A worker was lucky to escape injury Monday when the wall of the White Rock excavation site he was working in collapsed, burying his bobcat in dirt and debris.
Sandi Chapman said she was eating breakfast when she heard the “major crash” as the temporary shoring gave way.
“I just jumped up,” she said. “I looked out the window, I saw the guy run.”
Chapman, who lives immediately west of the McDonald Avenue property, said after her initial fear that someone had been hurt was alleviated, frustration kicked in – built up from trying numerous times since mid-August to draw city and property officials’ attention to concerns with the work that was taking place.
“We questioned everything right from the beginning,” Chapman said Tuesday, citing the proximity of the excavation to her property as a key concern. “(Now), the integrity of our home could be jeopardized.”
Monday’s collapse happened just before 9 a.m. It was the second at the site this month; the first was logged Nov. 3, when a chunk of land – along with the lawn furniture sitting on it – from property immediately east of the site crashed into the excavation hole around 8 p.m.
Longtime tenant Judy Jordison said that event had the “rumble” of an earthquake and took at least 10 feet off of her side yard.
Chapman said she called the city after the first collapse, after noticing separation in the ground near an exterior staircase that climbs from her back patio to her raised backyard. Officials weren’t concerned, she said.
The staircase, along with part of Chapman’s fence, disappeared in Monday’s collapse. A crack has also appeared in the ground inches from the back corner of Chapman’s house.
“Our fence, it’s just dangling there,” she said. “When you exit our back door, we have no way up to our backyard at all – and there’s a big drop down.”
City media liaison Shannon Levesque confirmed the collapse is the second failure on record for the site, and that an independent geotechnical engineer will be reviewing the project as a result – news Chapman said she received by email shortly after the Peace Arch News called the city Tuesday morning regarding the issue.
Levesque told PAN the wooden retaining structure that gave way was “temporary shoring” used to stabilize the excavation during construction.
“It was another alternative rather than using shotcrete,” Levesque said, referring to a high-velocity concrete application commonly used in construction.
“It was found by the developer’s geotechnical engineer to be acceptable.”
Chapman said while the builder came to her and her husband with a shotcreting agreement, “they never got back to us” to clarify specific aspects and proceeded with a different shoring method.
WorkSafeBC spokesperson Megan Johnston said a stop-work order was placed on the site following the collapse and work “will not proceed until our officers are satisfied that it can proceed safely.”
Johnston said preliminary information indicates the workers were on a break when the collapse occurred.
Chapman said she is grateful no one was injured, but she can’t help but think the whole situation could have been prevented.
“We saw it happening. We were scared. And it took this for them (to respond). It’s such a big let-down that the city didn’t stay on top of it.”