City admits to lax procedures in demolition mishap

Post by Mike Klassen in


See cell phone video of the June 10th crash

Our readers will recall last month's 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


Here we go again thinking all the worlds problems can be solved with a little more regulation. In fact, all it does is increase moral hazard where everyone can avoid responsibility for their actions if they comply with the regulations.

I suggest that in these cases the developer should be held to account for any property damage and criminal sanctions would apply if there were any personal injuries resulting from negligence. No regulation will have the same impact as a potential jail sentence to focus attention on safe work practices. We need to get back to personal responsibility and accountability and stop thinking we can or should regulate every aspect of our lives.

+1 on Bill's idea.

They didn't last long:

"A Surrey-based company whose downtown Vancouver building demolition went spectacularly wrong got in trouble with authorities again Friday.

And again, the issue was the way Global Excavating and Demolition Ltd. was tearing down a building at the intersection of Hornby and Helmcken streets.

A few hours after Global resumed work on the former home of the William Davis Centre for Acting, it was ordered to stop by city of Vancouver inspectors.

At the demolition site Friday, CTV News heard a warning to the crew as they were allowed to resume work for the first time since that day."

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