Memorial honouring those killed in 2021 crane collapse expected to be completed by next summer

Memorial work ongoing

The memorial honouring the five people killed in the July 2021 crane collapse in downtown Kelowna is expected to be completed by the third anniversary of the local tragedy.

The tower crane operated by Stemmer Construction collapsed during disassembly near Bernard Avenue and Bertram Street on July 12, 2021. Four young construction workers – Cailen Vilness, Jared Zook, and Patrick and Eric Stemmer – were killed in the collapse, along with Brad Zawislak who was working in a nearby building that was hit by the falling crane.

This past July, North Okanagan Labour Council Vice-president Kelly Hutchinson announced a memorial will be built in Kelowna's Knowles Heritage Park, at the corner of Bernard and Ethel Street.

In a press release Saturday, Hutchinson says they're targeting a completion of July 12, 2024, three years after the crane fell.

To date, $123,100 has been raised for the project through a number of sources, with an additional $100,000 being finalized. Approximately $37,000 of that has been raised through individual donations, while Hutchinson says the rest has come from “many union and labour bodies, large business, and crown corporations.”

The project is expected to cost about $300,000, and those interested in donating can find more information here.

“Moving forward, we are happy to report that Ecora Engineering & Resource Group Limited has been retained to complete the next stage of the memorial construction,” Hutchinson said.

“The construction documents phase for the memorial will be completed over the coming months and a tendering process to retain a general contractor finalized by February, prior to the 2024 landscape construction season.”

Construction companies interested in the project can reach out to Hutchinson through email.

The North Okanagan Labour Council is also working to create a non-profit organization to upkeep the memorial once it's complete. Anyone interested in supporting or participating in this non-profit can also reach out to Hutchinson by email.

A criminal investigation into the fatal crane collapse remains ongoing. WorkSafeBC has completed its report into the cause of the crane collapse but it's withholding the report so as not to compromise the criminal negligence investigation by RCMP.

A number of lawsuits have been filed in connection to the tragedy, including one filed this past July on behalf of Stemmer against three divisions of the Liebherr Corporation, alleging that the crane that collapsed during dismantling contained a “dangerous defect.” Liebherr, the manufacturer of the crane, has yet to formally respond to the suit.

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