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Residents near toppled crane ordered to evacuate Halifax homes
A number of residents living near the site of a toppled crane in downtown Halifax were evacuated from their homes Monday evening.
The construction crane on Brenton Street collapsed and crashed onto a building on South Park Street at the height of Saturday’s storm.
“I was sitting in my apartment, which is just up there, and I was looking out during the storm and I saw the crane swaying as the winds started to get stronger and more rain came down and then all of a sudden I looked up by chance and it looked like it was doing a massive sway,” described Alex Glista, who lives nearby.
“This time it came right down, landed on the building across the way, which was luckily under construction, and it kinda crumpled like a piece of wet spaghetti.”
The site has been drawing large crowds, eager to catch a glimpse of the strange sight.
As a result, officials blocked a section of Victoria Park and South Park Street and to vehicular and pedestrian traffic Monday, due to safety concerns.
Another crane was brought into the area Monday so engineers could assess the damaged crane and determine the best way to dismantle it.
Monday evening, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency issued a mandatory evacuation order for about 30 residents and a number of businesses near the toppled crane.
Officials say the decision was made after a meeting with structural engineers, as well as representatives from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Halifax Regional Police, Transportation & Public Works, and the associated property owners.
“We are absolutely concerned. This crane is suspended on top of a building under construction and that material is under great stress,” said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Meldrum.
“Any of that material falls, parts of the crane may slide down that building, could slide off on top and hit adjacent buildings, that’s really behind the logic behind the evacuation order today.”
The Canada Games Centre is being made available as a shelter for those affected by the evacuation order. The Canadian Red Cross is also offering assistance.
Fencing is expected to be erected in the area Tuesday.
The evacuation order is in place until further notice.
Meanwhile, some people who live in the area are calling for both answers and action.
“It’s a wonder that nobody was killed or seriously injured. We have at least three construction sites within a block of our house,” said Christopher Breckenridge, a member of the Brenton-Schmidtville Liveability Group. “We have warned people associated with the construction to make sure the neighbours are safe, and then this happens.”
Members of the Brenton-Schmidtville Liveability Group are calling on building developers, HRM and the province hold a public meeting to explain what happened, how it happened, and what they’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Thankfully, the building onto which the crane toppled was under construction, so there was no one inside.
The crane was working a construction site on Brenton Street – a project for Halifax developer Wadih Fares.
“It’s unfortunate that it did collapse. We are thankful that no one got hurt,” said Fares. “At the same time, we have a problem on our hands and we have to find out what happened there.”
Fares says the crane work was provided by an independent contractor and, given forecasted wind speeds and recommendations from the manufacturer, the crane should have stayed standing.
“We were all working to prepare ourselves for the storm for what we had anticipated as the wind speed, we know our contractor did what they needed to do to secure the site,” said Fares.
The Nova Scotia Construction Association sent a reminder to those working in the industry to secure construction sites in advance of Dorian.
“I think it will lead to conversations about how sites are managed and how they’re secured going forward,” said Duncan Williams, of the Nova Scotia Construction Association.
“I don’t think we are going to see fewer storms. I think we are going to start to have to collaborate more with Emergency Measures and Department of Labour so we are all speaking from the same songbook, if you will.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Amy Stoodley and Natasha Pace.