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Troubled home fails health and safety code inspections

Holes in the drywall, broken windows, wires hanging from the ceiling are just some of the issues listed in a health inspector’s report about the fiveplex on 103 Avenue in Lac La Biche.
Paper bags left over from squatters lay at the bottom of the slanted stairs near the fire escape.
Paper bags left over from squatters lay at the bottom of the slanted stairs near the fire escape.

Holes in the drywall, broken windows, wires hanging from the ceiling are just some of the issues listed in a health inspector’s report about the fiveplex on 103 Avenue in Lac La Biche.

The home, which is known to many in the community as the “drug house,” has been inspected by both a health inspector and a safety codes officer as of last week. The reports were done so the LLB County Council can make a decision on what to do to the property later today at their council meeting.

The reports list many issues found in the home by both inspectors, among them the home’s poor fire rating. Specifically the separation between units failing to meet building codes, windows in the basement suite not meeting the size requirement and blocked by security bars, stopping anyone from getting out if there was a fire were the major fire code violations found by both inspectors and were mentioned in the report.

Wooden stairs at the rear of the building, which were used to get to the top level suite and as a fire escape, failed to meet the Alberta Building Code by not being the right size, no handrails and are too steep, according to the Safety Codes report.

“There are many code compliance issues with this structure. The issue of the fire exit and stairs is also a serious issue as if these were to catch on fire, persons may be trapped in the unit,” read the preliminary Safety Codes report.

Both reports also noted the stairs in Unit 5 “have shifted with gaps evident,” and that “if the building is not undergoing repairs in the near future, it is important that the facility be properly secured,” read Public Health Inspector Megan Behnke’s report.

Electrical issues were also noted in the report done by Holben, stating that several of the individual electrical boxes in the suites “did not have covers and wires are exposed.”

Shifting floors were also an issue with the home, with the floors sloping substantially and ‘soft areas,’ leading the inspectors to question the structure of the single dwelling home that was turned into a fiveplex.

“Many of the floors throughout the building slope. This may be a sign that the floor joists structural capabilities have been comprised,” wrote Safety Codes Officer Allan Holben in his unofficial report.

County officials received the reports this week, and are recommending to Council to get rid of the property later today.

“Our recommendation to Council is to board up the residence and look at demolishing the home in the spring,” said Maurice Brousseau, Community Services Director for LLB County. “It’s a problem house with safety and health issues and we are dealing with it.”