There has been some positive movement towards the possible reopening of the Mackenzie Place highrise apartment building, which has been closed since a fire last March.

Harry Satdeo, the building’s owner, has released two letters from Arctic Environmental Services Ltd. of Alberta detailing the results of its work to deal with mould in the building and asbestos exposed by the fire in Apt. 1102.

Harry Satdeo, the owner of the Mackenzie Place apartment building, stands in Apt. 1102, the site of a fire last March that has forced the highrise to remain closed ever since.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

In a letter dated Jan. 27, Robert J. Valleau, general manager of Arctic Environmental, stated the company completed asbestos abatement and fire debris cleanup of Suite 1102 in December under authorization from the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC).

“Upon completion, the air in the suite was sampled and analyzed for asbestos content,” the letter stated. “It was confirmed by the laboratory (Waltech & Associates) that abatement was complete and met all NWT requirements. This was accepted by WSCC as complete.”

Mackenzie Place highrise fire last March. NNSL file photo

The letter continued that, following the abatement work, the suite was subjected to an extended ozone treatment for removal of residual smoke in the room, and that process had “excellent” results.

All the asbestos materials collected will be disposed of at a landfill certified for asbestos in High Level, Alta.

The second letter dated Jan. 28 reported on mould assessment of the entire highrise in December.

“Upon completion of air sampling, all visible mould presence in suites, hallways, stairwells, utility rooms and storage areas was treated by multiple (three) applications of commercial grade mould treatment chemicals,” stated the letter.

“Each suite with evidence of visibly abundant mould presence was also subjected to extensive ozone treatments to kill mould growth and spores. The removal of mould residues was then left for cleaning staff. The combined treatments had excellent results.”

All residual mould materials collected were sent to the Hay River landfill as garbage.

“Arctic Environmental Services Ltd. considers mould treatment to now be complete,” the letter concluded. “However, a regular treatment of mould throughout the building should be undertaken on at least a biannual basis just to keep mould levels in check.”

Satdeo said he is pleased with the reports.

“That’s what I forwarded to the government about a week ago,” he said on Feb. 1 while taking The Hub on a tour of the highrise. “I haven’t got any response, yet. I’m hoping that (this) week we should be in a position to open up the building.”

That doesn’t mean the building will be ready to accept tenants. Instead, Satdeo is hoping to invite potential tenants in to look at the lower section of the building, and possibly accept applications.

“I would have some open houses for the two floors, and probably escort about five people at a time,” he said, noting he had not set dates and times as of Feb. 1.

Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.

As of last week, Mackenzie Place remained closed by a public health order issued last year because of asbestos, mould and lead dust in the building.

Speaking on Jan. 31, Damien Healy, manager of communications with the Department of Health and Social Services, said the order is still in effect.

Healy noted several regulatory bodies were meeting on Jan. 31 to discuss the highrise and more information might be available this week.

Satdeo said he has spent about $80,000 on reports.

The highrise owner has no estimate of how much it will cost to fix up the building. That work will include repairs of fire and water damage and general repairs such as painting, replacing some carpets and replacing some furniture.

“We have work to do on those suites that were under where the fire was,” he said.

Satdeo took The Hub into Apt. 1102, where there are some partially blackened walls and ceilings even after the fire debris cleanup.

“It will be reopened, but not as a residential suite,” Satdeo said of Apt. 1102. “We’ll probably use it for something else.”

At the moment, it is being used for storage.

There are no plans to rent the other apartments on the 11th floor, said Satdeo, although he noted they could eventually be rented after some painting, new carpets and other repairs.

The 16-storey 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.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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