OHS Canada Magazine

Wall collapses at Ottawa mall construction site

April 1, 2013

Health & Safety Construction

OTTAWA (Canadian OH&S News)

OTTAWA (Canadian OH&S News)

After a partial wall collapse at the construction site of Ottawa’s biggest shopping mall, city officials are pushing for a speedy demolition of the rest of the area in order to ensure the utmost safety for construction crews and the public.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on March 23, part of a wall collapsed at the construction site of the Rideau Centre expansion, in the heart of the Byward Market in downtown Ottawa. The incident occurred when a worker was taking down a pillar inside the building, which then broke apart and fell through to the floor below — bringing the wall down with it.

Though 11 demolition crew members were believed to be on location, there were no injuries reported. Police had to shut down part of the roads and sidewalk, as the collapse pushed bricks out on to the walkway.

 “All work at the Ogilvy building site at 126 Rideau Street has been stopped while the Ontario Ministry of Labour conducts an investigation of the wall collapse that happened Saturday afternoon,” Arlene Gregoire, director of building code services at the city, said in an email statement.


“We are now awaiting the assessments of the engineer from the Ministry of Labour and the consulting engineer for the developer,” she said on March 26.

According to Cindy Van Buskirk, the general manager at the Rideau Centre, none of the construction crews on the site were ever in danger.

“The demolition contractors working on the Ogilvy building were removing a pillar inside of the building, and a section of that pillar fell away, and fell through the floor slab below,” Van Buskirk explained. “There was never any issue with them being exposed. I believe there were about 11 people on the scene, everyone was fine.”

The demolition was complicated because part of the building, the former Ogilvy Department Store, received heritage designation from the city. A city staff report recommended that the century-old building be demolished as soon as possible to coincide with mall owner Cadillac Fairview Corp.’s plans for expansion.

Building demolition sped up due to collapse

Ministry of Labour officials, the shopping centre’s contractor, the building’s landlord and City of Ottawa representatives met on the Sunday morning following the roof collapse. All parties, Van Buskirk said, were able to reach a consensus and decided that the safest way to proceed would be to accelerate the demolition.

That is, “to move from a controlled, selective demolition — which is a little more precise, and to move to a harder demolition, which is to just bring the building down a little bit faster,” she explained, adding that the contractor has put together a plan and is waiting on new equipment and a final green light from labour ministry investigators.

The heritage-designated façade of the building has been removed and the building was about halfway demolished, Van Buskirk estimated.



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