The owner of an 11-story rental apartment building in Langford, which has been largely empty for a year and a half since the city’s revocation of its use permit, is suing the seller, builder, structural engineer and engineering firm, as well as the city of Langford, for what they claim that negligence is dangerous in the building caused.
Toronto-based Centurion Property Associates bought Danbrook One at 2766 Claude Rd. In late August 2019 and began leasing the units.
Four months later, in mid-December 2019, Langford revoked permission to use the building and asked tenants to move out after an engineering report confirmed serious safety concerns for the community. At that time 86 of 90 units were rented. Tenants were temporarily placed in city-paid hotels while they searched for a new apartment. Some struggled to find apartments at a similar price and stayed in the building for two months after the usage permit was revoked.
Months before Centurion bought the building, a civil engineer who was not involved in the project raised concerns about its seismic and structural integrity in a formal complaint to the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, according to Centurion’s civil lawsuit. Leon Plett, a civil engineer and director of RJC Engineers, also raised concerns that the project drawings may have been copied from an RJC project.
According to Centurion, the building’s shortcomings include defects in the foundation, the side system and the gravity column. They claim that the parties involved in the design and construction were aware of the problems prior to the sale and that the problems “pose a hazard to people or property”.
The engineering office Sorensen Trilogy Engineering Ltd. and his senior civil engineer on the project, Brian McClure, along with the builder, Langford-based DB Services, are named in the lawsuit; the seller, Loco Investments; Margaret McKay, the director of DB Services and Loco; and the town of Langford.
Centurion is suing for damages related to redevelopment work required to update the building and address safety concerns, estimated at more than $ 1 million, as well as for lost rental income, which is estimated at approximately $ 200,000 each Month to be estimated. A little more than 18 months have passed since the city revoked the residency permit. Centurion reimbursed the renters for the rent paid for the period after the approval was revoked.
Before purchasing the building, Centurion contacted the city, which issued a “consolation letter” to Centurion at the end of June 2019, in which the engineer’s complaint was not mentioned despite notification by the association at the beginning of April 2019, according to its civil suit.
Langford denies that they were made aware of any deficiencies related to the building when the Engineers’ Association contacted the township in April 2019 for documentation.
“By letter dated April 4, 2019, EGBC wrote to Langford to give notice [it] is currently conducting an investigation into the building for possible violations of the Engineering and Geoscientists Act, ”said Langford in his response to Centurion’s civil complaint. The letter “did not disclose the existence of the dangerous defects, nor did it inform EGBC Langford that there were safety concerns or hazards.”
The city says it was unaware of the issues when it wrote a letter of comfort to Centurion and did not become aware of it until December 3, 2019 when the association shared details of the complaint.
Centurion claims DB Services encouraged construction stakeholders to speed up their work, which resulted in Sorensen Trilogy Engineering not being able to get the necessary independent review of its construction work.
The narrative set out in Centurion’s civil lawsuit is consistent with the details in documents and emails about the engineering company investigation that the Times Colonist received from Langford City as part of a freedom of information request.
Centurion claims they asked DB Services to pay for all necessary renovation work, but the company only installed temporary retaining walls.
DB Services denies that there are deficiencies and that construction has been accelerated. She also claims that no warranty was transferred to Centurion in the sale.
Sorensen Trilogy Engineering says DB Services is fully responsible to Centurion for “acts and omissions” of the company and McClure, and that neither DB Services nor Centurion paid the contractually required liability insurance that Sorensen Trilogy protected.
None of the allegations were examined in court.
An investigation by the engineering company is ongoing.
Danbrook One remains vacant.
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