Smithers Town Council has issued a Remedial Action Requirement Order to Smithers Home Hardware store due to public safety concerns.
This order will formally require the owner of the store to submit an independent structural engineer’s assessment of the building within 30 days, and to implement the recommendations in the assessment within 90 days.
The owner, Theo Bandstra, will also be required to post signage at the main entrance to the building stating that the building “may not be structurally sound” until remedial actions are completed.
The residential tenant in the upstairs rear suite will also be notified of the order.
Under the Community Charter, section 73, council is empowered to make such an order when it considers there is an unsafe situation that needs to be dealt with.
In the case of Home Hardware, council determined the building “is in or creates an unsafe condition which causes risk to persons and property in the vicinity” according to the order imposed.
Bandstra said the store has already taken action.
“We are taking this matter seriously and are cooperating with the Town of Smithers,” Bandstra wrote in an emailed statement to the Interior News. “The safety of our customers and our staff is our priority. We have already engaged an independent structural engineering firm that specializes in buildings in central British Columbia. The firm is helping us review these technical issues and develop a plan for addressing any aspects of Building Code compliance. We are also working with a local builder who will assist us in performing any required modifications.”
Acting upon a safety audit, that was part of an investigation into a “professional conduct complaint” against the original engineer of the building (name redacted in the report), there are “two areas of serious concern regarding the structural engineering design contained in the (original) drawings.”
“In relation to the connection of the lower roof beam to the continuous column, it is a poor connection, so the connection strength (of the roof beam) is only about 24 per cent of that required,” the investigator wrote.
“The factored dead load reaction alone leaves very little remaining capacity for any snow load.”
The expert recommended “temporary shoring posts should be installed.”
The second safety concern identified, was in relation to the shear wall above the mezzanine on the King Street side of the building.
“This upper shear wall must resist a factored windshear of about 29 kN (kilonewtons) and transfer the shear down to the lower shear wall.”
The expert found this wall has “only about 24 per cent of the shear strength required. In addition, the effective segments of the wall do not have hold-downs located properly at each end of the effective segment to resist the overturning forces.”
The regulatory body of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists concluded: “We cannot provide for the safety of the public currently using the Smithers Home Hardware. That responsibility is for the Town of Smithers.”
Before presentation of the report to council, Coun. John Buikema recused himself from the discussion because members of his family own Home Hardware. After his departure, the councillors each took a moment to express how strongly council supports Smithers businesses, and how “regrettable and unfortunate this situation is, but when it comes to public safety, that must be our first priority.”
The motion to accept the report to Council and to issue the remedial action order was passed unanimously with Buikema abstaining.
-with files from Thom Barker