Council votes down sprinklers for proposed strata conversion

Upgrades to the building at 218 Bayview will go ahead to bring the structure up to code for a strata conversion.

  • Feb. 14, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Upgrades to the building at 218 Bayview will go ahead to bring the structure up to code for a strata conversion.

Bruce Findlay, president of Generation Properties, had asked council to accept a 125 per cent bond on around $137,000 worth of work to ensure the strata conversion.

This was so Findlay could better prepare and accommodate the residents of building as renovations are carried out.

However, given the advise from the town’s lawyer and risk to taxpayers, council turned down the bond idea, meaning Findlay will have to go ahead with the renovations right away.

“With respect to the bonding we are quite disappointed,” said Findlay, who noted the other conversions he has done in B.C. received bonding.

“It just puts the tenants out. We’ve got the money to do the work, it’s just the planning of it all was a concern.”

Findlay said the company wanted to make sure the tenants had enough notice and could be moved if needed.

“It’s just disruptive.”

The second issue for the strata conversion was whether the building should have a sprinkler system.

Given the size of the building, it is not required under the B.C. Building Code or in the town’s bylaw, but back in July, Findlay was asked to consider it.

While some councillors, Duck Paterson and Lori Evans, wanted to see the systems put in based on the advise of Fire Chief Ray Delcourt, other councillors noted it is too late in the game to force the issue.

Paterson noted he did not want to deny the bonding based on one official’s opinion and turn down another professional’s opinion for the sprinklers.

“We are obviously happy about the sprinkler decision,” said Findlay.

“Asking for it in the first place was a little troubling for us.”

Findlay noted he is doing a lot to guard against a fire, including fire dampers, heat rise detectors, and hard-wired smoke detectors in each suite, but noted the sprinklers would have been a deal killer.

The sprinkler issue is far from extinguished, as council has directed staff to look at making them part of future strata conversions.

Findlay said this could discourage some strata conversions depending on the size of the project and if it is required by code.

“If the policy states … any strata conversion in Ladysmith has to be sprinkled, that is going to hold off developers like me from coming to town.”

Findlay said installing more fire-safety upgrades than the building code asks for should be enough.

The biggest cost of putting in a system, Findlay explained, is getting water from the street to the building and down the hallways.

Once those lines are in, sprinkling the individual suites is not much of a cost.

Findlay says this means in bigger buildings, the cost can be better spread among numerous suites, but in smaller buildings, it can become too costly.