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The new boardwalk patios in Saint John. Image: Submitted/City of Saint John

Work continues to reopen Saint John boardwalk patios

By Brad Perry Jun 11, 2024 | 3:33 PM

There is still no firm timeline for when the new open-air patios on Saint John’s Market Square will reopen.

Just days after welcoming their first guests last week, the patios were shut down by the province’s fire marshal.

Infrastructure Commissioner Ian Fogan provided an update on the situation during Monday night’s council meeting.

Fogan said because the patio design is not found in current building codes, the city agreed to an “alternative solution” which included fire alarms, sprinklers, and non-combustible furniture.

“As we approached the expected date for the completion of the construction, there were still some components, such as the installation of the fire alarm, that had not been completed and some of the testing had not been completed,” he said.

One solution for interim occupancy was having a dedicated 24/7 fire watch on site while the work was completed, said Fogan.

The Saint John Fire prevention office, acting on behalf of the fire marshal’s office, and the city’s building inspection both signed off on the plan, he noted.

“When the Office of the Fire Marshal was notified, they rejected that notion and said no, they weren’t satisfied,” said Fogan.

In a statement to our newsroom last week, the fire marshal’s office said the project does not yet have a signoff from the proponent’s fire protection engineer.

“Once the Fire Protection Engineer signs off on the project’s completion, or an interim submission by the engineer is received by the OFM, occupancy may be granted,” said the statement.

Since the interim occupancy was revoked, Fogan said the fire alarms and sprinklers are active, and they are just awaiting “some signoffs and testing.”

“There’s an issue with the fire shutters on the existing building, and we haven’t finished the solution on that yet, so I don’t know how long it will take to get that fixed,” he said.

In the meantime, Fogan hopes the city can re-engage with the fire marshal to get a fire watch back until everything is completed.

“We don’t know how they’ll react to that, given that they’ve already ordered closure once,” he said.

Fogan noted the city plans to conduct an after-action review on what led to the shutdown order.