A downed tower crane in downtown Halifax that has been draped like spaghetti over neighbouring buildings, has forced residents and businesses to leave.

It's a question of safety, but there's another looming question: how long is it going to take to move the crane?

It took two days for officials to determine the area isn't safe for the nearby residents and businesses.

On Monday afternoon, people who live and work in the neighbouring buildings were told to leave.

"We do know that there is a lot of danger still at this site," said Halifax Deputy Fire Chief Dave Meldrum. "That crane that's up there, we know that there's at least one clevis pin that's showing that it's not secure. Those six-inch thick steel members, we know that several of those are actually separated and broken, so we've been advising residents that this evacuation may be in place for days and possibly weeks."

On Monday night, dozens of people were asked to leave home and lock the doors on their businesses.

The company responsible for the crane  says it's providing support to residents .

There's no word on when it will be safe to return.

"It seemed a bit slow to get people out of the way," said Christopher Breckenridge, who lives in the neighbourhood. "Especially considering there was damage to the Trillium and that as well. I know it's people's homes and condos and stuff but still, get out of that building quickly. It should have just been immediately evacuated."

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says they've gone outside the province to bring in a structural engineering expert.

"Our issue now is ensuring that we take down the remainder of the crane so that we don't cause any more issues related to the properties in and around that site which is why you would have seen the evacuation," McNeil said.

The decision was made late Monday afternoon and residents weren't given much notice, while many of the offices were already closed.

"We are going to have to talk to our regulator tomorrow to figure out how to represent our clients and figure out what to do," said lawyer Ian Gray. "I can tell you, it's going to complicate things. I know I didn't take my computer home before the storm and a lot of my files are in the office, so we are going to have to figure that out."

The municipality and provincial government are working together to make that happen.

"We gotta get it down safely," said Mayor Mayor Mike Savage. "I think it's a difficult time for people that live in the area and businesses who are inconvenienced by this and that will be stage two for sure. Stage one is getting it down safely."

With files from CTV Atlantic's Amy Stoodley.