A significant step was taken last week on the road to possibly reopening the Mackenzie Place highrise after a fire in March.
Harry Satdeo, the owner of the building, said a crew was clearing up the damage in Apartment 1102, where the fire occurred.
“They’re cleaning up everything,” he said. “They’re gutting the entire suite. They’re removing all the fire debris.”
Satdeo said the work started early last week and was expected to be finished by Nov. 16.
The apartment will be closed off after it is insulated and drywalled.
“We’re not going to use it as a suite, but we’ll use it as storage or something,” said Satdeo.
Last week’s work was carried out by Arctic Environment Services Ltd. of Edmonton.
Satdeo hopes the work will be a “major” step towards Mackenzie Place reopening.
“It means it’s getting closer,” he said. “We’re hoping to open on the 1st of December.”
Satdeo was asked whether the Dec. 1 date – which he had previously given as a target – is still a reasonable goal.
“I think it should happen because the rest of the building, most of the suites, are all ready to be occupied,” he said.
“We’ll do whatever the government wants us to do to reopen Dec. 1st,” Satdeo added.
Other predicted dates of when the highrise might reopen have come and gone since the fire in March.
Mackenzie Place is currently closed by a public health order issued earlier this year because of asbestos, mould and lead dust in the building.
On Oct. 28, Peter Workman, the NWT’s chief environmental health officer, said Satdeo Inc. had submitted a partial engineering assessment and partial environmental report on Mackenzie Place.
Workman said the building has to be assessed on a unit-by-unit basis as a result of the fire and subsequent water damage, and remediation and repair work has to be done.
Last week, Damien Healy, the manager of planning and communications with the Department of Health and Social Services, said the information from Workman is still valid.
“There are more things that must be completed before the public health order can be lifted,” said Healy.
Aside from the apartment on the 11th floor, he said there are damages in other places that need to be remediated and repaired.
Plus, Healy noted that other government departments and agencies are involved, such as the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission, the Office of the Fire Marshal, and the Department of Infrastructure.
Mackenzie Place has been empty of tenants since an estimated 125 people were displaced by the fire.
The building has 122 apartments. At the time of the fire, 83 were occupied.
Satdeo said he still hasn’t heard anything from the RCMP about the cause of the fire.
According to a spokesperson for the police, the RCMP’s Major Crimes Unit is still actively investigating the fire, but no details can be provided as the investigation is ongoing.