'It just makes me sick': Blaze at Transcona condo sparks safety concerns
Published Tuesday, February 18, 2020 7:57PM CST
WINNIPEG -- A fire at a wood-framed Transcona condominium complex highlights the dangers of buildings under construction, according to one Winnipeg city councillor.
The blaze has a condo advocacy group speaking out about the cost of insuring such buildings once they’re built.
The fire tore through a four-storey condo complex on Philip Lee Drive early Sunday. No one was hurt and no cause has been determined.
Waverley West city councillor Janice Lukes said buildings under construction are more vulnerable to fire.
She said there are several similar condo and apartment projects on the go in her ward and she worries most about the ones being framed with wood.
"When I saw that fire — it just makes me sick,” said Lukes.
"It costs more for a concrete structure than it does a wood structure. A wood structure, they've got an awful lot of code requirements that really do make it very safe, but it's still wood versus concrete."
The province has adopted the 2010 National Building Code of Canada which limits the height of wood-framed condo buildings to four storeys and requires they have sprinklers.
Because the building in Transcona where the fire occurred was still under construction, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said it may not have had fire suppression measures in place.
HIGHER INSURANCE PREMIUMS FOR WOOD CONDOS
Krista Corley, vice president of the Manitoba Chapter of the Condominium Institute of Canada, an advocacy group for condo owners, said even with safety measures in place insurance premiums may be higher for condos made of wood.
She said the recent fire is an example of why.
"It does reinforce the fact that wood-framed buildings are a high risk for fire,” said Corley.
Corley said condo corporations in the province have experienced a spike in insurances premiums, but the increase is not specific to wood structures.
"They are seeing rates jump far higher than they have in previous years,” said Corley.
Rob de Pruis with the Insurance Bureau of Canada said while building materials can play a role in a condo corporation's insurance costs, it's not the main factor for recent increases to insurance premiums.
"One is just severe weather trends, we're seeing alot more severe weather across the country,” said de Pruis. "We're also, specifically for condominium corporations, we're seeing an increase for frequency for claims."
As for Lukes, she said she feels confident the wood structures are safe once people move in.
"When they're built, of course, they have all the fire suppression in them — the extinguishers, the walls,” said Lukes.
CTV News reached out to the developer of the Transcona condo unit, but the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The WFPS said investigators have finished their work at the scene, but the investigation into what caused the fire is ongoing.