Cranes returning to downtown collapse site too soon for some

Petitions to stop the cranes

As two new cranes start going up at the scene of a deadly crane collapse in downtown Kelowna, some are calling for a delay to construction at the Bernard Block.

At least two petitions are circulating.

One on change.org asks the City of Kelowna and the owners of the property, to turn the adjacent portion of the site into a memorial park for the five men who lost their lives in the tragedy.

The other on youleadnow.ca was started by a group of close friends and some of the family of the fallen workers. It states that in light of the fact that an investigation into the cause of the collapse is still underway, the continuation of the project prior to installing any kind of memorial feels disrespectful.

Jason Wickner is one of the people behind the petition. He was close friends with both Eric and Patrick Stemmer, having grown up next door to the brothers.

He is shocked and confused that construction is resuming.

“Without a formal investigation being completed, I'm not sure how they can continue without knowing what contributed to the collapse in the first place.”

He understands halting all future construction on the site is likely not possible.

“We realized that’s a big ask. There’s contracts in place and that’s kind of difficult. But we are asking for kind of a pause on construction so that some sort of memorial can be planned out. (It’s) difficult to plan after everything is in place. Maybe there’s a shift in the tower that’s required or something like that. Seems like all that would be left after is kind of a courtyard with benches, which doesn’t seem appropriate in this case,” said Wickner.

Some of the families have been told Mission Group is planning to reveal a memorial by Christmas.

Wickner wants some sort of green space for the loved ones and others to visit to remember the fallen.

“That’s another thing, is the mental health of downtown Kelowna. Just me seeing the towers up would be emotional but seeing cranes go up on the site I imagine would be emotional for many people who were in the area during it or even just heard about the accident,” he said.

Mission Group announced last week that two new cranes are required for the construction and completion of the Block office tower and Bertram condo tower at Bernard Block.

The tower cranes will be assembled and serviced by Morwest Crane & Services Ltd. Mission Group has been working with Emry Formworks Inc. to develop a Safety Deployment Plan. The company says it has also planned the timing for crane assembly to help ensure minimal impact to the public and local businesses and has directly and personally advised potentially impacted business owners and operators in advance.

Supervisors and construction safety officers have been assigned by Mission Group and will be onsite throughout the entire set-up process.

A portion of Bernard Ave. was closed Tuesday during the initial phase of the crane deployment.

Mission Group did not respond to request for comment when contacted by Castanet Tuesday. The company told Global that is was deferring comment to last week's announcement.

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