Steel bars are holding a federal building together in downtown Halifax as a safety precaution. The temporary measure has been in place since 2007.
“I pass here every day and there’s always something that they’re fixing,” says pedestrian Michel Trudeau.
According to an email sent to CTV News by the Department of Public Works and Government Services, a 2007 survey of the ten-storey Ralston building found that the fasteners holding stone to the side of the building were deteriorating.
The department took immediate steps to keep the stone in place, fastening steel bars over the stone on all four sides, on all ten floors.
Canopies were built over doors and sidewalks and a chain-link fence surrounds the building on Hollis Street.
According to the email, the plywood canopy is there to protect employees and pedestrians from stone chips that may dislodge.
The condition of the building is raising some concerns among pedestrians.
“It’s pretty scary. You don’t want to see anyone get hurt from something falling,” says Bannon Morrissey.
“Just the way they’re spaced doesn’t really look structural,” says Nick Leja. “It looks like it’s holding back whatever facing is coming off.”
The Atlantic director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is also raising concerns about the building.
“Behind all this fencing and steel…what’s happening with this building? What is its condition and what are they going to do about it?” asks Kevin Lacey.
“When we try to get information from government, there’s always a block along the way and this problem seems to get worse as time goes along.”
According to the Halifax Regional Municipality’s permits and inspections department, buildings like the Ralston are exempt from municipal building codes.
The email states the current measures were taken to ensure the building remains safe, at a cost of $3.2 million. But there is no cost estimate for repairing the masonry.
When the steel bars, fencing and awning were put in place seven years ago, government indicated it would be a temporary measure. However, seven years later, there is still no decision about a more permanent solution.
The building is inspected every six months to ensure it is safe.
According to the email, a decision will be made this year on the building’s future, including the possibility of disposal.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant