Ming Sun building won't be demolished if owner takes actions by January 31, 2014

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      The City of Vancouver has declared that the Ming Sun Benevolent Society building at 437-441 Powell Street does not pose an immediate threat to public safety.

      In an order posted on the 122-year-old building, the city declared that "it is unlikely that the building will suffer an imminent collapse" now that the bricks have been removed from the exterior.

      "However, there are several actions that need to be undertaken in order to address the structural integrity of the building, both immediately and over the next six to eight months," Carli Edwards, deputy chief building official and assistant director of licences and inspections, wrote in the order.

      That includes addressing the structural stability of the wall on the eastern and southern portion by adding plywood sheathing. This work must be completed by January 31, 2014.

      The city states on its website that it is "supportive of the heritage concerns related to this building; however, our first concern is ensuring the safety of both the public and the neighbouring building".

      Two engineering reports have already concluded that the building was structurally sound.

      Meanwhile, the Friends of 439 group has launched a fundraising drive to preserve the building.

      People can contribute at any Vancity branch under the account "the Friends of 439 Powell".

      The Ming Sun building was originally known as the Russ House Hotel before it was bought by the Uchida family and converted into a boarding house early in the 20th century.

      On December 20 in the midst of a snowstorm, city inspectors, firefighters, and police descended on the Ming Sun building for an inspection, blocking off Powell Street.

      That drew criticism from society spokesperson David Wong, who wasn't notified in advance.

      The inspection came after a flood in the building, which the society has deemed "suspicious".

      Afterward, Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang defended the city's actions in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight.

      He said that after the flood, the fire chief issued a "protection order", which only he can lift.

      "So that's why all the firemen were down there," Jang noted.

      He added that the city had to look at the structure after the brick façade had been taken down.

      "And so that’s why the inspector was there with the fire chief because he was simply checking to make sure the removal of those bricks didn’t cause more damage,” Jang said.



      citizen george

      Dec 28, 2013 at 1:41pm

      now, isn't that nice.

      The city *finally* agrees the building is structurally sound. So what was the city's mad rush in forcing a demolition? There are dozens of other buildings in worse shape (and some owned and run by city hall) than this old lady…how come they're not scrutinized?

      But it is nice to see the little guys win against the cold blooded reptiles at city hall. Good luck in trying to get the city to say sorry.

      Shawn from the Westend

      Dec 30, 2013 at 12:11am

      Any bit of credibility Kerry Jang once had is now completely gone. What madness!

      Jang should be holding the parade of high level city staff accountable for their mishandling of this incredible tragedy, instead of cheering aloud in the peanut gallery and justify staff's stupidity!

      Now that city staff has essentially admitted to royally fucking up, staff better owe up to their mistakes and negligence, and help these guys fix their building.

      Jang and co, grow some balls and sack these incompetent morons if you want to save your political hide

      Jordan W

      Dec 30, 2013 at 11:53am

      If I demolished my house and caused damage to a city-owned building surely the city would come after me to pay for the damages. As they should. Likewise, the city should pay for the damage it caused to 439 Powell while hastily demolishing the building next door.


      Dec 31, 2013 at 1:30pm

      I'd sack Kerry Jang before staff.

      Who do you think is getting orders from whom, over there?!