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Capri Mall gets two-week reprieve

Mall ownership and Town of Westlock councillors to meet June 12
The Town of Westlock and the owners of Capri Mall, the Calgary-based Capri Capital Corp., are slated to meet face-to-face June 12 to discuss the 15-day closure order issued by the municipality May 11. The town says the mall, located at the corner of highways 44 and 18, presents a “potential risk to the public” and requires a bevy of work that will need to be completed or it will be closed.

WESTLOCK – Capri Mall, which was to be shuttered May 26 following a 15-day closure order issued by the Town of Westlock that claims it “presents a potential risk to the public or any tenant”, has received a short reprieve with a special hearing on its fate slated for mid-June.

Town of Westlock CAO Simone Wiley confirmed that the May 11 closure order will be discussed as part of the June 12 regular council meeting after mall ownership, the Calgary-based Capri Capital Corp., submitted a written request for a “council review” May 19 as per Section 547 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA).

The town did an April 10 inspection of the mall pursuant to the MGA and the findings concluded that, “Capri Mall presents a potential risk to the public or any tenant that accesses the mall” and the “only remedy available to the town is to prohibit occupancy until safety concerns have been addressed ” — specifically, the town issued three orders citing building code, fire code and electrical code deficiencies as Wiley has said that, “The items that were found during the inspection were such that it was determined that it’s not safe for public occupancy.” Affected businesses, who were informed May 1 of the inspection and possible closure, include Integra Agencies Ltd., Small Town Vapes, Top Shelf Liquor, Westlock Barber Shop, and Your Dollar Store with More.

“It’s perfectly legitimate, the Municipal Government Act allows an affected owner to ask council to review an enforcement order,” said Wiley May 24. “So, until the review is conducted, the order is stayed, meaning the mall remains open.”

Wiley said the review, which will be held behind closed doors, will take the form of a delegation as mall reps will speak directly with councillors and administration. Following, councillors may make a decision that night, but aren’t compelled to — specifically, Wiley said they can “confirm, vary, substitute or cancel” the closure order or even extend it further. The social-media platform LinkedIn lists Lal Narang as president and CEO of Capri Capital Corp. and Kalaiyarasi Balakrishnan as bookkeeper — the Westlock News has reached out to Narang but has not received a response.

Wiley, who’s been at the town for nearly a decade and been CAO for the last three-and-a-half years, said that she’s “issued a lot of orders in my time, but nothing of this magnitude” and has never had anyone request a council review under the MGA. She also said the letter from the ownership requesting the review “gives a little of their reasoning” on parts of the closure order and the associated work and timelines to get the mall back up to code. Previously, Wiley has said there’s been “ongoing conversation with the ownership” over the state of the mall, in addition to complaints from the public, but until a qualified inspection was done “you can’t force any work to get done.”

The first development permit for the mall was issued August 1971 and the first business was a steakhouse in 1972, followed by the gas station Pacifica Petroleum the following year. From 1973 to 1998, the mall, located at the corner of highways 44 and 18, was a thriving shopping centre and featured many local businesses, while during that time there were several modifications and additions to the original structure. By the turn of the century the shopping centre was in foreclosure and was acquired by Capri Capital Corp.

George Blais,

George Blais

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