Fire department bills Saskatoon condo $58,000 for fire code fixes after months of 'insanity'
SASKATOON -- From May 2019 to January 2021, Bryan Pisesky has been monitoring the video captured by the security cameras at the Prairie Heights condo in Pleasant Hill.
He said he was hired by the condo board to compile evidence of criminal activity so the board could evict problematic tenants and clean up the condo tower.
“I’ve been doing this for over 12 years now and I’ve never, ever seen anything even close to this level of insanity, that’s the only word I can think of, insanity,” Pisesky said.
“In the time with them I would say I have over 1,000 video clips of illegal activity, stuff as small as needle-usage in the hallways and public areas, all the way up to knife attacks and stabbings. It’s unreal.”
He said the condo board still owes him $3,500. But because there’s currently no condo board, he doesn’t suspect he’ll be getting paid anytime soon.
“I personally don’t feel safe coming near that building. I don’t know what my course of action is going to be. It’s just a bad situation all around,” he said.
The crime-ridden condo has 30 days to reimburse the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) after a series of fire code repairs totalling $58,000.
An invoice dated April 6, 2021 lists all the work seven contractors performed on the 42-unit Prairie Heights condo on behalf of the SFD between Jan. 29 and March 1.
That included fixing the elevator, repairing fire safety equipment such as sprinklers and smoke alarms, and cleaning and repairing doors and locks.
Assistant fire chief Yvonne Raymer said an inspection was conducted last week after learning vandals had released water from the indoor fire hoses, flooding some parts of the condo tower.
She tells CTV News 90 per cent of the issues at Prairie Heights involve bodily fluids, drug paraphernalia, food and clothing in the common areas, where it appears homeless people are living.
“I do know from fire investigators who had to do some work into the evening, they’ve reported between four to 20 individuals that appear to be living in the common areas,” Raymer said.
A big chunk of the $58,000 bill to the condo board involves the manpower from Saskatoon Police Service needed to protect contractors while work was being completed on the tower.
“Companies would not go in, including security companies, because they didn’t feel they were tactically trained or had the proper equipment to keep people safe while work was being conducted,” she said.
The total cost to SFD and SPS amounts to around $28,000, according to the invoice obtained by CTV News.
In 2020, SFD responded to the condo 109 times. This year firefighters have responded 45 times.
Raymer has been leading the fire department’s effort with the problematic condo.
She said the fire department served the condo with an Order to Remedy in Aug. 2020 and because many of the infractions had not been corrected, the fire department chose to arrange repairs rather than displace as many as 160 to 170 residents in the middle of winter.
“We can only close a building for as long as the necessary repairs can be made on an order to remedy,” Raymer said.
“This would temporarily fix the immediate structural and life safety issues once again but would not address other more serious concerns – notably violence, drug trade, and addictions that would lead to a repeat of vandalism, more violence and unsanitary conditions.”
The owners have 30 days to pay the invoice, according to the fire department.
If not paid, the City may file a lien against all units and begin debt recovery efforts.
The fire department served the condominium with another Order to Remedy in March, with an April 16 deadline.
Raymer said the fire department will conduct an inspection on April 16 and if the orders to remedy haven’t been completed, the fire department will take the necessary steps to ensure the building is safe and clean.