Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Inferno obliterated Condo Project in Richmond, B.C. - THE REMY was the stepchild of three levels of Governments and the regions most influential NGO

9388 Cambie - a very unlucky number

Yesterday's conflagration in Richmond, B.C. produced such dramatic video that it was chosen the lead story on Vancouver evening TV News. Watching an empty building burn is more fun than staring into a fish tank at the dentist's office, isn't it? This particular inferno is probably the biggest chipboard bonfire you're ever going to see, so savour it. Too bad it was also a truckload of taxpayer money going up in smoke.

THE REMY, six floors of B.C. "wood products" consumed in minutes, May 3, 2011. [photo A.M. Lee]

I have mentioned Chinese numbering in an earlier Blog on highrise construction in Burnaby Metrotown. The current mania in development catering to the Chinese market is to change the street address of the building lot, the floor numbers, unit numbers and the sale price to exclude the number "4" and employ the number "8" . Gordon Campbell's Press Release for THE REMY noted that it was to have the street address 9388 Cambie Road and would provide 188 mixed use apartments. Gordo, you're such a silly billy!
A detail I found most interesting in Premier Campbell's June 18, 2010 statement on THE REMY project was role of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. , the Chinese NGO which is the principle power broker in the local Chinese community.
"S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will manage and operate the 33 SRH apartments for seniors. The society will also own and operate 48 affordable apartments for low - to moderate-income families and singles. Incorporated in 1974, S.U.C.C.E.S.S., is a non-profit charitable organization that provides social services to multicultural clientele at all stages of their Canadian experience."
SUCCESS is more than that. The political clout of its senior staff, their ability to help secure political nominations and to get out the vote for select politicians, rivals what any combination of unions can deliver to a meeting hall. It has been interesting to watch SUCCESS morph into the most important NGO in British Columbia. I have heard it said many times, that if SUCCESS didn't exist, a purely Chinese political party would have been founded in B.C. For the time being, SUCCESS is the unelected Chinese representative body in B.C. Good stuff. Some of what I've heard lately leads me to suspect that within twenty years SUCCESS will be controlling 30 % of medical and educational services in the province. But I digress. That would be a useful subject for a future Blog article.

A photo of the building as it stood over a month ago - many tons of building products neatly bolted to a concrete parking base. Note the scaffolding in place. It remained standing for a time after the chipboard structure was totally consumed. Originally the building was to have wooden elevator shafts, but I saw on TV that a concrete shaft was constructed. It was the only feature left standing by the inferno.

Hail, hail the gangs are all here! The groundbreaking for THE REMY project in 2010 was a photo -op not to be missed. Here we see Gordon Campbell mugging for the camera. The B.C. government kicked in $2,375,000 under the Senior's Rental Housing Initiative, the Federal Government (CMHC) threw in $4,750,000 but demanded public recognition for two separate programs - the Canada-British Columbia Affordable Housing Initiative Agreement and the Tory Canada Economic Action Plan. There was also a daycare facility shoe horned into the REMY project - another $500,000 from Victoria and $900,000 from the City of Richmond.

Those who read the SUN yesterday or watched the TV News, are informed of changes to the Nuilding Code which allowed this 6 storey condo complex to be constructed of wood products, even though the Fire Department of the City of Richmond had sounded the alarm about their inabiulity to deal with a fire in a woodpile of such huge proportions. Below are some of the innovations built into THE REMY in order to allay the fears of the RFD.
No doubt the insurers will pay to rebuild THE REMY, and it will be rebuilt to the same plan. Or maybe they'll add sprinklers. Sprinklers are the remedy most municipal planners prescribe, and that's OK if you live the life of a Chuck Palahniuk character, surrounded by disposable junk. But those who live with books, artwork and Canadiana will never accept the horrible risk of the neighbor's wok triggering an inundation. Live concrete or live disposable! The builders of THE REMY claim they "saved" $12 Million dollars by building out of wood. I guess they never read the story of The Three Little Pigs.

1 comment:

bMar said...

The elevator shafts were made from wood, not concrete. There were sprinklers in the building although they don't become live until after the construction process has been completed.

It is important to remember that this was a construction site during the time of fire. very few of the fire protection elements were in place at the time of the fire. i.e. drywall, sprinklers, fire caulking, smoke/fire alarm systems. If the buildings were complete and these systems were in place the damage would have been fractions of what it was.