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Many residents at a Gloucester condominium complex are furious that a new fire alarm system is resulting in some unsightly work in their apartments.
You can’t blame them. The work is awful.
Sharlene Crawford, one of the harshest critics of the work, wonders how the project was approved without more consultation with the condo owners. Two floors have so far been completed.
Crawford and other residents of the Sutton Place condominiums, twin high-rises at 2000 and 2020 Jasmine Cres., say they have been virtually stonewalled by the condo’s board of directors since the work started a few weeks ago. They have many questions.
For example: Did the condominium board know the project called for thousands of feet of unsightly conduit metal pipe — for electrical wiring –and junction boxes, to be fastened to ceilings and walls of about 500 privately-owned units. The conduit and other hardware is also being installed on ceilings in the halls of the high-rises.
A diagram in a condominium newsletter, distributed in July, only shows where alarms and a heat detector would be positioned in a three-bedroom apartment.
Board president Jason Belgrave told The Public Citizen that the board was well aware of the project’s specifications. And though he appreciates that some residents find the piping “intrusive,” especially in the three-bedroom units where more conduit is needed, he says the work doesn’t bother him.
The old alarm system did not meet the requirements of the Ontario Building Code or the audibility requirements of the Ontario Fire Marshal. The board was told in late 2009 by Ottawa fire to upgrade the system. The old alarms in the corridors of every floor are being replaced with alarms and heat detectors in every unit.
Even Ottawa fire spokesman Mike Daigle is aware of how awful the retrofit looks.
But, says Daigle, all his department did was order the upgrade and had nothing to do with the type of installation the board approved.
Residents are also wondering if the board studied plans prepared by the engineering firm, Genivar Consulting Group Ltd., before it went to tender on a project that was originally estimated to cost $1.5 million. Did it award the contract to Anew Electrical Co. Ltd. only because its bid of $497,400, taxes included, was the lowest of the five tenders submitted? No, says Belgrave. Both the engineering proposal and bids were reviewed thoroughly and Anew was offering the same work, based on the same specs, as the other bidders were, but for the best price. Picking the lowest tender also meant savings for the condo owners. Originally, the new system was supposed to cost each owner an average $1,200. But now, the system will cost owners of two-bedroom apartments about $770, those with three bedrooms, $885, and the handful who have four-bedroom units, about $1,000.
Belgrave says he knew what to expect all along, and he wishes residents had familiarized themselves with the project, too. He says there were meetings held, but they were sparsely attended. Crawford, a former board president, says her request for a special meeting was turned down by Belgrave late last spring because the board had already awarded the project to Anew.