Downtown Edmonton hotel’s ownership group speaks out after being ordered to address leaks, venting issues tied to pigeon feces

After a recent inspection raised concerns over heating and ventilation at a downtown Edmonton hotel because of a “semi-enclosed space which was heavily contaminated with pigeon feces and pigeons,” the Hyatt Place hotel has been ordered by Alberta Health Services (AHS) to clean up and make necessary repairs to address the situation.

According to AHS, an inspection found “nine HVAC rooftop units located in a semi-enclosed roof top area were drawing fresh air” from the undisclosed area infested with pigeons and pigeon feces.

The checkup also uncovered other problems, including that the hotel’s heating and ventilation system “did not appear to be in good working order,” laundry room fans didn’t always turn on when they should, carbon monoxide detectors in the parkade weren’t calibrated and “evidence of water infiltration in various areas.”

The AHS order said the problems “are or may become injurious or dangerous to the public health” and might hinder the “prevention or suppression of disease.”

The order said the hotel’s owner, Prem Singhmar, was informed of the Public Health Act breaches on Friday.

Singhmar has been ordered to immediately begin ensuring the HVAC system is in good repair and to hire a qualified cleaning contractor to clean the area where the HVAC units are located.

“Ensure safe measures are in place to protect staff and guests from the various disease organisms carried by pigeons,” the order read.

On Tuesday evening, the vice-president of AUM Hotel Group, which is owned by Singhmar and owns Hyatt Place, said the order is not an “adversarial thing” and that the hotel is addressing the concerns already.

“[AHS is] doing their job at the end of the day,” Jeff Liston told Global News. “They’re looking out for health and safety for both our guests, our customers that come to the restaurant and our employees. And at the same time, it’s our job to comply with each and every one of these.

“Our response was, as it always is with any government, ‘You’ve got a job to do and so do we and our job is to comply with whatever order.’”

Liston said it was actually the hotel that asked AHS to do the inspection because the AUM Hotel Group wants to move its offices to the hotel’s 12th floor.

“As a part of all that, you know, the various inspections are required — whether it’s at the municipal level or in this case the AHS level,” he said. “So we’re going through all those processes to get our occupancy permit.”

Singhmar must hire a qualified pest control company to ensure the HVAC units are free of pests and take measures to “discourage any pest infestation and/or nesting.” The hotel has been given deadlines for when various cleaning and repair obligations must be met, the last one of which is for Sept. 30. Work, which includes addressing “water infiltration” issues, must begin by Friday.

“[On the] mezzanine floor [of the hotel] are the HVAC units that support the hotel… and it’s an open wall to the outside,” Liston explained. “The reason it’s open is… to get fresh air into the hotel through these machines. Along with it have been these pigeons now.

“The pigeons have made a home there… The fear is that maybe the excrement from the pigeons is too close to the intake for these machines that are going to supply the hotel come wintertime. So we have to do something about it. This is the order.”

Ironically, Liston said the pigeons have made their home on top of a “pony wall,” or half wall, that was installed as a safety precaution when the hotel was built to prevent maintenance workers from falling off the building.

“So tomorrow, we’re demolishing the wall,” Liston said, adding he believes it will be replaced with a chain-link fence. He said the area has already been cleaned up and that a company is being hired to spray a non-toxic substance that will deter pigeons.

Liston said the other issues mentioned in the order are also being addressed and said he believes the “water infiltration” concerns have to do with torrential rain earlier this summer.

The health concerns were raised just a little over a year and a half after the hotel held its grand opening. It is considered by some to be a cornerstone for the redevelopment of the downtown Edmonton area known as The Quarters.

“Hyatt Place Edmonton/Downtown is the first new development along the Armature, the first downtown hotel in a generation, and is a stunning cornerstone for this area,” Mayor Don Iveson said of the hotel in January 2017.

READ MORE: Hyatt Place Hotel opens in Edmonton’s the Quarters district

Watch below: In January 2017, the Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Edmonton celebrated its grand opening and Sarah Kraus was there.

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Located on Jasper Avenue and 96 Street, Hyatt Place was designed by Edmonton architect Gene Dub at a cost of $60 million. The 13-storey hotel has 258 rooms and 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

“We wanted to create something very beautiful,” Singhmar said in January 2017. “We wanted it to reflect the vision for the future of downtown and The Quarters.”

Singhmar has the option of appealing the order within 10 days of when he received it.

Liston said the AUM Hotel Group does not plan to appeal the order.

AHS declined to comment further on the matter to Global News

The hotel began operating in October 2016.

–With files from Global News’ Slav Kornik

You can read the AHS order in its entirety below:

[scribd_embed url=”https://www.scribd.com/document/387264474/AHS-order-issued-to-Hyatt-Place-in-downtown-Edmonton” mode=”scroll” /]

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