The following is a letter to City of Victoria councillors, calling on them to demand answers from the mayor and City manager about delays in releasing the Crystal Pool and Fire Hall #1 reports – along with a Seismic Risk Assessment of City-Owned Buildings, which was completed on December 2010 but has not been released.
If you agree with this letter, and you are a resident of the City of Victoria or do business in the City, please put your full name in a comment at the bottom. We will include all names on the letter when we formally send it to the councillors on Thursday, October 27, at 9:00 am.
We will also speak to this matter at the council meeting on Thursday evening, starting at 7:00 pm at City Hall. If you wish to address the council yourself, you can sign up to speak HERE, as long as you do so by 11:00 am on Wednesday.
Dear Victoria Councillors,
Re: Delayed Assessments of City Facilities
We are residents and businesspeople of the City of Victoria.
On October 20, you received a presentation from the director of engineering about two reports, on the condition of Fire Hall #1 and the Crystal Pool.
We are deeply concerned that City managers have delayed presenting these and other reports to you, even though they deal with urgent matters of public safety.
Fire Hall #1 Needs Analysis. As you know from the excerpts included in the October 20 presentation, this report says the City’s main fire hall would be inoperational after a major seismic event, because collapsed entranceways would prevent fire trucks from leaving the building. However, the director of engineering did not cite the date of the report. The full report indicates on its cover that it was issued on March 10, 2010 – a year and a half ago.
We note that in the months immediately following that date, instead of releasing the report to council and the public, the City was busy promoting a new, seismically secure Johnson Street Bridge as the City’s number-one infrastructure priority, leading up to the November 2010 referendum.
The director of engineering’s explanation on October 20 that this report was delayed because of alterations to the report, and a change of fire chiefs, does not make sense. There is nothing in the report to indicate any alterations to it after March 2010. Former chief Angrove retired at the end of July 2011, a full year and four months after the report was issued. There is no credible excuse for the delay in releasing it.
Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre Evaluation Report. This report identifies several problems with the facility, including a non-compliant fire alarm system, delaminating concrete walls next to the children’s pool, and two drain covers that enable finger entrapment and have been subject to product recall. This last item was tagged by the report’s authors as a “life safety” issue that the City should address immediately.
Again, the excerpts provided to you on October 20 did not indicate the date of the report. Page 3 of a Request For Offers, dated August 23 of this year, says the pool report was dated July 14, 2011.
Although there was only three months’ delay in presenting this report to you, we believe greater urgency was required because it identified potential liabilities for the City. Comments by the City’s director of parks and recreation on October 20 suggest these issues will not be resolved until the pool is closed for maintenance on December 5. You should ask the City’s solicitors if it is legally prudent to keep the pool open between now and then.
Seismic Risk Assessment for City Buildings. In March of this year, David Broadland, the publisher of Focus magazine, initiated a freedom of information request with the City to see its seismic evaluations of City properties. In May, Mr. Broadland was advised that such a report was issued in December of 2010:
From: [Name omitted by jsb.org to protect privacy]
Date: May 11, 2011 4:09:23 PM PDT (CA)
To: “David at Focus Magazine”
Subject: RE: FOI Request 2011-03-27 – Seismic Risk Assessments
The first two reports as mentioned in the letter, Seismic Risk Assessment for City Owned Buildings (December, 2010) and Fire Hall Needs Analysis (March, 2010) are complete.
The third, a Crystal Pool report, is not complete.
I’m keeping an eye on when these reports go to Council and will advise further.
[Name omitted by jsb.org to protect privacy]
Two months later, when it was apparent that the Seismic Risk Assessment would not be presented to council quickly, Mr. Broadland and City staff had further exchanges, resulting in a letter dated July 20, 2011. In it, City staff reply that “a decision has been made to defer release of the reports pending review by Council.”
Therefore, we call on you to:
1) Direct the City Manager to provide council and the public with full and complete explanations for the delays in releasing the Fire Hall and Crystal Pool reports; and
2) Direct the City Manager to immediately release the Seismic Risk Assessment of City properties, so that residents can better understand the risks facing City facilities, and the possible financial implications.
With kind regards,