In an article in the May 15, 2017 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press entitled Bylaw fines out of the blue; owners call it a ‘cash grab', Edison Properties Vice President Frank Koch-Schulte went on record to talk about Edison Properties’ compliance with Winnipeg bylaw 4304/86, although some information was omitted from the article.
First and foremost, Edison Properties residents can feel safe in their buildings. Resident safety is of utmost importance to us at Edison Properties, and our staff works continuously to ensure the safety of our buildings and compliance with all bylaws and regulations.
The Free Press article mentions that three Edison Properties were found to have deficiencies under the bylaw, but doesn’t mention that work has been completed on all three buildings to bring them up to code. Two have been found to be in compliance by inspectors, and the third is awaiting inspection.
We first became aware of areas of deficiency under this bylaw due to inspections we undertook ourselves in 2014. That’s nearly 30 years after the bylaw was passed with no word from the city. We immediately began work to make sure we were in compliance, and the majority of the work was completed within six months.
We have, for many years, worked closely and co-operatively with city fire inspectors. And it is because of this co-operative and helpful relationship with city fire inspectors that the fines under bylaw 4304/86 come as such a surprise.
We fully support the safety measures outlined in this bylaw. However, bylaw enforcement officers seem to be unaware of the work being done with city fire inspectors. In one example, Edison Properties was fined for a deficiency regarding a generator, work which is being done on a timeline approved by city fire inspectors.
We feel that the city is being disingenuous with how they are levying fines under this bylaw. There has been a major lack of communication with landlords, and seemingly even within city departments. The fact that our buildings have passed dozens of fire inspections with no mention of this bylaw, only to be mailed an invoice for deficiencies, tells us that the enforcement of bylaw 4304/86 is not about resident safety.