The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is concerned the Lethbridge Melcor Centre is unsafe for workers and clients after repeated flooding that causes ceiling tiles to fall.
The most recent flood was this Sunday (April 24), according to Daren Graham, vice-president of the AUPE. He said there have been four floods in the past for months in spaces occupied by union members.
“Thankfully everything came crashing down when we didn’t have members in those locations,” he said. “But once again, file rooms are soaked, member’s desks are covered with water, the floor is absolutely saturated with water and the office has to be completely ripped apart again and confidential files have to be securely dried.”
He said there have been at least eight floods since 2014. The union is also concerned about mould, insects and rodents in the building.
Melcor Development said, in an email to My Lethbridge Now, the leak on Sunday occurred as a result of a tenant installed air eliminator.
“Braemore (management) hired a plumber to turn off the air eliminators throughout the building to avoid this type of leak; however, the plumber was unable to access the government space where the air eliminator was installed,” wrote Nicole Forsythe, director of corporate communications.
“As soon as Braemore Management (and Melcor) became aware of the situation, steps were taken to remediate the flooding, including the use of commercial dryers to dry out the area. Furthermore, Melcor has instructed Braemore to reach out to an environmental specialist to ensure that any water damage is completely and properly remediated, and that the tenants’ space is safe and healthy.”
Graham said union members have reported being trapped in elevators and that they believe the stairs are unsafe.
“Our concern is really for not only our workers, but the clients that visit the services that are provided out of the Melcor building. The main one where we have seen three of the last four floods is in the Government of Alberta offices, where the children services department is,” he said. “We are very concerned for the children and parents that visit the children services department. Last thing we need is a ceiling tile crashing down on a child.”
Graham added he believes the building is beyond repair and the AUPE is looking to relocate employees, adding it might take a legal team from the province and Alberta Health Services to break the leases.
“We have been pushing for years for the employers to find new, safer workplaces. We hear lots of platitudes and concern expressed, but nothing is done to find a permanent solution,” he said. “A few repairs are made and the workers just wait for the next time something comes crashing down on their work stations – or their heads.”
Forsythe said the property management team is only involved if damages occur to the building. “The Melcor team prides itself on responding quickly and professionally whenever a tenant makes us aware of an issue.”