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Not all balconies at London apartment where baby fell to her death were inspected up close, report reveals | CBC News

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An engineering expert is raising concerns about the inspection of a couple of balconies at an apartment in London, Ont., where a one-year-old girl fell to her death in October.

One-year-old Inayah fell from a 20-storey balcony at 400 Lyle St., where the handrail gaps were 50 per cent larger than what is permitted by Ontario building code. Following the incident Oct. 2 incident, the city posted a safety notice on the building, indicating residents shouldn’t use the balconies until they are “reviewed” and “repaired,” if repairs were necessary. An inspection was completed on Oct. 14.

In the inspection report obtained by CBC News through a freedom of information request, it was learned that two of the apartments, units 207 and 1113, along with their balconies were “not accessible” during the inspection. These are not the units where Inayah had been living. 

Doug Perovic, who heads the country’s only forensic engineering program at the University of Toronto, said assumptions made during the handrail inspection were “irresponsible.”

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2 unit inspections questioned

The report shows conclusions were made about 207’s guardrail by completing a “visual survey from ground level.” For unit 1113, it was assumed its balcony guardrail had the same issue as its neighbouring balcony, according to the report.

Doug Perovic, a professor in the materials engineering department at the University of Toronto, says assumptions made during the handrail inspection process were ‘irresponsible.’ (Submitted by Doug Perovic)

Perovic believes it is “irresponsible to be making such assumptions when several building code deficiencies were previously identified and particularly when such deficiencies contributed to the death of a child.”

According to the report, four other guardrails at 400 Lyle St. had gaps between the guardrail and wall that weren’t to code, one of which was 70 per cent more than what’s allowed.

A guardrail on a different floor wasn’t as high as it should be, which was the one that unit 1113 was assumed to be the same as.

“My view on that is that there’s something that involves a potentially high risk of injury or death,” said Perovic. “They should have inspected them all, and this is something that is quite obvious.”

The handrail gap on the balcony where a toddler fell on Oct. 2, 2021, prior to the handrail fixes. (James Chaarani/CBC)

A city spokesperson said the guardrails have since been fixed, but the city is unable to comment on Perovic’s assessment, citing the ongoing investigation into the toddler’s death.

Multi-layered system of checks in place

“It should not have happened,” said Perovic of the initial gaps leading to the tragedy. “Because it’s such a multi-layered system that’s in place, starting with the developer, with the architect, the building contractor or subcontractors who hire consulting engineers to do inspections and field reviews.”

“And then the second level is the city that has to approve and issue the occupancy permit,” he added. “The City of London building division inspectors … they seem to miss this too.”

The architectural plans for the building do not show the guardrail gaps in the drawings. Whether every single guardrail was inspected prior to obtaining an occupancy permit, and before the death of the child, is unknown.

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