Calgary: Bylaw requires visual inspection of older buildings

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A new bylaw that requires visual inspection of the exterior of older buildings is now in effect, but one group of specialists says the bylaw has at least one shortcoming, Metro News reports.

The City of Calgary’s Building Maintenance Bylaw came into effect on New Year’s Day, targeting buildings that are 10 years or older, and five storeys or higher.

The law requires a trained professional to perform a visual inspection of the building’s exterior every five years, specifically to prevent debris from coming loose and falling on pedestrians below.

However, Mike Dietrich, past president and board member of the Alberta Building Envelope Council South, says “visual inspection” may not be a clear enough definition of what is required.

“I think there’s a concern that what might happen is – some people may just drive by the building, look though binoculars or whatever, and then they just sign off and be done with it,” he said.

Ross McDougall, the city’s chief building inspector, said there are only a few hundred buildings that fall under the bylaw, and staff are familiar with them. “Ultimately – it’s the owner’s responsibility,” he said. “If they’re going to send us something false or inaccurate – that’s their risk.”

McDougall says the city has increased job site inspections in early spring (before the Calgary Stampede) and in mid-December to prevent incidents on construction sites.

In 2009, a three-year-old girl was killed when improperly secured sheet metal blew off a building site. Two companies were later fined $15,000 each plus surcharges for safety violations.

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