Nova Scotia

Details on who will pay for Halifax crane removal still up in the air

The Nova Scotia government has hired two firms to bring down the crane that collapsed on a downtown Halifax building during Hurricane Dorian. The government hasn't said who it hopes to recoup the cost from.

Premier says Nova Scotia government took over project because of public safety threat

The Nova Scotia government has hired an engineering company and crane operator to remove a crane that toppled onto a Halifax building under construction during Hurricane Dorian. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Public safety trumped financial liability on a Nova Scotia government decision to hire experts to bring down the huge crane that collapsed atop a building under construction in Halifax on South Park Street during Hurricane Dorian.

"This is not an isolated building that is sitting in an industrial park without any neighbouring infrastructure around it. We needed to make sure we could get it down as quickly as possible," Premier Stephen McNeil said Tuesday.

"We've been told that crane is in a precarious situation. We needed to get the ability to strap it to the building, be able to move it."

Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Nova Scotia on Sept. 7 as a post-tropical storm with hurricane-strength winds.

Who will ultimately pay is not known yet

McNeil said the province would try to recoup the costs of removing the crane.

Right now, the government is unsure of whom to pursue to recover those costs or what the amount may be.

"It is too early to say which party/parties we will seek to recover costs from. This is a complex project, so we do not yet have a cost estimate, " said Transportation Department spokesperson Marla MacInnis in an email.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says public safety prompted the province's decision to hire companies to remove the crane that collapsed on a downtown Halifax building Sept. 7 during Hurricane Dorian. (CBC)

Squabbling among insurers could have delayed the work from going ahead, according to the premier.

"There was an issue around the potential liability and the ability to pay that liability. No one was going in until the insurer, the project was indemnified," McNeil said.

There was also a risk that other hurricanes brewing in the Atlantic Ocean could magnify the public safety threat, he said.

"The longer that is laying there and hanging there, the bigger risk there is to public safety," McNeil said.

Harbourside Engineering Consultants and R&D Crane are the two companies hired to remove the crane.

Who is working to remove the crane?

On its website, Harbourside Engineering Consultants calls itself "the largest independently owned structural engineering firms in Atlantic Canada" with experience in bridges, marine structures and buildings. R&D Crane of Dartmouth, N.S., says "our fleet of cranes ranges from a 30 ton boom truck to a 440 ton crawler" on its website.

The Nova Scotia government has said those companies and their subcontractors "will also receive protection against claims of damage that may result from their work to remove the crane."

The building under construction from which the crane toppled belongs to the WM Fares Group.

The Labour Department is investigating the incident, MacInnis said in her email.

The province's safety standards require owners of tower cranes to have their cranes inspected annually, as well as anytime after a significant weather event or wind storm, she said.

"We can confirm we are following up with all crane owners in the province to ensure these inspections take place," MacInnis wrote.

How long will crane take to remove?

On Sept. 13, Labour Minister Labi Kousoulis said the removal is expected to take about two weeks.

But on Sept. 18, 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.

MacInnis said the expected timelines will change as the work begins.

"We will continue to keep those most affected updated directly," she said in her email.

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