The Town of Ponoka has agreed to pay $112,107 in repairs after fire damaged the interior of one side of a duplex it owns seven weeks ago.
Council approved the repairs Jan. 14 after hearing the building is owned by the town but has not been insured since the beginning of 2007. The duplex is part of a Community Housing Program that offers low cost housing. Maintenance is funded by the federal and provincial governments.
A home fire Nov. 30 on 5013 B 60 Avenue caused significant damage to the interior of the building but little to the exterior. No one was in the building at the time.
There were five buildings owned by the Town of Ponoka under this program that were not insured; they were managed by the Rimoka Housing Foundation since 1997.
Coun. Marc Yaworski wanted to know what the town administration will be doing to prevent this from happening again.
The insurance provider changed the terms of the policy as of the Jan. 1, 2007 stating “Additional Named Insured” insurance will no longer be provided. Both the Town of Ponoka and Rimoka received notice of the change but it is unclear why these homes were missed, said Ted Dillon, director of protective services. He feels there was a miscommunication with the department that was managing the insurance at the time.
“I think it was a misunderstanding of the interpretation of what it was to be,” explained Dillon.
Dillon said approximately three years ago his department took over monitoring insurance for the different town departments. Since then, his department has been able to fix several errors but this was missed.
“Something like this had been so long that nobody knew until something happened,” explained Dillon.
Provisions have been set in place with town directors and the CAO to monitor insurance for all of the town’s assets. “We all have to check on our lists that we get from AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) twice a year to make sure that nothing is missing.”
CAO Brad Watson said the other half of the duplex could not be insured until the damaged side was repaired but Dillon was able to acquire insurance once he proved there was no structural damage to the other half.
Quotes from Paul Davis Systems Restoration Specialists, show rebuilding the interior will cost $77,940. Mitigation, which replaces items such as floors and ceiling and removes asbestos from the drywall, will cost $32,167. Removing the smell of smoke is part of the cost mitigation.
Mayor Rick Bonnett asked if a local contractor could handle the repairs. “Are we truly and honestly getting the best bang for our buck with these people when we know we’ve got how many local contractors that would gladly go and do that right now?”
Dillon replied because the building is owned by a municipality, there are certain safety measures that must be taken in dealing with asbestos. He said Paul Davis Systems specialize in this type of restoration and asbestos removal. They use a specific chemical to handle the asbestos and clear the smell of smoke. He added that the contractor will use local businesses for supplies.
Coun. Carla Prediger wondered if the cost to repair the building is worth $112,000 considering the value of the home. Although Watson did not have exact numbers, he said the number is greater.
“The assessed value is greater than the repairs,” he explained.
“The more I investigated, the more complicated and expensive it got,” Watson added. “In looking at all the options, this was the most frustrating but least expensive.”
“What was the cause of this fire?” asked Yaworski.
Dillon believes a pot was left on the stove.
Also there was no tenant insurance at the time, but this quote would only cover the interior rather than full repairs, explained Dillon. He said Rimoka is responsible to check that information.
The building had minor exterior damage. Money will come from the general benefit reserve.