Hefty fines set for Whitehorse road blast
Government, contractor to pay fines to Northern Safety Network Yukon
The Yukon government and a contractor have been fined up to $30,000 for a botched road blasting job in 2008 that resulted in rocks falling on homes at a Whitehorse trailer court.
At least five homes and other properties at the Lobird Trailer Court were damaged by large chunks of rock as the result of the May 6, 2008, blast at the Hamilton Boulevard extension site.
The Yukon government, which oversaw the road extension project, along with Whitehorse contracting company P.S. Sidhu Trucking Ltd. and two workers, have been convicted of Occupational Health and Safety Act violations.
In a written decision Friday, territorial court Judge John Faulkner fined the Yukon government $30,000. Sidhu Trucking was fined $21,000, while one of the company's supervisors, Bill Cratty, was fined $2,500.
Peter Hildebrand, the professional blaster who set off the explosion, received a $1,000 fine in March.
Large chunks of blast rock, ranging in size from pebble-sized pieces to "missiles" weighing 22 kilograms, destroyed one person's shed and crashed through the roof of another resident's trailer. Remarkably, no one was injured, the judge has said.
Previous concerns raised
"Unfortunately, no one properly oriented Mr. Hildebrand to the site and he conducted the May 6 blast in ignorance of its proximity to the Lobird Trailer Court," Faulkner wrote in his sentencing decision.
"The trailer court cannot be seen from the blast site as it is uphill and screened by trees, but it was only 150 metres away when Mr. Hildebrand thought he was 400 to 500 metres away from structures or people."
The judge also cited a complaint from Lobird residents prior to the May 6 blast. Faulkner said that complaint should have alerted supervisors to the danger of blast rock, also known as "flyrock," crashing onto homes.
In Friday's decision, Faulkner said he faced a challenge in handing down a sentence, since fines are paid to the Yukon government, so the government could profit from the fines it would receive in this case.
Instead, Faulkner said the fines that the government, Sidhu Trucking and Cratty must pay should go to Northern Safety Network Yukon, which promotes worker safety training in the territory. The network is funded by the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.
The judge did note a Crown proposal to direct the fines toward a proposed memorial to remember Yukon workers who have been injured or killed on the job. But Faulkner said it is uncertain if or when that memorial would be built.