Buried in the court file is one piece of new information regarding the Magee House drama: Sbrissa saw a crack in the wall weeks before the collapse happened.
Sbrissa applied to have his licence and certificate of practice reinstated in 2019 after they were suspended for non-payment of administrative fees. The OAA registrar declined to issue the licence. After a hearing, the OAA’s registration committee issued him a conditional licence, but not a certificate of practice. Sbrissa appealed to divisional court.
The registrar testified that one of the reasons why she declined to issue a licence and certificate of practice to Sbrissa was for “the protection of the public,” seeing that he was living and working in a building where a wall collapsed along a public thoroughfare. The registrar, watching the happenings in Ottawa from afar, said she believed the historical building was left to decay or was not maintained.
According to the statement of fact submitted by Sbrissa in the court case, Sbrissa saw from the outside a diagonal crack developing and “a slight bulge in the wall” that he monitored to make sure there was no further deterioration. He also noted “there were no significant cracks or structural failures” before the day the wall collapsed that led him to conclude the building was unsafe.
In the interview with this newspaper on Monday, Sbrissa bristled at accusations that he didn’t maintain the building. He also said the crack on the wall didn’t pose concern because the plane of the wall didn’t shift outward.
According to the registration committee’s decision, Sbrissa “lacked professional decorum when dealing with the municipal authority and the media with respect to the building collapse and related issues.”
After considering all the evidence, the OAA registration committee couldn’t say what caused the Magee House wall to collapse or whether Sbrissa should have known it was going to fail.
While the registration committee’s decision noted the strife between the OAA and Sbrissa over a number of years, including multiple instances of non-payment of fees, he said the administrative issues have nothing to do with his work as an architect.
The court found Sbrissa didn’t get a fair hearing in front of the OAA registration committee.
The OAA should decide if it needs to have further proceedings regarding Sbrissa’s application for a certificate to practice, the court ruled. If there are no proceedings, it would appear Sbrissa should receive the certificate, the court decision said.
The court also ordered the OAA to pay $10,000 toward Sbrissa’s legal costs.
It wasn’t clear if the OAA will hold more proceedings on the matter of Sbrissa’s certificate of practice or give him the certificate, as he believes he’s owed.
The OAA said it couldn’t comment since the matter is ongoing.
A spat between Sbrissa and the city continues over the cause of the collapse and the city’s remediation work.
The city hired John Cooke and Associates to investigate and the firm concluded a lack of mortar in the stone wall and water penetration led to the wall collapse. During a built-heritage subcommittee meeting at city hall, Cooke said the building needed major restoration decades ago.
Sbrissa didn’t accept Cooke’s findings, arguing that the “dry wall” was designed to not have mortar. He blamed vibrations from nearby construction work over the years for harming the integrity of the wall and he hired his own experts to investigate.
Today, the future of the Magee House is up in the air.
Sbrissa, 74, said if he can’t sell the building, he’ll restore it, though the renovation would depend on insurance money coming through.
He’s also involved in separate lawsuits against the city over the reasons for partial collapse and the city-directed stabilization work on the building.
This content was originally published here.