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September 18, 2007

Shoring collapse at Falls condo construction site baffles inspector

VICTORIA, B.C.

A downtown construction-site collapse has a WorkSafeBC inspector more than scratching his head.

The $80-million “Falls” luxury condominium project in downtown Victoria came to a crashing halt last week when massive chunks of concrete plunged into a 15-metre hole.

“This is a large collapse that shouldn’t have happened,” said WorkSafeBC’s Scott McCloy. “If you do things right, these things should not collapse.” The agency has brought its own structural engineer to the site and has requested the construction company, Laser Projects Corp., conduct an internal investigation into the incident.

No one was hurt in the mid-afternoon accident that destroyed a pedestrian walkway and damaged construction trailers and scaffolding.

WorkSafeBC will be looking at soil conditions in the area of the collapse around in The Falls condominium construction site in Victoria, B.C. Officials are waiting for debris to be removed before investigators can begin their work.

KING LEE

WorkSafeBC will be looking at soil conditions in the area of the collapse around in The Falls condominium construction site in Victoria, B.C. Officials are waiting for debris to be removed before investigators can begin their work.

McCloy said WorkSafeBC is looking into soil conditions in the area of the collapse and waiting for debris to be removed before investigators can get begin their work. He added that no stop-work order has been issued for the site.

The developer is Westbank Projects of Vancouver.

Westbank’s Bob Pearce said anchors had been drilled under the roadway and “shotcrete” had been added to retain the soil.

Work has been stopped until WorkSafeBC and geotechnical engineers have assessed the situation and deemed the site safe.

Katie Josephson, of the City of Victoria, said the road adjacent to the construction area will remain closed until city engineers are satisfied there will be no further collapsing. She added that the city wants to make sure that sewer and water lines have not been broken or damaged.

Carpenter Rick Cardwell said he saw concrete shoring start to crumble and dirt giving way before the walkway caved in. He said the entire incident took “about 15 or 20 seconds.”

Penticton’s Richard Savage, attending the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering conference in Victoria, said he watched the collapse from his hotel room across the street. He described the accident as “a snake going down.”

The Falls is designed to be two towers containing 155 units with a tiered, 30-metre waterfall down one wall of the building and was due to be completed next summer.

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