A Lower Mainland strata tried to pin responsibility for a 2021 gas leak on an owner, but B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal disagreed and told the strata to reverse $9,231 in levied investigation fees and bylaw fines.
The situation began July 16, 2021, when owners, including complainant Bardia Tanavoli, reported smelling gas in the building’s lobby and other areas.
FortisBC was called in to investigate but was unable to locate the source.
There was no need to evacuate, said tribunal member Micah Carmody in a May 26 decision, because FortisBC confirmed the gas was not at a threatening level.
FortisBC recommended the strata have its HVAC contractor locate the source.
Tower HVAC attended, but unable to identify a leak, shut off the main gas line for the evening.
On their return, Tower staff turned the gas line on and found a small leak in a gas line in the parkade near the mechanical room. It was repaired.
Soon, there were further reports of a leak, so the gas was once again shut off and the search resumed.
On July 19, 2021, Tower traced the leak to the gas box on Tanavoli’s patio. He was not home at the time.
Tower’s investigation found gas odour “very present at air inlet to supply fan” and traced the duct to the outside of the building. They located the fresh air intake in a garden planter on Tanavoli’s strata lot.
They found the patio’s dual port BBQ box with both isolation knobs open, discharging gas into the planter right next to the air intake grills for the supply fans, Tower found.
Tanavoli said Tower’s photos show the gas outlets were in fact turned off when Tower found them.
He further said FortisBC’s investigation is more evidence that his patio was not the source of the gas leak as FortisBC investigated his patio using a gas detector and found no gas leak. He said a neighbour witnessed the inspection as did two strata employees.
The strata denied FortisBC or any strata employees attended Mr. Tanavoli’s patio on July 16.
Carmody found Tanavoli was negligent by having a hose connected to the gas outlet, not attached to any gas appliance, near the air intake, and uncapped.
However, Carmody also found Tower’s work was carried out as an emergency investigation to find the source of the leak, and not incidental to a repair process.
As such, Carmody, ruled, the strata could not bill Tanavoli.