Workers being allowed back to federal building, third study being done
The federal government is assuring Windsor residents its building on University Avenue is safe.
More than 300 government employees were moved out of the recently renovated building on June 27 after workers expressed concerns about its safety.
Public Services and Procurement Canada has hired a third engineering firm to review the building that largely houses Canada Revenue Agency workers.
Barry Brian and Associates will assess the timber structure of the building to confirm its safety.
Stephen Boyne, regional director of Public Services and Procurement Canada, says they are exercising an abundance of caution.
Boyne insists the building at 441 University Ave. is safe to occupy.
“There is no danger of a spontaneous collapse of the floor or the roof,” claims Boyne.
The second floor of the building has been completely evacuated less than a year after $10.8-million in renovations were completed in October 2018 to modernize the workspace and improve the building's energy efficiency.
When employees moved in, they complained of spotty lighting and floor vibrations that created enough concern for a second engineering report to be commissioned.
“When someone walks outside of those cubicle spaces there is noticeable deflection,” says Kelby Hamilton, director general of technical services.
Boyne says he doesn’t think they could have predicted the extent to which that deflection would have caused comfort issues for the staff.
The second engineering report by JL Richards and Associates confirmed what the first by the firm Dialog found -- that the building was safe to occupy, but there were discrepancies in meeting the margin of safety in the national building code.
“Dialog's engineering report says that it does and JLR's says that it does not meet the margin of safety,” says Boyne. “Both have indicated that it will support the loads that are currently present in the building.”
Hamilton says concerns raised by Windsor West New Democrat MP Brian Masse about federal exemptions for building inspections are unfounded.
“There will be some provincial regulations that are stricter than the federal regulations and we will follow those,” says Hamilton. “But, there should be no concern that at any time the regulations that are followed are any lesser than for the federal government.”
A third firm has now been hired to provide a full assessment of the building.
That's expected in five to six weeks.
In the meantime, employees will still be working offsite, some in their own homes. But the CRA assures taxpayers their information is safe.
PSPC says there are still about half a dozen employees working in the building all on the first floor.
Hamilton made it clear in the news conference Tuesday that CRA workers could return to the building at any time but it’s up to the CRA to make that call.
If the employer wants to wait until the third engineering report is done, the workers would not be back in the building until mid-August.