Coroner's report: death from concrete slab 'entirely preventable'
MONTREAL - A coroner says the July 2009 death of Lea Guilbeault was preventable, and is making recommendations to prevent similar tragedies.
33-year-old Guilbeault died instantly when a concrete slab detached from the facade of the Marriott hotel on Peel street and fell 18 stories.
She was eating an anniversary dinner with her husband, Hani Beitinjaneh when the slab fell through the glass roof of the Mikasa restaurant.
The coroner blames shoddy construction and a complete lack of building maintenance for the death.
Jacques Ramsay noted in his report that the hotel was built in 1969, before building codes were widely adopted, and that the building's facade had never been inspected in its 40 year existence.
Ramsay wrote that the Regie du bâtiment, Quebec's building inspection board, only inspects buildings following complaints, which are usually only made when part of a building fails.
However the board, in conjunction with Ramsay, is working on a new rule that would require all buildings that are more than 10 years old to be inspected every five years.
"The owner needs to hire a professional architect or engineer to proceed with the inspection, and (building owners) need to know that they must go on with the repairs that are required," said Ramsay.
Ramsay also asks that the city of Montreal order mandatory, systematic preventive inspections be conducted now on many high-rise buildings in the city, noting that many were built in the sixties and seventies.
Last week, the provincial government it is hoping to pass a new bill that aims to become the strictest building safety law in Canada.
Details of the legislation have yet to be worked out, but Labour Minister Lise Theriault said the new law would force landlords to hire their own inspectors and perform pro-active safety checks at regular intervals.
Landlords would also be forced to perform preventive maintenance and report every step of the repair process into a new database.
The database, essentially a safety registry designed to track every one of the 100,000 public-use buildings across Quebec, will allow tenants to check up on buildings' safety records.