Our readers will recall last month's CityCaucus.com breaking news story featuring amateur video of a collapsing pair of walls at a demolition site at Hornby & Helmcken Streets in downtown Vancouver. The images suggested that falling debris nearly missed passers-by, and clearly damaged public property. The video went viral, with over 250,000 views to date.
There were calls for an independent review of the City's practices when it came to issuing demolition permits. Today, a City staff report reveals that Vancouver is partly culpable for what happened back on June 10th. They say in the report that permits are issued based upon matters of trust:
After reviewing this incident it is evident that City practice with respect to demolitions has evolved whereby the City relies to a significant extent on experienced contractors and professionals to provide compliance assurance.
A meeting with the developer and the contractor showed that the latter had made assumptions about whether they met the City's requirements for certification, when in fact they were not. Before working on this project, the contractors had only done residential demolition work in the City of Vancouver.
The City recommends a review and tightening up of their processes, including getting contractors to sign a waiver that promises they have all the required safety training. There is no recommendation to further check contractors even on a random basis, and the City only suggests that a "plan can be put in place by the District Building Inspector for closer oversight and assurance..."
The City has set some restrictions upon the contractor Global Excavating & Demolition Ltd., but essentially argues that all the process they have in place at the present time (which has been in place for the last 40 years) is sufficient.
NPA Councillor Suzanne Anton suggested that there be an independent review of the City's processes when it comes to demolitions, which council and staff ignored. The City's own report suggests that a further assessment by a independent third party might be a prudent move.
Our thanks again to our reader Mark, who kindly submitted the video to us here first, before it circled the globe.
- post by Mike