Complaints over safety concerns at the old Pantages Theatre site on East Hastings Street led to the temporary suspension of demolition work on the building Tuesday (June 28).
Ivan Drury of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council said he placed complaints with both WorkSafe BC and the City of Vancouver out of concern for the safety of workers, nearby residents and pedestrians at the site near Main and Hastings streets.
The city issued a demolition permit for the Pantages Theatre building in March.
Drury called the overall health and safety standards at the demolition site “non-existent” and argued that safety standards appeared to be different at the site on East Hastings Street from sites in other areas of the city.
“You look at a painting job or a minor construction job in the West End—the buildings are completely netted in, so that anything that would fall off wouldn’t fall into the sidewalk or the street, and even with the netting, there’s still full hoarding over the sidewalk with plywood that’s completely boxed in, in order to protect people from anything that might fall past the netting,” Drury told the Straight by phone.
He said there was no netting over the front or the sides of the Pantages building, and that bricks have been falling six stories and bouncing onto the street.
Drury made the complaints over the last two months out of concern for the safety of the workers and pedestrians, and for the health of residents in hotels adjacent to the demolition site. He said the Downtown Eastside residents working on the site didn’t have safety harnesses or respirators, and that the smell of mold and mildew was “overwhelming” in the back alley.
David McLellan, general manager of community services for the City of Vancouver, said city staff went to the site Tuesday and asked for some improvements in the protection of the sidewalk.
“Our inspector went out on site and found that they did have all the protocols in order,” he told the Straight in an interview.
“But we did recognize that the pedestrian environment could be improved. In the meantime, they’re not to remove any more of the bricks from the facade until that work is done.”
McLellan said there will be ongoing monitoring of the work site.