City inspectors converged on Ming Sun building in a snowstorm without warning owners

Yesterday morning, Vancouver architect David Wong was hoping to sleep in to help him recover from the flu.


But this plan was interrupted when he received calls telling him that the City of Vancouver had blocked traffic in the 400 block of Powell Street beside the 122-year-old Ming Sun Benevolent Society building.

A bunch of firefighters, city officials, and even a few police officers were on the scene.

This prompted fears that the city was going to tear down a building that Wong and other society members have been working so hard to save.

"No one knew what was going on," Wong later told the Georgia Straight by phone. "The city did not contact anyone from the society."

As Wong scrambled to reach the society's elders by phone, his son drove him downtown in a snowstorm to find out what was happening.

"There were about 20 people there by the time I got there around 11:30 a.m.—ordinary people from Dunbar, Kerrisdale, and the Downtown Eastside," Wong said. "The city and the firefighters were keeping everyone at a distance with yellow tape, taping up the block, practically."

Wong recalled firefighters telling him that people had to keep their distance because inspectors were inside the building.

There has been an ongoing controversy over whether the city damaged the building when it tore down a neighbouring structure earlier this year. It's an allegation that the city has vehemently denied.

Both the city and the society have pointed to problems with the exterior veneer. But  Wong, spokesperson for the Ming Sun Benevolent Society, insisted that the building is not structurally compromised.

"We have already sent the city two independent structural engineering reports," Wong said, adding that more will be forwarded to the city in the future.

In the end, it turned out that the Ming Sun building wasn't going to be torn down in the snowstorm.

That left the citizen observers wondering why the city spent so much money and staff resources to block off the road when it was just sending out a team of inspectors.

Powell Street was blocked off as inspectors examined the building.

"If they asked the Ming Sun to open the door, we would have let them in," Wong said. "No one notified us. We're quite surprised on a winter's day like today to have this huge show of force."

He added that the citizens' response indicates that many people love the Ming Sun building. He said that all the society wants is a chance to restore it to its former glory.

Wong pointed out that carpenters and other tradespeople in Vancouver have even stepped forward to help.

"They're going to volunteer their efforts and save it," he said.

Comments (10) Add New Comment
the only thing for sure, that is facing “imminent collapse”, is the credibility of city Hall staff! We counted 7 fire trucks, one fire command centre, 3 police cars and a whole herd of city employees!

Good thing there wasn’t a fire elsewhere in the city… uh wait… there was a fire… someone’s pants is on fire at Silly Hall!
Rating: +42
Maybe as well as "pants on fire", there was brain freeze at "Silly Hall" from the snow?
Never a good combo.
Rating: +29
Sid Tan
Who you going to believe? Who you going to believe?
Rating: +23
Saw the phalanx of city vehicles...couldn't tell whether it was for the building or the filming up the street?

Oh I have no problem believing the allegations.

1)That historic gas station at the Drive and Venables replaced by pfft! a BS strip mall. Still an eye sore and uesless.

2) Stanley Park heritage building knocked down, rezoned for a private residence ...for a rich guy called Stanley. Har Har.

3) Anglicans fighting the Good Fight with what became 666 Burrard

No such thing as heritage in mob city.
It's a joke to these the recent 'casino' thang.
Cynical liars.
Rating: +24
collarbone o'hare

who are these 'ordinary' citizens from Dunbar and Kerrisdale just 'hanging around'? in the dtes? most wouldn't be caught dead down there at any time. will they be hanging around for the xmas season to volunteer at the various shelters and soup kitchens?
who's funding these 'good citizen' vigilantes and the set up?

Rating: -22
Very Angry Citizen
some one at the city must be held accountable for this insanity!!! unbelievable. city building inspectors get a convoy of fire fighters, police and officials? this must be some kinda special building to get so much pomp & ceremony, wow. and i'm paying taxes for this?????!!!!!
Rating: +37
City hall is completely out of control!

This show of theatrics by the city is like taking a hammer to quash a bug. I'm very concerned. It is blatantly obvious the city is out to hide something. Something is rotten and it smells like it's coming from high up at the hall !
Rating: +32
Somebody must have missed a payment.
Rating: -2
A minion who works at city hall
A complete abuse of power. Typical.

Media... Please investigate and expose who made this insane decision at city hall! S/He must be held accountable!
Rating: +20
It's a city cover up. We've been following this story since this summer
Follow the $$$ trail

I find it extremely disturbing that the City tore down the neighbouring building at the questionable request of that guy who is assembling all the lots on the block. AND the city again follows thru with this same guys demand to the city to tear down this old Chinese family building! The city started the destruction with removing bricks on the other side. Is this for real!?

This whole thing STINKS and is scandalous! No wonder city hall is trying so hard to cover all of this up!
Rating: +17
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