City takes action on decrepit building

NANAIMO – Strong breeze could collapse walls of former Chapel Street theatre

The city is warning pedestrians to steer clear of a decrepit downtown building that is in danger of falling to the ground.

For the past month the former theatre at 91 Chapel St. has had portions of its roof collapse, the latest on June 5, causing building inspectors concern that the exterior block walls are no longer supported and could come crashing down even in a stiff breeze.

The protect residents, the city has closed a portion of Skinner Street. A section of sidewalk as well as part of an adjacent parkade on Chapel Street have also been closed as a precaution.

We believe there is potential for [a collapse] which is why we’ve taken the steps to go ahead with those closures,” said Dale Lindsay, the city’s manager for building inspections.

The city received an e-mail on May 8 from a worker in a nearby building advising that part of the roof had caved in. Further sections of the roof have caved in since, and on Monday city council gave the building’s owner, Langley-based Loft Ministries, 30 days to deal with the issue or have the city step in and do it for them at owner’s expense.

B.C. Hydro cut power to the building on May 8.

It is likely the building, originally built in 1972, will have to be demolished, though under Section 72 of the community charter owners can also bring it back up to bylaw standards.

City inspectors performed six inspections between May 8 and June 5, ultimately condemning it.

On May 14, Steve Vantol of Loft Ministries retained a structural engineering company, Sorenson Engineering Associates, which reported back to him on May 24. It was determined in the report that neglect, mould, mildew and water egress are they key reasons for the structure’s current state. Vantol was notified on May 27 that council would consider a remediation order on the property.

Loft Ministries said Vantol was not available to speak to the News Bulletin this week.

According to a city report, Loft Ministries purchased the building in 2007, intending to use it as a church. However, it has sat unused since the purchase and, according to the report, Vantol has indicated it is for sale ‘as is’.