Sherwood Park condo owners given 45 days to pay more than $50,000 for repairs

·3 min read

Owners in a Sherwood Park condo complex have been told they have until Nov. 16 to come up with more than $1 million for repairs.

Some residents of the 24-unit Forrest Grove complex at 49 Colwill Blvd. say that no matter how badly the repairs are needed, it's too much money to come up with in such a short time.

Victorian Property Management informed owners on Oct. 2 that they each had 45 days to come up with their share of the bill — just over $54,000 each.

The company says the money will be used to replace the stucco on the sides of the buildings after moisture was discovered inside the building envelope.

Doors, windows and decks on each unit are also due to be replaced. That work will be done at the same time as a cost-saving measure.

The total cost of the work, including GST, is $1.3 million.

The condo board has $121,000 in a reserve fund but it won't be used to help fund the repairs. In an email to CBC News, Richard Garside with Victorian Property Management said that decision was explained to owners during a recent informational meeting.

"Using those funds to reduce the levy is impractical as it would wipe out any funds needed for an emergency," Garside said.

Condo owner Richard Lortie said he learned more than a year ago that the repairs would be needed, but believed the cost would be closer to $30,000 for each owner.

"Then on Oct. 2 of this year I got an email saying that by Nov. 16 we have to pay the full amount of $54,497," said Lortie, 63.

Lortie isn't working and isn't sure how he'll come up with the money. He said the repairs aren't covered by insurance and selling his condo would mean taking a financial hit.

"I would have to take a $60,000 loss," he said. "I might have to go bankrupt because I don't know what else to do."

Victorian Property Management told CBC News that the board, which is made up of six condo owners, voted unanimously in favour of going ahead with the necessary repairs.

Garside said owners have been kept fully apprised of the problems and what needs to be done to address them.

David Bajer/CBC
David Bajer/CBC

The cause of the stucco problem isn't known, Garside said. He said the issue was raised by an owner who noticed staining around a window in January 2019.

Further testing and core samples revealed the problem was widespread. An engineer prepared a tender document and in September the board accepted the lowest bid from a contractor.

The contractor's proposal had a Nov. 9 start date with a four-month construction window over the winter, Garside said.

"We asked about whether or not the work could be put off until the spring and he indicated that would mean he'd have to redo the tender because the tender was based on a Nov. 9 start, and who knows what the product costs will be next year, much less labour costs."

That's the major sticking point for some owners upset about the short notice and big bill.

Lortie said he'd like to see the most crucial work prioritized and the rest spread out over a couple of years, even if it means it costs more.

"Go after the houses that are more damaged," he said. "I know it'll cost a little bit more money but in the long run it will make it more affordable for everybody."

Lortie said some residents are also worried about having workers in their homes during the pandemic.

He and some other owners are hoping the board will reconsider the timeline and either delay or spread the work out over a longer time frame.

CBC News was unable to contact any of the board members but some owners said a meeting has been scheduled for early next week to discuss the situation.