Repairs are underway at a high-profile heritage building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District after a city inspector warned it could collapse.
The city ordered immediate repairs in May to 92 Arthur Street – a six-story heritage building officially known as the South Section of the Gault Block – after an inspection of the building revealed a badly crushed beam supporting the upper floor of the 119-year-old building. structure.
A structural engineer hired by building owner Dennis Boyko reported the damage to the city, which issued a “hazardous condition mitigation” order on May 12.
Boyko proceeded to consolidate the sixth floor but also appealed the order, arguing that the city was exaggerating the risk of collapse.
“I don’t understand how the only deficient beam can bring down [or] implode an entire building,” he told the city council’s property committee during an appeal hearing on Tuesday.
“Has there ever been a building collapse in the entire history of the City of Winnipeg?
The council’s property committee denied his appeal, although chairwoman Cindy Gilroy expressed sympathy for Boyko and other heritage building owners.
“It’s, I think, a struggle for many, many people to make sure they can afford to do the maintenance that’s needed,” Councilman Daniel McIntyre said.
“However, when it comes to security, they must ensure that the maximum safety of people inside the building is at the forefront.”
Boyko, who declined an official interview, said the crushed beam was damaged by infiltrating rainwater. He told the property committee that a city-ordered week-long shutdown cost his retail business, Red River Book Store, thousands of dollars in sales.
The Gault Block is best known for the tunnel that runs through its middle section, connecting Arthur Street to King Street.
The first four floors on the north side of the block, which has a separate owner, were built in 1900, according to Heritage Winnipeg. A two-story addition and the six-story south block were added in 1903.
The Red River Bookstore is the main business on the south side of the Gault Building. The north side of the block, which faces Old Market Square, is home to Artspace and Cinematheque.