The Place D’Youville Fire and Unsafe Buildings: Ensemble Montréal Demands Accountability

Place D'Youville Fire

The leader of the Official Opposition at Montreal City Hall, Aref Salem, the Official Opposition’s critic for public security, Abdelhaq Sari, and the Mayor of the borough of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, held a press scrum on Monday morning demanding that light be shed on the tragedy of Place D’Youville, as well as on the process which assures the safety and conformity of building transformation work in the borough of Ville-Marie. 

Like the three opposition parties in the National Assembly, the elected officials of Ensemble Montréal are asking for a public inquiry to be performed by the coroner regarding the fire that took place in the William-Watson-Ogilvie building. The party is also calling for an investigation by the Office of the Auditor General of the City of Montreal into the process which issues transformation permits as, in this case, they were granted in spite of the non-conformity of the building’s architectural plans. The party is also calling for the Auditor General to investigate inspections of buildings built before 1940 in the borough of Ville-Marie.  

“How many more buildings are non-compliant and how did the City of Montreal miss this? Information is trickling in, but it’s a real mess and there is obviously a serious and worrisome safety issue. This problem is not to be taken lightly,” said Mr. Aref Salem.

In the last week, several journalistic investigations have revealed that the borough of Ville-Marie has granted numerous dwelling transformation permits despite the architectural plans submitted not meeting basic safety standards. 

It is in front of the Hygie Hotel, located on Notre-Dame Street East, that the elected officials of Ensemble Montréal presented their demands. They questioned how permits could be issued to the owner of this building in 2019 and 2021 when many of its rooms, particularly those located in the basement, do not have windows that open. Despite these disturbing revelations that compromise citizens’ safety, there is radio silence from the borough of Ville-Marie and the Plante administration. 

“It’s been more than a week that we’ve been asking for explanations and it’s been a week that the borough and the administration have been burying themselves in a silence. It takes a rigorous and objective person to shed light on this troubling and dismaying situation. That person is the Auditor General,” insisted Mr. Abdelhaq Sari.

The elected officials of Ensemble Montréal will table a motion to this effect at the next City Council meeting on April 17. They have also sent a letter to the Coroner’s Office to request a public inquiry into the Place D’Youville fire.

“Montrealers and tourists alike rely on the City of Montreal to ensure that the building they are staying in is compliant; it is a kind of watchdog. If there is someone somewhere who has cut corners in the permit-issuing process or in performing inspections, we need to know, and quickly,” concluded Alan DeSousa. 

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