152 Shanley

Suburbs

In January 2019, falling bricks and other debris were observed at 152 Shanley Street. As a result, Kitchener's Chief Building Official issued orders requiring a structural assessment of the property. When sufficient action was not taken to address the orders by the property owner, two city building inspectors and an independent engineer from Tacoma Engineers Inc. with designation from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) gained access to the building to conduct an inspection of the property on Tuesday, April 23. 

The independent engineering report determined that the building is unsound and at significant risk of collapse if exposed to another winter without substantial repair. The assessment concluded that the building should be considered unsafe for access, and that immediate action is required to either repair the building to a safe condition or to begin planning for demolition. 

The full report can be found here:

As a result of the report's findings, the Chief Building Official issued an Order to Remedy Unsafe Building and an Order Prohibiting Occupancy on May 7. Those orders can be found here:

Updates on the status of these orders will be posted to this page as they become available.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Why didn’t the city act sooner to declare this building unsafe?

Legislation limits the city’s ability to gain access to buildings on private property and it was only after an inspector observed conditions that could put the public at risk was the city able to request that an engineer be retained to assess the condition of the building.

April 18 was the first time city officials have been allowed in the building since 2013, and we are taking immediate steps to deal with this property based on what was observed during that visit, as identified by an independent engineer.

 Is the community at risk? What is the city doing to protect public safety?
While the building is unsafe for access, there is no concern over risk of imminent collapse. The building has an 18’ setback from the sidewalk, and fencing has been installed at an 16’ setback to ensure public safety while the Remedy Unsafe Building Order is rectified. 
 What will happen if the property owner doesn’t respond to the Orders?

The Remedy Unsafe Building Order lays out a timeline for that work. If any of the milestones laid out in that timeline are missed, the city will remedy the unsafe condition. This would almost certainly mean demolition as the costs to bring the building into repair are estimated to be more than $1.5 million.

If the city is required to step in and remedy the unsafe condition, any expenses incurred to do so will be added to the property owner’s tax bill.

How much will it cost to repair the building?

The costs to bring the building into repair alone – not restoration, but simply repair to remedy the unsafe conditions – are estimated to be more than $1.5 million.

In addition to the high cost of remediating the site’s environmental contamination, it is unlikely there is a business case to be made that would enable the city to recoup the cost of repair if we were to take it on.

Will the city purchase and remediate this property?

The cost to purchase and remediate this property are substantial. If the city is forced to step in to remedy the unsafe condition, demolition is likely the outcome as it is unlikely the city would be able to recoup the costs of doing the remediation work.

What is the heritage value of 152 Shanley Street?

152 Shanley Street is recognized for its design, physical and historic values. The building is a notable example of a Berlin Vernacular Industrial building and features many intact original elements.

The building is a four storey yellow brick industrial building which features: 6/6 segmentally arched windows; belt courses between the first and second as well as second and third floors; a molded cornice; and flat roof. The building also features sign banding that reads “Dominion Electrohome Industries.”

If the building has to be demolished, is there any way to conserve any heritage/historical components?

Because the building is not listed on the heritage registry, there is no protection afforded to require conservation of the heritage attributes.

If the city was to conduct the demolition, staff would document and record the building for reference in line with heritage best practices and explore opportunities to salvage brick where possible.

If a development application was received, under the city’s Official Plan policies, we do require a Heritage Impact Assessment because the property is identified on the inventory of properties of cultural or heritage value.

Further, staff would explore opportunities to commemorate the heritage significance of the site through signage.

What will happen to the site if the building is demolished?

If the city is forced to undertake the demolition, it is likely the property will be demolished to the concrete slab. Any expenses incurred to remedy the unsafe condition will be added to the property owner’s tax bill.

What say will the community have in the future of the site if the building is demolished? Repaired?

Because the property is privately owned, the only avenue for the public to provide input is as a delegation before council.

If development was to move forward, under the Planning Act, there may be opportunities to provide public input, depending on what is being proposed.

Additional Background/Recent Timeline

2012 – Concerns raised regarding the roof and building structure. Order to Remedy Unsafe Condition issued, requiring an engineer’s report, repairs and inspections. Building owner responded to the Orders; shoring was completed and installed.

2013 – Inspection by city staff validated that work ordered had been completed and was acceptable.

2014 – Present – City staff repeatedly request access to the building to conduct follow up inspections. No unsafe condition identified; access not provided by property owner.

2017 – Property in excess of $1million in arrears owed to the city. City issues a Tax Sale in an attempt to recoup arrears owing. Tax sale is unsuccessful.

2018 – City hosts a design charrette with the neighbouring community, in an attempt to explore and create a desired future vision for the site that would encourage development and present an opportunity for potential investors.

January 2019 – City attempts a second tax sale.

January 2019 – Bricks and debris observed falling from the building and reported to the city. An Order to Remedy Unsafe Building is issued, requiring an engineer to conduct a full structural assessment of the building and report by February 2019.

March 2019 – Property owner pays $445,000 in back taxes owing before the tax sale deadline, cancelling the tax sale. City requires owner to respond to the Order issued in January 2019.

April 2019 – City issues Orders requiring the perimeter of the building to be fenced off.

April 2019 – No report is provided by the property owner fulfilling the requirements of the Orders issued. The city hires an independent engineer with expertise in heritage properties to conduct the structural assessment of the building.

April 23 – Independent engineer from Tacoma Engineering and two city inspectors gain access to the building to conduct an inspection and structural assessment. Clear evidence is observed indicating significant structural deficiencies in the building.

May 5 – City receives the Condition Assessment from Tacoma Engineering, which concluded that immediate action is required to either restore the building to a safe condition or to commence planning for demolition.

May 7 – Chief Building Official issues Order to to Remedy Unsafe Building and Order Prohibiting Occupancy, requiring immediate action on behalf of the property owner.

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