Nova Scotia

Businesses near Halifax crane collapse frustrated by lost revenue, poor communication

Some businesses surrounding the collapsed crane in Halifax say they're losing revenue and can't offer their employees any work after the area was evacuated and closed off last week. They're also concerned about a lack of updates from authorities.

‘It’s been very challenging getting any information at all,’ says Chris Reynolds from Stillwell Beer Garden

A toppled building crane is draped over a new construction project in Halifax on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. Residents and businesses were evacuated from the area Monday, Sept. 9, and have not been allowed back into their homes or businesses since. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Some businesses surrounding the collapsed crane in Halifax say they're losing revenue and can't offer their employees any work after the area was evacuated and closed off last week.

Chris Reynolds, one of the owners of Stillwell Beer Garden, said he's had 15 employees out of work for the past 11 days.

Multiple businesses and residents were given an evacuation order two days after a post-tropical storm with hurricane-strength winds knocked down a crane on Sept. 7 in the South Park Street area of the city's south end.

On Wednesday afternoon, the province declared a localized state of emergency for the site of the collapse.

Stillwell Beer Garden is a seasonal business typically open from May until mid-October. Reynolds said they've cancelled their annual Oktoberfest event because they don't know when they'll be able to reopen.

Chris Reynolds is the co-owner of the Stillwell Beer Garden. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

"It's been very challenging getting any information at all," Reynolds told CBC's Information Morning on Wednesday.

Debbie Morgan, co-owner of Thornbloom home decor, said they've had similar struggles. Being closed means they can't receive a lot of their shipments and are paying to have them shipped back, she said.

Thornbloom typically increases its inventory by 30 per cent in September in anticipation of the fall and Christmas seasons, so losing out on those shipments will have a significant impact on future sales, Morgan said.

"It's been extremely difficult," she told CBC's Information Morning on Wednesday.

Reynolds says because they haven't been given a timeline for when Stillwell can reopen, they've had to cancel their annual Oktoberfest event. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Amid the evacuations, there is one business in the area that still has its doors open.

Sabrina O'Neil, manager of Humani-T Cafe, said sales are down by 50 per cent and they've had to cut shifts in the last week because they're getting very little foot traffic. She said people don't realize they're open because customers need to walk around a fence to access the café.

'Lack of communication on all levels'

Morgan, who spoke with CBC News before the localized state of emergency was announced, said she was told updates would be provided by the province's Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

"I feel that there's been a lack of communication on all levels," Morgan said. "We need to know what we're looking at for timelines here."

Reynolds agrees.

"As far as we can tell, in 11 days not a thing has happened," he said.

On Friday, Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis said the work to prepare the crane for removal would begin last weekend, and the removal of the crane itself would take approximately two weeks.

He told reporters Wednesday afternoon the localized state of emergency will allow the crane removal to be done in a more timely manner.

Mark Reynolds, senior engineer with Harbourside Engineering, said it's hard to pinpoint an exact timeline for removing the crane because it's a complicated process and safety is their primary concern.

"I don't think it will be measured in months, but it will be weeks," he said.

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With files from CBC's Information Morning

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