Nova Scotia

Update on Dorian crane collapse investigation not expected for several months

A Labour Department report into the cause of the collapse of a crane in downtown Halifax in 2019 won't be complete until next year. A lawyer representing businesses and tenants says the investigation is complex and has been slowed by the pandemic.

Neighbouring apartment tenants and businesses still pursuing class action

The investigation into what caused this crane to fall in 2019 remains ongoing. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

It won't be until sometime next year before a Labour Department report into the cause of the collapse of a crane in downtown Halifax in 2019 will be complete.

The crane came down during storm Dorian in September 2019, spilling over a construction site and part of South Park Street, and causing the shutdown of several nearby businesses, relocation of some tenants from a neighbouring apartment building and prolonged rerouting of traffic.

On Tuesday, a Labour Department spokesperson said there is still no update on the investigation.

"As you can appreciate, the crane incident is complex and requires a thorough investigation," Jill Florian McKenzie said in an email. "We hope to have more to share in the coming months."

Pandemic creates further delays

Halifax lawyer Ray Wagner is representing a group of businesses and tenants seeking to file a class-action lawsuit against the developer of the building where the collapse happened as well as the owner and operator of the crane.

Wagner said the labour investigation is indeed complex and the process is taking even longer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The penultimate question is what caused the crane to fall, and as simple as it may seem it has turned much more complicated than that," he said in a telephone interview.

"There's been metallurgic testing, there's been observations by experts of the crane and a bunch of those things, which has been, unfortunately, delayed because of COVID."

The initial plan was for the metallurgical testing and expert observations to happen in March and June, said Wagner. That had to be moved to the fall and there is some additional testing happening now, he said.

Province covered cleanup costs

What's most important for the people he's representing is timely justice, said Wagner. Ideally, that would be achieved through a settlement, but Wagner said they would continue on with the class-action route if necessary.

"Unfortunately, there seems to be an extraordinary amount of delays on this particular file."

It took more than a month to clean up the crane.

The province footed the $2-million bill in an attempt to get the work done as soon as possible and the area reopened to the public. Transportation Minister Lloyd Hines said at the time that efforts would be made to recover that money.

A spokesperson for Hines's department could not provide an update on that effort on Tuesday.