hand to do that all [by] themselves.”

City reviews are one of the three typical failsafes in large building construction but are usually limited in their in-house engineering knowledge. They only occasionally bring in external reviewers, though Langford hired a third-party opinion in reaction to the 2019 structural problems. Engineers are responsible for securing independent reviews of their designs, and the EGBC investigates if it learns they didn't.

A professional engineering association like the EGBC has regulated engineers and engineering projects in BC since 1920.

EGBC told Langford last week that they received “no evidence that a comprehensive review of the structural design of the building, or of the as-built structure of the building, was ever conducted for the remediation.”

The third-party engineering firm that inspected the building has recommended that RidgeView Place be evacuated until a more detailed analysis has been completed.

Centurion has brought a team in to help shelter tenants for the initial few nights, Goodmanson said. The city has had good and encouraging conversations with the company about next steps, he added.

Centurion did not answer questions about the number of tenants affected, or what supports the company will be providing to those who are about to be displaced.

RidgeView Place received its new name and address (2770 Claude rather than 2766) in March 2022.


2019 evacuation came just nine months after building opened

Notice for 86 tenants to vacate came on Dec. 20, 2019, when Langford first revoked the occupancy permit. Tenants were thrown into flux over the holidays. Many were out of town and unable to initially retrieve their belongings. The affected residents were put up in hotels, with some staying up to two months, costing Langford $300,000, according to the Times Colonist.

The building had only been occupied since March 2019, but by April, Langford had been notified by EGBC of a formal complaint and asked to provide documents. That same month, Centurion entered into a purchase and sale agreement that would make the company the building’s new owner by Aug. 2019. Centurion, like Langford, knew at the time that there were concerns flagged as early as 2018.

Photo (2021): Aaron Guillen

Langford commissioned an independent third-party review from WSP, an independent engineering consulting firm, in Dec. 2019. That review, obtained by Capital Daily in 2021, addresses a list of 28 concerns outlined by Read Jones Christoffersen Limited Consulting Engineers (RJC) after one of RJC’s structural engineers, Leon Plett, raised issues over the designs by original developer Sorensen Trilogy Engineering Ltd.

“This sort of case should not have happened,” UBC civil engineering professor Carlos Ventura told Capital Daily at the time, saying that so many concerns was unusual.


Engineer was outside his lane and behaved unprofessionally, review determined

In 2022, McClure was fined $25K and his accreditation as a professional engineer was removed with no option to re-apply for two years. He was also ordered to pay $32K in legal and investigative expenses incurred by EGBC.

McClure was an experienced structural engineer who had mostly done wood-frames of five or fewer storeys. EGBC’s review found that designing an 11-storey concrete-and-steel building was outside his expertise.

The fundamental problem was that the resulting structure would not withstand an earthquake. McClure’s drawings contained “incorrect and incomplete information regarding the seismic force resisting system,” per EGBC review. There was not enough flexibility to absorb an earthquake—the foundation was “inadequate,” and the load-bearing walls could have collapsed.

In May of 2022, McClure admitted to a list of additional unprofessional behaviours, including copying parts of the design; lying about having a third-party review; and not addressing concerns that were brought very early on in 2017.

McClure’s business partner Ted Sorenson, who was the building’s principal engineer and senior structural designer, was also stripped of his licence. He admitted earlier this year to acting unprofessionally by letting McClure design the building despite knowing his limitations.

Centurion has filed a lawsuit against Sorenson Trilogy Engineering. DB Services (which built and sold Danbook One) and the City of Langford are also named in the suit, which has not yet been heard in court.


With files from Zoë Ducklow and Aaron Guillen