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The fatal incident at Westbank and QuadReal’s Oakridge Park construction site this week is undoubtedly tragic, but perhaps more alarming is that the incident is at least the fifth major incident at a major Metro Vancouver construction site in the past three months — although it was the only one that resulted in a death.

The first in this string of construction site incidents was on the site of another Westbank project — The Butterfly at 1019 Nelson Avenue in Vancouver which is nearing completion. The November 22 incident involved scaffolding along the facade of the building collapsing, resulting in non-life-threatening injuries to three workers, including one who was partially buried by the debris. The general contractor for The Butterfly is Icon West Construction, a company owned by Westbank.

The second incident occurred less than a week later, on November 30, at the construction site of Vue by Amacon, located at 638 Whiting Way in Coquitlam, near the border of Burnaby. The incident involved a shoring wall within the excavated site collapsing, which was captured in a dramatic video by a worker on the site. No injuries occurred. Amacon was also recently found to have violated a stop-work order at another one of their construction sites, for the Alaska project in Burnaby.

The third incident occurred on January 26, at the construction site for Gilmore Place by Onni Group, also in Burnaby. The incident reportedly saw a crane that was being disassembled collapse and left dangling over the building, shutting down traffic in the area for some time. The incident was not the first for the Gilmore Place project, where Onni Group is both the developer and the general contractor. Previously, the project was the focus of a lawsuit by the City after construction resulted in nearby sidewalks becoming deformed. Onni has also been fined over falling debris around the site.

A few days later, on January 30, a similar incident occurred at the construction site of Park by Bosa Properties, near 105 Avenue and King George Boulevard in Surrey. Again, the incident was characterized as a “crane failure,” with no reported injuries. The general contractor on the project is Axiom Builders, a subsidiary of Bosa Properties.

This week’s incident at Oakridge Park, located at the intersection of W 41st Avenue and Cambie Street, reportedly occurred after a crane about 25 storeys above ground suddenly dropped its load, which fell onto the building below, hitting a number of floors on the way down and prompting over 1,500 workers to evacuate the site. Authorities have since said that one woman, a mother of two, has died as a result on the incident. The Oakridge Park project is being developed by Westbank and QuadReal Property Group, with the general contractor of the site being EllisDon.

Following the two crane collapses in Burnaby and Surrey in January, the union that represents BC crane operators released a statement saying that those two incidents should serve as a “wakeup call” for the industry and government, noting that “more needs to be done.” The union said it wants to see improvements related to certification and minimum levels of training introduced.

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