Icon Waterloo 'looks worse than it actually is': building official
Published Thursday, September 15, 2016 5:23PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, September 15, 2016 6:47PM EDT
Waterloo’s chief building official admits there are some “very unusual” circumstances surrounding the ongoing saga at the Icon Waterloo student apartments, but he’s confident the property’s developer is doing everything possible to get things in order.
“The crew is apparently working 24/7,” Ralph Kaminski said in an interview Thursday.
When students signed leases for the new Icon development earlier this year, they were told the building would be ready for Sept. 1.
It wasn’t until Sept. 9 that city officials deemed any units safe enough for tenants to occupy them – and even then, the permit only extended to the south tower on the property.
More students have been allowed to move in since then, but about 500 of the 1,500 occupants remain unable to get inside.
Since moving in, students have reported missing furniture and interior doors, as well as other concerns.
While they’ve taken their complaints to the city, Kaminski says those items aren’t the sort of things their inspections cover.
“We just need to see that the door’s secured for the occupants, that there’s a door to the washroom for privacy, and that all the life safety components are in place – fire alarm, sprinkler system, smoke detector and a safe way to (exit) the building,” he said.
Earlier this week, students posted video of their apartment flooding online.
They believed water was coming into their apartment due to a burst pipe. According to Kaminski, that wasn’t quite right – it was a smaller plumbing joint that broke.
“Tens of thousands of fittings were in place, and one of them happened to leak,” he said.
Lately, building inspectors have been on-site at Icon Waterloo on a daily basis.
Kaminski was there himself on Thursday. He concluded that while the building remains unfinished, the parts of it granted occupancy are still safe for students to live in.
“It looks worse than it actually is,” he said.
Asked when the building would be ready for full occupancy, Kaminski said that depended on how fast the developer moves to address the remaining outstanding issues.
Some students have said that they’ve been told they should be able to be living at Icon Waterloo by Sept. 24 – a date Kaminski doesn’t see as being completely out of the question.
“If that’s what the developer is saying, it potentially is (reasonable) – and I only say that because of the tremendous amount of effort they’ve been putting in,” he said.
Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky says the city’s main concern is making sure students displaced by the delays at Icon still have places to stay.
He’s also troubled by what he sees as a lack of communication from Icon to its tenants about the causes of the delays and what is being done to get the building ready for full occupancy.
“We’ve seen nothing from them, and that makes me extremely disappointed,” he said.
“The silence is deafening.”
With reporting by Abigail Bimman