Nova Scotia

Evacuation order issued for properties near Halifax crane collapse

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency issued an evacuation notice on several properties in the vicinity of South Park Street in downtown Halifax on Monday night. Halifax Fire said the order is necessary for the safety of some businesses and 30 residents living near the crane that collapsed during Dorian over the weekend.

'This is still not a safe place,' says Dave Meldrum, deputy fire chief

A crane on South Park Street — a busy roadway in downtown Halifax — snapped in several places from the power of Dorian's wind on Saturday. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency issued an evacuation order Monday evening to some businesses and 30 residents who live near a crane that collapsed Saturday amidst a powerful post-tropical storm "to remove them from present and imminent danger."

The order applies to several properties in the vicinity of South Park Street in downtown Halifax.

"This is still not a safe place," said Dave Meldrum, deputy chief with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency. "The crane that is in position is not secure. There are multiple possible failure points."

Meldrum said several tonnes of steel and weights are under tension and compression, there are several broken steel members, and there is at least one pin that holds the crane together that is clearly not secure. He said the crane is being held in place by gravity.

Hurricane Dorian approached the region as a Category 2 hurricane and made landfall near Halifax on Saturday evening as a post-tropical storm with hurricane-strength winds.

Fire officials delivered evacuation order notices to the following civic addresses this evening:

  • 1445 South Park St., units 1306, 1206, 1105, 1005, 905, 805, 705, 605, 505, and 405.
  • 1459, 1463, 1477 and 1491 South Park St.
  • 5688 and 5690 Spring Garden Rd.

In a news release, the municipality said the decision is being issued for reasons of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the residents.

Onlookers check out the toppled building crane on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The decision follows advice from a meeting held Monday afternoon with structural engineers and representatives from Nova Scotia's Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Halifax Regional Police, Transportation and Public Works, and the affected property owners.

The evacuation order is in effect immediately and will continue until the situation can be stabilized and risks to residents and businesses can be mitigated.

Meldrum said he does not know how long the evacuation will last, but he estimates it could be days, if not weeks.

"We're not doing this lightly, it's a matter of public safety," he said.

'The whole country saw what happened to my office'

Eugene Tan and Ian Gray, two lawyers who work at Walker Dunlop, a law firm on South Park Street, spoke with fire officials on Monday night about getting into their office.

"[The crane is] hanging right over our office, so we have no idea what's going to happen," Tan said.

Ian Gray, left, and Eugene Tan, lawyers at Walker Dunlop, a Halifax law firm, were unable to retrieve files from their office on Monday because they were told by fire officials it was too dangerous. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Gray said he didn't bring his computer home before the storm and many of his files are in the office.

"I can tell you it's going to complicate things," Gray said.

Gray said the pair will have to talk to the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society on Tuesday to figure out the next steps.

"I'm going to have to talk to lawyers on the other side of files that I've got and say, 'Look, I don't know what to tell you. The whole country saw what happened to my office,'" he said.

Developer assures site was up to code

On Monday afternoon, CBC News spoke with the developer of the Brenton Street project the crane was working on. Wadih Fares said every necessary precaution was taken in anticipation of Saturday's storm.

"We have very professional people, very good contractors, very good supervision, we do everything according to code and engineering studies," he said. "Other than that, what happens is beyond our control."

Fares said until the investigation by the province's Labour Department is complete, there's no way to know the cause. 

"If we find out that certain things should be done differently, obviously we'll be the first one to do it," he said.

With files from Anjuli Patil and Pam Berman


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