'The whole roof is on the floor:' Vancouver tenants finally get answers after wall collapse

It still feels surreal for Trevor McEachran and Hayden Kannegiesser to look at the rubble where their home once stood. But now they have some answers on what went wrong.

WorkSafeBC has found a masonry contractor and construction company at fault for the collapsed firewall

Trevor McEachran and Hayden Kannegiesser stare at what's left of the coach house they've called home for nearly four years. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

It still feels surreal for Trevor McEachran and Hayden Kannegiesser to look at the rubble that sits on top of where they called home.

"Literally, the whole room is crushed with debris ... the whole roof is on the floor," McEachran said.

The couple was among the six people displaced after the 15-metre firewall of a development near their home in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood collapsed during a windstorm on April 7.

Now, an inspection report by WorkSafeBC has shed some light into what led up to the incident at Brixton Flats, the six-storey rental building under construction that the firewall was part of.  

A masonry contractor and a construction company were found to have violated workplace safety standards during the construction of the wall.

A 15-metre firewall collapsed causing damage to the coach house, another property, and the roof of the historic Lee Benevolent Society building. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

WorkSafeBC found Alegra Masonry, the contractor that built the firewall, should have ensured the structure would "withstand any loads likely to be imposed" on it. 

But Nick Vukelic, the owner of the company, said it wasn't its fault.

"It wasn't in our scope of work to tie the firewall back to the building," Vukelic said.

"The structural engineer missed it. They're the guys that sign off on this, and they missed it."

Documents prepared by the workplace safety agency reveal it had difficulty getting in touch with the masonry company and it has still not received compliance orders, despite several deadlines. 

The company is facing a fine of $512 — an administrative penalty for not responding to the agency.

WorkSafeBC has cited Alegra Masonry and Peak Construction for workplace safety violations in the construction of the firewall that collapsed. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

WorkSafeBC also wrote that Peak Construction, the main contractor on the site, failed to carry out regular inspections and that it failed to immediately notify WorkSafeBC of the incident. 

"We're examining where things went wrong so we can make sure that, on major projects like this, there are no further incidents," said Dani Pretto, a representative for Brixton Flats. 

Peak Construction didn't respond to CBC's requests for comment. 

While the findings bring some answers for the tenants, most of McEarchran and Kannegiesser's possessions are still trapped underneath the rubble.

Parts of McEachran's bicycle is stuck between the rubble, he's unable to retrieve it and is seeking compensation for it. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The pair was out grocery shopping when the wall came tumbling down and they've been able to retrieve only a handful of items.

"[Trevor] only had the clothes on his back," said Kannegiesser, adding they've lost irreplaceable family photos.

A salvage date still hasn't been determined and they've been told the coach house they've lived in for the past 3.5 years will be demolished. 

"We were supposed to do a salvage, go through each item in the house before it gets demolished to take pictures for proof, but we had looters and squatters come in," she said.

"With those missing items, it's hard to seek compensation."

Trevor McEachran and his partner were grocery shopping when the wall collapsed, so he was left with only his phone and the clothes on his back. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

The pair is low-income and can't afford a lawyer. 

They're now fundraising for legal aid in hopes of getting some compensation from GMC Projects, the developer of Brixton Flats. 

"We want compensation for our finances. We've lost our possessions, our house, our neighbourhood," Kannegiesser said. "We really want a legal advocate so we can get what we are owed."

All the legal advocacy groups they've reached out to so far say their case doesn't fall under their umbrella.