Shocking video shows Hornby Street demolition mishap

Post by Mike Klassen in


This first video looks down at the worksite and and people running to avoid falling debris

One of our readers Mark sent us a recently posted video showing a demolition of a building taking place downtown on the corner of Hornby Street at Helmcken. While the edges of the property are fenced off, you can clearly see from the two angles that the building itself strayed far beyond the fence. The materials nearly landed on a nearby flag person who had to run out of the way. You can clearly see that the building almost landed on a passing automobile.

The street level view video shows a lamp standard crashing and worker running

The second video shows that despite the collapse and near miss of people and property on the street, the demolition continued and caused even more damage.

We'll continue to follow this story throughout the day, as it is sure to be on will be the lead story on tonight's six o'clock news. Thanks, Mark, for sending this along. No doubt the City, the developer and the demolition company will have to respond to the concerns these videos raise.

UPDATE: GlobalTV has reported on their Noon News report that the company involved is already being investigated by Worksafe BC.

UPDATE #2: We've left a message for the City of Vancouver communications office looking for an official response from the Mayor and City Manager. It's been nearly 8 hours since this story broke, and there is still no official response or calls for any inquiry by the City's leadership. Officials from the Engineering department are withholding comment as the matter is now under investigation, but they have said that it is standard practice for a City inspector to be present at demolitions.

A report by the Vancouver Sun has information about the contractor who did the demolition:

The demolition was being carried out by Global Excavation and Demolition, a Surrey company incorporated in April 2007 and run by Jagjeet Singh Panesar and Karmjeet Singh Panesar.

Jagjeet said Friday he didn't know why everyone was "trying to blow this out of proportion" while Karmjeet said he was hurt that the media was treating it as a joke and "making it sound like we're some criminals."

The company took all the proper safety precautions before starting the demolition, including closing off Hornby, he said. He noted the incident occurred during rush hour when "it's hard to control traffic and pedestrians."


Tonight this story about the demolition led GlobalTV's newscast. Here's a great report by Ted Chernecki that raises many questions. Our commenters are weighing in one indicates that these kinds of problems are common among cut-rate operations.

As of this evening there is still no sign of Mayor Robertson or any member of his city council to let the public know what the City is doing to end rogue operators from creating these safety hazards on our streets. There are rumours that the embarrassment over Vision's school board ruckus this week has sent them running for cover.

It appears that this demolitions story has gone viral, and you found out about it first here on

UPDATE #4: Anton calls for independent inquiry of demolition disaster

- post by Mike


That's pitiful. Someone needs to be fired.

Somehow Mayor Robertson and his visionistas will find a way of blaming the NPA for this. Does the city not have some standards regarding people and cars being near this kind of activity? Someone could have easily been killed!!! Crazy. The mayor should call for a public inquiry and get to the bottom of this. At least there should be a complete review of city procedures on this. Shocking.

Looking at this video further I can see that this is actually two different crashes. The video on top shows the first wall being knocked down. You can see someone almost got hurt.

THEN, they continued and did the SECOND wall. That's when they knocked down the lamp standard!

Crazy. They should have stopped when they had the first accident. But they continued, then caused more damage.

Clearly, someone had some very bad judgment on that worksite yesterday.

I will be keeping my head up when on the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Not surprised after what I saw being done to Maxine's at Bidwell and Davie on June 1st & 2nd.

The city gave Millennium permission to put up some hoarding for that sham of a STIR project at the heritage site Maxine's. Their contractors had torn exterior awnings and signage leaving them in dangerous unsafe piles adjacent to the sidewalk.

Workers without hardhats hanging off the 2nd story juliet balcony and on unsecured ladders, continued work past 8pm. The workers use of the sidewalk as their workspace; completely blocked it from pedestrians which is a no no.

Numerous complaints to the city of what was taking place triggered a bit of 'diferent department' response, followed by a day late visit from someone in city engineering dept, when all the work had already subsided.

The hoarding was only permitted up to 2 feet encroachment on the sidewalk, but a visit to the site shows they clearly exceeded that, and when it was brought to the city's attention they said the 2 foot limit was an "error" and simply revised it to 5 feet after the fact.

One wall falling can be attributed to poor planning or incompetence. That another wall fell at the same site after the first is incomprehensible. How was this site not shut down after the first wall fell??

Yes Mike, it was 2 collapses.

The Sun has a good story up now:

I hope Mayor Robertson is going to call for a full investigation into this. On the surface, it looks like the city and excavation company goofed up big time. So far I've been listening to the news and the Mayor's office has been silent. He should come out of his bubble and ensure that we find out how this could have happened and innocent people could have been killed!!!! Robertson, show some leadership skills and speak up.

He can't, he is out for a bike ride today.

The blame is 100% on the demo contractor.

The crane operator was just having a bad day; you hit some, you miss some. It's no biggie unless you're standing there with your mouth open and take a heaping gulp of debris. We see this happen all the time in Nelson but no one makes a fuss out of it. Good Times in VanCity!

Where was the city's on site inspector? That's standard for this type of operation. Why is nobody asking why there was no city official onsite? This smells.

There is no City inspector on site for a demolition. Especially at 6PM.

"The company took all the proper safety precautions before starting the demolition, including closing off Hornby, he said. He noted the incident occurred during rush hour when "it's hard to control traffic and pedestrians."

Hornby was most defintely not closed off and neither was Helmcken. So take this with a grain of salt.

@Charlie. Here is an excerpt from the Sun which puts the lie to your last statement:

The City of Vancouver is also investigating whether the demolition company was following city bylaws focusing on the safety and protection of the public and the worksite.

A public safety officer must be on site during a demolition, he said, but he didn't know if that had been done at the time. He also didn't have any information on damages or injuries.

"This is not the norm," said Will Johnston, the city's chief building inspector. "It's something that's very concerning to us. Safety around worksites is paramount to us."

Johnston said he hadn't heard of the company, which was likely hired by the property owner or develop to carry out the demolition."

Charlie is still right.

Public Safety Officer mentioned in the statement by the city does not mean it is a city official. I think WorkSafe BC mandates this as well.

This individual is hired by the owner or the contractor of the project.

Definition from the building code:

Construction Safety Officer means a person who has been trained specifically to understand and apply safe construction practice as it relates to the worksite and as it affects the public, neighbouring property and utilities, and who has been retained by the owner, or the owner's principal contractor or project manager, to coordinate all subtrade supervisors relating to construction safety at the project site.

As a demolition contractor myself i can tell you that every thing about this was wrong. The excavator operator did not have the machine high enough to begin with. He should have used the existing debris to sit the machine high enough to reach the top of the wall. He should not have removed the floor until the walls were broken down to the floor level.

The second wall that fell was just stupidity. what operator in his right mind would let a wall fall on his machine? Start from the top down idiot!

I am very familiar with this company and everything about them stinks. Illegial dumping, working weekends and evenings to avoid WCB, etc. I hope developers and general contractors are making notes so that the next time they look at the bids for a demolition job and one company is 30% lower than the rest they do there homework. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

Bill is accurate regarding the state of the demolition industry in Vancouver. It is truly cutthroat and many corners are cut for the sake of profits. These guys are wise and work around our standard hours, like the incident here. The City is not mandated to be present at all demolitions. The contractor is responsible for worksite safety and WorkSafeBC is dealing with them on this.
To turn this into a Vision issue and to blame Robertson for this is silly. What's next? Bee stings? "Blame em on Gregor"

It was great seeing you last week on the third floor. You certainly have lost weight and are looking great.

As for blaming Robertson, I don't think anyone on this site has done that. Don't put words in our mouths. What people are asking for is some leadership. Why is he not calling for a full investigation? Why is he sending his minions in front of the camera instead of speaking to the public directly?

The difference between a good leader and a bad one is a good leader is willing to speak to the public both in the good and bad times (see Obama). Robertson just is not a good leader.

There are 2 more video clips from different angles of this demo on You Tube.

CHI, I don't think the public expects our politicians to give blood when a crisis occurs that involves a matter of public safety. However, they must give the impression that they care about those whom they represent. I've read your pro-Vision comments over the months and I realize there's no knocking you off your perch. You're a committed supporter of this government.

However, what we've seen since Mayor Robertson was elected is that he wouldn't know how to lead a trail of ants to a lump of honey. When Snowmageddon happened - - he was on a beach in Cuba. When Curtis Brick died of heat exposure in Grandview Park - see - it came on the heels of questions about whether the City had prepped the public for the heatwave. Those questions started here at -

When the cruise ship industry collapsed and lost over 300,000 passengers disappeared along with millions in retail sales to an expanded port in Seattle, what did Gregor Robertson do? He ran off to the US to push for a fabled high-speed rail line that would be lucky to happen in 25 years.

Just imagine if these demolition guys were operating during the Olympics and that wall tumbled on tourists. It would be the story of the Games that would travel the globe.

But you know what, that's already happening. This video has had 112,000 views in 24 hours, and it's on it's way to a million views!!! This story has gone viral and the world is watching as our elected officials crawl under a rock and send out a bureaucrat to respond.

So before you jeer and dismiss the importance of leadership, take a look at the record of those you defend.

The Thought Of The Day

"I'm thinking, every Demolition Excavator operating in the City of Vancouver must have a warning message posted on its metal skin... that says 'Operate With Vision. Operate Like Vision'."

So,the man was only doing his job. And leave The Gregor out of this one. It's not his job to take care of the City's streets, parks, buildings, sewage, traffic, housing, garbage, parking, property taxes...

He's too sexy for that. Not for Vancouver, I mean. Maybe for London, Athens, New York, Shanghai.

Anyway.Well said Mike.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Does anybody really think that Gregor will come out swinging against his developer buddies? Keep smokin that infamous Cortez Island weed my friends. Ain't gonna happen in my lifetime. That's why he's so silent.

Has anyone else noticed how this didn't hit the media until the day after?

It wasn't on the local nightly news. It didn't even hit the web editions of the news outlets until the YouTube videos sensationalized it and went viral yesterday.

Isn't it a little odd that the media wouldn't want to be on top of something vital to the public like, yaknow, damage and harm to their safety on downtown city streets during rush hour?

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Vancouver the greenest city??? What about deconstruction, reclaiming materials and sustainability. Demolition, construction accounts for 360,000 tonnes of waste, primarily wood waste. See Lighthouse Sustainable Building Center and MetroVancouver Built Green. The answer is simple, REPLACE DEMOLITION WITH DECONSTRUCTION AND RECYCLING.

Same type of thing going on at the corner of 12th and Main. Right at the corner of an extremely busy intersection,ladders blocking the sidewalk, no pillions,no hard hats,and no consideration for anyone waiting for the traffic light. Very dangerous.

How many slaps in the wrist does this company need - 6 compliance orders in demolition and excavation? The contractor and developer should also be held responsible.

"Took all safety precautions" says the owner of the company, is he out of his freaking mind! The wall landed in the street far beyond his safety "fencing". So was the light standard part of the demo too? And an operator pulling a wall down towards himself!!!! What are these people thinking? Safety is EVERYONE'S job, not just safety personnel and compliance officers, what is it gonna take to get people in line with the requirements laid out by the province, how about a fine big enough to take these retards out of business for good, before they kill someone!

Check out!

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