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Preparing for the Unexpected

news article

On September 21, 2018 Environment Canada confirmed that a tornado and severe downbursts had impacted a series of buildings owned by CanFirst Ottawa Properties Inc. (CanFirst) and managed by Colliers Real Estate Management Services (REMS). The buildings were located at 8, 14, 20, 106 and 169 Colonnade Road in Ottawa, Ontario.

When the event was confirmed, Colliers worked with the building contractors to take immediate action. The first step was to notify the property insurers at which time instructions were given to ensure that the sites were stabilized, and measures taken to prevent any further damages from the elements.

Implementing emergency procedures

With the contractors engaged, REMS contacted the owners at CanFirst. They reported that there was no power to any of the buildings—Ottawa Hydro advised that due to a major substation being damaged there was no accurate estimate in terms of when power would be reinstated.

Major gas leaks had occurred that night, so the primary gas lines coming into the business park had been shut off as well. To secure the buildings, REMS closed, tagged and locked off all electrical breakers, while awaiting instructions from Ottawa Hydro regarding timing for a phased in load when power was restored.

Damaged rooftop HVAC units were secured, while fallen trees were cleared that were blocking emergency access to the building sites.

Minor damage to buildings and upper level windows were tarped, while ground floor windows were covered in plywood for safety and security.

Success by the numbers

  • Damaged exterior lighting poles and standards removed
  • Electrical bases capped, boxes installed to prevent any further issues
  • Ottawa Fire had to enter by force—compromised doors and locks repaired
  • Security company engaged to do patrols and watch for any potential fires
  • Rapidly secured Colonnade buildings to allow emergency access
  • Tenants able to access their premises within 36 hours of the tornado

Getting tenants back to business

Through the rapid implementation of the emergency plan, Colliers was able to effectively secure the building sites, preparing them for services and urgent repairs.

Most importantly, tenants had access to their premises 36 hours after the tornado struck, allowing them to resume their business operations. The level of service provided was greatly appreciated, especially given the extraordinary circumstances. Advance planning and preparation made all the difference!